May 20-23, 1993: A Trip to Typhoon Lagoon/Universal Studios in Orlando
April 17-18, 1993: A Weekend at My Sister's House in North Carolina
Return to the Index for 1993

May 15-16, 1993
A Weekend in Bartlett, Texas


On Saturday, May 15th, Fred and I drove down to Bartlett, Texas, to see Tony Rihn and Don Davidson. Last November, they, along with Frank and Joe, were here in Dallas staying with us, and the six of us went to the Mesquite Rodeo. They have invited Fred and I and Frank and Joe to come visit them at their place in Bartlett, Texas.

We left Dallas Saturday morning, heading south on I-35 towards Waco and Austin. South of Waco, in the town of Temple, Texas, we got off the freeway and eventually onto Texas Highway 92 which took us pretty much due south into Bartlett.

The town is very small, with a population of about 2600 (about 400 souls less than the town Fred lives in). When Highway 92 reaches the center of town, we turned right (following Don's directions) and found the building they live in just about a block west of Highway 92 and on the south side of East Clark Street.

Fred and I arrived at Tony and Don's in the early afternoon, and Frank and Joe arrived a couple of hours later. We played with the kittens that Frank and Joe brought (more on them later) and then Fred, Frank, Joe, Tony and Don went out for supper at a local restaurant. For some reason, I was feeling a bit rocky, so I stayed behind and took a nap. When the guys returned, I was feeling a lot better. We sat around and visited for a while, and then Fred, Frank, Joe and I went down to Austin to go out to one of the local bars, returning about two in the morning. It was on Sunday that Fred took the photographs below; my camera was still in the repair shop. We began by walking around the blocks where Tony and Don live.

Looking East Along Clark Street

This picture that Fred took looks east along the street on which Tony and Don's building is located. That's Fred's red Mazda truck in the foreground.

Fred, Don and Tony Outside Their Building on Clark Street

I am using Fred's camera, since mine is still in for repairs. This is the main street of Bartlett, and down at the light is the main north/south highway that runs from Temple to Austin. The sign will tell you exactly where we are.

Bartlett is almost a ghost town. There are a number of people who live here, but the downtown area has pretty much died, since most of the shopping is out by the new Wal-Mart on the highway. There is a Dairy Queen, a car dealership, a grocery store and a couple of small shops downtown, but that is about it. Tony and Don were able to buy the better portion of a city block for only about $10,000, and they have done some renovations and now live in one portion, lease another and use a third for their shop where they do glass sculptures and other art work. Here are pictures of some of that artwork:

Probably the biggest thing to hit Bartlett in recent years was that locations in the town will be used as a stand-in for the fictional town of Henrietta, Texas, the location of the action in the 1995 film "The Stars Fell on Henrietta". Tony and Don tell us that a fair amount of money has been spent to refurbish and clean up the facades of some of the town's buildings, and that it is anticipated that film crews will arrive shortly to film some of the exterior shots for the film. (Most of the filming for the drama released in 1995 turned out to be in Abilene.)

At left is the old Bartlett National Bank building, typical of the architecture in the town, which all dates from the turn of the century when Bartlett was a thriving little cotton town. The facade of this building still looks good, but if you get up close you can see that the wind has blown much of the sandy mortar out from between the bricks and that some of them are loose. The bank, long closed, is now a small coffee shop and video game arcade.

The picture at right looks back southeast across Clark Street to the block where Tony and Don live. They actually own four storefronts in the middle of their block, but not the large corner building. That is Fred's truck parked out front.

It is a Sunday morning, and there is little, if any, traffic. There has been some renovation of the downtown (much of it associated with the movie filming that will occur this year)- the street lamps have been repaired and all work- but on the whole Bartlett doesn't know what to do with itself. There is talk of making it into another Kerrville, a center for weekend antique hunters, but that has already been done a number of times throughout Texas, so the market may be saturated.

So Tony and Don just don't know what will happen. They like living here though, and that's what counts. Although they seem to be out in the middle of nowhere, they are not far from Austin- shopping, night life and some of the best medical services in the state.

Don, Tony and Myself Outside Their Living-Quarters Storefront

Essentially, they gutted the inside of two adjoining storefronts for their living quarters. The front part of one of them is open, and they set up this Ping-Pong table (Tony and Don are addicts). The ceiling is unfinished; they just hung some industrial lighting from it.

Me, Joe, Don and Tony Playing Ping-Pong in Their Living Room

The walls are rough-finished. In the foreground is their dining room table, and on either side there are antique buffet pieces and an area rug. Notice the mural they have painted on the wall, and the indoor basketball hoop and dart board. To the right there is a large arched entry to the next storefront space.

In the other storefront space, next to the ping-pong room and through an archway, they have taken out most of the flooring, and created earthen areas where they have put in tropical plants. There is a large skylight so that plenty of sun comes in; they have kind of an indoor greenhouse. There is a deck area with chairs and a brick walkway through the room. It is just like having an indoor garden, and I have never seen anything like it. They have even built a small concrete channel for water, and have a fountain that recirculates the water through the channel. The plants reach to the ceiling, some of them, and so the effect is dramatic. Here are three views of this amazing room:

I was very impressed with what Tony and Don had done with what had been commercial space. They had turned it into an area that resembled a normal apartment, an indoor garden, the huge game room and a loft.

The picture at left gives you a good idea of what the interior space at Tony and Don's is like. It shows the front part of both storefronts that they occupy.

There is this huge open space, all done in neo-industrial, and the whole effect is striking and very functional. They have not attempted to air-condition this part of their living space as it would be impractical, so on hot days like this one they just leave all the doors open.

Fred took this shot as Joe and I played Ping-Pong. I am not very good at it, but certainly worked up a sweat as Don and then Joe ran me into the ground. A bit later on, we played doubles, and everyone discovered just how much I didn't know about the game.

Fred took this picture from the loft in back of the one storefront. This loft has a bathroom and two large beds, plus some other furniture. It is where Tony and Don spend much of their time, but it is not their master bedroom.

It is not air-conditioned either, and it is very warm during the day, even with the ceiling fans and the room exhausts. I would imagine that during the fall, winter and spring, though, it is very pleasant.

Actually, the downstairs master bedroom and bath is the only area of the house that is air-conditioned, and that makes a lot of sense. On really hot days, Tony and Don can relax there with the TV and a sitting area within the bedroom, and they don't have to pay exorbitant rates to cool the whole area. Here are the last two pictures that we took this morning at Tony and Don's:

Don Relaxing While Tony and Joe play Ping-Pong

This shot looks into the living area through the arch that leads to the garden, across the decking that they installed. Behind the dining room table, to the left in this picture, is a large kitchen with a large island and little sitting area; behind that are the stairway to the loft above and the master bedroom and bath below.

Frank Watching Tony and Joe Playing Ping-Pong

Here you can get a better view of the kitchen, the stairway beyond, and the back door to the living space.

One of the reasons for this meeting in Bartlett had to do with my growing desire to have a cat. Grant had been allergic, but I had no problem with them. When Fred said that Frank and Joe had a litter they needed to find homes for, we arranged this meeting, and they brought all four of their kittens with them- ostensibly to I could take my pick.

When Frank and Joe arrived, I discovered a variety from which to choose. I was quickly attracted to a calico female that had a tail, and I spent some time trying to get to know her- as you can see me doing at left. I liked the cat because of the colors, but I confess I seemed to have a problem getting her to come close to me.

The other kittens included two calico cats- one with a tail and one without- and two males. (Fred had already talked with his friend Prudence, and she had claimed the tailless calico sight unseen.) Both males were black and white but they were quite different in other respects. One of them was more black than the other and had a handsome black tail. His brother had more white and was very much a "tuxedo" cat with big, wide, surprised-looking eyes. The biggest difference was that he had only about a third of a tail. Frank and Joe said he hadn't lost it, but had been born that way.

I was pretty certain I'd find a cat to adopt, and before we came down here, I went to Petsmart and bought all the stuff that I would need for a cat so that if I did in fact bring one home I would be ready. We played with the cats on Saturday afternoon, and for quite a while on Sunday. I was trying to make a decision.

At left is one of the black and white brothers- the "partial manx". You can't see it in this picture, but his tail is stubby and only about four inches long. This cat was very cute, and was the most gregarious of all of them.

Even though I had wanted the female calico, Frank told me that he had been observing the kittens for two months now, and he honestly thought that the calico would be too skittish for me to enjoy. I had told him that I wanted a playful, friendly lap cat, and he said that the calico just wasn't turning out that way, but that this little manx kitten certainly was.

I had not thought I wanted a cat with no tail, but this one was certainly cute, and so after some discussion with Fred and Frank, I decided to take this one instead. No sooner had I agreed to take that one, than both Fred and Frank started to work on me to take both brothers. Fred accurately pointed out that with two kittens, they can keep each other company when I might have to be gone, and that after all, if you were going to go to the trouble of having a cat at all, you might as well have two of them.

Basically they wore me down, but their arguments did make sense, so I agreed to also take this kitten's brother- the mostly black cat with the long, graceful tail.

I must say that, as things tunred out, I think I got the picks of the litter. The tailless one, whom I have named Chip, is very friendly and fun- although I was to learn later that he was a good deal more skittish around strangers. He is mischievous, too, but that is part of being a kitten. His brother, who I named Dale, also took to me pretty quickly but was always more aloof than his brother. Surprisingly, though, he was the opposite of his brother when strangers were around; Chip would be the one getting around to meet all the new people. The two of them play constantly, and are great fun to watch.

Frank and Joe left about two in the afternoon, taking the single female calico with them. They said they would be dropping it off at the shelter in Austin, but I found out later that they took it back to the farm and it was eventually adopted. Fred and I stayed another hour or so, and then headed back to Dallas to deliver Prudence's cat to her. We stopped at her apartment in Las Colinas, and Fred took the cat up to her and made sure that she had everything she needed. Then Fred took me home, and came back to have dinner with Prudence as he had planned. When he returned late that evening, he mentioned that Prudence was already having some trouble with her cat, as it didn't look as if it was fully litter-trained (or just excited about the new surroundings) and that it was hiding a lot and hard to get hold of. So it seems as if I have gotten two nice cats, perhaps the best of the litter.

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.

May 20-23, 1993: A Trip to Typhoon Lagoon/Universal Studios in Orlando
April 17-18, 1993: A Weekend at My Sister's House in North Carolina
Return to the Index for 1993