Overton: Picturing a Future
[imgbelt img=Sign.jpg]Kelley Snowden asked residents of her town to photograph the parts of
town that they cherished the most. It was a first step of creating the
future of Overton, Texas.
About six years ago my husband and I moved to Overton, deep in East Texas. Our move to Overton (with a population today of 2,350) was not voluntary — it was required for my husband’s job.
The first time I saw the town I gasped as I looked out the car window. As far as I could tell, it was abandoned. Gray empty storefronts greeted me as we drove down the main highway through town. It seemed to me that the only businesses in town were a Brookshire’s™ grocery and a Dairy Queen™. We joked that no doubt the town had collapsed and died after the oil boom of the 1930’s and no one had bothered to tell it. It was awful, but I was stuck here.
After moving to Overton we shopped in other towns, even for our groceries, but eventually that became too inconvenient. We started shopping in town and little by little got to know some of the residents. From these casual encounters I learned that people in Overton really love and care for their town. There is a quiet history here. For every empty storefront there is a story about who ran a business there and what happened to them.
When I first came to Overton, I looked at the empty buildings and saw economic ruin. Now when I look at them I conjure the stories told by my neighbors and friends about people who took a chance on a small business to better serve the needs of the community.
I listened and learned and before I knew what was happening I developed affection for this town.
With time that affection turned to anger. Anger at what had happened here over the years, the loss of commerce and population and what seemed to be a lack of concern about the demise of the town.
Creating a Future