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No grocery, $5 haircuts - and the Bush ranch

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While the surrounding landscape evokes a stark beauty, the town itself is not going to be mistaken for a Frank Gehry project. It's a disparate collection of houses, from double-wide trailers and bungalows in need of a paint brush, to Victorians and brick showplaces. A triple silo and feed store take up two corners at the main crossroads. A gas station-restaurant sits across the street.

Nearly everyone says they're here because of their family roots, and they stay because of the small-town friendliness, because of the land, and because of the quiet: The traffic is sparse enough that none of the kids wear bike helmets. The schools are good - among the top-ranked in the state. They, along with a quarry, provide most of the local jobs.

"In Texas, you gotta love it or leave it, and if you leave it, you usually come back," laughs Tommy Smith, who grew up here and works at a bakery in Ft. Worth - at least 90 minutes away.

The talk of the Fina gas station

Hanging out one morning on the cafe side of the Fina gas station, Crawford's equivalent of Starbucks, Mr. Smith talks dreamily of the Bush ranch. "I'd love to be out there," he says, referring to the slightly rolling prairie, canyons, creeks, and oak groves that the Bushes purchased in 1999. "That's what we live for out here."

Specifically, he means hunting and fishing, and, indeed, the ranch has a pond stocked with bass for the First Fisherman. Deer are also abundant in the area, and in a sign of good neighborliness, the president lets one of the locals hunt along his property line without being harassed by the Secret Service.

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