Being a tourist in my own hometown

I revisited my hometown – really toured it – for the first time in 20 years.  My parents moved away from Van Alstyne, Texas, to East Texas while I was in college in order to be closer to my grandmother, and I hadn’t really been back except for brief drive-throughs for occasional high school reunions.  On the last trip, though, I saw two cowboys on horses, and I went through the relatively unchanged main street, with its 1880’s buildings and hitching posts. It reminded me how country I had grown up.  I wanted a camera to recapture that.  Van Alstyne was small, quaint and rural.  It had less than 2000 people when I lived there, we ate at the Dairy Queen, and we drove 20+ miles to the nearest movie theater, 27 miles to the nearest vet.  I and others had horses; one of my classmates became a rodeo queen.  It wasn’t quite as Western as all that sounds (Dallas was about an hour away and I commuted there some for work in the summer), but VA definitely was Texas country.

And although I knew Dallas sleeper subdivisions were starting to go in to the south, it still felt like it would always be Van Alstyne.  Then a friend told me a couple of months ago about how a major power plant was going to be put up between the town itself and the farm on which I had grown up.  All of a sudden it became important for me to take photographs to capture the character I knew.

So when in Oklahoma on business, I rented a car, drove south, visited some friends, and tooled around the town pretending I was a great photographer.  My photos don’t show the new Van Alstyne of suburbs outside the city limits (especially to the south), a huge elementary school, a new high school, and the McDonald’s, Braum’s, and Subway. (The new nursery was very cute.) Instead I focused on capturing the old character I had known as a kid.

As it seemed like an adventure, I went ahead and counted it as one.  I hope you enjoy the photographs. The first three photographs, by the way, are still in Oklahoma, on the drive south.

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