Texas Neighbors Spring 2015 : Page 22

TEXAS NEIGHBORS | SPRING 2015 Jimmy Bruce is the heartbeat of Abbott By Julie Tomascik and Mike Barnett Pass through Abbott, Texas most any morning and you’ll note nothing out of place. Typical small town Texas. Main drag, a few stores. No traffic. Few distractions. Until you approach the post office on the corner of Borden and East Walnut Street. Sitting on a bench, right under the American flag and a viv -id blue sky, is a kindly older gentleman, quiet in demeanor, with a sparkle in his eyes. His name is Jimmy Bruce. He sits there most every day, weather per -mitting. Some say he’s the beating heart of this community, where tradi-WWW.TEXASFARMBUREAU.ORG tion is a lifeblood, a helping hand is always extended and neighbors gather to share the latest news. News like marriage. Growing families. Even the latest gossip. “Everybody knows everything about their neighbor, whether it’s true or not,” he said. And Jimmy’s celebrated the joys of this tiny community. He’s shared the sorrows. Triumphs. Failures. It’s all part of small town life. And, as time inevitably slows his step, it’s been tough on Abbott, too. Even at its peak, this Central Texas town was never very big. Now, it’s shrunk to a few hun -

Small Town Texas

Julie Tomascik and Mike Barnett

Jimmy Bruce is the heartbeat of Abbott

Pass through Abbott, Texas most any morning and you’ll note nothing out of place. Typical small town Texas. Main drag, a few stores. No traffic. Few distractions.

Until you approach the post office on the corner of Borden and East Walnut Street. Sitting on a bench, right under the American flag and a vivid blue sky, is a kindly older gentleman, quiet in demeanor, with a sparkle in his eyes.

His name is Jimmy Bruce. He sits there most every day, weather permitting. Some say he’s the beating heart of this community, where tradition is a lifeblood, a helping hand is always extended and neighbors gather to share the latest news.

News like marriage. Growing families. Even the latest gossip.

“Everybody knows everything about their neighbor, whether it’s true or not,” he said.

And Jimmy’s celebrated the joys of this tiny community. He’s shared the sorrows. Triumphs. Failures. It’s all part of small town life. And, as time inevitably slows his step, it’s been tough on Abbott, too. Even at its peak, this Central Texas town was never very big. Now, it’s shrunk to a few hundred inhabitants.

That’s okay with Jimmy. He enjoys the slower pace without the hustle and bustle. He’s worked in Abbott his entire life—87 years—and he wouldn’t change a thing.

Right out of high school, he went to work at the local gin. Manual labor. It was something he enjoyed.

“I didn’t really know any other business except the gin,” he said.

Until he began working at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in Abbott.

Bruce started as a part-time clerk in 1969. He was later appointed postmaster and eventually became one of the owners in the gin.

And, being a small town, everyone knew each other. Especially Jimmy.

“We had one rural route, and it was close to 100 miles I guess,” he said. “And I could tell you everybody that was on our route, and I could tell you 99 percent of the people in town.”

But times have changed.

Jimmy doesn’t work for USPS anymore. With the computer era, he chose to make his exit.

“Everything was going fine until they put the computers in. I didn’t even hardly know how to turn a computer on,” he said. “Of course, I was already over 70 and decided it was about time to retire.”

He doesn’t know everyone in town anymore. But everyone knows him.

That’s because Jimmy heads to town six days a week to check the mail. While he’s out, he sits in his favorite spot—the corner of the blue bench outside the post office.

He stays as long as the weather permits, meeting and greeting folks as they pass by.

A local icon for sure. And the kind of man who gives small towns great reputations.

So next time you travel I-35 between Dallas and Waco, take the Abbott exit. Drive down Walnut Street.

If Jimmy hasn’t left for the day, join him on the bench. He’s never met a stranger.

“Sometimes you’ll get a person and maybe we’ll sit there and have an hour, hour-and-a-half talk,” he said.

It’s usually about nothing in particular. Just small town chit chat. He may even tell you about country singer/songwriter Willie Nelson, who was raised in Abbott and still owns a home next door. But don’t expect any secrets. Jimmy said he’s a bit older than Willie and “ran with a different crowd.”

If you can’t stop, wave. He’s sure to acknowledge your greeting.

Meanwhile, Jimmy will sit on his bench. Listen to the train rumble down the tracks through town. And watch the ebb and flow of daily life in Abbott.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Small+Town+Texas/1964557/251234/article.html.

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