8) Don’t depart without photographing the building with “Paint Creek Texas” painted in cursive on one side.

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9) Get swept away. Let Paint Creek pull prose from you like the gentle tug of a breeze on the Texas plains. Here’s Sontag: “Perry attended school in a one-story building framed by mulberry trees on flat land where the whoosh of the wind is interrupted only by chattering blackbirds.” Reynolds—this is not as easy on TV!—mused about the “certain self-sufficiency in Perry that’s bred into people out here.”

10) Finally, don’t bother contacting Gov. Perry’s mother, Amelia Perry, who still lives in Paint Creek. Sontag already tried calling her and was told by Mrs. Perry, “Ma’am, I don’t do reporters.”


Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.