I was heading out to visit Cheryl Kutscherousky at Country Oaks Golf Course near Cross Roads the other day, when I turned stopped and turned around. I’d seen on Facebook that my kinfolk, Lisa and Wesley Anding, were up to something new at their amazing Anding Acres which is right across the road from me. I figured this was a good time to check them out, as there was no way I would walk there. It seems like it would be close to my house, but they have created a world where it seems miles away. I entered their gate and felt like I was somewhere else. You take this really long winding road where you see nothing but woods, cross a bridge, and start feeling like you’ve gone a couple of miles, and for all I know maybe you have, the way that road winds, before you get to their big wedding barn. I’ve written about it before, and you can see about it online. But I was looking for something else, and I saw no sign of it.
I heard they were building a wedding chapel, but it was nowhere in sight. Then I saw a faint outline of a road through some more woods, so I timidly followed it. There, way back further, I found something half-built, the size of a regular small church. Really! They can start their own church back there if they want to. It is wonderful! These people floor me. I can’t get over the imagination and energy these two have. I wish I had caught them there, but they had gone to get supplies.
Both have regular responsible jobs, and they and their family do this on their off hours. When they built their wedding barn, they took vacation days and the two of them went to Oklahoma or Arkansas or somewhere and tore down an ancient barn to get the kind of wood they wanted.
Another couple who are working their hearts out and spending every penny they can get their hands on to make wonderful things happen, are Kristi and Brandon Huls. Kristi fell in love with the Bartlett House the first time she saw it, and is obsessed with getting it restored. It looked like the Garden Club ladies had found someone with deep pockets who was going to buy it and restore it, and Kristi was overjoyed. Then when that fell through, Kristi found somebody to loan her the money and she is in the process of buying it, waiting for some paperwork complications to be cleared up. She just wants somebody to have it and love it and save it. I can tell you, nobody loves it more than Kristi. If she had the personal money she would already be turning it into the Taj Mahal. Since she doesn’t, she has formed a non-profit, The Malakoff Preservation Society of Texas. She has a real board of directors filled with smart people, plus me. She is working on grants, and planning fundraisers. A goodly portion of what she sells at the Rusty Circus goes into the kitty as well.
If you drive past the Bartlett House, you will see what she and Brandon have been able to do, mostly on their own. She gets a little help now and then. Lisa Anding was captured on a riding mower, mowing the lawn, like she had nothing else to do. But mostly it has been Kristi and Brandon. Trees have been trimmed and/or removed. Water lines fixed again. Vines are down. The front of the house has been pressure washed. Inside the house has been cleared from debris again. You can see the lilies around the front porch. They have plans to fix the fence vandals have continued to damage and remove the graffiti. Keep an eye on these folks. They are going to figure a way to make it happen. It can happen a lot quicker if we not only watch, but help them. It is great fun to be a part of something like this happening.
As I said, I was on my way to visit Cheryl Kutscherousky (Lord, I wish I could learn to either say or spell her name) when I turned around to go to Anding Acres. I wanted to write about what she and Darrell are doing at Country Oaks Golf Course. But as you can see, I ran out of room. I wanted to write about them together, because these three couples remind me of one another, and because what each does sort of complements what the others are doing, creating opportunities for drawing visitors into our community, as well for us locals to beautiful places where we can relax, celebrate our important occasions, and treasure our history.
Big News Flash as I was ready to send this: The Andings have been able to buy the old Kilman Hospital, just south of the railroad, which everybody has grieved about for years, wishing it could be saved. This is fabulous news for the town. We will be talking about this lot more soon.