Bagwell or Bust

At 12:30, Central Time, a bunch of Howard Heads will gather at the Monument Inn near Houston to celebrate Glenn Lord’s birthday with the man himself. I missed last year’s party, but decided the budget could afford another trip to Texas this year. So here I am, with a couple of hours to wait before the party. Maybe a little blog post will kill some time. As long as I was going to Houston, I figured I should stop in Bagwell. I know, I know, Houston is way down south and Bagwell is almost in Oklahoma: Details.

About the only thing Bagwell has going for it these days is a post office. There are a couple of small churches and a community center, too, but these were all closed yesterday morning. Bagwell is important because it was the first place Robert E. Howard went to school; it’s also in the “Piney Woods” region of Texas, which serves as the setting in many of Howard’s yarns: “Pigeons from Hell,” etc. The school itself is long gone; the community center stands there now. Off in the brush which must have been a playground at one time, stand two basketball hoops. They’re rusted and without hoops, but the names of the sponsors are still legible on the backboards.

Like the schoolhouse, the “old Baker place” where the Howards lived is long gone. If I followed the directions given to me by Rusty Burke correctly, all that’s left of the old abode (below) is dirt.

As a matter of fact, there was nothing that dated back to 1913-15, the time when the Howards lived there. That is, almost nothing. Thanks to the previous visits of Mr. Burke, as well as that of Christopher Fulbright and Angeline Hawkes, all of whom wrote about their experiences in the pages of REHupa mailings, I knew there was at least one old building in town: the former Church of Christ building. I talked to an old guy, born in 1914, and he confirmed that the building below has been around longer than he has.

After finishing my tour of Bagwell, rather than start south, I headed further east to look around Clarksville, the County Seat of Red River County. But that’s a story for another day.