Strangest State: A Mysterious Monolith and a Fat Cat

The latest from far-flung Texas.

Drue Wagner

The latest from far-flung Texas.

Drue Wagner

From the March/April 2021 issue.

LUBBOCK // A Lubbock family awoke early one morning to the sound of an alarm, triggered when a window in their spare bedroom broke. When they went to investigate, they found the intruder was a 15-pound raccoon, KLBK reports. The family used brooms to barricade the room and called animal services, which managed to wrangle the critter after a short struggle. The raccoon has since been released into the wild.

ALPINE // The “world’s smallest Target” has been destroyed. The installation, once a switching station for a railroad running through this empty stretch of West Texas desert, was painted to appear as if it was part of the global retail chain. An official with the city of Alpine said it was destroyed because the property owner had concerns about its structural integrity, according to KXAN. Despite its lack of toilet paper and other household essentials, the store received four out of five stars on Tripadvisor.

FORT WORTH //  The mystery of a 10-foot-tall hollow metal structure near a walking trail in Fort Worth has been solved, the Star-Telegram reports. For weeks, residents had puzzled over the so-called monolith, which resembled other structures that had popped up in Utah, California, and Romania. Some speculated that aliens placed it there. In fact, it was a prank masterminded by a popular radio DJ and some high school students.

FERRIS // While conducting a traffic stop on Interstate 45, a police officer heard a loud bang on the other side of the highway. After he finished the stop, the officer found a refrigerator in the road—and it was full of weed, according to KXAS. Police have taken the refrigerator, and the approximately 15 pounds of marijuana inside, into custody; so far, no one has come forward to claim it.

SAN ANTONIO // At SeaWorld San Antonio, two male Gentoo penguins were observed rearing a Chinstrap penguin chick together as a pair. The penguins were first seen acting as expectant parents—even building a nest together—four years ago, KXAN reports. In 2020, zoo operators deemed them to be good enough parents to raise a Chinstrap penguin as their own.

VICTORIA // Catnappers struck in Victoria, where a fixture of the city’s public garden was stolen overnight, the Victoria Advocate reported. The feline, who is known as Fat Cat by staff and visitors to the garden, was seen on surveillance footage being carried away “while snuggling in the arms of one of his suspected captors.” Volunteers took to social media to locate Fat Cat; a few days later, he was spotted and returned home to the garden. 

DICKINSON // The race to become mayor of Dickinson was a close one: Candidates Sean Skipworth and Jennifer Lawrence both won exactly 1,010 votes. So, as allowed by Texas law, the outgoing mayor grabbed a top hat for a tiebreaker. The Associated Press reports that Skipworth became the town’s mayor in January after a pingpong ball scrawled with his name was pulled from the hat. Lawrence says she will respect the election’s outcome.

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Christopher Collins is an associate editor at the Observer. He previously was a staff writer covering rural Texas. He can be reached on Twitter or at [email protected]

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