Wichita Falls: Home is Where the Heart is

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Two of my former students stopped by the other day. You know, like they do in small towns.

Dear Texas Monthly,

I live in the biggest small town in the US. People say that about Wichita Falls all the time, and while that means all the bad of small town living, it also means all the good plus conveniences like major grocery chains and restaurants.

I can get to work in eight minutes if I’m lucky and hit all the lights on Southwest Parkway on green. Max 15 if there’s a wreck.
When the light leading out of my neighborhood malfunctioned, I emailed the guy in charge of traffic lights, and he emailed me back, several times, until the light was fixed.
When I disagreed with a decision the school district made, I talked to my principal and he suggested I email the superintendent to let him know my thoughts. I did and within a couple hours the superintendent had emailed me back with a detailed explanation of why the decision was made and how. This was after five on a weekday.
Back when I was going to college I had two big jobs: I worked with five year olds at a day care and I was the cookie lady at Skaggs/Albertsons. When I started teaching high school, the kids all knew me from the grocery store. A few years later the five year olds were in my classes. I knew them and their parents.
I’m a yearbook adviser. People have dropped senior ads off at my house even though we’re not personal friends. They just called a friend who called a friend who called me and made sure it was okay. You know, the small town way.
The local newspaper published a serialized novel the local romance writers group wrote. For some, that was a first publication experience. And while the group has since disbanded, several of us still write and publish.
Our Junior League is a group of women devoted to service and not a status symbol.
I’ve taught aunts and uncles and kids of my first students, and the whole family still knows me.
The crosstown rivalry is real.
Pep rallies are amazing. High school football still fills the stands.
Our “Dancing With the Stars” groups are made up of people you know not people from the society pages of the paper. Wait. Are society pages still a thing?
We worked together to save water when it looked like the town might die and then we celebrated together when the rains finally came.
When Al Roker chose Wichita Falls as his Texas stop in his cross country trek, a high school band showed up to share some great Wichita Falls spirit.
Our mall theater is probably the worst theater in the entire United States, but we have Facebook pages that make fun of it.
If you want a fancy dinner, no problem. Best of all, that fancy dinner won’t break the bank.
Pioneer’s enchiladas still rock, Casa Mana’s red tacos reign supreme and Parkway Grill reminds you if you work hard and be nice, dreams do come true.
The base is amazing. Because of Sheppard we have an incredible diversity in our population. People from all over move in, and often they stay. My daughter had friends from Turkey and Switzerland while growing up. The ENJPT pilots and their families help us see a world outside of our city limits.
We offer great opportunities for involvement in town, in churches, in our schools and working with non-profits.
Midwestern State ranks as one of the most affordable quality liberal arts schools in the nation. If you live in town and go to school, chances are you actually know your professors. One of my professors called me to encourage me to start my MA and dropped off the application at my house.
So please, tell me again why being a full-time resident of Wichita Falls sucks so bad, Texas Monthly.
While you’re explaining all that, I’ll be at Parkway Grill with some Matt’s Senator Dip and a Colorado Bulldog. Chances are someone I know will be there and we can catch up on life. You know, like people do in small towns.

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