Image: Stephanie Stuckey/Stuckey’s Corp. Except for its name and a couple of pizzerias, the town of Italy, Texas, bears little in common with its eponymous European country. First settled around 1860, the town of around 2,000 people today actually got its “Old Country” name in 1879 when the Aycock Brothers built a hybrid house, store and post office. Of course, the post office would need a name so people would know where to send their letters and such. As a result, the good citizens of the unnamed town would gather together to decide what to call the place where they abided. Some suggested it was as hot as Egypt, so that’s what they should name it. Others said it wasn’t really that hot, with one of the townsfolk saying it reminded him of the climate in Italy when he once visited there, so they should name it Italy. The citizens became split on the matter until the issue was finally resolved by nearby Waxahachie postmaster Gabriel J. Penn who filled in the blank on the official registration form with “Italy”. (Besides, there had already been a town named Egypt located in Wharton County, Texas.) Eventually both business and the population would grow in Italy with around 500 people living there in 1890 to 1926 in 2019. The Stuckey’s of Italy is a bit like that first building the Aycock Brothers built in that it shares a building with a gas station, convenience store, a couple of restaurants and even a motel. That means you can really relax refresh and refuel at this Stuckey’s location. So, whether you’re stopping for the night or just long enough to fill up the tank and grab a couple of Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls or pecan pralines and a cup of joe for the journey ahead, be sure to check out these things to see and do near Stuckey’s of Italy. World’s Largest Caterpillar Image: Lothar1976, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons You really don’t have drive far from Stuckey’s for this one because almost directly across Interstate 35E you’ll see a giant (but cute) caterpillar named Bruco. Though some claim the cowboy boot wearing caterpillar with the “flirty eyes” is built out of Quonset huts, fact is, he’s actually made out of seven 60-foot domes. And that makes sense because underneath this multipedal mammoth is 14,000 square feet factory space where the company called Monolithic Dome constructs prefab dome homes (among other buildings and dome things). Nearby There’s also a whole dome neighborhood of Flintstones-meets-the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair houses near Bruco where dome enthusiasts can even rent a dome of their own. Munster Mansion Image: Yitz, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons If you’re a big fan of the that frighteningly funny 60’s horror family sitcom “The Munsters”, chances are you’re still not quite as big a fan as Sandra and Charles McKee. You see, in 2001, the couple started building their own Munster Mansion – an exact replica of the house that used to sit on 1313 Mockingbird Lane in the imaginary TV town of Mockingbird Heights. Watching and re-watching episodes of the show, they’ve painstakingly recreated every room in the Munster house right down to the cobwebs. And they’ve done a spectacular job with their “living work” over the last 20 years. Inside you’ll find some of the things you’ll remember about the show including Spot – the Munster’s fire-breathing pet stegosaurus who lives under the stairs – and the bedroom of odd-girl-out Marilyn – Herman and Lily Munster’s “ugly” niece – that’s all frilly and not a cobweb or dust ball in site. Most of the rooms even feature props and furnishings from the original show. If you’re thinking about going, the McKee’s do offer private tours of the Munster Mansion as well as weekly Murder Mystery nights. What’s more, you don’t have to travel the fictional Mockingbird Heights to get a tour of the house because, nowadays, you’ll find it in Waxahachie, Texas. For more information, visit their website here. Jailhouse Rock? Image: Renelibrary, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons A stop by the old county jail in Hillsboro, Texas, might have you wondering if this is where Elvis Presley got his inspiration for his timeless classic “Jailhouse Rock”. Rumor around these parts is that, while stationed at the Army’s nearby Fort Hood, the King of Rock and Roll used to come to Hillsboro to visit friends that owned a local café. Apparently, during one of those visits, Elvis got arrested for “drunken behavior” and ended up spending the night in the Hillsboro hoosegow. Though Elvis only spent the night here, the jailhouse kept prisoners here until April 1983. It eventually fell into the hands of the Hill County Historical Commission who restored the building and turned it into a museum. Today, you can stick around and get your kicks doing the Jailhouse Rock from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every Saturday, April through October. Admission is free, though donations are greatly appreciated. Monster Mash-Up Image: Kathy Kral, CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons Apparently, in the late 19th century, there wasn’t much to do in the small town of West, Texas, so somebody at the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad thought, “Hey! You know what might be fun? Watching two trains smash head-on into each other.” That man was the railroad’s general passenger agent, Mr. William George Crush (whose name, admittedly, sounded like someone perfect for such a publicity stunt). Crush had it all planned out and the “Crash at Crush” event finally took place on September 15, 1896. However, as the old proverb goes, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”, and things definitely went awry on that fateful September day. First, the crash was delayed because the crowd refused to be backed up to a safe distance from the crash site. When the trains finally did collide, both trains exploded at the same time sending iron and metal shrapnel from “the size of a stamp to half a driving wheel” in all directions. In the end, two people were killed and more than half a dozen were injured. Crush was fired (but rehired the next day) and the railroad quickly paid off the medical bills of those injured to avoid lawsuits. Today, you can see the last known existing piece of metal from the crash at the History of West Museum in West, Texas. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays. Besides the Crash at Crush artifact, also houses other exhibits ranging from the 1850’s arrival of the early settlers to Bold Springs (West), the railroad, and the founding fathers to farming and ranching, military veterans, and the Czech and German immigrants who brought their one-of-a-kind social and cultural heritage to the area. The Whitney Bench Wars Image: Renelibrary, CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons A hundred years ago, druggist D. (Doctor Dee) Scarborough installed a bench outside his drugstore in Whitney, Texas. The bench quickly became a gathering place for the townsmen seeking respite from both the sun and their wives. Here they would pass their time whittling, talking politics, telling jokes and spitting tobacco in their own sort of gentleman’s club. However, after awhile, their jokes turned to sharp tongued judgment to which no one or nothing was immune. One day, however, that all changed when “a delegation of local housewives” caught up to Whitney’s mayor, Frank Basham, complaining about the old men, their unsightly bench. Basham assured the ladies that he would do something about it. Soon after, the bench was removed, much to the chagrin of the men who used to meet there. “Well,” were guessing the men said, “We’ll just see about that”, and the men brought a bunch of nail kegs to sit on. However, the police said they would just remove them, too. Eventually, a referendum was held to keep the peace and the bench was returned by a vote of 124 to 67, and the men immediately and triumphantly put the bench back. Today, you can still sit on that bench at the Whitney Area Museum located on the city’s Brazos Street. The museum is typically open Saturdays from 9:15 am – 2:00 pm, spring through fall, but we assume that since they are outside, you can sit and pass judgment any time of the year. Call 254-694-6595 for more information. So, that’s just a few of the things you can see and do near the Stuckey’s in Italy, Texas. However, the Lone Star State is pretty big, so you know they’ve got plenty more to see and do on your next big road trip adventure. Let us know where you’ve stopped after you stopped at Stuckey’s. — Well, folks, ready or not, the holiday season is fast approaching, so why not get ready by having some Stuckey’s on hand? Whether its Halloween treats, road trip snacks to get you over the river and through the woods, or something to stuff in the stockings hung by the chimney with care, Stuckey’s has everything to meet your holiday snack needs. And of course, with the holidays comes parties, and Stuckey’s even has you covered there because you’ll be the life of the party the Stuckey’s Shot Glass Fun Box. Each box is one-of-a-kind, but they all come with six shot glasses and a bag of gummies. Simply drop a gummy in a shot glass, add your beverage of choice (Please drink responsibly!) and down the hatch it goes! Note: Shot glass designs and gummy flavors will vary. You might get NASCAR shot glasses, state souvenir shot glasses, or even Stuckey’s-themed shot glasses! You might get peach or sour gummies! Life is an adventure! Choose yours today from stuckeys.com. Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!