While we are here at our Florida park location following stay at home orders, we are going through a lot of memories from last years road trip. My business career introduced me to big town America and small town America was foreign to me. And let me tell you, small town USA is alive!
One of our first stops was Blakely, GA, which is nicknamed the Peanut Capital of the Universe. It is located near U.S. Route 27 and had a population of 5,068 as off the 2010 census. Most notable is that the ancestors of Whitney Houston were from Blakely.
Natchez, Mississippi, was an unexpected diamond on our trip heading west. It is located on the Mississippi River and has a population of more than 15,000. It was a prominent city in the antebellum years, and the homes show the wealth of the cotton farmers and the Mississippi River trade during this time.
The St. Mary Basilica is an architectural masterpiece among Catholic churches in the south and is the only Catholic Cathedral in Mississippi. We were blessed to be able to sit down and experience the wonderful Gothic Revival architecture and to pray for a healthy and safe road trip.
Natchez State Park was a wonderful campground selection and the sunsets were a precious combination of all shades of magenta.
One of our next stops was Zwolle, LA. You are correct, it is named after Zwolle in the Netherlands, since one of the financial partners in the Kansas City Southern Railroad was born in this dutch city and requested that this train stop will carry the name of his birthplace. The town is located in the Sabine Parish of Louisiana and had a population of 1,783 in the last census. The highlight of the year is the annual Tamala Festival celebrating the town's Spanish heritage.
Brenham was one off our first stops in Texas. It is about halfway between Houston and Austin and has a population of more than 15,000. It is also known for it's German heritage festival, which takes place in May. Numerous German immigrants settled here in the mid 19th century. It is a vibrant city and the home of the world's largest BBQ pit.
Brenham is renowned as the heart of the bluebonnet region. Driving along the most scenic wildflower roads we passed also historic sites and attractions, such as the place where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed on March 2nd, 1836.
Gonzales is the county seat of Gonzales, TX and has a population of less than 10,000. It is one of the earliest Anglo-American settlements in Texas and went through some turbulent history. Mexican authorities once tried to get the one and only cannon stationed in Gonzales. However 18 men fought successfully against the 100 Mexican troops in the Battle of Gonzales. They were cheerleaded by their wives that sewed a flag with the words "Come and Take It". The county jail was the first stop on our tour through the town.
Gonzales is also a town with a stark contrast of well to do areas with beautifully renovated homes and areas that had better times.
Stopping at the discovery antique store, which is 4th generation owned, was a stepping back in time experience. BTW, we have made another discovery while in Gonzales: Jerry Hall, Mick Jagger's long time companion and wife, was born and grew up in Gonzales.
Small Town USA is alive, sometimes struggling, people are proud to live here, and they are trying the best to keep Small Town USA going. In the current times more than ever. Having a better perceptive of Small Town America I better understand the song:
Give me a Saturday night with my baby by my side
A little Hank Jr. and a six pack of lights
Old dirt road and I'll just be fine
Give me a Sunday morning that is full with grace
A simple life and I'll be okay
Here in small town U-S-A.