Dateline: Ochiltree, Texas, 20 October 1920. Mr. Ralphsted Winston has been racing houses for the 30 years. "Yep. House racing is older'n auTOWmobiles by a large space; we've had tractors for a good time longer than cars, and more powerful, too. It was just natural to do something with them more than find black soil". And so evidently came house racing. A reporter wondered if there was one particular house that was best to race with. "Sure" replied Mr. Winston, "houses with porches. Let's the breeze to let the breeze come out to show them" he explained, somewhat.
For the last ten years Mr. Winston has been racing a different sort of house. "God's house" he said firmly. "Churches. Round here, in North Texas, they're small-built with wood and such, and aren't too heavy, makes for nice tight turns and a solid straightaway".
"And chapels?" came a question.
"Not allowed. Got to be a church" came Mr. Winston's reply, his jawline cracking.
"The only problem with churches", he continued, "is that not one of them has ever won a race. Ever. Even in the best conditions, we get bested by porches, schoolhouses, even soddies". "Yup", and then came a long, ponderous spit, "not a one, won", extended a chuckling Mr. Winston.
A reporter asked, "Why don't you have a race with nothing but churches. Then at least you'll have a winner."
"There will be a whole LOT of losers. Maybe ever one" replied an eyebrow-raised Winston. "I do guess that someone would have to win, even if they were from Oklahoma, they'd be a winner too. Not everybody has to wind up in a drown ditch. But in the land of the blind , you don't have to be a happy one-eyed king."
Well, this really isn't a race of houses, though I'd much rather think of this picture in these terms. (The church is passed on the left, on the right! There'll be hell to pay for those maneuvers!") What is happening here is that the town of Ochiltree is being moved closer to the railroad that passed the town by, by 15 miles or so. It was the North Texas and Santa Fe RR (Shattuck, Oklahoma to Spearman, Texas) that left Ochiltree behind; and just after that, a new town called Perryton appeared, established there on the railway line, taking all of the interest (and the county seat) away from Ochiltree. So what happened was that Ochiltree decided to move to Perryton, to become part of that town, evidently leaving nothing but space wherer the town used to be. (The Handbook of Texas said that the town "disappered completely".) I wonder though if there weren't a few people who decided to stay, who just wouldn't move; who in 1921 found vast new distances between them and whoever else was left, all of the other buildings gone, pulled up out of the ground, lock, stock and barrel. And what about the cemeteries for the two churches that were moved? According to the good folks at the Perryton Memorial Library, the cemeteries were left, and still there, in a town that isn't. (On the other hand I can't imagine how a small town would've moved a cemetery--there may have been 500 people in Ochiltree at the point of departure, and perhaps another250 or so who were over the years already departed...that means that every able-bodied person would have had to dis-and-re-inter one fallen town member, which may have been way to much to ask of anybody given that they were already moving the entire town.)