We continued southeast today, from OKC to Paris, Texas. We were grateful that it grew warmer, getting up above 60. The country slowly but perceptibly grew wetter, and the cattle more numerous. Through the morning we drove through one town after another, none of them terribly interesting until lunch. Hugo's moonshine still
Our serendipity, it seems, is still working, because we decided to stop in Hugo, Oklahoma for lunch, and saw a sign saying Harvey House Restaurant. "That looks interesting," we said, and it was! Remembering stories of the Harvey House and the Harvey Girls (the waitresses in their starched black and white uniforms staffed restaurants and hotels along the train routes, providing elegant dining and overnight rest stops for travelers) we decided to check it out.
The restaurant, located in the old Hugo train station, provided friendly service and filling meals - barbecue, catfish, blackeye peas, cabbage, potatoes and banana pudding for dessert. We ate in what was once the freight room; in the far wall was a large door balanced with counterweights.
The Hugo Historical Society worked for years to save the station, which had been pretty well vandalized, and the rest of the building has been turned into a giant city museum. The way this worked is that everyone in Hugo apparently cleaned out their attic and gave the results to the museum, for there's a little of everything - rodeo, WW II, barber shop, law books, the bedrooms used by the Harvey Girls, high school yearbooks (separate schools for blacks and Showmen's Rest; circus graves white until the sixties) laid out on tables in the upstairs ballroom, etc. Some of our favorite exhibits were the huge model-train display, which unfortunately wasn't running, the eleven LP albums of the local country music singers, the five-ring circus and the complete backwoods still in a corner room. The sign says there's plenty of moonshine still being made back up in the hills.
Hugo has been, and still is, the winter home for a number of circuses, leading to a special relationship between the townspeople and the circus folks. The husband of the museum attendant was a city policeman, and was called over to the headquarters of one circus on a dark winter evening. The building was unlit, but the owner called for the policeman to walk on back. After the policeman bumped into something he stood stock still and yelled at the owner, who finally came out and turned on the lights, explaining that the lions really wouldn't hurt him!
After we talked some more about circuses we learned about Showmen's Rest, a section of the local cemetery set aside for circus folks. We drove out and photographed some of the fanciful monuments, incised with circus animals and tents, etc.
We found ourselves wishing we had time to explore further east in the hills of southeastern Oklahoma, but we must always leave some more to do on our Canton's First Monday market next trip, and we need to make a couple of stops in South Texas before heading to California to see our children and grandchildren.
Next day: In 1850, men met in Canton, Texas, to trade horses and dogs; they started the tradition of markets on the first Monday of each month. Canton folks, knowing a good thing when they see it, welcomed this practice until now the market starts on the Friday before, and continues till Tuesday morning. We could tell something was happening when our narrow back road began to fill up with traffic. Starting several miles away, front yards sprouted collections of furniture and clothing and Crafts. The RV park and campground was about full by the time we passed (mid-morning Friday). Large barns, like buildings at a state fair, bulged with shoppers and goods. We didn't venture into the market, or even into downtown, where the Arts and Crafts vendors were supposed to be, but we did observe vehicles approaching from all points of the compass (primarily from Dallas, about 50 miles away). Our AAA guidebook says the market can attract up to 250,000 people each month, and we believe it!