Street Scene


Scan 1

Leaving Krogers’ parking lot, and lacking the aggression needed to cross two lanes of oncoming traffic, hover in the turn lane and then join north bound traffic, I turned right and headed south. 

At the next corner, Lewis Street, I turned right again and drove west to the stop sign at Pearl. There used to be a house on that corner. A driveway and part of a foundation remain. And there’s the tree where they chained their Labrador Retriever, a breed known for gentleness and loyalty.

Another right turn and I was on Pearl, heading North, driving a bit under the 30 mph speed limit, so I could study the massive construction site that backs up to Hayter House.

Where there had been a wide open space, there will be 204 apartment units able to house more than 500 students from the university. A pool and volleyball courts are promised. The lay of the land will be dramatically changed.

Hayter House, located on North Street, which runs parallel to Pearl, will be the leasing office for the apartments. This architectural jewel, designed by Diedrich Rulfs, was La Hacienda Restaurant when we moved to Nacogdoches. Years later it became Farechild’s Restaurant. 

In the decades we’ve lived here, Hayter House has stood empty for long periods of time. I do not remember anyone ever living there. A house prefers occupation.

Crossing Starr Avenue, I passed the apartment complex where, decades ago, we gathered with university folks for a crawfish boil. That day I learned the proper way to eat mudbugs. I also learned Nacogdoches was best described as towns and gowns, them and us, permanence layered with transience.

Nobody at the party was from Nacogdoches, but some of the guests were from Texas. For a species to survive, it must be able to adapt. Third lesson that day — a smart person will keep a foot in both camps.

Most streets that cross Pearl end in a tangle of vines, bushes and trees that line Banita Creek. Rusk is one of those. At the end of that street, there was a building that housed this town’s first animal shelter. It was where we adopted Rose, 52 pounds of yellow-dog protection, and her little terrier friend, Willie. 

Those dogs are gone. The building is gone. All that remains is an ADA ramp that heads into a vine-strangled lot. The new animal shelter on Stallings Drive, away from Banita’s flood plane, makes us all look good. 

At the south end of Pearl is Main Street, El Camino Real. From there a traveler has options that can take her anywhere in the Lone Star State and beyond. Pearl Street is the first leg of a journey.

To the north, Pearl dead ends between two very different worlds: to the east is the back of Northview Plaza with its shops and cinema; to the west is farm land with out buildings and equipment for working land. Pearl is all or nothing, neither here nor there.

Pearl is move-in specials, mobile homes and trailers, one and two bedroom apartments for rent, single and multiple family dwellings, town houses, the backs of businesses and a public park. There are no sidewalks. Parking on the street is not allowed. If planning and zoning ordinances have been applied to Pearl Street they are not decipherable. 

Pearl is sanctuary from the visual and vehicular chaos that is North Street. Pearl defines space and defies time. It’s a sociological study: strata, structure, social stability and instability. It should be a class offered at the university.

I travel that street every chance I get. 

Published: The Daily Sentinel (Nacogdoches, Texas) 

© Judy Morgan 2022 —