Another shot from Dougherty, this one of the remains of the school, which had a natural-gas explosion one day and just hasn’t been the same since.
My traveling companion and I stopped to look around, and just after we arrived, a man in a pick-up pulled up to see what we were doing. (I am almost positive his wife sent him.) He was very chatty, and we learned a lot from him:
1. He was working as a state trooper in Lubbock, about 70 miles away, when the school exploded, and was sent over to help. The explosion was during a school day, and there were several injuries but no one was killed.
2. He lives in Doughtery now, runs some cattle, and is scared that the drought will never end.
3. Used to, back in the day before cell phones, when “the boys” were done with the branding, they could relax over some “cold beers” (which he said like it was one word) before heading home, but nowadays, their wives start calling them and they can’t stay around as long.
(This comment came right after his wife called him to see what he’d found out about why the strangers were in town.)
4. He told us about an abandoned school in Roaring Springs, the next town over.
5. Then he told us about the last time there was a big rain. He said, “It was one-a those rains that came straight down for two, three days. That culvert in front of the house was full of weeds so that water wasn’t drainin’ and it kept gettin’ closer and closer to the house. Finally my wife sent me out there to fix it, and there I was, in my slicker and boots with rain runnin’ off my hat. I was pullin’ them tumbleweeds out-a that culvert. And I almost cussed the rain. Almost. But I didn’t.”
April 2, 2014
I liked Doughtery. I was there for work (really!) and stuck around town after the work commitment was completed so I could get some photographs. The people there are friendly and are happy to tell you about their little town. If you stay long enough, maybe you can hear about the tornado that “blowed” down a house, the perils of highway routes, and the day the school exploded.* But even if you’re just passing through** you can see a glimpse of how it used to be.
* True story.
** You won’t be passing through. It’s not on the way to anywhere. And even if you are trying to go there, and have a map and everything, there’s a chance you’ll get lost.***
***Another true story.
This thing. I saw this thing in Dougherty. I just think of it as the apparatus. Maybe someone can tell me what it is, because I don’t have any idea. Something to do, maybe, with what ever goes on at a grain elevator?
If you want to check it out for yourself, it’s easy to find: it’s the only apparatus of this sort in town.
It’s not spelled the way it’s pronounced. The locals call it “Darty.” (We asked.) There’s not much there anymore, but it used to have a school (through grade 6, then kids were bused over to Floydada), a dancehall, a grocery store.
But now it’s got this skeletal building, slumped against the other one.