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Savvy Traveler: Lubbock, Texas is more than just Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly was a scant 23 years old when he died but he had made such an impact on the entertainment world that his death was called “The day the music died.”

His hometown of Lubbock, Texas remembers him every day in a multitude of ways from naming a street after him to a museum dedicated to Holly and the Crickets.

Holly was born Charles Harden Holley in 1936; his life was cut short in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa on February 3, 1959 along with up and coming singer Ritchie Valens and Jiles Perry Richardson, AKA “The Big Bopper.”

The Buddy Holly Museum (19th Street and Crickets Avenue — where else would it be?) is easily spotted by the huge, black horn-rimmed glasses at the entrance. These were Holly’s trademark and the pair he was wearing when he was killed is on display inside.

Buddy Holly’s museum is a paean to the legendary musician with a collection of guitars, clothes and costumes, and memorabilia to him, the Crickets and other musicians of the era. The walk-through of the museum can easily be accomplished in less than an hour.

Immediately adjacent to the museum is the home of J.I. Allison decorated in 1950s furniture, colors and kitchen appliances. Holly and his musical friends would gather here, particularly in the bedroom, where they played and composed much of their music. For info, go to www.buddyhollycenter.org.

Adjacent to Lubbock Airport is the Silent Wings Museum dedicated to the exceptionally brave World War II soldiers who flew box-shaped gliders and the men who rode into battle in them.

On the front lawn is a C-47 Skytrain, the primary tow craft for the ungainly gliders. The C-47 could tow three gliders at a clip and the pilots being towed would disconnect as they approached the LZ (Landing Zone). Soldiers would spill from the silent craft ready for battle.

There is an extensive collection of vintage aircraft inside the bright and airy building. In addition, there are military artifacts from both the Axis powers and the Allies, making a very interesting trip back in history.

The Silent Wings Museum is located at 6202 N I-27. For information, go to www.silentwingsmuseum.com.

Two other local heritage sites worth a visit are the American Wind Power Center (1701 Canyon Lake Drive) and the National Ranching Heritage Center (3121 Fourth Street).

Windmills were an important factor in keeping early Texas — and America — in fresh water, ground grain for bread and many other activities that needed a steady and cheap source of power. There is even an opportunity to go inside one of the giant turbines to see how it functions.

The more delicate (because of age) windmills are housed in a giant building with a scooped out central mall so that the entire windmill can be on display. Several go back more than a century. Go to www.windmill.com.

Lubbock is pan flat and much of its acreage is snow white and covered with cotton fields. But that being said, Texas is cattle country and no visit here would be complete without a stop at the National Ranching Heritage Center. Set up to look like a small community covering some 16 acres, the center has 48 original structures brought in from a variety of locations.

There are bunk houses, manor houses, stables, barns and a rare dugout home built into a hillside. The structures date back as far as the 1700s and range all the way to the 1950s. The paths through the center offer an easy stroll through history and give even the casual visitor a feeling for what life was back in the days of Texas as part of the Wild West. Go to www.NRHC.ttu.edu.

Texas is not famous for its wine culture simply because most of the wines produced are only distributed within the state and in nearby areas. There are five wineries in Lubbock with two of the more outstanding being the Llano (pronounced Yahno) Estacado and McPherson Cellars.

Llano Estacado on Highway 87, www.llanowine.comHowever, Llano and most wineries will give you a box to ship your bounty home safely and some will offer to ship it for you. This is generally worth the expense if it is a bottle you can’t get back near the old homestead.

Not too far away in a converted Coca Cola bottling plant is McPherson Cellars at 1615 Texas Avenue, and across the street from La Diosa Cellars. There is a nexus between the two; Kim McPherson owns the winery and his wife, Sylvia, is the Doña at La Diosa and they make quite a combination.

Kim will sit and discuss wine making from A-Z with a visitor, discussing his product and the care that goes into producing it. At present he does not produce enough to widen his market and he will only do so slowly.

La Diosa, only a few yards from the winery, is a pleasant bistro where visitors can relax with a meal, tapas and a glass of-what else?-McPherson Wine. Go to www.LaDiosacellars.com.

Off the beaten track (and what in Lubbock isn’t?) is a must stop for lovers of barbecue. Eddie’s Bar-B-Q, at 1324 East 50th Street, is not only a restaurant but a destination in itself. Decorated with the most eclectic (make that “really weird”) stuff from street signs to ranching gear, the downscale eatery produces arguably amongst the best beef brisket in the Lone Star State, a jurisdiction famous for its beef barbecue.

Guests queue up to a nondescript counter to place an order, leave a name, and then find a space to sit and eat. The food will be delivered to your table by either an employee or by Eddie DeLavin himself.

The portions are huge, heaped on the plate and sometimes a chore to dig into with plastic utensils. Prices are more than reasonable, ranging from $4.75 for Eddie’s Frito Pie (F

ritos, beans, sausage, chopped beef, cheese and sour cream) to a full rack of ribs at $18.50. If you don’t like something in a combo plate, ask and it will be presented sans that item.

Eddie’s is a blue collar destination that also draws people in business suits but precious few tourists. Regulars hope the word never gets out. Selfish people! There is no website for Eddie’s but he promises to answer any and all emails that come his way: BBQEddies@yahoo.com.

Texas may no longer be the biggest state in the country, but its heart and people can still lay claim to an attitude of “Y’all come.”

Bob and Sandy Nesoff are members of the American Society of Authors and Journalists.

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