1. Hometown history

Before getting started on the short travel through time these next few days/weeks, I’d like to start with a couple of entries that I think are necessary to set up my ghostly experiences.

I grew up in a small town called Edcouch, named after its founder Edward Couch. Now, I repeat what I know about its history from memory from a history class I had in the seventh or eighth grade. We studied the histories of Edcouch and neighboring city Elsa. Both communities were known as the Twin Cities because of their close ties and overall familiarity with each other. Even the school district is called Edcouch-Elsa ISD.

Today the two towns struggle to stay alive, although Elsa is faring much better, being the home of various businesses like Wal-Mart, Jack-in-the-Box, Whataburger, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar’s, Diary Queen, McDonald’s and, of course, H-E-B.

Edcouch, on the other hand, is struggling to maintain its relevance, have nary a gas station within city limits to quench your ride’s thirst. Just like almost everything else, you have to take the two-mile drive or less to Elsa and get your necessities.

But that hasn’t always been the case.

When both towns were first founded, Edcouch began growing quickly, becoming home to various businesses. That was largely due because the Missouri-Pacific train would travel through with goods back in the 1920s and 30s. Edcouch was the place to be for business and consumers alike. The city’s unofficial slogan was, “Edcouch: Where 30 minutes is ancient history,” or something along those lines.

Elsa was no different. Even their main factory (I think it was a food canning operation) was definitely the center of town and also mere hundreds of yards from the MoPac railway. The canning business was such a large part of the city’s business that most major streets led straight to it. The roads, similiar to those of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (or the White House), went south to north, north to south, east to west, and diagnally to meet at the end where the canning plant was.

Both cities were booming, and business was good. Folks would travel as far away from Brownsville, what now is an hour and a half drive almost by a car going up to 80 mph in some stretches on the expressway. Who knows how long it took by horse and buggy? But folks would make the trip to conduct their business in these two cities.

But as most of the nation was at the beginning of the 20th century, there was segregation. The Mexicans were kept to one side of town and were forbidden to travel across certain boundaries after hours and were even handed a curfew each night.

Segregation or not, the railroad still brought fortune with it in every load of supplies it left local businesses.

Then the stock market crashed.

With that came the same fate that did of the rest of the country. Business closed down, people stopped traveling to the Twin Cities, and slowly the cities began a slow death. Nearly 100 years later, save some prosperity in recent years, it’s still suffering.

Now, this part I wasn’t taught, but going through what I experienced when living in both cities, I know something else may have been going on that history doesn’t explain. With so much business and clientelle, and so much money exchanging hands, surely there should have been some vagrants, robbers, heists, thieves and the like attracted to the area. Back in those days, one can only imagine what justice was like. Perhaps death from gunfights? Hangings? Who knows?

One thing I drew a conclusion from, after I learned that most of the supernatural goings on that I have experienced and that I’ve heard others speak of, all occured very near where those railroad tracks used to lay. What went on? I don’t know, but experiences of mine, my family, and friends who leaved within 100 yards of the railroad all seemed to coincidental.

Growing up I’m still not sure if we were poor. We did live in a four-room wooden house built on concrete ‘risers’ (I can’t remember the word I’m looking for, but as soon as I do I’ll come back and edit that). My parents shared one bedroom, my sister claimed the other, and I think my brother and I took turns on the couch and carpeted floor at night in the living room. The other room was the kitchen, and the bathroom wasn’t added until I was very young, so I dont remember much about showering in the shed out in the back that doubled as a shower with a toilet in the corner. Taking a shower during the winter (whicha re mild in deep South Texas) was still pretty rough.

Either way, I saw plenty. I heard plenty, and was uncomfortable at times. But most of the time, growing up with it on nearly a daily basis, I didn’t think much of what was happening. It wasn’t until later when I realize that sort of activity is not normal.

Hearing voices, shadows, losing toys only to find them later just where you left them even though it was the first place you looked, feeling touched, and getting a sudden chill were experiences not normal for a six-year old.

But of my brother, sister and parently, why was I the only one who could see, feel, smell and hear these things? Well, that guess will be my next installment.

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