Raising funds for a mission trip to Costa Rica next summer, talented members of the Lutie Watkins Memorial United Methodist Church in Llano served a delicious dinner and performed famous songs from Broadway hits like “Fiddler on the Roof” (above) in three dinner theater presentations of “A Taste of Broadway” last weekend (see more pictures on page 8 and lots more on the “Highland Lakes Weekly” Facebook page).
I guess my brain was really fried by the time I finished last week’s paper; I wrote on page 12 that it was just over two months until Kingsland’s big Aqua Boom festival. Maybe I was thinking of my vacation, which I’m planning for the end of July (there won’t be a Highland Lakes Weekly on August 4); Aqua Boom is now just ONE month away!
Something I forgot completely last week was a photo of Texas Chef Stan McDonald. I met him when he came to Llano’s Fuel Coffee House for a book-signing almost two weeks ago; I got an autographed copy (for my daughter, who likes to cook; I wouldn’t ever use it!), and I told him that I’d put his picture in the paper. I hope later is better than never.
My internet went down again this past weekend (the fourth time this month), so this week’s history article is from some 1971 Highlander stories that I’d photographed at the library several months ago and downloaded to my computer. That was the year of Kingsland’s second Aqua Boom; this year’s will be the 48th.
One reason that I hadn’t used those articles before is because it seemed like there was so much bad news that year. I realized later that (even though there WAS some bad news) it really was just the outlook of the new editor. Bill Anderson was well qualified, and very good at his job (the Highlander won all kinds of awards while he was there), but he was a northeastern liberal who didn’t seem to like the Highland Lakes area very well. He had worked on Bobby Kennedy’s campaign team, and seemed to have a real grudge against Lyndon Johnson; I suspect that part of the reason he came here was to investigate the former president. One good thing he did was to draw attention to the pollution of the lakes which resulted from very lax septic system rules; unfortunately, most of his “news” had a definitely negative tone. (One Highlander columnist wrote sarcastically that President Johnson, instead of dying like a normal American, had “already made arrangements in heaven through Billy Graham to ascend into glory directly from the ranch”).
The most visible pieces of Kingsland’s infrastructure were in place by 1971; new roads and bridges provided easy access to the once-isolated little town and businesses already lined at least two miles of Hwy 1431. Homes were still being built at a frantic pace, the new country club and golf course were open for business and a 1,800 square-foot addition had been put on to the west side of the just-five-year-old Highland Lakes National Bank (which was the area’s largest bank by 1971).
There were some challenges for the still-booming town, but optimism dominated the outlook for a new decade. One of the focal points of that optimism was the highly-successful “Aqua Boom” festival held on July 4, 1970; the Kingsland Chamber was already planning a bigger and better Aqua Boom by January of 1971 (they had decided that past winter to make the event an annual tradition in Kingsland).
The first Kingsland news which made the front page of the Marble Falls Highlander in 1971 was a tragedy which actually occurred on December 30. Two Marble Falls girls were struck and killed by a car outside the Green Acres miniature golf course on Hwy 1431 (now the home of Lake Fun Designs). The same issue described the Kingsland Water Supply Corporation as in a “holding” pattern as legal details were being worked out to allow an intake pipe to be installed at the Kingsland Lions Club Park.
The first baby born in Llano County that year was “a baby girl born to Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Don Ivey of Kingsland” on January 6. C.H. Chastain was sworn in as Justice of the Peace for Precinct #3, and opened an office in Kingsland. A fascinating article by Herman Smith recounted the history of the Lakewood Forest III subdivision, from its beginnings (when Forrest Ross bought 67 acres along the Colorado River arm of Granite Shoals Lake from Mrs. Ona Bedford in 1960) to 1970. The article listed many of the prominent citizens who lived there, including Kit and Dollie Carson, Gene and Juanita Bilberry (and their five sons), Truman and May Thurman, Herman and Sallie Smith, and Weldon and Linnie Osbourn, whose daughter Linette (three years old when the article was written) was the only resident born to the neighborhood.
The good news is that the proverbial monkey is off my back. The magazine is finished and has been sent to the printer (see photo above). The bad news is that it took so much of my attention lately that I don’t have time to write much for this paper. I did make it to quite a few events over the weekend, so I’ve got enough pictures to fill the space. I’ll try to get back to my history articles now that I’ve taken care of that huge deadline.
This weekend coming up is Memorial Day weekend. That always seems like “the first days of summer” (although the calendar begs to differ), and there will probably be a lot of boats on the water (and lots of back-yard barbecues). I hope that our fallen heroes will not be forgotten; it’s really their day.
One reason that it seems like the beginning of summer (other than the warm weather and the day off work) is that most schools have closed for summer vacation. Faith Academy had its graduation a couple of weeks ago; Burnet and Llano will be holding their high school graduations this Friday evening, and Marble Falls on Saturday.
While that means there won’t be a whole lot of competing events, there are still plenty of things to do this weekend. Two events that I left out of my abbreviated “Upcoming Events” article are dances at Cadillac Dance Hall (on FM 1855, north of Marble Falls), and at Pardners (on Hwy 29 in Buchanan Dam; see ad on page 11). Leona and Ron Williams will be special guests at Cadillac Dance Hall on Saturday night, and saxophonist Elliott Fikes tells me he has recovered from his shoulder surgery, and will be back on stage there with Eddie Shell and the Not Guilties.
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.
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