By Lori Bredemeyer, Managing Editor
“I can’t wait to get out of Abilene.”
I’ve heard all my friends say some variation of this phrase at least once while I’ve been at college. It seems that although ACU is a great school at which to obtain a degree, most students, and I’m sure some employees, find it unfortunate that the school is stuck in Abilene.
But I grew up in this area, in Winters, a town of about 3,000 people 40 minutes south of here.
Students complain about Abilene, with its mall, six theatres, dozens of restaurants and hundreds of churches.
I grew up in a town with four restaurants that consistently stayed open: one that served American food, one that served Mexican food, the Pizza Hut and the Dairy Queen. No theatre, no mall, not even a Wal-Mart.
The most exciting thing to do on Friday and Saturday nights was to go sit on a tailgate in the parking lot of the Wes-T-Go and talk about the recent football game or the latest high school romance.
Winters has one high school, one grocery store, one pharmacy and two traffic lights.
And I love it.
Winters is the kind of place where you can leave your car unlocked and running to go into the store for bread and milk.
It’s the kind of place where country, especially West Texas country, is the music of choice for most age demographics.
It’s the kind of place where the front-page news is about the upcoming chicken spaghetti dinner that the Woman’s Club is serving before the football game.
It’s also the kind of place where for fun on the weekends, we drove 40 miles to the city: Abilene.
Yes, I had to come to this dreaded town to shop at the mall, watch a movie, go bowling and sometimes buy groceries. Abilene was here for our entertainment and relief from small-town life.
So it makes me cringe sometimes when I hear people talk of how much they hate Abilene, they can’t wait to graduate and get as far away as they can, and how they’ll never come back.
It’s unfair to label Abilene, and West Texas, as uninspiring. We found fun in it.
One of my friends has actually said, “How did you grow up there? What a horrifying life. No one cares about Winters.”
I don’t think so. Without Winters and Abilene, I wouldn’t be me, who’s not afraid of beetles or crickets, whose favorite country singer is George Strait and who has one of the most distinct accents in the Journalism Department.
When I graduate in May, I won’t be tipping my hat to this town and waving a grateful goodbye. I may not live in this area for the rest of my life, but I’ll certainly return because this is my home.
I’m proud to have grown up in this place.