So, West, Texas (the comma is important) and I go way back. It’s always been one of my favorite small towns. Most Texas small towns feel like they’re just a step away from being ghost towns. Most of downtown is boarded up and you’re struck by the complete lack of people between the ages of 17 and 70. West wasn’t like that. For years and years, West felt like a little, self-contained time capsule showing what a thriving small town looked like.

West’s downtown was essentially one intersection and a couple of blocks in either direction. There were little grocers, drug stores, barbers, all up and down the street, but the real attractions were the restaurants, bakeries, and butcher shops. West has a strong Czech and the food was always the main attraction. We’d always hit Sulak’s for lunch to get some homemade goulash and fresh-baked bread (and big schooners of beer for dad). We had to be done early, though, because Nemecek Brother’s butcher shop closed at noon on Saturday and you didn’t want to miss out on the bacon that has spoiled me for all other bacons. Oh sure, the summer sausage and hot links, well, all of the meats were spectacular. But oh, that bacon. Finally, we’d wander over to the Village Bakery to fill up a cooler with kolaces. Getting to West was a long haul, so we had to stock up.

More recently, West’s downtown hasn’t been quite as vibrant. I can’t put my finger on it, but my theory is that the Czech Stop on the highway is so convenient that people stopped coming in to town. Sulak’s and Nemecek Brothers are either gone or at least no longer worthy of the the name, but you still want to seek out the Village Bakery if you’re in the area. The Czech Stop is good, but the Village Bakery is magic.

West, Texas is important to me. The recent tragedy hit really close to home, and I wanted to share with you all why West is a big deal. It’s a tiny place, but it’s a good place, and they can use some help. Here are some places in north Texas where blood can be donated to the victims in West. If there’s anything you can do to help, it would be appreciated.

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