By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Yes We Can

Two years ago, after a 20 year absence, I moved back to Corsicana.

It’s been an interesting experience, a sense of “a stranger in a familiar land,” though I’ve acclimated well enough in the time since my return. Of course, the last year wasn’t standard by any means, and it’s hard not to feel changed as life is finally emerging on the other side.

I’ve experienced Corsicana from two perspectives: A born and raised kid who had his places and his routines and his people. These days, I’m experiencing it as someone who spent twenty years “out there” in the wilds of America, and came back to reestablish himself within his personal roots.

So how is it “different?”

For starters, I’m not the same kid who ran wild in the wooded areas of suburbia. I was content playing hackey sack on the tennis courts, and hanging out at the movie theater. There are random times I think of Hugh Fullerton of Fullerton’s Grocery, and how Dad would always talk to him whenever he and I went in to pick out dinner choices. I still sometimes miss having Humbert’s Hickory House, Bill’s Fried Chicken, and Carpenter’s Hamburgers as options to throw in the food mix.

Oh, that barbecue sauce of Humbert’s…. I miss that “personality” food.

Getting older, I’ve come to realize how much personality drives a small town, and how it’s people you grew up with who make the most difference. There were “fixtures” here that I miss, old friends and neighbors, classmates grown up and moved on, certainly my family….

I think of Dad’s colleagues at the college: Dan Nesmith, Mike Prim, Don Mershawn, and so many others, all long-time fixtures of my household before they ever became my instructors.

But our old hangouts are a type of personality as well. For me, there’s still a few favorites left, but it’s hard not to drive by empty or altered buildings and neighborhoods, remembering what once was. Fortunately some are surprisingly still seem untouched by time.

There’s been some positive and welcome changes since I’ve returned. It’s good seeing downtown growing and having things to do again. I remember all those fancy department stores Mom took me to as a kid. I also remember where downtown was literally a ghost town for a few years. But downtowns in general have been making a comeback. I watched Las Vegas turn their downtown from pretty grim and rundown to something that when they decided to renovate it, really fix it up, it was the place to be.

I can see that potential in today’s version of Corsicana’s downtown. I think a lot of things were meant to “turn that corner” before COVID hit, but at least things are looking to get back on track. I personally think the downtown area has a lot of options with the right inspiration, motivation, and growth.

I do want more of a nightlife down there. Corsicana could definitely benefit from not just a spot, but a set “hangout” area.

Two years ago, if you had asked me what my role would be for Corsicana, I certainly wouldn’t have given this site as an answer. After all my claims of “wanting to help,” my writing eventually became the most logical thing to do. It gives me a place to share stories and put spotlights on people working to do good here. And I think that’s where Corsicana stands to benefit from the most: From the people who want to “make good” for here.

For a while, I missed “my” version of Corsicana. The one that personally inspired me to go off and do all the things I wanted to with my life.

But after a while, I realized this modern version of Corsicana is also “mine.” It’s just different. But so am I. My enthusiasms are just focused differently.

After being away and seeing “home” with fresh eyes, I’m hoping I can do my part to help Corsicana keep rounding that intangible corner. It needs people working together to “make good,” and hopefully, I can add my part to inspire a new generation to come up with the next big thing for here. Nudges and solutions.

After two years, it looks as though I’ve found my place here again.

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