The Danger of Making Assumptions

When you write about someplace you’ve never been, assumptions can be dangerous. When you write about someplace you haven’t been in a long time, the same is true.

Alpine, TX is my dad’s home town. We just returned from there. We got to see close to 15 cousins and other relatives. Prior to this visit, I hadn’t been there in close to forty years. This time frame was the subject of great debate and we never settled on a number.

Alpine may be the county seat but it is still a small town. Alpine then had a very limited number of places to eat. I suspect the Holland Hotel may have had a really nice restaurant. We only ever had Dairy Queen. There were also “taco shacks,” people cooking tacos and tamales out of their homes.

I’m sure there were places to shop. After all, people bought groceries and ranch supplies. Sears delivered chicks in the spring.

I also remember racism. I may not have been aware of it as a casual visitor but I was with family. I was also a kiddo so people sometimes spoke as if I was invisible.

So much had changed. Normally when someone starts a conversation like that they are about to start fussing, but really? It was amazing and wonderful. There are antique shops and galleries. There are multiple restaurants including fusion. We ate at the poshest place in town. We also ate at Las Casitas, which was one of the original taco shacks and now takes up a whole house. So good!

Among the treasures we found was the best bookstore we’ve ever visited. Hats off to Front Street Books. Please forgive the first photo which I took through the car window but I didn’t spot their sign until we were pulling out of town. Love this! The last photo is the children’s room. For a change all of my purchases were books for adult readers but I was amazed by the number of signed titles and the number of books I’ve already read. If you find yourself in West Texas, stop by this amazing bookstore.

Alpine is a town of approximately 6,029 people. I live in a small city of approximately 51,220 people. They have a bookstore. We don’t.

So many warnings were heaped on us as we planned our trip. Texas is so conservative. Keep your mouth shut. And, really? I’m sure those people are here but what we found were lots of friendly people and a small town full of surprises.

If I had written about Alpine without visiting Alpine, I would have probably gotten it right or at least close to right. There’s information about a lot of the places we visited online. But I could not have gone with my memories or assumptions and done the town justice.

The lesson? Before you write about a location, do your research.

Thank you to my cousin Zelda for recommending it!

–SueBE