Hood County News – August 14, 2001
By Christopher C. Evans OF MISFITS, DREAMERS & THE CRESSON TOLL PLAZA
Truth sometimes is where you find it, even disguised as untruth at times due to a lack of source credibility. Consider an assessment of our fine Cresson people from about 40 years ago — and a man most people around here thought was a little off-center himself.
“Cresson is full of misfits and dreamers,” quoth the late J.D. Banks as he was about to depart our lil` Paddygonia on the Prairie, for what he hoped would be a, uh, more hospitable place.
The time was the 1950s or ’60s and Banks, known around here for running a then high-tech minnow station in northeast end of Fidler’s Store, among other things, was fed up with doing business at Cresson’s most trafficked intersection.
So he took it out on the people here: “Misfits and dreamers,” he called us.
It says here that when he dismissed the residents of our fair burgh and surroundings with his double-edged dart, Banks — whoever he was — might have struck on something.
“Misfits and dreamers.” Say it once and it makes you want to go dig ol` J.D. up and slap him around a little. Say it twice and it, uh, sorta makes our lil’ enclave on the rails sound almost like one of them artsy-tartsy places where craftspeople — and deep thinkers collect like mistletoe on a dying hackberry. Doesn’t it?
Could it be that Cresson’s original oddballs and delusionaries were those people who came here in the first place, for whatever reason, and enterprised their way into lives we now look back upon as pioneering and trailblazing, those who brought in the first Herefords and Brahmans, built the first mills and gins and filling stations and hotels and stores. Or, later, those who did commerce in the area selling cookies, stucco, composted cowplop, oilfield explosives, racing course time, handmade furniture, used cars, transmissions, engines or horses.
Misfits and dreamers?
The feeling here is that most any great or significant community, be it Paris or that place on the Potomac, can be said to have been led to whatever glory it has achieved by folk who at one time were labeled kooks, oddballs, pinheads or dreamers because they took risks.
So is Banks’ summation of the essence of Cresson a slap — or a compliment?
“J.D. Banks was crazy,” says the source of Banks’ comments, who remembers the former well but not altogether fondly.
My take, however, is that ol’ J.D. was onto something, something that reminds me of comments made about three years ago by one of my favorite Cresson philosophers, the late Ted Scarbrough.
At the time, I was very angry at a relative — and very stressed out because of it.
Ted, knowing nothing more about my situation than the part that bubbled to the vocal surface that morning when we passed on a caliche road, just smiled.
And after a few seconds, told me point-blank that it “sure is good God didn’t make us all alike.”
Amen. And please bring us some more misfits and dreamers. The good kind, Lord, the good kind.
BACKTRACKS: If locals today should take for granted the men, women and youngsters who put in time to make our intrepid local firefighting unit what it is, they might consider the contents of a torn clipping supplied by erstwhile Lipan-Natty Flat resident Virginia Hale of Lake Jackson.
Brought to a recent family gathering by one of Hale’s relatives, the clipping is from the front page of the Nov. 13, 1958 Hood County News-Tablet. It is headlined “Fire Destroys Two Homes In Cresson.”
“A fire early Saturday destroyed the homes of M.G. Crawford and Fred Bryant in Cresson,” the story begins. “The flames started in the Crawford home, shortly after midnight, and was a ball of fire when discovered by two young boys.
“The Crawfords has recently purchased the property and were remodeling the home before they moved from a farm near Cresson. The house was unoccupied at the time.
“The fire spread to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bryant, who awakened and fled from the home, saving only a few personal items,” the story continues with some words missing due to a tear in the clipping. “Two fire trucks from Granbury, and one each from Godley, Joshua, White Settlement and Benbrook, were dispatched to the scene, but not in time to (save?) either home from (being totally?) destroyed.
“A brisk breeze endangered nearby outbuildings and (firefighters?) concentrated their efforts preventing the fire from spreading.”
Some 10 years later, of course, the Cresson Volunteer Fire Department was formed. According to Shirley R. Smiths Cresson: Community Crossroads, Fred Bryant and a Garland Crawford were among the charter members of the department.
Some 63 years after the fire that took the Crawford and Bryant homes, the Cresson Fire Department — no longer called “volunteer” because so many of the firefighters are full-time with non-volunteer departments — is known for responding, sometimes in great numbers, to fires well outside its so-called jurisdiction.
How things change.
SIDETRACKS: Recent Crossties column about Cresson flyer Jimmy Bone and the World War II Honor List of Dead & Missing. is available online at http://www.granburydepot.org/hale/BoneJimKinder.htm…Regarding the same list, published in June 1946 by the Adjutant General for War Department Bureau of Public Relations, several Hood County dead and missing were apparently omitted from it. If you know the name of someone whose name is missing, please notify the aforementioned Hale of Lake Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is writing a book on Hood County veterans…The e-mail message, from someone who didn’t identify himself, fairly seethed alarm and urgency when I unsheathed it sometime late Wednesday. “Take a look at this map…377 will soon become a toll road, something your readers might be interested in. This could effect (sic) your Cresson future.” Cue the Dragnet theme: Dum-da-dum-dum! Now call up www.fortworthgov.org/tpw/MTP_SW.htm. The map that should come up, which has been available for quite awhile online via the Fort Worth government website, indeed shows U.S. 377 from Fort Worth to Granbury as being a “freeway or toll road,” according to the legend. If this is somehow a surprise to anyone, it shouldn’t be. Why would we expect anything else when we consider near-future population growth expectations for Granbury and points southwest on 377?