The Panhandle Trip — Part One

In a lengthy letter to H.P. Lovecraft dated December 5, 1935, Howard details a trip he took with his parents to the Texas Panhandle. It was likely the final family vacation the Howards took. Howard mentions in the letter it was a 400 mile drive from Cross Plains to Amarillo. While it was a long drive, Howard stretched it out a bit — the distance was closer to 300 miles using highways existing in 1935. The trip actually happened in late July 1935 and one of the goals of the drive was to see if the higher altitudes of the Panhandle would improve Hester’s health.

I think I sent you some pictures of the Panhandle. My parents and I went to Amarillo in the latter part of July. None of us had ever been to that city, and I wanted to see if the high altitude, 4500 feet, might help a persistent cough that had been bothering my mother. Those upland plains are monotonous to look at, but the atmosphere whips fresh blood and new life through the veins; at least it always did with me. We ate our dinner at the little town of Post, a few miles this side the Cap Rock.

The town where the Howard family stopped for dinner, Post, Texas, was the utopian vision of breakfast cereal baron and troubled genius C.W. Post. Post purchased 200,000 acres of ranchland to establish his ideal city in 1907. Originally named “Post City,” it sits on the fringe of the caprock escarpment of the Llano Estacado, the southeastern edge of the Great Plains. C.W. Post founded The Double U Company to develop the town. Double U built a number of quaint houses and other structures, which included the Algerita Hotel, a gin, and a textile plant. He hoped to create an oasis in the beautiful High Plains of Texas. But two issues wrecked havoc with his plans — lack of water and the dry, hot weather. As the old real estate saying goes, “location, location, location” and Post picked a less than ideal location to build his town. Still he did not give up, going so far as to use dynamite to summon rain — with no luck.

Every street in Post was lined with trees and landscaping and both liquor and brothels were prohibited. The settlers had the option of renting or buying houses and farms from Double U. Post had a post office, which began in a tent during the year of Post City’s founding. By 1909, the town had a school, a bank and a newspaper. The city continued to grow and prosper when the railroad reached the town in 1910. “City” was dropped from the name of Post City when it was incorporated in 1914, the same year C. W. Post passed away. When it was incorporated, Post had a population of 1,000, ten retail businesses, a dentist, a physician, a sanitarium, an apartment building and a number of churches, including Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian houses of worship. Over the years the town has flourished and is a thriving community of 5,300 people today.

Isaac, Hester and Robert continued their trip north to Lubbock and Plainview. Once they passed Lubbock, they were farther north than they had been before.

Read Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five