Whatever I'm Thinking

Christmastime in Johnson City, Texas

Blanco County Courthouse showing its ‘Hill Country Style.’ Johnson City, Texas

December 28, 2019

Texans are known for many things, but a knack for understatement isn’t one of them. During my recent visits there (December 2015 and 2016) I collected several photos which demonstrate that point.

Blanco County in the state of Texas

The basic idea is (of course) that everything is bigger in Texas, including Christmas lights. Here, the county covered its courthouse with a vertical string of lights every 10-12 inches all around the building. As a tourist sign directed, “to find the courthouse, just follow the glow.”

Displays and ornaments fill the courthouse grounds until little bare ground remains. These folks set up a reindeer corral, lighted snowmen, Santa riding a bucking bronco, and more.

Courthouse with lawn ornaments
Santa riding a bucking bronco of a reindeer
Blanco County Courthouse in daylight

Students of the American Presidency will recognize Johnson City as the hometown of its namesake Lyndon Baines Johnson, 37th president of the United States. The town was founded in 1879 by Jonas Polk Johnson, nephew of LBJ’s grandfather. Its population today is approximately 1,600 persons.

Lyndon Johnson’s boyhood home. Johnson City, Texas

Because of President Johnson, Johnson City draws tourists year-round, keeping small town merchants busy. There’s a brewpub across from the courthouse and a few art galleries nearby.

Pecan Street Brewing. Johnson City, Texas
Along Nugent Avenue in Johnson City

At Christmastime the lights go up, with nary an understatement to be seen.

Christmastime in Johnson City, Texas
Christmas lights in Johnson City, Texas

President Lyndon Johnson once said that “Of all the things I have ever done, nothing has given me as much satisfaction as bringing power to the Hill Country of Texas.” LBJ can rightly take credit for establishing the Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) in 1938, which brought electricity to the rural Hill Country. The PEC’s headquarters are a few blocks from the courthouse. Its legacy can be seen — BRIGHTLY — below:

Christmas light show at the Pedernales Electric Cooperative

Each Christmas flocks of tourists come to Johnson City to see this spectacular light show. The little town can suddenly get quite busy, more than the little Pecan Street Brewing company can handle.

Feeling very thirsty and not wanting to stand in line at a crowded brewpub full of tourists, I discovered a little hole-in-the-wall tavern around the corner called Kenny’s Cantina, where I could enjoy a few Lone Stars in peace — a place where the locals drink. As you can see, these Texan folk don’t see much need for understatement, preferring to let you know — beyond any doubt — exactly who their heroes are.

Kenny’s Cantina, December 2016

Here’s to finding that spot where the locals go. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2020!

All photos by the author. Photos were taken on December 9, 2015, and December 21, 2016.

A list of all photo posts from the American County Seats series in TimManBlog can be found here.

All photos were taken by the author on January 15, 2013.

I’m trying to travel to all of America’s county courthouses, and each month a post about my visit to the most interesting county seats. It’s only a hobby — but donations are greatly appreciated to help defer my costs.


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