Not too many years ago, my mom drove my sisters and me to the lake to swim. We usually carried snacks and made a day of sitting on the muddy ground or at the scratchy concrete picnic tables. We always carried a float of some kind and my sisters would float halfway across the lake trying to get a tan. I doggy-paddled and floated, learned to swim under water and had a blast sitting in the shade, prying apart clam shells looking for pearls. (I was convinced they were oysters that all held treasure.) On the way home, we occasionally pulled through the little red snow cone stand drive thru, which back then was located in a vacant lot across from the city park. On one side was Waller’s gas station and on the other side was Vicki Hawkins’ flower shop. That was all a hop, skip and a jump from the railroad tracks and the old mercantile building.
My, how times have changed.
These days, there is little you could do to convince me to swim in the lake. While I am certainly not “above” swimming in a lake, I guess with age comes practicality and fear. I am now far too aware of what all is in the lake (both living and not) and it makes me very nervous to step barefoot into it. Between the broken glass, trash and other things (ahem) deposited there by those who swim regularly, I just can’t do it. I never think of myself as a snob until I think of swimming each summer. I need chlorine to kill the yuck and I need a concrete bottom I can see. But I will admit that sitting on the shore of the lake is still one of my very favorite spots to unwind, de-stress and relax.
And that snow cone stand? It no longer exists. Years ago, the city purchased all the land on the south side of Main Street to expand the width of the road. While it was a wise purchase and the added space on the road has been wonderful, I sure do miss a lot of the businesses that used to be there. (I’m pretty sure that all the homeowners who lost part of their front yards miss that, too!)
Whitehouse has surely grown and changed since my childhood summers. Climbing on all those old metal pipe playground toys with all the chipping paint was ideal. I loved growing up here! I can’t imagine having grown up anywhere else. That is partly why my family came back here to stay in 2001. My kids may have spent a bit of time in other towns when they were toddlers, but Whitehouse is really all they remember in their formative years.
As Whitehouse continues to grow and evolve, I find myself sounding like an old woman more and more. I hear myself telling lots of those “when I was a kid…” stories. I have to remember not to roll my eyes or groan when I hear how large the schools have gotten in “my” small town. But you know what? Even though our little town has grown a lot, I have heard many people refer to it as the biggest small town in East Texas. The physical land size of the city of Whitehouse has stretched and grown, the population has certainly boomed, but the heart of this small town is still the same. That’s why I love calling it home! I’m grateful that Whitehouse has been where I lay my head for thirty-four of my forty-one years. I hope you love it, too!
(Contact Liz by email at Lizreeves2@aol.com)