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Falls County, North Central Texas
10 miles East of Marlin

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Spunky Flat

"We received our mail from Marlin, but we lived in "Spunky Flat". Honest to God, that is the true name of the settlement and there is a Texas Historical Marker at Hope cemetery near where the school was mentioning "Spunky Flat".
Old Eureka school house

The former Eureka School "moved a few miles away on private property."

2003 photo courtesy of George Lester

"This is what is left of the Eureka school. It has a rich history going back before the turn of the century. It was called Eureka, but it has no connection to the town of Eureka east of Corsicana." - George Lester

Romance at Spunky Flat or
Little Schoolhouse in the Cotton Field

mini cotton bale, old photo
Miniature Cotton Bales on their way to the Texas Centennial (1936). Hats courtesy of Amon Carter
Granger photo courtesy of Dan Martinets
Falling in love in Falls County can happen in a heartbeat - it's recognizing it that might take some time.

Editors Note: George Lester, now of Elkhart, Texas has been a loyal reader of TE for sometime. Through a series of letters George shared these three related stories - each of
them worthy of standing alone.

The background of the story is Falls County, Texas, about 10 miles East of Marlin. The communities of Blue Ridge, Stranger and Spunky Flat were in the absolute heart of Texas cotton country. At one time the 75 miles around Waco produced 27% of the entire Texas cotton crop.

In 1934, while Bonnie Parker was writing her soon-to-be prophetic poetry in her Big Chief tablet, the young inmates of the Eureka School in Falls County were practicing cursive writing in theirs. Crime was a temptation to some youth in the 30s, and just a few years before, Clyde Barrow had dropped (or had broken) out of Waco High in neighboring McLennan County to begin his career in a stolen car. But at Eureka School in Spunky Flat, there were other distractions.

George is in the second row from the bottom, fifth from the left. Penny is in the bottom row on the extreme right. George's brother Sam - who provided the old photo of the school - is kneeling behind her - slightly to the left.
Photo Courtesy George and Penny Lester

The story in George's own words

The Romance

Our story is really something that smacks of fiction but it is true. As I told you we went to Eureka in the 30s and I had a childhood crush on Lillian. I was so shy I never let her know and I don't remember even speaking to her in those few years. I would have trouble sleeping at night just thinking about her. I had it bad for a 10 year-old.

We both moved away and had a full life apart. She married, had three children and after 50 years together, her husband died in 1994. I was married twice and was the father of three children also. I was left alone in 1987.

Years later I found out through an acquaintance where she was and I contacted her. It would make a great story to say she remembered me but when we talked on the phone she admitted she had no recollection of me at all. We talked for hours on the phone for the next few days and finally arranged to meet.

The moment we saw each other it was love at first sight and we both felt we were made for each other. Three months later we were married. We are very happy together and it's a wonderful way for us to spend our sunset years. We are both 77 now.

The Interlude

Lillian moved to the McClanahan school where she went for a couple of years and came back to Eureka after we moved to Union Grove. I remember after she moved to near McClanahan we drove past her house on the way to Marlin. Nobody in my family knew it but each time we passed her house my heart would go pitter-patter anticipating getting a glimpse of her. Finally after many trips by her house, I finally saw her going to the well to get a bucket of water. In Hollywood this scene would be played to the background of swelling violins sweeping the viewer to the heights of heaven. I have to pinch myself now and then to realize that at long last I have this idol of my dreams in my life.

The School

Eureka School, Spunky Flat, Texas
An earlier photo of the school surrounded by young cotton

Photo Courtesy Sam Lester
The original site was at the intersection of what is now [FM] 2307 and [FM] 3375. It was moved about two miles west on 2307 some time in the 20s I think. That is where it was when my brother and I attended and was where this picture was taken.

That is where it stood when it was shut down in the 50s and for years it was used as a hay barn after it closed for good.

[It was then] moved to another place on the west side of 3375 about a mile north of FM 147 probably in the year 2000.

I tried to stir up a little interest in getting it restored and made a Texas Historical site but didn't have any luck. Last summer I visited my old farm place and saw it across the road standing behind a barn.

The Trip to Less-than Bountiful
Shangrai-Lai Comes Down to Earth

"For what seemed like years I used to look at the rise to the south of our farm that was called Blue Ridge. It impressed me as a place you could go and look down at the beautiful view of the valley below. Then one day my dad said he had to go see somebody about some business at Blue Ridge and I was allowed to go with him.

With every mile I anticipated the thrill of reaching that Shangri-La in the clouds. After a while dad stopped the car and conversed with a man for a few minutes and then got back in the car preparing to return home. I asked him why we didn't go to Blue Ridge and my dreams were shattered by his answer, "Son, this is Blue Ridge". I got out of the car and looked around and it didn't look any different than Spunky Flat....no panoramic scene, no breathtaking view.

I told my wife this story and she looked surprised.

She said the same thing happened to her when she lived in Spunky Flat."
George and Penny "She became "Penny" early in her life and that's what she is known by now, although my childhood crush was on "Lillian." - George Lester

George and Penny, 1997
April 2003
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