Updated: Jun 22, 2019
My hometown will always be Denton.
I went K-12 in a small town named Sanger. I love Sanger (another blog post perhaps?) My high school class is special - special to Sanger and special to me. We were near the end of the "small-town" era - tight-knit and maintaining strong bonds. So, I don't take lightly my denial of Sanger as my "hometown". But I must.
As a child and young adult, I lived less than 10 miles North of Denton on what is known - within the city limits - as Locust Street. I was born in Flow Hospital. Denton is where my mother worked. (My mother and most of her sisters WORKED - in an era when mothers didn't commonly work outside the home.) Denton is where my paternal grandmother lived. My mother dropped me off at Granny's house each morning on her way to work. Denton is where both my parents graduated High School.
My legacy doesn't stop there. My maternal grandmother also graduated from Denton High. There is a parking lot and "big box" store in the Southeast shopping district where my great-grandparents once owned a farm. I can show you a chain that is still wrapped around a tree branch in that parking lot. That chain once held a child's swing where my mother and her sisters played. I have ancestors going back to my paternal Great-great-great-grandfather who are buried in Cooper Creek cemetery (Northeast Denton). My parents had known each other as children, but their courtship began when Daddy noticed Mother and her sisters driving around the square in their father's old flatbed truck. In short, I am a genuine Denton-ite.
Denton has SO many things to be sources of pride. It is difficult to know where to start. I'm going to save Denton's legacy as a "college town" for last. Even without our 2 Universities, Denton has plenty of hometown charm, history, heroes, and myth to celebrate in its own right.
Amos O'Neil (A.O.) Calhoun was the school principal from 1924 - 1957. He was an exceptional individual. According to my father, in the late 50's, he used to frequent the unemployment line, not as a recipient, no, he was looking for "his boys" - the boys who had graduated from his school. He would exhort them to better opportunities and help them to find jobs. It was A.O.'s exhortation to my father that led to his education: "Ashby, you were in the Army! Get out of line and go over to North Texas State College and enroll on the GI bill."
Going back a bit farther in history, Denton's namesake, John B. Denton was a man of action. He was at times, a flatboat worker, a minister, a lawyer and a Captain in the military. He lost his life in the Battle of Village Creek on May 22, 1841 during the settlement of North Texas. His remains have been moved twice - once by John S Chisum of cattle trail fame and second by the Pioneer Association of Denton County - when his remains were moved to the southeast corner of the Denton County Courthouse lawn.
And, of course, there is the story of the Old Alton Bridge. Also known as "Goatman's Bridge" chronicled in a couple of reality shows including Ghost Adventures on The Travel Channel. It is just a historical iron truss bridge of the type you will find on many rural lanes across Texas. It was built in 1884. Legends of supernatural happenings surround the bridge which still stands as a part of a nature trail. Of the legends surrounding it, the most thorough is that an African-American goat farmer was murdered by the KKK there.
In addition, we can add 2 Miss Americas, a jackpot millionaire turned mayor, many local philanthropists such as Newton Rayzor, Paul Voertman. We have the largest community garden in the US - Shiloh Field Community Garden, where families can plant and harvest their own food free of charge.
Our Denton Square is a cultural hot spot. The Huffington Post recently touted Denton as " the cool kids’ alternative to Austin". And, in the cult-film-classic "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", Denton is where Brad proposes to Janet, and is called "The Home of Happiness" on a billboard in the first scene. Denton locales appear in many Hollywood movies including "What's Eating Gilbert Grape", "Necessary Roughness", "Benji" and "Armageddon."
Now, I turn to Denton's legacy as a College Town: https://www.texanagain.com/home/denton-ing-part-2