Wednesday, November 26, 2008
All Roads In Abilene Lead To Harold's
The empty, boarded stores tell the story of so many towns in West Texas where the economy is as bleak as the landscape.
When West Texas ends, though, the mood and the reality also change. The change is dramatic.
Abilene, Texas, is another world from Pecos and Odessa. In Abilene the streets are lined with flower boxes containing not the plastic flowers of Pecos but colorful vegetables -- cabbage and cauliflower and broccoli and chard.
The streets are clean, the stores are busy, and energy seems to seep out of the city's every cell.
Take, for example, Harold's World Famous Pit Bar B Q.
When in Texas, we were told, you must have Texas Bar B Q. Where better to have that than Abilene, we thought.
And so it was that we wound up at Harold's World Famous Pit Bar B Q. Harold's would be off the beaten path except that, in Abilene, most of the paths lead right there. The dirt parking lot was full. The line wound through the restaurant and outside. Harold's is open Tuesday through Saturday from eleven in the morning until two thirty in the afternoon or until the food is gone. The line begins to form at around ten. We waited in line for over an hour. Harold himself was behind the counter cutting the brisket and pouring the sauce.
Harold's family worked with him serving beans and hot water jalapeno corn bread and Cole slaw and emptying trash and generally keeping people happy while they waited and waited and waited. The man behind us, who comes to Harold's as often as he can which is apparently about every other day, said that at Harold's a person learned patience.
In Abilene people are willing to wait in line and visit with old friends and eat a great meal in a hole in the wall cafe that just happens to be world famous.
Abilene isn't that far from Pecos in miles but those miles put it in a different world.