I’m living in Menard. It’s 36 miles west of Mason on the edge of the Hill Country. More West Texas really. Caliche instead of limestone and granite. The San Saba River runs through it. So does Hwy 83 (the Pan American Highway). The river goes west to east. The highway runs north and south. Population 1600. Funky, rundown in places, fixed up in others, some of it is boarded up and some of it is gussied up, an undiscovered little Texas town with no craft beer or wineries in sight. And cheap. Thus the move. But it does have a country club and golf course (ironic, right?) AND the historic Presidio (older than the Alamo) being professionally restored. There’s lots of historic buildings and houses including what once was a grand hotel. It’s three stories and is now a nursing home. But in its day the best of the best bands played there and people came from 100 miles around to dance and stay in the hotel.
There are potholes in the streets big enough to throw off any vehicle’s alignment. But there’s also a big modern library built a few years ago.
If you saw the movie “The Last Picture Show” you’ll have some idea of what this town looks like. The locals call it “The Free State of Menard.” And that’s certainly the mindset. Often dogs run free (though they aren’t supposed to) and they aren’t always friendly. It’s been rumored that when a resident called whatever sheriff at the time about a neighbor dog attacking his dog, the sheriff said “Just shoot it.” Like they say…The Free State of Menard.
There are three gas stations with convenience stores. One is a brand new truck stop which is a major addition to the economics of the county. There’s also two restaurants. The Mexican one has been here forever and a group of locals meet and eat there for lunch every single day that it’s open. For groceries, it’s Lowe’s and for shopping in general it’s Family Dollar. There’s also a feed store, a building supply store, and a liquor store. And two banks, half a dozen churches, and Menard ISD.
(Go Yellowjackets!). The town is the county seat so that encompasses the usual federal, state, county, and city positions. Another boon to the county economics is the new solar company out at Hext (east of town) that covers more than 100 acres and will sell solar-powered energy to various providers. Hair salons, mechanic, massage therapist, Napa Auto Parts, insurance agency, Chamber of Commerce, attorneys, title company, DISH office, funeral home, Ranch House Meats, realtors, Senior Center, nursery/flower shop, donut shop, utility companies, gas company, veterinarian, medical clinic, River Retreat B&B, and a City RV Park on the river. All this under the incomparable West Texas blue sky.
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