Home is definitely where the heart is

By Richard Zowie —

It’s been one full year since I returned home after nearly nine years of “living abroad” in Michigan.

My sons and I made it in one piece to Fredericksburg on Aug. 7, 2013, despite getting lost briefly in Memphis.

Before long, it felt normal again to deal with the scorching summer heat, mild winters and, though I have yet to see one, scorpions.

I actually prefer cold weather, but I hate driving in it. Thank you, Great Lakes State, but you can have your icy roads, and your crazies who drive fast even in a blinding snowstorm. I don’t miss losing control of a car and sliding into a ditch.

Last Labor Day weekend, my sons and I traveled to Beeville to visit with my family and to see the hometown. That Saturday, I grew nostalgic and drove them all over Beeville to give them a tour.

In downtown Beeville, a vacant building and schoolyard are all that remain of Maddera-Flournoy Elementary School, where I attended fifth and sixth grades from 1983-1985. Thomas Jefferson Intermediate School, a junior high when I went there from 1985-1987, is now that area’s elementary school. (Beeville built a new junior high around 1993). Courtesy of what looks like extensive remodeling, my secondary education alma mater, A.C. Jones High School, now looks very shiny and dignified.

“See that Goodwill Store?” I asked the boys as we drove in downtown Beeville. “That used to be a Hall’s Clothing Store. They used to advertise at the movie theater all the time.”

We drove to College North Shopping Center. I told them how the Sonic Drive-In used to be Mae Li’s Chinese restaurant and, before that, a driver’s education school I attended in 1989. And, even before that, it was an odd business that sold balloons in one room and rented VHS movies in another.

Across the parking lot, what used to be the biggest video rental store in Beeville in the late 1980s (it was either called “Video Giant” or “Video City”) is now a New China Super Buffet. Last time I was in there for a meal, our table was where I used to go to look at the B-grade science fiction movies (one I remember well: the Italian-made “Exterminators of the Year 3000”).

A drive north of Beeville, past what used to be Bee County College (now Coastal Bend College), we saw an apartment complex. Thirty years ago, it was the Bronco Drive-In Theater. A church I used to attend once picketed there to protest a film they deemed too gory and sexually explicit to be shown in town.

We did more reminiscing earlier on Aug. 7, 2013, when we took a detour to San Antonio (where we lived from 1998-2004) before driving to Fredericksburg.

As we drove between Eisenhauer and Rittiman Roads to see our old house, we were amazed by how many gas stations there were, along with a lot of buildings for industrial businesses.

And when we got to our old house, we noticed many other houses in that neighborhood had bars on the windows.

We also stopped and got iced teas from what was, 10 years ago, my favorite place for iced tea. (I’d rather not say where, since the tea wasn’t that good this time).

After that, while driving in the final leg of the journey toward Fredericksburg, I saw that the spidery network of interchanges at Loop 410 and I-10, which had been in the early stage of construction when we left in 2004, was now completed and looking good.

Yes, indeed, it’s good to be back home. This time, I told my sons, it’s for good.


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