Saturday, March 30, 2013

Chapter 97 Fruits of Our Labor

One of the joys of owning the farm and having a lot of room was that the family spent most holidays there. Our living room was the site for many a family Christmas. After the kids married, we'd celebrate on New Year's Day so the in-laws could be with their families on Christmas. 

On Thanksgiving we would have our family plus most of Alice and Winn’s children and eventually grandchildren. Sometimes we weren't sure where all the people came from. We would typically have 25 to 35 guests all enjoying being together. The table was large enough for about 10 people but there was plenty of room for everyone at the bar and various seating in the living room. Sometimes it was nice enough for guests to eat outside on the house-long porch.

Right after Thanksgiving, Charlotte would have the girls out and they would make tamales. It was a day long event, longer for the hostess. Charlotte would get all the ingredients together and then cook the meat for a full day before participants came out. Some years they would roll twenty-five or thirty dozen and they were the best. I have never had tamales at a restaurant that were as delicious as those homemade tamales.

We also had a big vegetable garden and grew all kinds of produce. As you can see from the wheelbarrow in the picture, we grew just a little bit of everything. Cantaloupe, squash, corn, beans, tomatoes, black eyed peas-everything flourished tended by Charlotte's green thumb. We eventually had to fence off the garden to fend off the critters, but it was a battle worth fighting!

We had been members at Highland Park Presbyterian Church for 17 years but it became harder and harder to make the 30 mile trip in each Sunday. We visited the two Presbyterian churches in McKinney and they were cold as ice. No one spoke and we did not hear from anyone. A friend in Kiwanis suggested we try First Methodist and we did. What a difference. At the first visit, two different couples came up to us after church and invited us to their Sunday school class. The following week, we had a call from the Pastor and one from another couple. We joined First Methodist a week or two later.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Chapter 96 New Worlds to Conquer

My business partner, Bob Hudgins, had moved to Albuquerque. A few years earlier I had sold him a 115-acre farm which was on the pavement-not far from Willow Springs. In 1971 I called Bob and asked him if he wanted to sell that place. He said he was interested and we struck a deal and it was ours. We paid $400 per acre for it. Charlotte was happy but she still wasn't sure about moving away from the city and access to all the Hospitals and doctors, etc. She said she might be okay with it if I would build her a little greenhouse when we built the new house. She had always wanted a place where she could grow a few orchids. 
We spent about a year designing the house and a friend, Madge Widener, helped with design. When I started construction Madge’s husband, Smokey, who was a home builder, furnished helpful advice and names of sub contractors.
Our new house was finished in the summer of 1972 and Charlotte finally agreed to move to the country with me a year later. She had refused to move until Susie was out of High School.  I had built Charlotte a “little” green house, which was 30’ by 50'. I put a sign on it that read “Charlotte’s House”  Charlotte loved her greenhouse, and started growing the most beautiful plants. She grew huge flowering plants, hanging baskets, and starter plants for the yard and garden.

In 1973 we sold the Mini Warehouse. Our banker, Oscar Lindeman, would not lend us funds to build another. He said the Dallas market was saturated because since one of our customers had moved out and built a Mini across the street from us! Ah! The mentality of bankers. Not many of them are risk takers. We sold our rent houses to our good friend John Eagle and his friend Cullen Johnson.

We decided to concentrate on Ranching and Farm And Ranch brokering.  The Charolais business and land sales had been doing well for us. The Mini and the rent houses took a huge amount of time away from our main focus. Had we kept the Mini and the rent houses for another twenty years when the loans were paid out they would have generated a big monthly income. However, expenses and twenty years of labor would have been a pretty big price. Besides we had other worlds to conquer and new ideas to launch.