Life of a Texas Gate

Grandkids, your Great Grand Father, E. R. Smyth was a gadget man and by that I mean he loved dreaming up neat stuff and bringing it to a reality.

Over the years, when I was a kid I watched him sit at his desk in the upstairs office area in the Lueders house and draw out what he wanted to build and then either build it himself or have it built.

Some of those things was the Barn with the Weather Vane and the TV Antenna which turned by a motor in the middle of the tower. Another was the front yard Love Seat.

Granny had a clothes line which would run the clothes back and forth allowing her to stand in one spot to hang out and bring in the laundry.

Living in Texas, he liked to put a Texas Star on most of the things he built. The TV antenna had stars on it as did the weather vane. He built some window shutters for the front of the house and cut a Texas Star into the shutters. One summer we painted a round green circle with a red Texas Star on the 7 inch corner post of the front yard fence as well as the 7 inch post for the gate going to the garage.

But, the very first and original Texas Star to show up at the Lueders Home place was the one on the front entrance gate.

We moved into the Lueders house in August of 1943 and shortly afterwards my father started putting up the fence completely around the home place and he designed and had constructed a large stone entrance way for the front door entrance.

Lueders Lime Stone is pretty well known all over the world and the gate entrance stone was quarried and processed right there in Lueders, Texas.

A man named, Joe Delwaide processed all the stone and cut the caps and blocks for the entrance at the West Texas Stone mill where he worked. A stone mason named, Bozo Walls laid up all the stone.

The entrance way of course had to have a gate so your Great Grand Father sit at his desk and drew out a metal gate made from 1-1/4 pipe, oil well sucker rods and a piece of boiler plate. He used such materials because he worked in the oil fields and those were the things available free of charge as scrap.

We had a local blacksmith named Oscar Exdalh and he cut out and welded the gate together as he did the weather vane and TV antenna.

A very unique features of the gate was the latch mechinisum which had a pipe inside a pipe and the inside pipe dropped down into a pipe cemented in the ground to hold the gate closed. That was sort of a unique way to latch a gate because no other around had such a design.

The front of the gate had a Texas Star welded in the middle with the letter S in the center of the star.

The gate was painted white with the star and top two inches of the sucker rods were painted red. The S was painted blue i.e. Red White and Blue which is our country's colors.

The stone being processed in those days was nearly pure white and the caps and blocks on top of the gate columns was sawed stone meaning it was smooth.

The sawed stone weathered and would turn brown or rusty color except it was never allowed to do so because about every 2 years my Dad handed me a wire brush and said son brush all the sawed stone until it is shiny white again.

I was about 11 years old when I got this job and it lasted all during my teen years and until I married your GranMa and left home.

I might also tell you that the top two inches of all the fence post were painted red same as the gate was painted and that was another of GranPa's jobs while growing up.

Keeping fence post trimmed and the cap stones polished wasn't exactly a fun thing for a youngster to be doing as it took me all day to polish the cap stones. and it seems like the two year frequency came around once or twice each year.

The following picture of the entrance gate was made around 1944 as the red trimming has not been added. As I recall the fence was up 2 or 3 years before the red trim was added.

Note the Light Fixtures:... My Dad ordered the Light Fixtures on the Entrance from Sears catalog in Dallas, Texas and I helped mount them. The thing I remember most is that it was during World War II and all metal was going towards the war effort so, the fixture was all glass but, where metal would have normally been on such a fixture it was colored brown glass to make it appear like it was metal.

I might tell you that in those days there was no such thing as buying underground wire. It had to be placed in a water proof conduit. so, we used 1/2 inch galvanized water pipe and the wires ran inside from the house to the gate columns.

I wasn't but, 10 at the time but, was made to dig the ditch for the wire and conduit to be laid in.

When the war was over and normal light fixtures became available, my Dad again order 2 light fixtures from Sears and this time they were metal and real nice.

Your Great GranPa Smyth had an Irish temper and when we went to remove the old Light Fixtures we got the right side off real easy but, the fixture screws on the left side were rusty and my Dad couldn't get the screws out and after some time trying and a few cuss words he leaned back and knocked it off with a hammer busting it into a thousand pieces.

When my Dad would throw one of his Irish fits it was time to get out of the way and I knew to stand at attention. But, we did get the new lights on with out further problems and with out me getting hollered at.

After Daddy died in 1962, Granny was forced to sell the home place and move to Abilene where she had a job at Hendrick Memorial Hospital.

Incidentally Hendricks is where Ray Jr. was born.

Over the years the home place had 3 owners and then it burned on April 1, 2006

64 years of weather with no wire brushing or other maintenance has deteriorated things and the entrance way and gate are in terrible shape as shown by the following 2 pictures taken in October 2007.

I might tell you here that your granpa was sentimental about family things when a young man because when Granny sold the house in 1964 I had it put in the sales contract that the Weather Vane, TV Antenna and Clothes Line was not part of the sale and I had a right to remove them at a later date.

Unfortunately, I was following the construction of the underground missile silos at the time and then moved to Florida and just simply never had an opportunity to remove them.

After the home place was sold to another party and the weather vane had fallen off the barn I was able to purchase it which may be seen  HERE   as it was in our Florida back yard shortly after refurbishment. It has since been moved to the family museum.

Being raised in a nice old two story home with an out side garage and a barn on a large plot of ground and then made to work like hell as a kid keeping it up makes for some nostalgic memories of growing up.

Over the years and especially after the house burned I gave much thought to purchasing the place and bringing it back to the days I remembered as a kid.

My brother, Donnie and I also discussed purchasing it together but, with us both living so far away it doesn't make much sense.

During our discussions, Donnie mentioned he sure would like to have the entrance gate for his place in Kentucky.

Your great uncle Donnie and his son, Jimmy own 75 acres on a mountain top near Austin, Kentucky where they raise horses and cows.

He wasn't sure what he might do with the gate but, figured he could find a use.

While attending my High School Homecoming in October 2007, out of curiosity, I checked to see if the taxes were being paid and looked up the current owner, Lisa Lambert in Abilene, Texas.

I visited with Lisa and learned she was hoping to be able to keep the place and said she was making payments on the property taxes.

I asked what it would take to obtain the front entrance gate from her and much to my surprise she said, "I know how much you 2 guys must have loved the place where you grew up so, why don't you just take the gate and give it a good home."

To keep us out of trouble I had her sign a piece of paper giving us permission to take the gate.

I phoned my brother, Donnie and told him he had the gate if he wanted it. He was tickled and asked me to see Albert Wilhite who he had previously spoke with about removing the gate and stowing it until he could arrange to pick it up or have it shipped to Kentucky.

I met with Albert and provided him a copy of the receipt for the gate.

Albert and Buddy Thomas went over and lifted the gate off with the winch on Buddy's Electrical truck.

Albert then took the gate to a place in Abilene and arranged to have the gate sand blasted and powder coated white. For this he refused to allow my brother to pay him anything. Such people are few and far between now days. Donnie was most grateful.

Our Mother's graveside services were held in Stamford, Texas on July 21, 2008 and Albert had recently picked the gate up from the powder coating firm. He therefore left it on the truck to show Donnie and brought it with him to the services.

Photo of the gate in Albert's truck is shown below

Below, Donnie gives Albert a "Job Well Done" hand shake and a Big Thank You

After a 946 mile journey and being trimmed same as your Great Grand Father had it,
The Texas Gate now resides in a setting on a mountain top near Austin, Kentucky

Using the Gate, your Uncle Donnie created what he calls his "Texas Memorial"
We come to the end of a story about a Gate dreamed up by your great grand father back in Texas in the year of 1944 which had many a Smyth open and close it over a span of 20 years and how it has now been reborn and sits on a mountain top in Kentucky to once again be opened and closed by Smyth's.

Your Uncle Donnie created a very unique setting for his yard and it has a few surprises which can be viewed by Clicking:...  HERE

The End

[  Current Page - TOP  ] [   Menu - Stories  ]
Copyright © 2008 by E. Ray Smyth