in a Pecan Shell
after the railroad president, Roy Megargel, this is a case where the town might
seriously consider a name change. It's not a name that is easily pronounced and
therefore the town tends to be forgotten.
town dates from 1910. There is one main street with many brick buildings, some
of which have been destroyed by fire.
sprang up overnight, since large discounts were given to people who developed
their lots within 60 days. The town had 23 stores, a bank, hotel and post office
within 90 days of its founding.
was discovered in the 1920s, but the boom wasn't nearly as big as other towns.
The high school is said to have the first high school band in the State, for what
that is worth. It began its decline in 1930 and the bank folded in 1941.
to The Handbook of Texas, the Class of 1960 consisted of five students,
the same as 1918.
to Sammy Tise's Texas County Sheriffs - The Archer County Sheriff was killed
in a shootout close to Megargel in August of 1925. His name was E. Harrison Ikard
and his wife Maude was appointed to take his place after his death. The
town is not without charm, and it is a shame that the main street storefronts
are mostly closed.
Drive Around Megargel - "A very photogenic town." - Barclay Gibson
Texas Historical Marker
School Gym - Another Megargel Landmark - by
Jamo C. Powell
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closed 1927 Megargel High School|
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, April 2009
High School entrance|
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, April 2009
Megargel Bluebird Band Marker|
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, April 2009
Megargel High School Gym
by Jamo C. Powell, Colonel (Ret.) US
recently sent me an article written by Gwen Cook and published in the Houston
Chronicle October 18, 1997. Gwen, a former Megargelite, wrote a wonderful article
about the old Megargel watertower. Like Gwen, I wish I could have been
there to see it on that last day when it was finally brought down. I only lived
in Megargel during my high school years, but that watertower with MEGARGEL written
in black, block letters across its silver colored tank is a lasting memory of
The relatively flat topography of the area enabled one to see the
watertower from miles away and from just about any direction. I particularly remember
being able to see it while riding the schoolbus. We could see and "home in" on
the watertower for almost the entire four mile bus ride. No question about it,
the watertower was Megargel's most prominent landmark (the highest, certainly)
and one I assumed would always be there. Now, some 45 years later, I marvel that
it remained a faithful beacon as long as it did.
When I first read Gwen
Cook's article around Christmas time, it made me think of another venerable Megargel
landmark; one that had a very sizable impact on me and virtually every other Megargel
Mustang for almost half a century. I toyed with the idea of writing about
it, but kept putting it off. Then, a week or so ago, I happened to see a rerun
of the movie "Hoosiers". This is a movie about Basketball, folks -- and
I mean basketball with a capital B. Indiana takes its high school basketball very
seriously and the movie did a great job of presenting the hard work, pain and,
if you win, elation inherent to the game at that level.
As an aside,
the fellow who played the high school principal in the movie was Sheb Wooley.
Sheb is best known for his hit song "The Purple People Eater" and marrying a Megargel
girl (whose name I can't recall, unfortunately).
So, Gwen's fine article
about the old watertower, reinforced by a strong dose of "Hoosiers", has inspired
me to write a few words about another important Megargel landmark -- the Megargel
High School Gym.
When I first came to Megargel in 1950, the gym was
only a couple of years old. I have to admit, from the outside, it looked an awful
lot like a big tin barn (and still does). But inside that barnlike exterior was
the best looking and best playing basketball court for at least 50 miles in any
direction. Pete Peterson, our wonderful coach, kept the floor polished to perfection
and woe be to anyone careless enough to walk on it in street shoes. We were proud
of our gym and when other teams came to play in it for the first time, they were
obviously impressed. Most of them had to play in little crackerbox gyms where
the out-of-bounds lines were so close to the walls you could barely find room
to stand when you threw the ball in-bounds. Yes, we were truly blessed.
About 1950 Megargel stopped playing football. With our small student body, it
was just too difficult to field a competitive 11 man football team. In recent
years the Mustangs have returned to the gridiron via the 6 man football route.
I don't remember that being an option in the early '50s. At any rate, in the absence
of football, basketball became our primary sports interest (for both boys and
girls) and we spent a great deal of our spare time in the gym "shooting baskets."
Even during the summer and on weekends you would usually find a few cars
or pickups parked outside the gym and a "pick-up" game going on inside. All of
this extracurricular practice, plus the fact that, without football, we could
start practicing basketball seriously as soon as school started resulted in some
pretty successful seasons in the early '50s. Indeed, just like the kids in the
"Hoosiers" movie, we experienced a taste of elation a few times ourselves.. Most
notable of which was regularly beating Woodson (a particular nemesis of ours)
and winning District one year.
Let me hasten to add here that I was not
one of our better players. But even as a "sub", I took away some very rewarding
and lasting memories of Megargel High School basketball, my coach and teammates,
and our gym when I graduated in 1953.
We always had outstanding support
from our families and other Megargel residents; the gym was filled to capacity
at every home game. Without question the gym was the center of community activity
and spirit during basketball season. When you consider that literally thousands
of students and local residents have made use of this building since its erection,
you begin to realize just how important it has been to Megargel. I have no idea
what the future holds for this grand old gym, but I hope it will continue to be
around for a long time to serve the needs of the school and community.
Every five years, I return to Megargel for our High School Reunion. It is really
a great day for all of us -- former students, parents and our own children and
grandchildren. We include five graduating classes in our particular reunion. For
example, the classes of 1950 thru 1955. Since our classes were so small (average
size about 16 or 17), everybody knows everybody else at the reunion. I imagine
we all dread the day a little bit, wondering how well others will think we've
held up over the past five years. But, once there, that's all forgotten. It's
almost like going back in time as we see classmates and rekindle old friendships
One thing I always do sometime during that day is wander
off toward that old tin barn of a gym. I go inside and just stand there for awhile
thinking about other days. I notice that a lot of other reunion attendees do also.
It still looks pretty much the same inside. It's got glass backboards now and
the paint scheme is a little different, but the floor is still polished brightly
and looks as good as it did nearly 50 years ago. And I still take off my shoes
before I shoot a basket or two because even after so many years, I certainly wouldn't
want Coach Peterson (now deceased) to catch me with my shoes on.
© Jamo C. Powell
Originally published in the
Olney Enterprise on April 9, 1998.
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remember Megargel for the friendly wave I got driving down the former main street.
That doesn't happen as often as one would think. And now I know that a resident
is a Megargelite. - Editor, 6/24/02 |
high school years in Megargel were a watershed experience for me. I didn't move
there unitl my sophomore year and had been a "city kid" prior to that time. I
had to adjust to living and working on my father's ranch, going to a small school,
and not having many outlets for recreation (except basketball). What I remember
most fondly is the friendliness and congeniality of the people -- all 300 of them
at the time. They were independent, no-nonsense hard workers who would give you
the shirt off their backs if they thought you needed it. They still are.
Whenever I go back to Megargel (and next door neighbor Olney) it's a little like
stepping back in time to the '50s. Everything looks pretty much the same. The
people still dress the same, still talk the same, and still have the weather as
the major topic of conversation (as well they should because the weather is probably
the biggest factor in their success or failure as wheat farmers and ranchers).
Nostalgia smacks me right in the face whenever I return.
Well, I think that's the accurate term. I believe that's what they still refer
to themselves as.
By the way, if you look hard enough in James Mitchener's
TEXAS, you'll see Megargel mentioned in a couple of sentences -- something about
the population sign on the outskirts of town. I can't recall the exact verbage.
- Jamo C. Powell, Colonel (Ret.) US Army, Sarasota, Florida, 6/24/02
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