Days Gone By in Antelope, TX
The passage of time has always intrigued me.
Sometimes it’s the blink of an eye, like the 1/500th of second shutter speed setting on my camera. And in that fraction of a second, a scene many, many decades in the making can be captured for future generations yet to come. Other times it may be how slowly the minutes or hours seem to pass when you’re anticipating something good is about to happen.
Recently, I managed to find myself in Antelope, Texas of all places, thanks to a tip from a fellow photog friend of mine. The town site of Antelope, according to its historical marker, was platted in 1875 and at one time, had about 400 residents. There are just a handful of folks living in the area now.
Now 1875 seems like a very long time ago, until I stop to think about the sandstone blocks used in building two of the more significant structures in town. The millions of years that passed from the time they were formed in the earth, to the day they were quarried for construction is hard to imagine. The Antelope Community Center is still standing on the main road through town, although it has been closed for several years and is showing a lot of deterioration. The other is the old high school gymnasium. What a cool building. It was constructed as a Work Projects Administration or WPA enterprise in 1938 according to the plaque by the front doors.
Inside, the orange metal goals are still fastened to the backboards but, the wooden floor of the basketball court has warped and buckled and rotted. The roof overhead, though supported by large, sturdy trusses, is slowly allowing the sun and the occasional rain to come through. Everywhere you look, you feel like you’ve been transported back in time thanks to the architecture, wooden bleachers, light fixtures and the lettering on the wall reminding everyone that only gym shoes are allowed on the court surface.
If you stand still and let the quiet come, it’s pretty easy to hear the echoes of a basketball thumping, sneakers squeaking and a ref’s whistle from so many yesterdays, so long ago.