Amy French

As a child visiting Palestine with my family, I slept in the back bedroom of my grandparents’ home on Reagan Street. It is a house my grandfather “Papa" built. Trying to get to sleep there, I have a distinct memory of the low, rhythmic, rumbling of the train that ran just beyond their backyard. It was the soundtrack for the lights dancing between boxcars and onto the bedroom wall.

High school sweethearts, my parents grew up here, their homes within walking distance of one another—Grandaddy’s house just down on Micheaux. This made it easy for our family when we visited to split time between my grandparents’ homes.

Grandaddy worked for the railroad. We’d swing on his porch on and watch him feed the squirrels in his yard, smell the roses he took pride in. Grandmother taught me to blow bubbles with the cake of Dove soap.

Grandmom taught me to play Crazy Eights in the sunken living room down the road and painted Christmas scenes every year on their picture window. Papa and his father before him (and even his father before him) designed and built so many of the homes and buildings still standing today—from the First Christian Church where I watched my mother weep for the loss of my Grandmom, to Eilenberger’s and the Texas Theatre downtown to the Department of Driver’s Services where my own daughter recently received her permit.

I always looked forward to Palestine trips. It was like going home.

My childhood was marked by one move after another, some 15 homes by the time I graduated high school and 10 schools along the way.

Wherever we moved—be it Ft. Worth, Houston, Hurst and later outside of Texas to places like Ohio, Tennessee and Connecticut—there was always the trip back to the closest thing I have ever known as the place I am “from.”

Just over a year ago, my husband and I moved with two of our five children from Georgia to officially make Palestine our hometown. Despite a pandemic, we have worked to remodel and settle in. There are memories everywhere I look and they now intertwine with our daily life.

I smile each time I can hear the low rumble of the train going by. It feels familiar, like family.

I am grateful and humbled to think of becoming the editor of the Herald-Press. (My great-grandfather built the 1924 Palestine Herald-Press building and it was later remodeled by my grandfather.)

Excited by the opportunity, my hope is the paper will always be the place where the community can come together—like a family standing around in the great big kitchen of this home we know as Palestine.

We can congregate, share stories and get to know one another better.

We can celebrate our achievements, mourn those we have lost, cheer on our kids, hold one another accountable and hash things out when we don’t see eye to eye. There will always be that one wacky aunt or the in-law who gets the side eye, but it means knowing that regardless of circumstance we are in this together and the door is open.

We can take comfort knowing that we are striving for the best for each one of us while we continue a rich tradition.

The people here are the testament to the place. There are those who were born here, grew up here and never left. There are those who couldn’t wait to get out. And there are those who couldn’t wait to come back.

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