Friday, December 17, 2010

McKinney, Texas

Had a few relaxing days with Peg & Kent at Lavon Lake ... very quiet park, but very cold and windy. It would be nice in the Spring, I think. We left for MCD to have our new blinds installed... it is only about 30 miles away, and after following the directions to their new location we are parked in their lot and hooked up to electric. Their Camp Hosts are tapping on our door in minutes, ready with a Welcome Pack of info about the town and points of interest.

We are measured promptly the next morning and a price quote is prepared for us to approve. These shades are not cheap, but I really want to get rid of the existing Day/Night buggers that are so hard to deal with. They will go into production on Tuesday, after we approve the costs, and we should be installed and out of there by Friday AM.

The boys who do the measuring and installing remind me of Andy (my son), and one of them is even named Andrew! They are fun and quick and know their job.

Peg and Kent came to visit us one day ... we explored the historic town of McKinney and toured some of the old homes. It once boasted the largest number of millionaires in Texas, and was a true hub of industry, commerce and finance. Of course, this was in the 1880s and 1890s.

The Heard Mansion, especially, is very lovely. The interior is cutting edge, for it's day. The beautiful main stairway, with it's fretwork and carving, is awesome.

We toured a group of rather old buildings that have been moved to a central area of town for better preservation. they are not necessarily old, by Eastern standards ... our home in PA was certainly older ... but for this area, any wooden structure that has survived basically intact and inhabited since the mid-1800s is considered "historic" and worthy of note. These were the settlers, merchants, doctors and early lawmakers who really made McKinney into a true town ... a place where families raised their children and built schools and churches and courthouses. Stores were established, the railroad came to town ... life picked up speed.

Many of these buildings have residents who are not inclined to leave. This particular structure was once an inn. there was a large, dormitory-style room that contained a row of beds for travelers (men, really) who needed a place to stay and meals. The husband and wife who ran the place had a spinster daughter who was a seamstress. At the right side of the photo is the private room that she called her own. Only one door ... she was nicely protected from the riff raff of the travelers who stayed upstairs. Her mother and father slept on a bed in the corner of the main kitchen / dining room. There have been sightings of a man on the second floor, looking out of the window. He apparently likes it there, and sees no reason to leave.

This is the porch ceiling of another home, boasting a color that we are told is "Fly-speck Blue". It is supposed to be the exact color of the Texas sky, and had the effect of fooling the flies into thinking it was the way to the open air ... thus drawing them away from the human inhabitants on the porch. Dunno, but all reports are that it really works. It is certainly a pretty color.

There are 5 or 6 houses clustered in this "square" and folks like to hold weddings in the small church that is part of it. they are maintained by donations and the work of volunteer docents who love the town and are happy to lead visitors thru the buildings and tell the tales of the original inhabitants. One of the most fun is the old school house. It is right out of "Little House on the Prairie". Jeff felt right at home, as he spent a year in a school just like it, very early on, of course!

Imagine all the kids who learned to read and cipher at these desks.

Imagine all the kids who sat on this stool and had to endure the humiliation of being singled out as a "Dunce"... maybe for being dyslexic, maybe for being left-handed ... or maybe for being too smart for their own good and more than the teacher could handle!!

A tough life in many ways, to be sure.

But, then we found a place that sold genuine Gelato!

The flavors were just amazing. I found it hard to believe that a smallish town in a far-out suburb of Dallas could support a place like this!

But we had a very nice treat, and I imagine that the folks in town like it as much as we did. Great hot chocolate, too!!

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