177. Paris, Lamar County

The last town I had been warned about.  My grandfather told me when I was little that he had been stationed here during WW2.  I have a vague recollection of something about an ammunition plant or something similar, but I’ve slept a few times since he told me that.  As always, the photography began.  

Several of these were expected, but this one…

…was not expected. I’ve seen similar monuments to this several times (Bastrop, Bay City, Longview, I’m looking at you), but I’ve never seen one with busts of Confederate heroes before, specifically (L to R) Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Albert Sydney Johnston, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. And, as I marveled at it, I head a voice call out to me from outside of the photo on the right from the right. “Hey!,” it said as I looked over. About 150 ft away, stopped in the street, white guy with a white dog in a white truck. And we had the following exchange:

“That’s my ancestor up there. You like my statue?”
“Not particularly.”
“You know why he’s facing south?”
“Because the Confederacy wanted to invade Mexico?”
“Because he turned his back on the North.”
“Well, good for him.”
“Don’t you mess with that statue, boy.”

I know this is a family blog so excuse my language for a moment, but as he drove away, I flipped him off. And then, uncharacteristically, I flipped off the monument, too. Someone once asked why I focus on the “being black thing” instead of identifying with being a “crazy geocacher”. As you can tell, this is one of the reasons why. When I’m seen, nobody (especially muggles) will look at me and conclude “geocacher” but everybody, no matter their intentions, good or bad, will see “black.” And that means “crazy” will be interpreted in a completely different way. This is one of the reasons I do all this. Just as with Anderson, I’ll be darned to heck before I allow anyone to tell me where I can and can’t go, especially in a public space. And if you’ve never had to think about it yourself, well, think on it a bit. If it makes you think a bit about your next cache placement or about about the person who is making you feel a bit uncomfortable but is otherwise doing nothing alarming or suspicious, it’ll all be worth it as far as I’m concerned. But that done, I headed back to my car. True, I was done with what I needed to do here, but I also didn’t want to take a chance that this guy might have a gun in that truck, too, and decide to come back and avenge the slight against himself and his ancestors. I was pretty sure that wasn’t going to happen, but if this guy was bold enough to say something to a “random” person standing on the courthouse lawn, who knows what he might have done? This was also a reminder to me that this isn’t the “big city.” While I really shouldn’t have to do this, lack of restraint in the future could get me in real trouble. Especially once I get into southeast Texas. But that’s (hopefully not) for future entries.

I had hoped beyond hope there would be a cache here, but it was not to be.  The closest was back on the treeline back behind this location (a military display thing on a college campus) so I opted for a keybox hidden at a nearby bus stop and then happily put this place in my rear-view mirror.  After a mix up going from one highway to another, I finally got myself to…

34 thoughts on “177. Paris, Lamar County

  1. Thanks for your story. I’m a white guy and I can’t imagine what that is like. It makes my blood pressure go up and I’m a 1000 miles away. Hoping Geocaching helps makes the world a better place.


  2. Thanks for this piece. I’m white, I geocache with my white kids and am just sick that what might feel like trying to be casual at a cache for us could turn deadly for someone geocaching (or jogging or standing on a corner or driving and on and on) “while black” . We’re living outside of Portland OR and have had lots of solid conversations with the kids about injustices and how to speak up.


  3. Wow. Can’t say I’m surprised this happened in Paris. That town has had that reputation for awhile.
    Also, there had been a virtual at the Eiffel Tower forever but was archived recently thanks to someone unaware of geocaching protocol. It was hoped that someone who had been granted a virtual reward would step up but that hasnt happened yet.


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