Abandoned America Redux

Driving west-northwest across Texas from the Gulf Coast is like viewing landscape-as-economic-chart. First you pass through the lively, jumping hives of San Antonio and Austin, where the Depression doesn’t seem evident, the freeways full of pickups and new cars driven by people hustling to work. If you then head toward the Panhandle, things veer down the Dilapidated Way. After (and before) Abilene a wide expanse of ranchland where plastic bags impaled on cactus and barb wire fences is a common sight. Weedy sidewalks, bleached storefronts, rusted cars in rocky fields. Few houses and few people. Most of the businesses seem abandoned, as do the once-mighty town squares of all the little towns between Abilene and the border at Texline (northwest Panhandle). I noticed this years ago, how the small towns were dwindling and the cities swelling, and wanted to title my last novel “Abandoned America,” until I heard about a book of photography with that title. (Plus I squirm at books with ‘America’ in the title, unless it fits.) Here’s a sign I saw in the abandoned zone closer to the coast, near the town of Sinton:
Wife Needed

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