Proud to Be a Texan

The Texas Story Project.

When my parents arrived at Sheppard Air Force Base in 1958 with three young children, they didn’t have any idea how the course of their lives would change. That hot summer day felt like hell on earth to the young family from Watervliet, New York. However, there was something about the kindness, friendliness, and pioneer spirit of the people that roped them in. 

I married 39 years ago and moved 25 miles down Highway 79 to Archer City. I couldn’t believe you had to drive 50 miles round-trip to go bowling or see a movie. After two children, I realized how the community was more like a family than just neighbors. This became even more evident when I landed the position as director of the Archer Public Library. Through the years, I have lost so many members of my Archer County family. My patrons and I have often joked about the library being the “Cheers” bar of Archer County. Everybody definitely knows everyone else’s name.

When you ask me to tell a story about a time I was proud to be a Texan, I will tell you that it was the time when I left my daughter’s house, who married a wonderful Louisiana Cajun, and I said, “Bye, y’all!” My two-and-a-half-year-old grandson immediately replied the same. After much laughter, his dad shook his head and said, “That is what it means to be Texan!”

However, ask me the proudest moment to be an Archer County Texan, and I will tell you the story of a couple who visited the library. Archer City is home to Larry McMurtry, whom all good Texans should know, and is also home to his rare book store, Booked Up. We get visitors to our small community from throughout the world, most of whom drop by the library. On one pleasant spring day, which happens very infrequently in our part of Texas, a couple of senior citizens walked in and we visited about Texas and Archer City specifically. They kept talking about how peaceful it was. Peace was a word repeated numerous times. Finally, my curiosity piqued, and I asked where they lived. They replied, “On a kibbutz in Israel.” Tears formed in my eyes, and my skin became a field of bumps. It was hard to continue the visit, but I managed and hugged these lovely visitors to my oasis in life goodbye.

Small-town Texas is a parade attended by hundreds as a final goodbye to a fallen soldier. It is fundraisers and blood donations for seriously ill citizens. It is people getting together to roll koulourakias (Greek pastries) to raise money to provide meals for homebound neighbors. It is pulling together to help people during a hundred year blizzard, flood or grassfire.  Thank you Texas for claiming me!

Cheryl Beesinger has lived in the North Texas area for most of her life, attended school in Wichita Falls, been the director of the Archer Public Library for twenty years, been married to the love of her life, Ronnie, for 39 years. She has two children and one and a half grandchildren. 

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