It is on the right as you travel down U.S. Highway 259 toward Henderson, the horse on the pole that is. Everybody in this town and beyond has traveled that highway more than once over the years and probably never thought twice about it. That horse (statue) has seen a lot in its forty-nine years and has a special feature unknown to many.
“Back in my day of college in East Texas,” said Andy Elliott, “Buses took students to and from their classes. Jerry Hale and I rode those buses and always watched for the horse and even named the area “Valley of the Great Horse.”
“The horse on the pole overlooks what was originally a quarter horse race track,” said Michael McClammy, who lives on part of the property. “I came here from Dallas as a horse trainer to help Eddie Sparks with his horses. Eddie practically adopted me and I am still responsible for his horses, but, the place is called Wade-Wood farms.
“My father and another man had a western store on the corner of FM 349 and Highway 31 and the horse was used as a sign for the store,” laughed Gary Wade when he learned of the curiosity about the horse. “When they closed the store in 1968, the sign was moved out to the farm. The sign was fixed to be a weather vane and moved in the direction of the wind. I don’t know if it still moves with the wind or not.”
“My dad, Kermit Wade was raising quarter horses in the ‘70s and switched to thoroughbreds,” continued Gary. “I used to train them when I moved back from New Orleans and took them to Louisiana Downs many times. His horses ran all over the place like Florida, Louisiana, California and Kentucky. His horses were named after people he knew in Kilgore like Johnny Bolt, Colonel Rich and one named Reuben,” he added.
“The sign was moved one more time after he passed away in 1990. It is still on the Wade-Wood Farms but I am not so sure it still operates as a weather vane,” he said. Wade-Wood Farms stretches one mile along U.S. Highway 259 and consists of 150 acres.
Gary owns Boomtown BBQ moved it from a location on Hwy. 31 to the edge of Wade-Wood Farms. He has been in business 27 years with the last 13 years being in the current location.
For the last ten years, he also trains football players at Kilgore College. Considering this month he will turn 75 years of age, it is a part of his life he is very proud to acknowledge.
The horse on the sign may no longer move in the direction of the wind, but, it sure knows how to stir the memories. Hopefully it will last another 49 or so years.
FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD CARMEN VERMILLION performed for the Hilltoppers’ luncheon last week at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. Carmen is a member of the Longview High School Theater and is one of three high school students accepted for voice lessons from Ms. Lori Cosby, instructor at ETBU.
Her performance came from several productions including "Bye, Bye Birdie" and "Fiddler on The Roof." She sang "Cry Me a River," "I Will Always Love You," "What Did I Ever See in Him," "Far From the Home I Love" and "God Bless America."
“She is phenomenal,” said Reverend Ben Bagley of St. Luke’s.
Carmen is the daughter of Laura and James Vermillion. James is the Music Director and Assistant to the Pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.
She has one brother Joel and grandparents are Sue and Lou Dunn of Longview. All attended her performance for the Hilltoppers.
“She is our Rising Star,” said Mary Lamb, church secretary. “It was her first performance for the group and I have never heard anything like it to come out of someone so young,” she said.
May His Love and Laughter Fill Your Hearts and Your Homes Throughout the Week. In the meantime, we may be reached at 903-984-2593 or firstname.lastname@example.org.