Texas Connects Us to a Quaint Small Town With a Joyful Name

Drive about six hours west of Dallas, and you'll find a place that is a world away from the hustle and bustle of a big city. 

"It's a real slow pace of life," Jerry Sims said. "It's a happy place to be."

It's Happy, Texas. Population: 672, and Sims knows, "all of 'em."

Sims is chief of the town's volunteer fire department, and owns a business called The Happy Toymaker. He's like Santa's southern cousin with a Texas twang and cowboy wisdom.

"I love my job," Sims said as he welded metal to make toy trucks. "You've got to be happy with what you're doing in life."

Happy is a quiet small town, where everyone knows everyone. The town's slogan is "The Town Without a Frown."

"Everybody cares about everybody," Sims said. "It's an awesome place!"

Happy, Texas got its name in the 19th century when cowboys found a watering hole in the barren Texas Panhandle and called it the "Happy Draw."

It was home to 1950s chart-topping rockabilly musician Buddy Knox, and 1936 gold medal Olympic basketball player Joe Fortenberry, who is credited with being the first to dunk a basketball. The people who live in Happy, whose names might not be known outside the city limits, show what's in a name.

"Everything here revolves around service to others," Happy City Administrator Scott Downing said. "I think that gives people a sense of happiness."

So what makes Downing happy? "Not doing interviews," he joked.

The original Happy State Bank, the 18th-largest bank in Texas, is among the businesses still thriving, but downtown has more vacant buildings than there once were.

"There's a certain time of day where if you'd like to run into people, that's the time to go to the post office," said Laura Bow, a lifelong resident whose family helped found the city.

"It's still a place where small town values are important," said Bow, who is a special education teacher at Happy Elementary. "We are kind of in our own bubble... in a Happy bubble."

Both Bow and Sims said they could make more money living somewhere else, but that wouldn't make them happier. The connections they have to their town and the people who live in it -- that's what makes them happy.

"Maybe society's gotten to where it's just easier to not be happy and it's just easier to write that anonymous thing on Facebook and be ugly," Bow said.

It's hard to be anonymous in a small town.

"For some reason somebody always knows somebody from Happy, Texas. It's pretty cool," said Sims with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. "I guess it's a lot better than being from 'Sad, Texas!'"

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