I know what you're thinking, you're probably reading this, seeing my picture and going "Wait,what? You said last month..."
True, I did write a goodbye column last month but after meeting some of you at the Dublin St. Patrick's Festival and experiencing your love and compassion, there's just no way I could ever leave this part of the country.
Do you remember those bumper stickers that say "I wasn't born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could" ? I feel the same way about the Stephenville area. As you've read in past columns, I didn't grow up here, I grew up in Cisco, which is 40 miles east of Abilene and 90 miles west of Fort Worth but I was always real familiar with this town.
I'd come here for UIL academic regionals or to support my brother if he had a track meet at Tarleton, then there were the occasional family shopping excursions here, Production Credit (now AgTexas) meetings with my grandfather, and a few trips to buy vehicles from Mr. Bruner but that's not what sparked the flame that made me grow to love this area.
On the cold, rainy Saturday morning of Nov. 17, 2001, my life changed. My grandmother woke me up real early and said "Put your western clothes on and get your guitar, we're going to Stephenville."
Little did I know, she had been doing some inquiring through the past week, making some phone calls, and had an audition set up for me at the Cross Timbers Country Opry. We got to the Opry and fortunately, I passed my audition.
When I was through, the gentleman in charge of booking said "Well, I can't get you in until January. Wait a minute.... I have a cancellation for tonight, would you like to play?" Of course, I couldn't turn him down so we had to make a red-eye trip back to Cisco to get my grandfather, then turn around and come right back to Stephenville for rehearsal and the rest of that night, as they say, is history.
The next few years resulted in monthly trips to the Opry and during those trips, I began to feel the warmth and acceptance of the people around here. In fact, every time I came to town, whether it was for an Opry appearance or an activity of leisure, I'd pass by the bowling alley and automatically get a feeling of anticipation, like that of a 5-year-old on Christmas morning, waiting to see what Santa left under the tree because there was just something about coming here that to this day, I still can't describe, it was just that good of a feeling.
Dec. 31, 2008, my life changed once again and led to an even deeper love of this area. I was scheduled to come to the Opry for the New Year's Eve show but this was not just a monthly visit because I got the chance to be a full-time member of the Opry Band, which would result in weekly trips here for the next 3 years. I was a little skeptical at first but after about a month, I was calling this area my second home.
So now, here we are. I've "renewed my vows" to this area and I don't think I've ever come out and said it but I'm going to now. Stephenville (Dublin and all the surrounding towns, you're included too), I love ya. A few things have changed; sadly, my grandmother is no longer here with me (she had to move back to Cisco with family due to health reasons per doctor's orders) but as they say in sports, it ain't over 'till it's over and guess what, it ain't over.
Folks, I'm still here and look forward to bringing you even more stories.
Tim Turnbeaugh is a musician who was born and reared in Eastland County but currently resides in Stephenville. Tim can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.