Archive for the ‘Film Friendly Town’ Category

SunFeb201021

Smithville, TX off the beaten path

This is from a cute couple that just stayed with us. This is Dave’s blog:

An Occasion To Remember

Many men fall victim to their own memory when it comes to anniversaries. Fortunately, my anniversary falls in the same ten-day period as Valentine’s Day and my wife’s birthday. While making this easy to remember, it does have its issues, but nothing I can’t handle.

On our wedding day, we drove to Smithville Texas, the site of the movie “Hope Floats” featuring Sandra Bullock (yes, it is a chick-flick, but it is a good one) and stayed at a bed and breakfast called The Katy House. Now, for those who read this blog (yes, I am talking to you) you may remember that Michelle and I love to tour small towns off the beaten path. Well, Smithville—with a whopping population of 3,900—certainly qualifies as small and it does sit just off of state highway 71, which is a beaten path.

This town has a quaint old style main street with buildings built around the turn of the century (not the recent one, mind you) and a train depot (which is not really a functioning depot anymore, but it serves as the chamber of commerce and a railway museum). Most of the buildings that are occupied house antique stores or craft boutiques, while many sit empty. The other streets are filled with old houses dating back to the late 1800’s when this town was built by the MKT railroad. The Katy House is one such home.

Built in 1909, it was originally named the Chancellor Residence after its first occupant. Many others have lived in it since, but it is now a very comfortable B&B run by Sallie and Bruce Blalock. They made our wedding night stay quite pleasant, setting us up with a bottle of bubbly and getting us reservations at the town’s pre-eminent restaurant, The Back Door Café (make the trip if for no other reason than to eat here, it is that good). Because the stay was so memorable, we come back every year to celebrate our anniversary with them….


SunFeb20107

Smithville High athlete signs scholarship

Here is a great story about one of our Smithville, Texas boys.

This is from the American Statesman, from Feb 4th, 2010. Smithville High athlete with cystic fibrosis signs scholarship!

For the full story see  http://www.statesman.com/sports/smithville-high-athlete-with-cystic-fibrosis-signs-scholarship-211151.html


“SMITHVILLE— Back in the summer of 2004, the Nieto family of Pflugerville shared their story with this newspaper, and it was a story of hope and salvation through the primal act of running.”

“Brice Nieto, who was 12 years old and struggling to manage cystic fibrosis, was about to compete in the 38th National Junior Olympic Games.”

“His parents, Laura and Jimmy, started Brice in running when he was a younger boy with too much mucus in his lungs. Their story included the strong belief that Brice would be better prepared to manage the genetic disease if he were in top physical shape.”

“Brice discovered that he actually loved running. He ran varsity track as a freshman in high school, and when his family moved 45 miles east of Austin to a 10-acre plot of land with fishing tanks and a couple of horses, he made the varsity track team at Smithville High School.”

“He ran in the Texas Relays.

He earned his letter jacket at Smithville High.

The story gets even better.

On Wednesday, Brice sent his letter of intent to Oklahoma City University, where he will join the track team in the fall.”

“Brice earned an athletic and academic scholarship at the private school of 2,100 undergraduate students. Brice and his mother toured the campus on his official visit. It felt like home, they said.”

“The coaches told Laura Nieto they expected Brice to grow. As an athlete. As a person.”

“I liked to hear that,” she said.

“Life changes for all college students when they leave home. For Brice, the change will be drastic.”

“He soon will be individually responsible for taking his medicines, wearing the vibrating chest that loosens his lungs and going to the hospital, if he needs to, when he needs to. Because he has to.”

“I think I’m ready for it,” Brice said.

“His parents worry. They also see reasons for optimism and opportunity.”

“Brice said he believes his running helps him stay one long stride ahead of the cystic fibrosis, which has no cure.”

“Jimmy and Laura Nieto take comfort in that fact. They know their son will do what he has to.”

“I need to,” Brice said.

“Brice is a year-round runner. After school, he runs three 400-meter sprints and three 500-meter sprints. On weekends, he stretches and performs lunges and high-knee kicks that keep his body moving the way he wants it to.”

“If people told him what he couldn’t do,” said Smithville athletic director Justin Wiley, “he wouldn’t be here today.”

“When Brice was diagnosed at the age of 9, his parents reasoned that scaling the bleachers and running around the track at Connally High School would make Brice stronger.”

“I’m really glad they did it,” Brice Nieto said. “Now that I look back on it, I’m really glad. It made me who I am.”

“His story begins with running.”

“For us it’s working,” Jimmy Nieto said. “So we’re not going to stop.”

“It continues with running.”

“He has a willingness to do whatever’s necessary,” said Oklahoma City University track coach Micheal L. Houston , who noted that Brice has “the heart of an athlete.”

“And he has the mind of a student. Brice took a chemistry class as a junior at Smithville. He enjoyed it. Chemistry made sense to him, he said.”

P.S.   All of us in town are proud of Brice.  I invite you to visit our small town.  Smithville Texas is 43 miles from Austin.  Come see many beautiful historic homes and old buildings.   There are lots of antique shops on Main Street and super small restaurents in town.  But lately, the town is getting known for being “Texas Film Friendly!”  We have had 2 major motion pictures filmed here in Smithville, “Hope Floats” and “The Tree of Life.”  There have been a number of smaller films, also.  Check out the Chamber Web Site for a listing of productions.  Our Bed and Breakfast is just off of Main Street. Come stay with us and explore Smithville.  Sallie Blalock, Innkeeper – Katy House Bed and Breakfast www.KatyHouse.com


SatAug200929

Texas Photo Festival is Sept 12 & 13th, in Smithville, TX

There are  fun times ahead, here in Downtown Smithville, Texas.  Sunday, September 13th will be a photographer’s dream come true. Smithville Film Commission is  sponsoring  the “Texas Photo Festival,”  Sept 12 and Texas Photo Festival13th, 2009. There will be sites set up on our historic Main Street on Sunday.  All you need to bring is your camera and you will have a ball. You will see where to stand to get that “perfect shot.”  The cost is free and I promise you will learn a lot and enjoy our town. Here is the web site for more information-   www.texasphotofestival.com

Call the Smithville Chamber at 512 237-2313 or the Katy House B&B at 512 237-4262 for additional infomation on our town. Smithville is the first town in Texas to be named Texas Film Friendly. It is the hometown of the movies, “Hope Floats,”   “Tree of Life,”  “Five Times Champion,”  and “artois the goat.”


WedMay20096

We Love Smithville, Texas

The Smithville Chamber Banquet showed a video where they interviewed locals on why they loved Smithville.  There are a lot of neat photos of the beautiful homes here in Smithville. Look closely and you will see my grandparents home, and our home.  Here is the link to see the video on Loving Smithville. Looking at the photos you can see why film makers see the town full of sites for their movies. We are looking forward to the release of “Tree of Life,” starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in the fall of 2009.


MonFeb20099

Brits invade Smithville

 

 Our visit to the Friendly Texas Town of Smithville:

We’re still not really sure why we picked Smithville as a night stop during our short trip from Houston to Austin but are we sure glad we did.

We knew we had 24 hours to make the trip as our reservations for Austin were not good until the Monday but we didn’t really fancy a Sunday night in Houston.

Smithville looked kind of in the middle on Google maps and a quick accommodation search pointed us towards the impressive looking Katy House B&B website. The property was situated right in the middle of the small town.

Our initial call to owner/proprietor Sallie left us with a problem though. We were just an hour or so away but she was in Austin running errands and would be at least a couple of hours. She did have a suggestion, “You could park up and head across to Huebel’s Bier Garden. A few scenes of the movie, “Hope Floats”, staring Sandra Bullock, were filmed in that bar.”

This seemed like a plan as we were (well, I was) gasping for some beer and the idea of some accommodation within crawling distance of a bar is always appealing to us Brits.

There was one other point we needed to cover though. Apparently something called the ’Superbowl’ was taking place on this Sunday evening and as most of America would be watching it we felt we should too. “Oh, they do have a large TV screen,” confirmed Sallie.

We reached Smithville at about 5pm, parked outside the beautiful (but empty) Katy House B&B and headed straight over to the bar. I must have looked helpless when asked what beer I wanted but as it was my first visit to Texas I asked for something local. I was passed a ‘Lone Star’.

Jo panicked when all she thought she could see was a beer list but was soon calmed by a cold Chardonnay. There was just one other table in use as we sat there cooling off from the drive and it was soon apparent these were the sort of friendly locals we would never have met in Houston. And that wasn’t just because some of them were dressed in cowboy hats and boots.

I guess English accents aren’t heard too often in Smithville so within a few minutes one of them, Tom, had joined us, within five he had bought us another drink each.

It was at this point I remembered a recommendation in one of our guide books that went something like this – just because somebody in Texas comes up to you and says ’hello’ doesn’t mean they are the local lunatic. Trust me, if this had happened in London we would have already been collecting our coats to make a quick exit.

Within a half hour or so Sallie was on the phone informing us she was home. We finished our second drinks, said a temporary goodbye and headed over to unload our bags into the fabulous Bluebonnet room we had been assigned at the Katy House.

Here we got our second warm Texas welcome, this time from Sallie and her dogs, but hey the ‘Superbowl’ was about to start so having freshened up we soon left her in peace and headed back to see our new friends in Huebel’s.

By now we were invited to join their table and settle down for the ‘Superbowl’. Now to us ‘football’ is normally a game played with ‘feet’ and the last time I remember seeing the Cardinals on TV they were playing out of St.Louis but I think we could just about follow what was going on on the big screen.

Some excellent wings and pizza (and some great complimentary cinnamon sticks) came from the ‘Pizza Shack’ opposite and we continued to neck further beer and wine as we were given a fine rundown on the history and economy of our new favourite little town in Texas by our friends. And it seemed there was always another beer or wine on ice waiting for us.

By the end of the evening, after an exciting Superbowl was decided in favour of the Steelers with just a minute or so left on the clock, the bar jukebox was switched on and it wasn’t long before Jo was whisked onto the dance floor by Don (after he politely asked if I minded). Unfortunately his attempts to teach her the two-step were doomed to failure.

At some indeterminable point in the evening we said our goodbyes and headed back to the Katy House, a little the worse for wear but feeling right at home in Texas, for a restful night’s sleep. After an awesome breakfast with Sallie the following morning and an interesting look around Smithville we headed onto Austin.

We won’t forget our night in friendly Smithville in a hurry. Maybe we’ll be back for the 2010 Superbowl. Keep the beers (and wine) on ice.

Matt and Jo, London, England.

P.S. I did go swimming in Barton Springs.  Matt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


FriFeb20096

Smithville Dog picked for film “The Tree of Life”

Terri Krueger, ‘mom’ to Dexter Krueger, explains that Smithville, Tx is more than just a quiet community and home to the M.D.Anderson Science Park.  It’s also become a popular location for movies.  In 1997 it was the setting for “Hope Floats” starring Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick Jr, and Gena Rowlands.   In the Spring of 2008, “The Tree of Life”, began filming in Smithville.   The film features actors Brad Pitt and Sean Penn.  But the real movie star is Smithville is Terri’s dog, Dexter. 

While visiting Galveston one summer, Terri had spotted a puppy lying in the rain outside an appartment complex.  It did not take her long to rescue the six-month-old Heeler, which showed signs of abuse, and bring him back home to Smithville.

Last Spring, Krueger entered Dexter in a casting call for “The Tree of Life”, and he was selected to play Brad Pitt’s family dog in the movie, which is set in the 1950s. The home used in many of the scenes is just two block from the “Hope Floats” house, and ten blocks from the Katy House Bed and Breakfast.

“I guess you could say that Dexter went from starvaion to stardom,” Terri says.  And yes, she did get to meet Brad Pitt.  “He was very nice, very friendly. I was very impressed how approachable he was…..and he love Dexter.”

After toting Dexter to and from the movie set, Krueger’s next adventure is writing a children’s book about him.  Terri say that “It’s occurred to me that no matter what I may accomplish in my life, it’s entirely possible that I could be known in the future only as Dexter’s ‘mom’.”


FriJan20099

Katy House Guests See Brad Pitt in Smithville, TX

The movie “The Tree of Life,” staring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, was being filmed about eight blocks from the Katy House B&B and two of our guests decided to walk over to the filming site to see if they could see Brad. These two young adults had been antique shopping all day in Round Top and Warrenton, but found the energy to check out the filming. As their moms sat on the front porch enjoying wine, the girls returned, very excited. They had been allowed to walk down the street between “takes” and saw Brad on a bike, not 50 feet from them. It made their day!

After they left the next day, I found the following entry in the guest book in their room:

 

April 6, 2008
Dear Sallie & Bruce,
            Thanks for the fabulous Katy House “Pitt” stop on the way to antique shopping in Warrenton and Round Top. It was a “Pitty” the rain fell the first day of our visit. We acquired a bottomless “Pitt” of memories when the “Pitt” bull sheriff almost arrested our dis-“Pitt”-able daughters for attempting to photograph Brad Pitt. The photos of Brad, however, caused all of our hearts to pal-“Pitt”-tate!
            We had such fun celebrating our 5th Anniversary at the Katy House while drinking wine on the Katy House porch among Sallie’s gorgeous “Pitt”unias.
            Thanks for an ever so much more exciting trip than one to “Pitt”sburg! This shall be a wonderful memory on our “Tree of Life”.
                                    Love and Hugs,
                                    J.G, M.G., S.A, and N.B.
                                    Seattle, WA, Corpus Christi, and New Braunfels

 

 

 


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