It was a little sentence tucked deeply inside a story about evacuation efforts in Texas...but it has led me into an exercise in self-education unparalleled in my past.
It read: "The Texas Transportation Department dispatched a 30-vehicle convoy from Beaumont to clear a debris-covered highway to the north. Department spokesman Mike Cox said some vehicles would detour into the small town of Fred to check out reports that a nursing home still occupied by scores of patients had lost power."
What was it that jumped off the page and planted itself firmly in my brain? The words "the small town of Fred."
How cool would it be to live in a town named Fred?!? "Hey, where y'all from?" Fred.
It's bound to be an unpretentious kind of place, isn't it? I mean...FRED, for cryin' out loud! Not "Grand Forks," or "Mount Pleasant," or even "Two Harbors." Just plain old Fred. Not Frederick...no-no-no...Fred.
And who picked out that name? According to The Handbook of Texas Online, "The Fred post office was established in 1881 with Wiley Cunningham as the first postmaster," but that doesn't tell me why it was named Fred. Was Fred Wiley Cunningham's son? Or dog?
What were the other choices that made "Fred" stand out as the front-runner?
Chairman: Alright! Alright! Come to order! Y'all shut yer tater traps and listen up! It's time to decide what we're gonna call our new town. The choices are Puke Holler...
Woman: Oh, that's just disgusting.
Woman: Well, that's kind of cute, but it doesn't sound much like the name of a town.
Chairman: ...or Fungus Crossing.
Woman: You know, Fred is sounding better and better all the time.
There are fewer than 300 residents of Fred, and over half of them are students at Fred Elementary School: Enrollment for grades K-5...170.
- 94% White
- 5% Hispanic
- Less than 1% Asian/Pacific Islander (which must mean there's ONE Asian kid, since 1% would be 1.7)
Apparently, that's about as diverse as it gets in Fred, Texas. There are six different churches in the thriving metropolis, but three of them are Baptist. (There's got to be some kind of wire-vs-wooden hangers debate in the past that resulted in that mish-mash.)