I am always surprised when I run into someone who knows about Marlin, Texas. Today, Marlin is a very small, one stop light type of town (Pop – ~6,000) in one of Texas’ poorest counties (Falls County). But back in the day – think early to mid 1900’s – it was quite the bustling city. Marlin was known around the country for it’s natural mineral water. In the early 1900’s Conrad Hilton built his eighth hotel (Falls Hotel) in Marlin, where both my grandfather and grandmother worked – Grandpa ran the elevators and Mama Corene worked in the laundry. In 1910, the New York Giants used Marlin as its spring training site.
Marlin has always held a special place in my heart, perhaps because as a child who moved around a lot, Marlin was the one place that felt like home. A place where we spent many holiday vacations and where I could hang out in the streets with my cousins. A town where I could be in the corner store and have an older person come up to me and identify what family I belonged to (because I look so much like my mother, Linda…and didn’t she marry one of those Canady boys?).
Now that I am getting a bit older (and wiser?), I am beginning to really appreciate this small town that produced my mother, father, grandparents and great grandparents. I’ve spent the past two weekends in Marlin and for the first time, I visited the Falls Hotel and the hot springs that made Marlin famous so many years ago.
I stumbled upon this video that provides a bit of history of Marlin. Seeing images of places that were an integral part of my family’s every day life – like the Palace Theater, where my mother use to hang out as a teenager and where, at the time, blacks still had to sit in the balcony on the hard seats – made my heart swell with emotion.
Marlin, TX – Oh how I love thee!