Mineola Missives: The Background Info
I've been thinking a lot lately about what my next post would be. The more I thought about it, the more I've been interested in sharing a bit about my youth. I realized the other day that I know quite a bit about the background and history of many of my friends, but they know very little of mine. This isn't necessarily by design, but simply a product of the fact that my memory of my youth is full of holes and extrapolations. I remember a lot of things hazily, but only a few things clearly. So I rarely tell home town stories because I don't want to leave things out or make things up. My friend Lane, who I've known since the age of 5 (and who many of you know), can rattle story after story after story off in precise detail, but his brain is used to the complex and obscure intricacies of musical composition. Mine is only used to looking at the internet and turning anything I hear into a dirty joke. So I will be doing a series of posts about things from my youth. People, incidents, and just weird or funny occasions that stand out in my mind. I'll probably be asking Lane for a little help along the way, and I'm sure I'll exaggerate here and there. But the point of this whole thing is to give you a little background information on me, and what my formative years were like. If that sounds like Death by Boredom to you, then by all means, move right along. I'm sure Lindsay Lohan got caught smoking crack out of the skull of a homeless man or something.
First, some background. For those of you who don't know, the Mineola referred to in the title is my home town. Mineola, Texas, population approximately 5000, give or take. Mineola is a pretty little town, full of antique shops and retirees eager to escape big city livin'. It's a Texas Main Street City, and the money provided by the state for that program has really turned the downtown area into a pleasant little place to be. Mineola is the home of Kitchens' Hardware and Deli, which is exactly what it sounds like: a deli housed inside an old hardware store. The store is so old, in fact, that in the rear there is a carriage lift which was used to move horse-drawn carriages to the second floor for repairs. I have no idea if it still functions, but that's not really the point, is it? You can go in and have a delicious Rueben and pick up some ten penny nails, all in the same place. Convenient, eh? Mineola also boasts the East Texas Burger Company, which features delicious burgers the size of your head. The Select Theatre, one of the oldest continually running theatres in Texas, still operates with weekend movies and the occasional performance by the Lake Country Players. I once heard that a magnolia tree that sits across from my first church, First Baptist Church of Mineola (no web presence...not surprising), would hold the record for the oldest and largest one in the state, had it not been cleaved by lightning at some point in its existence.
Mineola High School, that old bastion of learning, was the home of many of my more interesting experiences. It features Act One & Company, the state record holder for most State level wins (unfortunately, they're updating their archives, so the only thing I could find was a cached version of the 93-94 school year; scroll down to Conference 3A) in any U.I.L. event, including football (the total is, if I remember correctly, 7, five of them consecutively). Of course, this award winning group had to rehearse and perform in the connected cafetorium, while the loser football team played in their brand new stadium. The injustice, she still haunts me. You can also find the legacy of several years of graduating seniors on the streets in front of (the same street played a role in the only car wreck I've had to date) and leading to the school; if they haven't been paved over, that is. Each year, the graduating class was allowed to paint a design or slogan on the road, along with the class year. My year, 1994, was "No Fear," and not just because the shirts were popular then. But that's another story.
There are many colorful characters in the town, such as the man who still drives with a suicide knob, despite their illegality in this state, because he considers it necessary to his "handicap" (he has bad lungs). There was also the band director who threatened to shoot students with rock salt if we wrapped (T.P.'d, rolled, toilet papered...whatever you Yankees call it) his house. And then of course there was Mrs. Balog (pronounced bay-log). Ahhhh, Mrs. Balog. The substitute who...but then, I'm getting ahead of myself.
So there's a little background information on the town that helped form who I am. Once I start with the stories, you'll probably wonder how I turned into the awesome time traveler and anti-robot activist I am today. So tune in, uh, soon (next week, maybe?) for the first in what I hope will be a long series of stories of a youth, not misspent, but occasionally misaligned.