The story of Marlin:

"A hot artesian spring was struck by accident in 1893 and the town became known for its curative waters. This was the era of health awareness (people became aware of how little they had) and what better excuse was there for leaving home, than 'taking the cure' in Marlin?

"Even today you can drink from a fountain from that era, right next to the Chamber of Commerce Office. You can soak your feet too, and they've thoughtfully provided a separate facility for that purpose.

"Water has a tendancy to purge and locals have timed it's effects at 43 minutes."

So that’s why people took the waters? Because everyone was constipated?

Anyway: six thousand souls, or so. Twenty-five miles southeast of Waco.

This is right on the edge of downtown, which tells you a lot.
I’m guessing someone tried to make the place on a left a fancy-style restaurant - the classy door and unusual window don’t fit with a retail overhaul. Maybe a lawyer’s office.
The building on the right is the brother who dressed like most folk and thought his sibling always wanted to be fancy for some fool reason.

Also citizens state bank

For an OUMB, it fulfills the references to the old style, suggesting columns, which suggests the strength of the past, which unfortunately suggests all the old banks that went teats-up in the small towns in the 20s.

A local store of note, now notable no more

Storefront church now? And what’s that strange object on the right with the photos of people?

Bury ‘em in one of these! Worms’ll never git at ‘em.

Unfortunate awning, but the building seems to have survived with its embellishments intact. We'll meet it again in a bit.

Wow. I can’t begin to figure this out.

Renovation for hip store in the 60s? Intentional varied colors, or flaky paint? There’s no sign of the original facade, and usually a paint job will leave some outlines.

Now showing: the back of your mouth

Nothing of note on cinema treasures; an unheralded place. Except for this recollection from a fellow who grew up in Texas in the 30s.

. . . my brother and I ran the few blocks to the Strand Theatre where the "Shoot 'em up" westerns were playing. I can still feel the tingle of excitement waiting in the darkened room for the movie to start. When that first flicker of light came across the screen the place went wild. The western stars of those days were Buck Jones, Hopalong Cassidy, Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson, and Tom Mix among others. When the movie was over we would meet mother and dad coming out of the Palace theatre.

On the trip back home the stark reality sank in that we were about to face another six days of labor. But for a short time there in the darkness of the Strand theatre we were lifted far above everyday life - enjoying Western adventure with a tummy full of nickel hamburgers and R.C. Cola.

It used to be a Radio Shack, if that matters.

I don't think it matters.

The line of windows indicates that it wasn’t born with a deep cut for showcases.

Sign of a better time for downtown, that little place.

Yelp says it’s permanently closed.

“Sure, just drive it in here.”

“Okay, but what will you do with the car once I put it there?”


About that building in the distance - you know what it is, right?

The Hilton, built in 1929.

It’s now the Falls, or was. Or will be: news reports say it’s being restored.

The other theater mentioned in the passage above:

Photos show the Palace Cafe next door, referenced in the recollection, still exists. At least the sign’s there.

When you want to get a tourist boom from people who read “The Road”

Looks newly dead, and dang: how do you not make money with one of these in small-town Texas?

This makes me want to go back and see where, exactly, the big-box store with its loss-leader gas is located . . .

Ah. There’s a McDonald’s and a Shell out by the Wal-Mart. So there you go.

This has the look of an important place. Lawyer’s offices.

Maybe even painless dentistry.

You bought that rusticated tin from a mail-order catalogue, nailed it up yourself.

That would be GARDERE & HOLLOWAY.

That’s right: it’s the Ace store we saw up top.
Ten miles before: "Might be a cold RC and a place to sit next town over."

"Eh, keep driving."