By Ferrell Foster
The late, great Albert Einstein and I have one thing in common — a fascination with compasses. Waco presents a problem for this handy device — compasses don’t seem to work exactly right here.
Let me clarify. Compasses work; they can just mislead you. North is not north; east is not east. It’s one of the first lessons I had to learn in moving to Waco.
I bought a house in what I would have called South Waco. But when I explained where it was to a friend, he said, “Oh, that’s Hewitt.” Turns out that even though I have a Waco address, in Waco lingo I’m essentially in Hewitt.
Bryan, a coworker, explained that directions in Waco are best understood in relation to the Brazos: up river is north and down river is south. So, what I might have called North Waco or Northeast Waco, is, in Waco terms, East Waco, I think.
I even hesitate writing this for fear I will say something distinctly Waco-stupid, but I continue on despite my hesitation.
True to Waco directions, North Waco is to the west and northwest of downtown. Right?
Before I moved to Waco I introduced my friend, Jimmy Dorrell, at a luncheon as he received yet another big-deal honor. (He’s a big deal guy in the best way. If I have an unknown brother somewhere, I hope it turns out to be Jimmy.) Anyway, even though I know Jimmy pretty well, I read his official bio before giving the introduction. It spoke of years ago when he and his wife bought a house in North Waco. I now understand where that house is — it’s west of downtown. I think.
I may have to get counseling after writing this. Writing always helps me understand better what I know and don’t know. The more I write this, the more fear rises inside me that I am committing some Waco faux pas from which I will never recover.
I can see it now. I walk into some nice fundraising dinner and introduce myself. They “reply” with a look of recognition and a little grin. “It’s good to meet you, Ferrell,” is what they say, but what they’re thinking is, You’re the idiot who is clueless about Waco directions.
Writing this has kicked me out of the directional closet, and I need your love and acceptance. Everything I know about this place tells me you are loving and kind and care a lot about education (witness the green and gold bubble). So I appeal to my new neighbors — love me, accept me, and educate me.
Gosh, I love Waco. A city that has the gumption to throw away its compasses and say north, south, east and west are wherever we dang well want them to be, is my kind of town.
This post originally appeared on the Act Locally Waco website.
Copyright © 2020 Ferrell Foster