By Mike Barnett
I was out in the country last Friday in South Central Texas on a photography project, riding the roads while desperately searching the radio for something worth listening. I scrolled through pop, new country, rap, Christian and talk shows, and then I hit gold.
Ray Price was crooning For the Good Times, and I knew I was going to stay here a while. The station was KLBG-AM and KBUK-FM in LaGrange, and let me tell you, it’s a good one.
I listened for probably two hours, hanging on to every word. Even though I don’t belong to that community, I listened with pride as continuous updates were made about the local kids bringing home ribbons from the junior livestock show in Columbus. After a Merle Haggard song and around the noon hour, they aired their Trading Post segment. I could have bought a three wheeler in ‘rough condition’ or six Blue Heeler pups. If I had a notion, I could apply for a job as a farmhand.
The local sale barn owner came on next, and in a husky, monotonous, mature voice gave the previous day’s sale results, ending with a note that local buyers get top dollar, because “the great buyers” who come to the weekly auction make a “great sale.”
A commercial came on next. The American Legion in Giddings was holding their annual beef and pork barbecue on Sunday. Meat by the pound would sell at 10, and plates would be served at noon. Then, the congratulatory landmark events followed. Myra and Joe Ray were celebrating their 60th anniversary. Mary W. was celebrating her 10th birthday and Billy H. was turning 12.
More great music came on as I wound toward Smithville on my way home. Johnny Rodriguez, George Jones, Conway Twitty and other country greats played as I contemplated my day.
I realized I missed the sense of community that rural Texas brings. The last time I lived in a small town was nearly 40 years ago. Since then, I’ve lived in large or mid-sized cities.
There’s not much sense of local in any of them. You might or might not know your neighbors. Community events are not intimate and are not “must do.” You hear of someone in trouble and you might say a silent prayer, but take no other action.
Then, I saw a sign that said Rosanky, 10 miles. I’ve never been to Rosanky, so I made the turn. As I arrived I saw a few houses. Then I saw the community center, and it all came home.
It was a pretty little white wooden structure, obviously old. It was well kept, as were the grounds. A playground was built out front. A big brick barbecue pit was in slight disrepair but usable, and probably a dozen or more picnic tables stood to the right of the building.
And I thought what great times the local community had here. The stories they tell when they gather, the trials and successes they share, the willingness to step in and help when things go wrong.
Rosanky is a real community, like so many scattered across the state. It’s a place where everyone knows everyone. A place where people care. And pull together when needed.
That’s rural life. Rural Texas. It’s a vital part of our social fabric.
And well worth sharing with our increasingly urban state.