Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Giddings, Sebin and the Wendish and St Paul's

Heading back, Alcy had heard of but had never been to The Downtown Café in Giddings so we made a stop for lunch. I highly recommend it. The following photo is not very good but I think it has historical significance. A few days ago I learned that Alcy had never eaten chicken fried steak. It was on the menu and she chanced it. She said she liked it but she might have been just being nice although I cannot imagine not liking chicken fried steak. Now I couldn't talk her in to the mustard greens which were outstanding. But sometimes it takes small steps.

Giddings is more authentic small town Texas. Bastrop, like most of the small towns around Austin such as Smithville and Gruene have become unnaturally yuppiefied to attract the tech workers. It is more like going to Disneyland than a small Texas town. I kind of feel sorry for them thinking that they are getting the flavor of a real Texas town.

The lunch waitress told us about the Windish Historical Center in Sebin so we did a detour. This is a small and very hidden gem. We got a good introduction to who the Windish were/are and the history of a previously to us unknown Painted Church, St Paul's Lutheran. The churches that we have visited in the past have all been Catholic. St Paul's is the only one of the Painted Churches that is Lutheran.

St Paul's is not as elaborate as some of the other churches but is it extremely interesting. The walls are three foot thick red sandstone that the Windish quarried and cut themselves. The exterior is almost fortress like and because of the building material, austere. They still hold German language services each Sunday and have members who are seventh generation descendants from the original 1850s settlers. This is some place that deserves a weekend photo trip.


  1. Gary, I will say your plate is making me hungry - greens and sweet potatoes - it really doesn't get any better than that! Have you and Alcy considered putting together a coffee table book of small Texas towns? I know you have photographed many already. Add about a dozen more towns to what you've already done and you'd have a very nice book. I'd like to do one too - it's on my bucket list.

  2. That would be an interesting project. I have had two small town projects in mind for several years but can't seem to get to the first one and the second fell through. Janet and I planned on traveling Hwy 287 from Port Arthur, where she was born, to Wichita Falls, near Burkburnett where I was born. I did a great deal of research and put together an elaborate notebook on the small towns along the route with thoughts on what to photograph. I can't seem to get beyond Port Arthur and Beaumont. Then a couple of years ago Paul Saltzman and I were going to do a week driving from Wichita Falls to Houston shooting small Texas towns but he couldn't put up with an inbred, cornpone Christian, Conservative Republican Southerner but for one day before he hightailed it to Houston to drop me off before heading straight back to New York City. Can't say as I could blame him. He said I marginalized everything he said. Some people like you do an excellent job. I am downright envious of your skill at doing travel photography. It just takes me much too long to figure out what to shoot and by the time I figure it out I am already miles down the road or it's time to head home. Just doesn't seem to be my bailiwick.

  3. I disagree - some of your small town photos are awesome. Maybe you just need to get in the car and head out with no agenda. Stop when you feel like stopping. Put your mail on hold and house on vacation watch and take off! I'll be your first customer. :) Not sure what a "compone Christian" is but I'm sure the whole thing was a little much for a New Yorker (no offense to Paul). We Texans probably wouldn't last too long in NYC either.

  4. Sorry there should have been a comma between cornpone and Christian.