In November, my friend and critique partner Gale Albright presented a NaNoWriMo write-in at the Hutto Public Library, in Hutto, Texas. Nine writers and their laptops gathered to write for four solid hours, supported by snacks and coffee provided by the Library.
Attendance was so robust that I had to scrounge* for a seat when I arrived. Late.
It would be trite to report that both writers and library staff expressed enthusiasm for the project. Nonetheless, that’s what happened, and I can’t pretend it didn’t.
They were so enthusiastic, in fact, that I foresee a future write-in, even without NaNoWriMo to serve as an excuse.
After the write-in, I drove around the city. Originally settled by Germans and Swedes, Hutto still looks like a small town, but it’s changing rapidly. New subdivisions are going up all around.
The older part of town has neat houses and yards,
a charming main street,
and open spaces.
The library is a renovated fire station. A couple of years ago, the reading room was tiny; then a second bay was opened, more than doubling the space and providing room for an enlarged children’s area.
But what sets Hutto apart from other cities worldwide is its legend. You can read the whole story at How the Hippo Came to Hutto, on the Williamson County Historical Commission website, but here’s a summary: In 1915, a circus train stopped in Hutto to pick up passengers and to let workers care for animals. Somehow, a hippo got out of a railcar, headed for a nearby creek, took a dip, found the muddy water to its taste, and, no matter what trainers did to lure it out, refused to cooperate. Legend says the Depot Agent telegraphed two Taylor and Round Rock: STOP TRAINS, HIPPO LOOSE IN HUTTO. Somehow the hippo was returned to its railcar, but amused residents made his story their own. Soon afterward, Hutto School took the hippo as its mascot and the football team became the Hutto Hippos.
Today Hutto is
The largest stands near the Chamber of Commerce building.
Another is exceedingly modest but also stylish.
A fourth, like the Guard Hippo, enhances its original concrete with an overlay of alabaster.
I wish I had taken more pictures of Hutto’s hippos, but drizzle had turned into rain, and I wanted to get home before rain turned into traffic problems. Suffice it to say there are hippos of every size and color all over town. A local artist can be commissioned to personalize hippos to the owner’s specifications.
Hutto is a pleasant little place. In some ways, it reminds me of my hometown as it was when I was a child.
In short, I think Hutto would be a good place to live.
As they say, three thousand hippos can’t be wrong.
Turn up the sound and enjoy Sophie Tucker singing “Fifty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong.” Cole Porter wrote the lyrics. I hate to say it, but this is three thousand times better than the hippos.
Sophie Tucker was quite a looker. I had no idea. Now I see what all the fuss was about.
*Exaggeration. There were two empty seats.