Jefferson TX: Shakespeare, train horns, and Victorian architecture

It seemed like a thousand freight trains went past Jefferson.

After our little adventure on Caddo Lake, we drove a few miles to the town of Jefferson, where we were spending the night. Our B&B was a lovely historic Victorian home, with lots of frilly lampshades, cushions and sundry knick-knacks. The creaky wood floors and slightly off-kilter doors spoke of old age and different construction techniques.

For dinner, I had the perfect marriage of Texas and Louisiana culinary traditions: a chicken fried steak po’boy. Jefferson lies a few miles from the state line and 168 miles east of Dallas. It is essentially Texan with a Cajun twist.

One of the many Victorian homes in town.
One of the many Victorian B&B in town.

The main reason for our trip was the Shakespeare under the Stars Festival. The company was made up of local amateur thespians and high school kids. Their enthusiasm shone through; it was lovely to watch them recite –or rattle off- their lines, sometimes with a funny pseudo British accent.

They performed famous scenes for the Bard’s plays in the square’s gazebo-cum-stage. During the balcony scene, Romeo’s soliloquy was interrupted by a series of booms but the 14-year-old didn’t bat an eyelid and carried on as if he were performing at the Royal Shakespeare Company. The freight trains became a constant feature throughout the night. We had hardly any sleep.

The gazebo turned stage for the night
The gazebo turned stage for the night

After he show, and feeling like a nightcap, Sean and I headed to the historic downtown in search for a watering hole. We chose a swanky wine bar. Although I‘ve lived in Texas long enough, I still find scenes like this fascinating: a tall man, whom I called Marlboro Man in my head, leaning against a wall, one booted foot resting on it, head bent with his Stetson obscuring half his face.

As is the way of small towns, the owner of the wine bar was the pilot of the boat we’d taken earlier. He stopped by our table for a chat.

Downtown Jefferson
Downtown Jefferson. The entrance to the wine bar is between those two buildings

Breakfast at the B&B was an awkward affair. We sat round a communal table with other guests. Some were silently stirring their coffee; some were whispering to their partners, some kept checking their phone. What little conversation there was, was stilted at the best of times. I couldn’t wait to get out of there, I’m not a morning person and therefore not very sociable at that time of day. A little antiquing before hitting the road changed my mood for the better.

One of my favourite historic homes
One of my favourite historic homes
Another view of downtown Jefferson
Another view of downtown Jefferson