MIGRATING TO BLANCO
In a previous installment I explained my indoctrination ceremony that allowed me to become a naturalized Texan—surviving the trotline fishing trip with my new hill country in-laws. But those were the Boerne-Fredricksburg relatives. Landing in Blanco was another step in my Texas acculturalization process.
My wife— affectionately referred to in the family as “the mistake”—- came as a surprise to her mother and father, who were 37 and 44. They already had daughters 17 and 19 when my bride was born. As a result, by the time my spouse grew up, went to college, got married and figured I was a keeper to have children with, her parents were retired and well into their 60’s, and living in a modest house in Boerne, northwest of San Antonio. Trying to be a dutiful daughter and son-in-law, we visited them once or twice a month as our family grew to four children, but we quickly realized that our visits were “good news-bad news”; they loved seeing us (especially their grandchildren), but two adults and four small kids invading their home for a weekend was traumatic. Keep in mind that these poor people were pushing 70. Searching for a solution, we started talking about finding a place in the country to go to, relax and use as a launching pad to drive over to visit the grandparents. Ideally we would be in the hill country but east of Boerne so as to shorten the late Friday evening drives from Houston where we lived. Having spent a weekend in Wimberley, we realized that that part of the world was as pretty a part of the Hill country as there was.
I was out of my element looking to buy real estate in the country; I realized I was going to be a lamb led to slaughter if I didn’t get help. I consulted my favorite Boerne uncle. “You know, Ed, what they say: ‘Buy in Blanco and sell in Wimberley.’” I never did understand who “they” were, but we figured that if we didn’t buy while the kids were small we would be so eaten up saving for college for them that we would never have any country place at all.
Shortly after receiving that good advice, we left the kids with Grandma and drove over to Blanco, a pretty ride still. We pulled in at the first real estate office we saw and found a very personable agent who was a refugee from the savings and loan industry collapse (it was 1980). Like most neophytes looking for property in the hill country then and now, we were looking for 30 or so acres on the Blanco River at a bargain price. Ricky, the agent, patiently listened to our requirements, then showed us some river properties without comment—all second class properties at a price per acre double or triple what we were expecting. Ricky was a pro; he had dealt with the likes of us before. He waited the requisite time, a month or two, and then called us. I remember his words almost exactly: “I have a new listing and it is nothing like what you said you wanted, but it is the most beautiful property I have seen in years.” By then we were ready to compromise, so the next weekend we went to look. It was indeed pretty, with a small three room cabin (and I do mean a cabin) on a high hill overlooking the Blanco River valley almost 360 degrees. And it was the reverse of what we wanted: no river frontage and four times the number of acres we wanted, but the seller was willing to take a smallish down payment and give us financing, a distinct attraction more common then than now. We closed on July 12, 1980 in Blanco; the seller, it turned out, lived three miles from us in Houston. We celebrated after closing by taking a bottle of champagne to our new mini-ranch for a toast on the porch. It was 112 degrees! We didn’t celebrate long, but at least we had gotten our place in the country.
Before you jump into buying a weekend place find some good advice and advisors. Don’t buy next to a Texas river. Rivers flood.