What do you get when you send $15 and two 30-something best friends to Mullin, Texas, on a regular ol’ workday? Give up? Okay, okay… I’ll spill the beans. I’m quite sure the suspense is killing you. You get a DANG good time. Seriously. I had the time of my life in Mullin, Texas.
Christy and I set off towards Mullin at about 11am last Thursday. I was certain I’d never been there before. Heck, I didn’t even know which road would get us there. Honestly, I was not too keen on this road trip, but we needed to go to Mullin for a couple of reasons. Christy was planning to do a little write up about the Duren Hotel there (which is SO beautiful and peaceful, by the way, but I’m going to leave it to her to tell you about that). And, I needed to go to Mullin to meet this week’s cowboy.
Anyway, as we head towards Mullin, my tummy is growlin’! This girl does NOT skip meals. Our conversation goes a little something like this:
Me: Umm… I’m starving. I hope we’re planning to eat at some point?!?
Christy: Yeah… I figure we can eat at that little cafe there in Mullin.
Me: Have you ever been there?
Me: (I look at her like she’s risking her life by taking me somewhere she knows nothing about.) Have you heard anything about it?
Hmmm… okay. Well, here’s the start of our adventure. Sure, I love good food. Sure, I’m the kind of girl that carries hand sanitizer at all times. Yes, I’m the girl that uses a paper towel to open a public bathroom door. Germs really bother me. So, when you go to a wee itty bitty little town without a gas station and one cafe, you really don’t know what you’re gonna get, right? This could push me way, way outside of my comfort zone. But, when I put myself in a mind set that this is an adventure, it’s much easier to momentarily dismiss my OCD.
After a quite enjoyable little jaunt through a winding country road, we roll up to Sandy’s Cafe. It’s a little ol’ metal building with oodles of charm. Really. If you can appreciate really quaint, honest to goodness, down home kind of settings, you’ll appreciate Sandy’s Cafe. I quite like that sort of place because they’re pretty few and far between these days. They are what breathes life and character into these little southern towns. They cannot be recreated in the city. You can’t force it, you can’t copy it… it just happens.
In we go. It’s still a tad early for lunch, so there’s just a couple tables full of people. Of course, as is custom in small towns, they all turn to look at who’s just walked in the door. A gentleman sitting at a table near the door reading a paper turns and obviously knows we’ve never been there before. He greets us and tells us we can sit anywhere. We make our way up a little ramp into the other room & choose a table.
I order a hamburger and fries. Christy orders a hot ham & cheese. When the sweet waitress delivers our food, I’m pretty sure we both looked at my plate, and our jaws dropped. “I can’t wait to see you try to eat that,” Christy laughs. Yeah, that burger was enormous! It was a very generous, very obviously hand formed patty on a jalapeno sourdough bun. And, the fries? The fries are what caught my eye. Golly, I wish I’d taken a picture of this plate, but, at the time, we weren’t expecting our trip to Mullin to turn into a crazy fun day and a story on TexansUnited.com.
Anyway, the fries were also hand cut. They were big ol’ imperfect slices of skin-on fried potatoes. Dang, those babies were good! I managed with my oversized burger despite feeling awkward as heck. Christy’s hot ham & cheese was piled with thick cut ham. It really looked delicious, and she seemed to quite enjoy it. Ha!
It just so happened to be Christy’s birthday, so I’d told her I was planning on treating her to lunch. I get to the register, and the lady gives me my total. “It’ll be $11.84.”
I respond instantly, “Ummm… are you sure that’s right?!? That’s so cheap!” She just kinda looks at me. I quickly do a little math and realize, wow! That IS right. I also realize I’m such a big spender treating my best friend to an $11 birthday lunch. Sheesh.
We pay, and we’re on our way. Next stop: The Duren Hotel. As neither of us had been there before, we weren’t quite sure which way to head. So, we pull off on a side road so Christy could reference her map… okay, okay… her smart phone. Ha! As she’s sitting there trying to figure out where we’re going, I am instantly distracted by the old building across the street.
I hop out of the car and walk over. It’s old. It’s dilapidated. It’s abandoned. There are bright yellow “no trespassing” signs on the doors and windows. The entire front of the building is all windows, and most of them are broken. I peer in and see aisles several of which still have product on the shelves. Christy and I just look at each other. We step back and look up at the faded old sign. It’s a grocery store. But, it’s a grocery store that just seemed to close the doors and lock up one day never to open again. So strange. There’s a stack of Cut-Rite Wax Paper on the shelves. Styrofoam bowls. It’s kind of eerie how the store still exists but has been untouched in years.
And, then we peer in the windows of the adjoining building. It was an auto parts store. And, it’s state is really similar to the grocery store. Just… closed. It’s bizarre, really. This is a mystery to me. How does that happen? How do things just up and close one day?
From there, we look across the way and see a really cool old garage. It sits kind of caddy corner on the intersection of the two (relatively) scarcely travelled roads. The whole length of one side still bears the big, bold letters spelling “GARAGE.” And, scattered around the property are old VW Bugs amongst other old cars. Glancing through the windows of that place reveals that those walls still contain old machinery applicable to the business.
It was such a beautiful day. The sky was so very blue. The sun was warm. And, we were enveloped by the silence and mystery of this little town. We speculated much. We appreciated the treasures that were, unfortunately, sitting untouched and unwanted in these buildings. We simply enjoyed the company of a good friend in a small town on a beautiful day. We became engrossed, together, in it’s history.
With countless questions, Christy spots the tiny little post office across the way. “We should go in there and ask some questions,” she says. I follow her across the street and into the post office. As we walk through the door, the old boxes are staring us right in the face, and we instantly look at each other in disbelief. This little town is becoming more charming and rich with history and mystery at every single turn. Wow. Those boxes were truly beautiful.
After I snap a couple images on my phone, we approach the fella working there and start in with questions. Poor guy. When he finds the space to interject, he lets us know that he’s filling in from Goldthwaite and knows nothing. Ha! Okay. Whelp… I guess the questions will go unanswered for now.
And, that… that was the extent of our trip to downtown Mullin. Old businesses, old buildings, old roads that once bustled with life and activity but are now abandoned and lifeless… it intrigues me and saddens me at the same time. And, so my love affair with Mullin began.
This cannot possibly be enough to equate to “the time of my life” as I stated in the first paragraph, can it? No, no. It was just a piece of the pie. To read the next leg of the adventure, check out Christy’s piece about the Duren Hotel.
**I did not take all of these images. The one of Sandy’s Cafe and the old auto parts & grocery store building were taken from Google Images.**