Pecos Memories of “Dirt Roads”

Paul Harvey’s noon newsbroadcasts on radio were a staple of many Pecos citizens in the 40’s and 50’s, although I don’t think we heard him on our local station, KIUN, only on a network station. I continued to listen to him through my college days, but dropped out as a regular listener when TV took over.

This string began with the sharing of a story attributed to Paul Harvey..

Dirt Roads - by Paul Harvey
What's mainly wrong with society today is that too many Dirt Roads have been paved. There's not a problem in America today, crime, drugs, education, divorce, delinquency that wouldn't be remedied, if we just had more Dirt Roads, because Dirt Roads give character.

People that live at the end of Dirt Roads learn early on that life is a bumpy ride. That it can jar you right down to your teeth sometimes, but it's worth it, if at the end is home...a loving spouse, happy kids and a dog.

We wouldn't have near the trouble with our educational system if our kids got their exercise walking a Dirt Road with other kids, from whom they learn how to get along. There was less crime in our streets before they were paved.

Criminals didn't walk two dusty miles to rob or rape, if they knew they'd be welcomed by 5 barking dogs and a double barrel shotgun, and there were no drive by shootings. Our values were better when our roads were worse!

People did not worship their cars more than their kids, and motorists were more courteous, they didn't tailgate by riding the bumper or the guy in front would choke you with dust and bust your windshield with rocks. Dirt Roads taught patience.
Dirt Roads were environmentally friendly, you didn't hop in your car for a quart of milk you walked to the barn for your milk. For your mail, you walked to the mail box.

What if it rained and the Dirt Road got washed out? That was the best part, then you stayed home and had some family time, roasted marshmallows and popped popcorn and pony rode on Daddy's shoulders and learned how to make prettier quilts than anybody.

At the end of Dirt Roads, you soon learned that bad words tasted like soap.

Most paved roads lead to trouble, Dirt Roads more likely lead to a fishing creek or a swimming hole. At the end of a Dirt Road, the only time we even locked our car was in August, because if we didn't some neighbor would fill it with too much zucchini.

At the end of a Dirt Road, there was always extra springtime income, from when city dudes would get stuck, you'd have to hitch up a team and pull them out. Usually you got a dollar...always you got a new the end of a Dirt Road!

Pecos Memories of “Dirt Roads”

Frank Foster
Ray, This brings back lots of memories, including the road to my grandparents house. I also remember the road to your house and hauling cantaloupes down that road on the way to the train station.

Charles Armstrong
At one time, everyone in Pecos lived on a dirt road.  I think it was after WW II that a city wide paving project was commenced to pave all city streets.  There were some homes where a part of the paving was skipped.  It was a small space, about 20 by 6, left unpaved in front of several homes.  I think it was because they didn't pay their part of a paving assessment.  Is my recall accurate?

Jim Slack
Charles is right about the paving project but as I remember it, it was in the mid 30's and yes the dirt strip meant tat the property owner did not pay his part. As I remember it, the East/West streets were paved first. I left in 1942 and the North/South streets were mostly unpaved, except for down town. We lived on a corner and one street was paved and the other was not.

Charles Armstrong
Couldn't have been the mid 1930's because I remember the blanks that existed on some streets and I wasn't born until 1938.

Doris Tillery
Ray, I found papers where my mother paid Brown & Root for paving along 7th street (East & West) on January 23, 1948.  At that time there was an option about it, and the people on Alberta did not want to pave so we did not.  Then in Feb. 26, 1962, after George and myself moved to the Alberta Street house, we paved that.   Also while I am writing, want to thank you for the info you send.  Glad to get the latest class addresses.

Ray Thompson
I CAN'T BELIEVE we are having this weird conversation! Hi! Isn't it weird what we remember?  I remember writing an essay for English (still have it somewhere) and my subject was my take on the then current "controversy" in Pecos: "Is Pecos becoming too sophisticated to continue blowing the siren on the water town at noon, every Wednesday?"  REMEMBER?

Uncle Rudy
The siren blew on Thursdays, and if it still does I guess I just don't notice it. Laters!

Jim Slack
Ray, you are getting to be a Pecos Gab all by yourself, LOL! You get a heck of a response to your emails. On the dirt roads: I don’t think there were more than 4 or 5 East/West streets  that were paved by the time I left. I also don't think there were more than that many North/South streets paved. I know that 2nd street was paved for about 8 or 10 blocks, from down town to the school. 3rd street, the Bankhead Highway, was paved from Abilene to El Paso. 4th street, as I remember, was the one that ran in front of the Library, the County Court House, and Post Office. It was paved all the way to the high school. We lived on the corner of 4th and Cherry.

Ray Thompson
Yeah, ain't this fun?!  Sure know that in Weatherford they have preserved a tiny stretch of the Bankhead Highway, complete with the old red bricks!  My mom always told everyone about that because Senator(?) Bankhead was one of our cantaloupe customers! As I understand it, the Bankhead Highway was the beginning of our present interstate highway system.

Jim Slack
Ray, was your farm the one out by the old Country club? My dad ran the Pecos Battery Company until 43 when he moved to Ft. Worth.  I rescued his little baby Austin delivery truck from the junk heap and spent about a year getting it repaired and de-acidized. I drove it to school for several years.

Ray Thompson
Jim, I think you mean the one way West of town on Highway 80, near the Easterbrook farm?  No, we lived on Highway 80, north of the T&P tracks, but not that far out.  We lived south of Haley Bryan, and east of Harold and Bessie Wendt.  Here is a picture of our old house...

Hershel Cox
In 1941 I worked in a Sinclair service Station at 3rd and Cypress. The Judge Roy Bean building was across the street where the Security State Bank is now. The fire whistle blew EVERY DAY at 12 noon except on Sunday (Probably out of respect for the Baptist, whose Preacher usually held them much past noon!)

The only paved streets North an South were Carlsbad Highway north, and Stockton Highway south to about Tenth street and Cypress, between 2nd and 4th streets. 2nd and 4th streets were paved from Stockton Highway to the old High School. 3rd. street was paved all the way. Ft. Stockton Highway was dirt road all the way from Pecos to the County line, 30 miles to the south.

In 1946 or 1947 I owned and lived in a house that still stands at 7th and Oak Street. A paving program was started by the city and Brown and Root paved a lot of streets. Each lot was assessed the cost of the paving. Cost me just over $ 300.00 to pave 115 feet of Oak St. This assessment was not optional unless you owned, lived on, and claimed a homestead exemption on it. If you were "exempt" and claimed it, your part of the street was left unpaved, (half the street width and the length of your lot.)

The Stockton Highway was paved sometime in the mid 40's as was the Stockton to Sanderson Road. The Balmorhea road was paved in the early 40s. I went over it before it was paved and it was very rocky and very rough causing many a flat tire.

Sara (Boone) Kain
I checked with Jan Shirley Knox, and we agree: the siren blew every noon and on Thursday nights when the volunteer firemen met for training.

Larnce and Patricia Hartman
 Thanks for the good work in keeping up with us "older"  ones of PHS. I worked for a contractor paving streets in Pecos in 1951. Paid for my street at 1303 Cypress in 1957 or 58. Worked for the Smiths at the Mobil station in 1948 where, each Sunday, I washed all five of Pecos Cab Co's Plymouth Taxi cabs; it was an all day chore as there were no paved streets East of the Stockton Highway!

James Hughes
Ray, I lived on North Alamo (one of the unpaved streets).  I graduated in 1949 in same class as your sister Barbara.  Don't know if she will remember me.  Tell her "hello."  Thought I remembered you, and when I checked my '47 annual and found your picture - it proved my memory was correct.
My grandfather, Jim Moore, was custodian the old Jr. High and football field for thirty years until about the time I graduated. I am enjoying the news of days gone by in Pecos.

W.F. Dub Martin
Ray, I can testify as to some streets being unpaved in the late 40s and early 50s.  I worked at Jack and Bill's Texaco (across from Al's) after school and in the summers.  Some folks between fifth and sixth streets (Valliants, Wanslows, Brownlees, Tolls, and others living on Bois darc asked that the used oil be spread along their street from 5th to 6th. We did so about once a month.  Today the environmentalists would hang us all!