Demolition has slowed down at the Highland Lakes Shopping Center in Kingsland, as great pains are being taken to avoid damaging the iconic “map wall” on the front of the old Highland Lakes National Bank building. In the photo above (taken Wednesday morning), workers are making a “teepee” of steel pipes (anchored to concrete footings) to keep the map wall standing securely on its own while they take down the rest of the old bank building. The teepee will remain until the modern, one-story Prosperity Bank is completed behind it and connected to the map wall by beams. The new bank is expected to take six or seven months to build after the site preparation is completed.
Except for Saturday night, this past weekend wasn’t quite as busy as most have been lately. I did miss a few events, and I did have to hustle to get from the Burnet Rodeo to the BHS prom at Log Country Cove to the Llano Country Opry between 8 and 9 p.m. on Saturday, but my main excuses for being in such a big hurry as I face my 8 a.m. Thursday deadline are not directly related to this paper.
For one thing, I spent some time on Sunday and Monday on the “Kingsland, Texas!” magazine, and I think I have a good chance of finishing it this coming weekend. And for another thing, my flight-attendant daughter flew in to Austin on Tuesday, and I spent a few hours visiting with her. So please don’t mistake my “explanation” for an apology; I’m not really sorry at all. (I’m just explaining!)
Now, if it turns out that my behindness (I think that’s a new word I just invented) causes me to make a serious mistake in this week’s paper, I will be sorry. I’ll wait to hear.
I have quite a few things to mention, so I’ll try to stay focused. I did remember to include the Ball Brothers concert in “Upcoming Events,” but I want to mention it again here. It’s a Christian music concert sponsored by the Lutie Watkins Memorial United Methodist Church in Llano, and ticket sales will help pay for the church’s mission trip to Costa Rica. Tickets are $12 each at the door (at Llano High School, beginning at 7 p.m. this Saturday).
Well, my sixth anniversary celebration was overshadowed by a flat tire and four days without internet, but I’m back in business and I still have a chance of keeping my consecutive-deadline-meeting string alive at 309. The mathematicians among you will note that there have been 314 Fridays in the past six years, but that accounts for two weeks that I skipped after the first “trial” issue of the Highland Lakes Weekly, and three vacations that I have taken since then (there were no deadlines those weeks). I am planning another vacation for this summer, and if I get any older I will consider taking two each year (one in the middle of the winter, and one in the middle of the summer). I believe that I have “earned” those vacations by also producing magazines for the Kingsland Chamber (I know I’m bragging, but I hope you’ll forgive me for taking some satisfaction from that track record!)
One of the reasons that I’m not looking for a less-demanding job is because I enjoy this one so much. And even this past week, in between the minor disasters, I had some very good experiences.
Two of my favorite encounters were the retirement party for pharmacist Charlie Bowen and a meeting with World War II veteran Louis Metzler (who, it turns out, played a much larger role than I had realized in Kingsland’s re-birth during the 1960s). You can read a little about them on page 6, but I hope to have much more detailed follow-up stories soon.
Louis Metzler, of Burnet, came to Kingsland with two of his friends (Karl Piehl, left, and George Pangborn) on Wednesday morning. He is a World War II veteran who built many homes and business houses in Kingsland and Buchanan Dam during the early 1960s, and had the plastering contract for the Highland Lakes Shopping Center in 1964. As the area’s Marblecrete franchisee, he also installed the finishing coat on the exterior walls, including the iconic “map wall” on the front of the Highland Lakes National Bank. His headquarters was in the little building now occupied by Doris Mattingly’s Nail Salon (which he built), and he knew and worked with many of the other pioneers of Kingsland’s resurgence in the 1960s (including Woody McCasland, Frank Weise, Bill McGee, Odie Ainsworth, Bill Bransford and Bud Lentz). He also was instrumental in the founding of Chapel of the Hills in Buchanan Dam in 1967, and purchased the Floyd Acres subdivision in Buchanan Dam from founder Ira Floyd.
Time flies! It’s already May, and next week will mark the 6th “birthday” of the Highland Lakes Weekly. I’m not planning anything big by way of a celebration, but I can’t help believing that this milestone is another testimony to the goodness of God and the generosity of my Highland Lakes neighbors (and I want to express my gratitude in this column).
I couldn’t begin to list all the miracles that I’ve experienced in these six years. Some of them would certainly not convince a skeptic, but to me they were clear signs of God’s care. And the kind words of hundreds of readers have brightened many of the days when I thought I just might be too tired to keep on going.
Of course, the paychecks come from the advertisers, and they certainly have a special place in my heart! One of my “miracles” has been the support of L.E. and Connie Fite, at Texas Building Center. They have been my number-one advertiser for more than five years, and have sent several other advertisers my way by their recommendation. You can see their ads every week on the front and the back pages of this paper. (By the way, L.E. was telling me the other day that people seem to have forgotten that they still manufacture small storage sheds and garages, so most of their recent business has been barndominiums and larger buildings. If you need a small metal building, please keep them in mind!)
Other mainstays in my little business are Lighthouse Country Club (page 2) and Century 21 – Keiser Real Estate (page 3), and you can see others who have been in my paper every week since the beginning. I appreciate them all very, very much!
I have had a lot of amazing days in my unique job, so I wouldn’t dare to say that last Saturday was the best, or even one of the top ten. But as far as the variety of interesting pictures (interesting to me, at least), Saturday had to be one of the best days I remember.
I was already feeling really good from two events on Friday night. I thought the Special Needs Adult Prom at Hill Country Fellowship was wonderful, and I was really proud of the people who made it happen. Then I was very much impressed with the acting of my friend, Graham Avery, who played the troubled man accused of murder in “Murder Weapon,” at Hill Country Community Theatre.
Then I was able to sleep in a little on Saturday, so I wasn’t too tired when I started my rounds on Saturday morning. The first stop was the great car show on the Burnet square, and there was an extra bonus there when I met cinematographer Shane Kelly, who was filming parts of the event for a Moon Shine Sweet Tea commercial.
I stayed there longer than I had planned, so I had to hurry back to Kingsland for the Laker Fest at Kingsland School. Fortunately, I got there in time to take pictures of the comical gunfight performed by my friends from the Burnet Gunfighters (another very photogenic group). An interesting side note there was the presence of normally-very-respectable principal Meloni Puishes, who played the role of a “floozie” in the tavern during the gunfight.
There were quite a few milestones during Kingsland’s rebirth in the second half of the 20th century. Some of the most important were the completion of the dam that formed Lake LBJ in 1951, the construction of Farm to Market Road 1431 in 1957 (finished in 1958) and the new bridge across the Llano River in 1968. But perhaps none so clearly marked Kingsland’s “arrival” as one of the major communities in the Highland Lakes area as the Grand Opening of the new Highland Lakes National Bank and the shopping center that came with it in June of 1965.
Woody McCasland was a bank examiner from Waco who often spent time in the Highland Lakes area. He would vacation in Kingsland between jobs at banks in Burnet, Marble Falls and Llano. He became aware that land salesmen were selling lake lots to quite a few people (particularly to military personnel in the San Antonio area and water-starved residents of west Texas), and realized that a forward-thinking bank could do very well as the new landowners began to move to Kingsland. A survey (done as part of the bank’s charter application in 1962) showed 1,000 people living within a five-mile radius of Kingsland.
It didn't take quite as much capital back then to start a new bank, but even with investments from a few partners, McCasland had to "go door-to-door" selling stock at $25 a share to come up with the necessary seed money. It worked, and the new Highland Lakes National Bank opened in March of 1963 between a cafe and a real estate office in the Odie Ainsworth building (now the Landmasters Real Estate building). Nearly all the existing local businesses (including Stein Lumber Co., Ainsworth Real Estate, Wood Grocery, Kingsland Auto Service, Wayman’s Restaurant, Dairy Dock, Foster’s Grocery, the River Ranch Store, Smith Electric, Kingsland Insurance Agency, Bill’s Marine Service and Kingsland Lodges) took out large ads in the Highlander to welcome the new bank, and a huge crowd attended the bank’s Grand Opening.
Just write down exactly what you want to say (up to 25 words for $3 per week; up to 50 words for $5), then mail your ad with payment for however long you want it to run.
Make checks payable to:
Highland Lakes Weekly
P.O. Box 911
Kingsland, TX 78639