Jerry McAdams Column

I remember how hot it was in July of 1997.

We were hauling and unloading all our worldly possessions, including a one-year-old child, at the old Hafer place on the edge of town.

It had laid vacant for quite a while and, remi-niscent of Green Acres, whenever we mentioned where we were moving, the  locals  would  blurt

out, “The old Hafer place!?”

We were moving from Fort Worth for the express purpose of raising our son in a small town, the way I’d grown up. We’d checked out most of the school districts in a 100-mile range of Fort Worth and spent time in a number of towns, guessing about the growth rate and how long they’d stay small.

Helping us unload stuff that summer were a cou- ple of high school boys that had been recommend- ed to us. Paul Ashby and Marco DeLaFuente were about to start their senior year. The whole time, they talked about the upcoming “Reunion” in the park and football two-a-days about to start and how good their team might be that season.

Almost a year before we made our final decision, I’d convinced wife Fran, a city girl, to drive down to a Hico football game. That’s where we’d see a perfect cross-section of the Hico population and the kind of people that were here, I told her. And I was right.

Standing under the huge live oak tree behind the south end zone, people greeted one another. The stands were full and a predictable row of dads and granddads stood along the fence behind that end zone. A constant stream of people came and went to the concession stand where everybody seemed to know everybody and everybody’s kid.

The most memorable part of that night was how little kids were running and playing inside the sta- dium and in front of the bleachers carefree. And par- ents weren’t terrified to let go of a child’s hand.

As is still the case, out-of-towners stood out. As I held our toddler in my arms, a nice old fella came up and introduced himself as Harvey Ferguson and asked where we were from.

Told we were thinking about moving to Hico, he was a great encourager. Before we left that night, Harvey had introduced us to at least 20 other peo- ple.

Something else I took note of during the game

that night was the Hico team and how their coaches treated them on the sidelines, and how you could tell the coaches knew what they were doing with that small ragtag roster. Suddenly I was back on my high school field in Burleson in 1968.

I think Hico won that night, but I don’t really remember. The kids were well coached and played hard. This was a place where every kid could par- ticipate in every activity they wanted to. No one was left out because “there were just too many.”

The whole town revolved around the schools. Every business owner, not just parents and grand- parents, filled Tiger Stadium on Friday night, then talked about it all the next week.

Hico was the perfect fit for what we were look- ing for.

Fran and I both had good jobs in the metroplex and commuted back and forth for a while. Even though I was in the publishing business, we wound up buying the Hico newspaper almost by accident when someone mentioned that it was for sale. That had not been part of the plan, but it worked out and we eventually weaned ourselves completely away from the city.

We didn’t come to Hico to change it. We came be- cause of what it was, hoping it would never change. Not that long ago, you could watch Hwy. 6 for

10 minutes without a car going by. And the next one might be somebody you knew on a tractor. You’d still see kids riding bicycles across the park bridge with a chicken under one arm.

We’ll always be newcomers But after more than a quarter century we look back and see that in Hico our boy grew up safe and got a great education and life experiences no big city could offer. His college resumes included things like “once killed a rattle- snake with a broken shovel” and “made bulls into steers with a pocket knife.”

Things will always change, they say. You can’t stop what’s coming. We’re just glad we came to Hico when we did.




Jerry McAdams still lives in Hico, Texas, with his wife Fran and publishes the weekly Hico News Re- view. Their son Robert (Bob) graduated from Hico High School in 2014 and from Texas A&M Univer- sity in 2018. He graduated in 2023 from McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Dr. Robert McAdams, MD is currently a resident physician at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

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