PECOS, Texas — Driving west down I-20, there is small town in the heart of West Texas, Pecos. In Pecos, there is a building unlike any other.
It is a few stories tall and looks like something right of an old western movie. The building used to be a saloon in the late 1900s, then it was a hotel.
But since 1963 it has been home to the West of the Pecos museum. However, the museum is not nearly as unique as the woman inside running it.
Darinda Millan, West of the Pecos Director, was born and raised in Pecos. Her dad was a cowboy.
“As far as I can remember we were taken to the rodeo and Martin my husband, they were rodeo people too. So my daughters grew up there. I was pregnant and had strollers in my little box seat. We love the rodeo,” Millan said.
Growing up, when Millan’s dad was not making ropes for the rodeo, he was teaching Millan the history of her hometown at the West of the Pecos Museum.
Millan says, “I could never convince my little friends or my sister to come over here. They always thought it’s kind of gloomy or haunted,” she said. “I don’t think they appreciate it as much as I did.”
Milllan loved the museum so much she started working there at 14 years old. Even when she was going to the University of Texas at El Paso she just could not stay away.
“I was able to come home on the weekends. I would come home and work and then Sunday night I would go back to school. And of course, my major, education,” Millan said.
More than 44 years later, Milan’s love for this place has only gotten stronger.
“I feel more comfortable in this atmosphere than modern. As you can see I grew up with old things and now my family keeps saying I’m going to be part of the exhibit one day because I’m getting up in years,” Millan said.
And while she has shown up to the museum for over 11,000 days, to Millan, she has not worked a day in her life.
“I’m happy. I’m very happy. People ask me are you going to work, no, I’m going to the museum. I don’t consider this work. This is something that I love so anyway it's not work for me. I mean other than my family, this is my life.”
Millans father passed away, but his love and pride for Pecos lives on in his daughter.
“I’m going to cry now. He would be very proud. He was very proud of his cowboy heritage and that we're preserving the heritage of the community. He would be very proud.”