Recently, we took a couple of interesting day trips. One was to my old hometown. I just parked the car and walked around the courthouse square to reminisce. It was once a very active place with a beautiful courthouse. The lawn of the courthouse seemed massive when I was a kid. All of this area was my playground. I loved running around on the courthouse lawn, with the other kids on election night, waiting for the returns to be posted on a big board across the street. The lawn was also the place we gathered to hear political speeches. I even got to see Lyndon Johnson land there in a helicopter when he was running for the senate in 1948. The biggest event for me was to see Wild Bill Elliot, the cowboy movie star. He made his appearance right there on the courthouse lawn. I also had free reign of the courthouse. I would run in and out of the building, sticking my head in the district court room and even the sheriff’s office.
There is no longer a courthouse lawn. There have many additions, so the old building is now engulfed by extensions. There is now just a sidewalk adjacent to the building. It’s very sad. There is no longer the hustle bustle around the square. About half the buildings around the square have been semi-renovated into dull establishments, like law offices. The other half have been boarded and are in various states of decay.
My father was a county commissioner in 1935 when the courthouse was built. That position, and his role in building the courthouse, was always his pride and joy. There is a plaque in the lobby that has his name, along with the other commissioners. On my trip, I wanted to go into the courthouse to take a picture of the plaque. I could only enter through one door and inside was an elaborate security system and a fat guard. I had to go through an airport security check by emptying my pockets and then passing through a metal detector. The plaque was located behind the guard, so after I told him why I was there we became good friends. I told him that I once had free reign of the courthouse. This was in a time when folks were honest and didn’t care about blowing up buildings and doing other mischief. We talked about how times have changed, but he couldn’t give me any example of threats that had been made in the courthouse. I can’t imagine why a terrorist or anyone else would want to bother the courthouse in Conroe. That place has to be a pretty low priority for terrorist and other serious criminals.
Anyway, with the high security at my hometown courthouse, I’m thinking about putting something up on the porch. You just can’t be careful enough. It’s pretty scary seeing some of the folks at WalMart and Big Lots. It would probably be a good idea to place guards at every block in town and in the parking lots of large establishments to check for tattoos and other markings that might indicate a terrorist. It’s a dangerous world in which we live.