Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Long Way to Lubbock

Dumas, Texas! Buggy had been rolling an easy eight hours by the time I crossed the Texas state line on US Highway 385, right at the top of the famous “Panhandle” of the Lone Star State. This was the first time for me in this corner of Texas where #385 shared the road with #287, a highway more familiar to me and ran directly in to Amarillo where I would catch Interstate I-27 to Lubbock for some well deserved rest on my journey of rediscovery. Dumas wasn’t much larger than Stratford or Cactus, Texas, two towns I also had to pass through on my way south.

Pronounced “DOO-mus,” it was the third in line and the one where the local sherriff’s department was doing a fine, fantastic job of keeping the small-town po-po reputation intact. I and several others were pulled over for being exactly two miles over the posted limit. A fine howdy do and a warning later, Buggy and I rolled on down the highway to Lubbock.

There was no indication that I would discover anything significant in Lubbock other than the grave of Buddy Holly. It was a convenient stop on the road after visiting Mt. Rushmore only that morning. Both car and driver were on fumes when we finally pulled in to a hotel just north of town for the night. Dallas was my true destination after the Black Hills of South Dakota but that drive was too far for one man alone to make. In Lubbock there was Texas Tech University and the chance of a good steak; not much else after that so I thought.

Another half-day of hit-and-run touring the local area dawned after I checked out of my hotel, rested from one long drive but seven hours of asphalt lay ahead of me to get to Dallas. I woke up late and gave myself two hours in Lubbock to see what there was to see. It was a Sunday and since I’d already missed and had no plans on church, much of this lower plains town was closed for the day. No worries. I was looking for a graveyard and the tenants there certainly wouldn’t mind a visit from somebody.

Like something right out of a Randolph Scott film, typical towns in Texas have the main square with a courthouse in the middle of that and a grid of streets fanning out in all directions except one truncated arm where the cemetery lies. Lubbock lopsides just slightly to the west while on the east is, you got it, Eastlawn Memorial Garden also known as the City of Lubbock Cemetery.
No one was in the office to point the way in this fairly sizable resting place. Being used to fans visiting through the decades there were well placed signs that showed the way to Holly’s marker by the side of one of the roads near the front entrance. A simple flat marble marker with his name and a few lines of music identify the plot near a tree as the grave of Mr. Holly. Simple, dignified, not much to look at and perfectly fitting.

I knew the larger hits, “Peggy Sue,” “Oh Boy” and “That’ll Be the Day” but I cannot say that I ever lived and breathed for the sound of The Crickets. Lubbock was a rest stop on the way somewhere else and since I happened to be in town figured it worth an hour to stop and pay my respects at a place I might not otherwise have gone to deliberately. The surprise was that here, again, of all places, I found something else to carry with me on the road to rebuilding my life.

I found simple, uncomplicated peace.

Gotta go.

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