"The town we are approaching was Perico."
Texas Panhandle Ghost Town
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
Thanks to Ghost Town
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:
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).
Station at Perico
Photo courtesy Erik Whetstone, April 2004
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.
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.
Photo courtesy Erik Whetstone, April 2004
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.
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
School Bus Drivers remembered by Mr. Hamilton were: Jim Bass, Grady
Edge, Hugh Hamilton Sr., Delbert Stewart and Roy Kenedy.
Anyone else who remembers Perico and would like to share their remembrances,
Our thanks to Mr. Hamilton for sharing his story with our readers.
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