Social media can be quite a boon to finding answers to nagging questions in a hurry.
The other day I posed a question on Facebook about the whereabouts of a battle tank that once “guarded” one of the doors to the Potter County Courthouse in downtown Amarillo.
I got my answer … quickly. It’s been moved to Pampa, about 60 miles northeast in Gray County.
The tank is now sitting proudly with some other war relics.
I mistakenly referred to the tank as an M-48. It’s actually newer than that; it’s an M-60.
Potter County Judge Arthur Ware put the tank out there after then-Justice of the Peace Jim Tipton — a fellow Marine — procured the vehicle from someone, whose identity escapes me at the moment.
Ware, who is leaving office at the end of the year, told me several times over the years how proud he was to have the tank out there. He said it symbolized some memorial to veterans who had served their country. Ware, a Marine reservist, was called up during the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91 and went into battle with his fellow Marines against the allegedly vaunted Iraqi Republican Guard.
The tank stood there for many years. Then the county sought some historical preservation grant money to restore the courthouse. The rules from the Texas Historical Commission are quite restrictive, as they should be. The county sought to return the courthouse to its original pristine state, which in 1930 did not include the tank on the grounds.
The tank had to go. Period.
So the county found a suitable home for it.
I’m glad it hasn’t been scrapped. I also am glad the state historical preservationists stuck to their guns — so to speak — by ordering the county removed from the courthouse grounds.
The county did a good job of restoring the grand old building — while obeying the rules that took an old weapon of war to another location.