That old familiar expression “gone but not forgotten” is one that could be applied to a lot of things today. Arcadia Books has profited a lot from people who would wax nostalgic about things not here. Fort Worth has been featured in numerous books about hotels, restaurants and the like for places that no longer exist. Maybe it’s because of my age, but these memories of the past fascinate me.
A number of the old eating establishments catch my eye because of having either eaten there or passed by them regularly. Some of the places had food that was well eating while others were not so memorable. Having visited the fair city to the east quite often because of an aunt’s business and visiting family and friends, I easily recalled a number of things featured in he books.
A bit closer home, in fact in the southeastern section of the county, was the Pate Museum of Transportation. This little jewel of entertainment history was more likely to be overlooked than remembered. Built on the Aggie Pate ranch on 377, there was a great deal of history there. Because of my editorship, Aggie and Joyce became good friends. Jim Peel, curator, was a good friend also and he kept me posted on activities at the museum and, of course, invitations to events and festivities.
The museum, which closed a few years ago, was supported entirely by The Pate Foundation, whose petroleum headquarters are on Fort Worth’s North Main Street near LaGrave Field (another of my favorite visiting places). Aggie’s interest in things transportation began with a car collection and spread to planes, boats and anything else involving the transportation industry. The Pate Foundation was really a family run petroleum business with key offices held by family members.
Weatherford’s connection with the museum ran deeper than most people knew. For example, the city’s antique fire trucks were on display there for a time. A southwest Parker County Methodist church was purchased by the museum and moved to the museum as a chapel.
One of the real treasurers of the museum was the “Sunshine Special’s Ellesmere” private rail car, built in 1914 for Dr. William Seward Webb, former president of the Wagner Palace Car Company. That special rail palace coupled with a Texas and Pacific private car owned by Trinity Valley Railfans and parked at the Santa Fe Depot in Weatherford, gave Parker county the only pair of private rail cars around.
One of the saddest visits I made to the Pate was showing of the blackened space module that had housed Ed White, Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee. That space program disaster was one of the first events in a campaign that ultimately ended with a man on the moon. Pat White, widow of Ed, was present for the capsule exhibit. She was really a classy lady.
It really brought home the advancements and failures made in transportation history as exhibited by the items at the museum.
Yes, time takes its toll on a lot of our cherished memories that we look back on. Weatherford has had its own share of past memories that may or not bring back pleasant thoughts. C’est la vie.
Vandagriff is an awarding-winning daily newspaper editor and retired college history professor emeritus who still writes, teaches and speaks. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 817-341-3719.