This week the Southwest Sneak Peek takes us to the tiny Texas panhandle town of Silverton, which is exactly one square mile.
Silverton is a close-knit community, and living there means a 45-minute journey to the grocery store, and a 90-minute drive to the nearest hospital. In other words, it’s a town in the middle of nowhere. Silverton survives because of the strong connections of the people who chose to call it home.
As humans, we all crave connection. Southwest Airlines fundamentally understands this and authentically applies it to their business practices. In fact, Southwest has stated their purpose for existing is “to connect people to what’s important in their lives with friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.” While Southwest doesn’t fly into Silverton (the closest Southwest airport is Amarillo), you can still get that Southwest feeling of community connection by visiting with the people of Silverton.
Don’t believe me? Keep reading to find out about our experiences in Silverton as seen through the eyes of Michael "Ski" Golembiewski—one half of the two-person production crew. Then check out the Southwest Sneak Peek of ONE SQUARE MILE: SILVERTON at www.osmtx.com/southwest.
Silverton matters. Though, it took us two days to get there. It's February 25, 2013, and a record snowstorm is burying the Texas panhandle as Carl and I begin the north by northwest drive from a clear and sunny Fort Worth into rather ominous conditions to start the first season of One Square Mile: Texas. By the time we reach Quanah, the weather has deteriorated into a winter wonderland. The road ends in Childress, as the Texas DPS has closed Highway 287. We have no choice but to bed for the night.
When morning arrives the highway is still shut down, so like Robert Frost before us, we choose the road less traveled by and take the back way into Silverton. We pass through a series of small towns with names like Paducah, Matador, Turkey (the birthplace of Bob Wills) where we stop and buy wing nuts and washers for the jib arm, and Quitaque before reaching our destination.
We finally enter Silverton where snowplow banks are six to seven feet high. We check into our lodging—a RV park and cabin rental run by Gary McMullan and his wife. It is the only place to stay in town and our home for the next four nights.
We then met up with Brenda Hutson. She's the managing editor of the Briscoe County News/Caprock Courier and our envoy into all things Silverton. She gives us a quick lay of the land as we watch her family make dinner.
The next day takes us to Silverton I.S.D. where we're introduced to the Agriculture instructor Calvin Daugherty. A Silverton graduate himself, Calvin left to get his degree and has returned home to give back. As a former FFA man myself, I can say that Calvin runs a great program that fits the needs of his community.
Amy Otis is the owner of Amy's Beauty Salon. This is prom week in Silverton, so it's her “go time.” We get to see her in action with the high school girls and also discuss how she used her faith in her battle with cancer.
Winnie Smith is an extraordinary woman who’s been selling Avon products for more than 40 years. We get to go along as she makes a delivery. I hope when I grow up to be 92 years old; that I'm half as good a person as her.
The Malt Shop is one of only two restaurants in town. It's run by Genie McMorries and her husband James. We spend a morning with them as they open for breakfast and lunch.
A tire with a slow leak leads us to the Silverton Oil & Gas and Doc Simpson. He's a longtime resident who works the front counter and the full service station. He also holds court every morning as this is the gathering spot for the local menfolk.
Kay Hartfelder operates the other restaurant in town, "Something Different by Kay." She talks about the challenges of owning a business in a small community. Side note: They have great fried pies.
Jerry Baker is the volunteer operator of the Briscoe County Jail Museum. He's given his historical jail tour to Kelsey Grammer, Reba McEntire's sister, and many others. He gives us one as well. Jerry's considered the local character in Silverton and we agree.
We wrapped on a Saturday night. Carl and I shot the High School prom and loaded our gear sometime after 10 p.m. We drove off straight into darkness, following a white line headed towards El Paso via Ruidoso, NM. Knowing one square mile was behind us and eight more lie beyond the horizon ahead.
Any of the nine square miles could have been shot first, but looking back now it had to be Silverton. It's the kind of place where everybody counts. I want to thank all the people who invited us into their homes and places of business. Silverton I.S.D. and the students for letting us film their prom.
Thank you, Silverton!