Throwback Thursday: Proctor, the vice capital of Texas?

Some people say that Proctor is a distrustful town, thriving on immorality to stay around. Others see the rich history of education and rugged determination to remain even with setback after setback. The Examiner will let our readers decide. This is a special trip outside of Brown County. This is Proctor live and uncut.

Proctor was founded in 1872 by Thomas Moore. Moore, who had moved to the area for some reason, realized there were no places to buy anything. He opened up Moore’s Store, and one of the first items stocked in the livery was whisky. As you’ll see, the tale of two cities has existed for quite some time. Another gentleman donated land for a school. A large, two-story rock building was erected. With an imposing shadow overlooking Moore’s Store, the Proctor School was the Gallant to the Goofus. The school was named such because the headmaster was said to be quite fond of standardized testing. At this time, the community was still known as Camden, honoring the London district where arts and education were celebrated. The area of town with Moore’s industries was known as Mooresville. Mooresville contained a livery, two liquor stores, a small bank, and several houses of ill-repute, where ladies of the evening were known to entertain travellers on the railroad. Proctor School however, managed to get the US Post Office to come to their part of town. The Postmaster General informed the residents that the name Camden was already taken, so Proctor School became Proctor.

Soon, a gin was opened and the people of Proctor began producing  fine garments. With the working class talent and patience of the Mooresville neighbourhood and the logically minded college educated Proctor School graduates, the textiles from Proctor were once sold  throughout Texas. The town kept growing by leaps and bounds, and the waters from the Leon River were rich in nutrients. The cotton grew so tall that passengers on the Fort Worth and Rio Grande would feel like early aviators, cutting through the puffy fields.

Tarleton State University had caught wind of the industrious nature of Proctor, as well as the love of knowledge shared by the majority of the residents. However, they felt that the distraction of liquor would hinder students. It went to a vote, and the people of Proctor chose to keep alcohol and forsake the University. This began the slow decline of the Proctor School. After WW2, the school closed down and the district was consolidated into Comanche. While the school may have faded away, cotton was still king and the town was doing fine, if not a little less educated.

 

Handy Liquor, with vintage 1950s neon sign and detached outhouse for drunkards on the run who don't have time to take a leak before making the trip.
Handy Liquor, with vintage 1950s neon sign and detached outhouse for drunkards on the run who don’t have time to take a leak before making the trip.
This field was once a large cotton plantation, and the farm equipment was used to bring riches, rather than rust, to Proctor.
This field was once a large cotton plantation, and the farm equipment was used to bring riches, rather than rust, to Proctor.

Unfortunately, this was soon to change. Without the proper knowledge as the Comanche school system was far less intensive than the Proctor School, crops were not rotated as they should have been. The soil began to become less fertile. The final nail in the coffin came when a resident decided the local ecosystem wasn’t diverse enough and introduced boll weevils. The weevils, while interesting looking and a tourist attraction, feasted on cotton and the town was facing a crisis.

What could be done to keep the town around, and better yet, was it worth saving? The Army Corps of Engineers was set to build a lake for flood control and recreational purposes, and the residents thought they could stick around and once the lake was built, a service economy could exist. With Erath County still dry, liquor stores began popping up all over the place. People began seeing Proctor as party central, the place you used to go to have a good time. Proctor became more and more like Mooresville. College students would make a ‘quick run’ across the bridge and many fond memories of Proctor exist in the minds of TSU alums.

Remember drunk college kids, boat ramps aren't shortcuts to the liquor store!
Remember drunk college kids, boat ramps aren’t shortcuts to the liquor store!

However, some of the residents of Proctor felt that vice was not the way forward. A gentleman’s club was briefly opened in Proctor, but due to protests and the women of Proctor not being particularly appealing to the eye, it quickly closed. The Spring Break Club was the beginning of the modern ‘sin renaissance’ . Proctor is now home to smoke shops that sell illegal synthetic drugs, liquor stores that still produce brisk sales, even if TSU students can buy beer in Stephenville now, and a thriving gas station where DPS troopers camp out and pull over drivers who disregard the 55 MPH speed limit.

There are hardly any signs left of education around Proctor, nor are there signs of the once storied Proctor engineering. The roads around town are desolate, even dangerous. The spelling skills of Proctorites are atrocious.

Case in point.
Case in point.
During the heyday of Proctor, fine iron bridges were constructed. Now, residents place tin and pipe over ravines. Knowing the bridges are terrible, they warn travellers.
During the heyday of Proctor, fine iron bridges were constructed. Now, residents place tin and pipe over ravines. Knowing the bridges are terrible, they warn travellers.
"Childern" play near the Weak Bridge.
“Childern” play near the Weak Bridge.

While the fate of Proctor is sure to be sealed once Erath County allows liquor sales in town, one thing is for certain; Proctor is an unincorporated community located in Comanche County, Texas, United States.

Do you have any interesting stories about your wild college trips to Proctor? Did you visit the Spring Break Club? We’d love to hear from you. ‘Like’ us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bwdexaminer

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