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Texas Panhandle Ghost Town

"The town we are approaching was Perico."
No longer on the map, it resides now in the heart of one Amarillian.

From an Interview with former resident Hugh Hamilton.
by John Troesser
Editor's note: Thanks to Ghost Town Editor Erik Whetstone, we are able to share the two photos seen on the Perico page. In fact, if Erik hadn't sent them, it's doubtful we'd ever have coverage of Perico. This page was seen recently by Mr. Hugh Hamilton of Amarillo who took the time to write to us and ask if our readers would be interested in hearing what he remembers of the town for the years 1935-1943. Mr. Hamilton is now retired from 26 years of service to the Amarillo Street Department. We called him at his home and the following is based on this telephone interview:
Mr. Hugh Hamilton was born in 1928 in a Dallam County place even smaller than Perico. This was Carlina, Texas and was described by Mr. Hamilton as a crossroads community of about 20 acres. It was said that there had once been a lumberyard, but if there was, it was long before young Hugh entered school.

The Hamiltons lived on half a section of land, 16 miles from Clayton, New Mexico and 35 miles from Dalhart. The Hamiltons shared this expanse with several head of cattle, a couple of dogs and more rattlesnakes than the cattle and dogs combined. Banking was done in Dalhart while groceries (besides what was available at the Perico store) were bought in Clayton. Entertainment was provided by movie theaters in Clayton (The Luna) or Dalhart (The Rita).
Old gas station in Perico, Texas
Gas Station at Perico
Photo courtesy Erik Whetstone, April 2004
The Town:
Mr. Hamilton visited Perico in January of 2005 and notes that the town's sign is still there. He describes Perico as having once had many more buildings than the few standing today. For one thing there was a depot (constructed of old boxcars) and a water tower for the steam locomotives that occassionally stopped. Towering over the tiny town was the large wooden grain elevator which has since disappeared.

With such a small population, it was natural that townspeople often performed more than one job. Hugh's father (Hugh Hamilton Sr.) ran the Phillips 66 gas station and drove a school bus and Mr. Timmerman was both storekeeper and postmaster. The town's other filling station was run by a man named Grady Edge.

Mail came by rail and left or arrived by way of a "sack catcher" (the pole, ring and canvas bag system often seen in old cartoons). In the event something fragile was being delivered, the train would slow to a crawl and the item(s) left on the platform.
The Railroad:
Besides the depot and water tower, railroad buildings included the section foreman's two-story house and section crew housing made of old boxcars. The railroad was the Fort Worth and Denver, which has since evolved into the Burlington.
Abandoned schoolhouse in Perico, Texas
The abandoned school
Photo courtesy Erik Whetstone, April 2004
The School:
The Perico school taught classes one to twelve, and total enrollment was estimated to be only 50. Graduating classes were often just a pair of students. The school had four classrooms, an office and a basement. Heating was provided by a coal-burning furnace which heated a boiler that sent steam up through the floor to the radiators. Behind the school were two other buildings. One was a designated teacherage and the other (described as having a "shotgun" floor plan) was believed to serve the same purpose. The school janitor during young Hugh's enrollment was a man named Phonas Rolman.

Water was supplied by a windmill and suppy tank.

The school had the luxuries of indoor plumbing and interior staircases.

When asked if he remembered one teacher over the others, Mr. Hamilton recalled one teacher named Ileta Graves. He remembers that "If you paid attention, she'd teach you something."

Perico schoolteachers from 1935-1943 were:
Miss Muse, Ileta Graves, Mrs Kenedy, ____ Blankenship, Hayden Pate and Miss Van Hoose.
Homemade School Buses:
Perico's school bus drivers were also the town's mechanics so it wasn't considered a monumental chore to build buses by using old automobile chassis. The school had three buses built along this plan. A wooden body similar to a modern camper shell was built and attached to the old frame. Seating was provided by three benches that ran the length of the bus. Heating was provided by running the bus' exhaust pipe up through the floor under the middle seat. Egress was through a single rear door.

School Bus Drivers remembered by Mr. Hamilton were: Jim Bass, Grady Edge, Hugh Hamilton Sr., Delbert Stewart and Roy Kenedy.
John Troesser

Anyone else who remembers Perico and would like to share their remembrances, please contact us.

Our thanks to Mr. Hamilton for sharing his story with our readers.

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