Lamesa, the name is derivative of the spanish phrase "la mesa" or table top, flat as one. Population around 11,000, home to the Golden Tornados and the Dal Paso Museum. What used to be a hotel, now boards history - farming, education, and medicine.
In the lobby you'll find Lorraine Johnson, musing about the name Dal Paso. "It was the only hotel between Dallas and El Paso, and so they took part of each name," says Lorraine. Upstairs, a framed pictorial of Preston Smith, a Lamesa High alumni and former Governor of the Lone Star State. "Well, Lamesa is where I graduated from high school," says Governor Smith. He fondly recalls a class in state government and a comment a teacher wrote on one of his papers. "He wrote, Preston, you will be governor of Texas one day," Smith recalls.
Out on the streets, police cruise a relatively peaceful square, but somberly remember the darkest day for Lamesa's finest. "One of the legends is the officer that was killed on the square back in the 50's, Claud Johnson," says Kris Harmon of the Lamesa Police Department. "He walked up on a burglarly in progress, and a fight broke out, and the oficer got beat to death with his own sidearm."
Honoring the dead dates back to 1904 and the Pioneer Cemetery. Wildflowers and weeds have overrun the grounds, but the beauty of the sentiments shine through the tangle. On the back of a stone marking the grave of an infant is an inscription that reads "Budded on Earth, to Bloom in Heaven." And buried here somewhere, according to one account, is the grave of Joe Burleson, one of five men who captured Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. An important victory in the independence of Texas.
Lamesa has also done its part to ensure America's independence. "Back in the day we had an air show all day long," says Farmer Jeff Raney. He remembers pilots learning how to fly WWII gliders over his Lamesa farm. "And sometimes you'd see a glider in your field that didn't make it back," recalls Raney. One of the original hangers is still there, hidden from the side of the road, but bigger than life up close. And in the back...a rusted hulk of metal, exposed to the outdoors for 60 years. It is a piece of American history, the frame of an actual glider.
They flew into Normandy on D-Day. Lamesa pilots in occupied France. Sacrifice, remembrance, accomplishment. Flat as a tabletop, heaped high with an extra helping of history.