Posts Tagged ‘Katy House Bed and Breakfast’

WedApr201218

DOONBY, filmed in Smithville, TX Opens

Review:by the Christian Movie Guide

DOONBYis a very intriguing story about a holy fool character. The holy fool is a medieval and Renaissance Christ character used in French and even Russian literature as a Christ figure who comes from nowhere to transform people’s lives.John Schneider plays Sam Doonby, who drifts into a small Southern town (Smithville, TX) and starts to protect people from one disaster after another. For instance, two thugs hold up a bar where he gets a job, and Doonby saves the owner from being shot. Doonby saves a baby from being hit by a Mack truck. He also saves a young woman from being killed by a deranged killer who’s escaped a mental asylum in New York. During all this, Doonby attracts a following as a bartender and a singer. Several women throw themselves at Doonby, but he acts with the utmost chivalry and respect.As the story develops, there are flashbacks to Doonby’s youth. Doonby thought his mother was a beautiful blonde angel, but she hung out on the wrong side of town at the wrong bars and with the wrong men. Eventually, she abandons him.

Beneath all the good that’s happening in the small town, there’s the deeper story of who is Doonby. When the girl who loves him refuses to accept love and denies him, the audience finds out the shocking truth.

The first half of DOONBY flows very well. There are some extra plot issues inserted at that point. These issues create a few minor plot diversions. Even so, the Twilight Zone ending is compelling and designed to help people understand the value of life.

DOONBY has a good cast of known veterans and newcomers. Jenn Gotzon does a wonderful job in her role as Laura Reaper, although there are one or two scenes where the direction of her scene is over the top. John Schneider gives one of his better performances, which could have been improved by better direction. Norma McCorvey, who was the legal “Jane Roe” in the landmark American lawsuit Roe vs. Wade that legalized abortion, plays a strong pro-life first role in the movie to help proclaim her faith and change of heart in real life. Overall, however, DOONBY is a movie with an important story that’s interesting to watch.

DOONBY displays a lot of latent talent on the part of the filmmakers. Movieguide® commends them for all their hard work. That said, there’s a lot of drinking, carousing, and some scary violence in the movie, so caution is recommended, especially for pre-adolescents. Even so, DOONBY has a very strong Christian worldview with a pro-life message.

 
(This movie was filmed in Smithville Tx.  The bar, Huebel’s,  near the Katy House Bed and Breakfast was used as the bar in the movie where Sam Doonby found a job.  You will see many areas of Smithville in the movie. For info on the town of Smithville see the chamber page at http://www.smithvilletx.org/   Sallie Blalock)

FriFeb201224

Review of Malick’s Tree of Life, filmed in Smithville

Back Stage

SASA MAJUMA

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth?
The Tree of Life (2011) is one of the best films from last year. It is being shown at the Gaborone Film Society tonight at 7 pm atMaru-a-PulaSchool in the A/V Centre. It is by the great director Terrence Malick who only makes about one film every decade.

He is famous for Badlands(1973), Days of Heaven (1978), The Thin Red Line (1998) and The New World (2005). With The Tree of Life his approach has changed: he currently has four new films in production.
 
At the 64th Cannes International Film Festival The Tree of Life swept the Palme D’Or (but not without boos, jeers and great applause from a divided public). The line that divides reactions to this film is strong for it begins with the cosmos, the Supreme Being, the meaning of life, birth and death, and how life may be lived.

The catcalls come from viewers who want modern entertainment, not Great Issues. Nick Pinkerton writing in The Village Voice says of Malick that, He’s one of the few American filmmakers operating on the multiplex scale who makes movies feel like undiscovered country.

In Genesis, 3:22-24 in the Garden of Eden the tree of life has fruits that give eternal life. In science the image is used to represent the evolutionary divergence of all living creatures.

In Kabalism the spheres of life or the 10 attributes of the infinite belong to the tree of life. This film spends considerable time probing images of the past. From the Hubble telescope, the birth of the universe is observed. At one point the earth belonged to the dinosaurs (an injured plesiosaur contemplates his wounding), then they were extinct.

“I made him feel shame …how did I lose you?  Mother was I false to you? …. Where were you? Who are we to you? 
  From the Red Centre, to the nebulae of outer space, from eruptions, to the feeding frenzy of circling hammerheads and Saturn’s rings, We cry to you, my soul, my son”. 

Light of my life I search for you. At the start and in conclusion the audience can see only a flickering flame Ð is this the beginning and end of our universe?

The creation leads us to a family inWaco,Texas, in the 1950s Ð yes, the same town of the famous massacre, but there is no link established between it and this movie. It was actually filmed in Smithville, nearAustin,Texas.

A gentle, warm, loving Mother O’Brien (acted by Jessica Chastain, inGaboronepreviously in The Help in Texas Killing Fields, The Debt and Wilde Salome) is the lodestone for her three sons. Her path is the opposite of her husband’s. “Love everyone. Love every leaf, every ray of light,” she tells her sons.

The demanding, harsh and judgemental father O’Brien (played by Brad Pitt) imparts survival lessons that are intended to promote individualism, competition, and Looking Out For No. 1. Pass the butter please, Sir.  

O’Brien disciplines his sons like the family was an ancient military camp and the offspring the uncouth foot soldiers. 

They must learn how to avoid being bullied, to fight back, and to master the art of self-defence, to face DDT spray without flinching. Do you love your father? Yes, Sir. His message to his sons is one of loyalty and obedience coloured by cunning. The world lives by trickery … if you want to succeed, you can’t be too good.

As they grow a little older, Number One, Jack (played by Hunter McCracken) becomes a bully with his two younger brothers R L and Steve (Laramie Eppler and Tye Sheridan). He also articulates his rebellion and his hostility against his father’s repressive regime.

“You can hit me if you want.” O’Brien tells Jack, I want you to grow up strong, be your own boss. Jack becomes the axis of the film. He even tries to talk to God. Can we hear the answers?

O’Brien has 25 patents, a thankless job, that comes to an end, loves classical music, but is a failed musician. His sense of failure permeates the film. He wants more for his sons. To accompany its unfamiliar images The Tree of Life is filled by some of the best In music by Bach, Couperin, Mozart, Mahler, Smetana, Gorecki, Respighi, Holst and others.

To find the young actors, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan and Hunter McCracken, who play the three preadolescent brothers, months were spent searching and 10,000c non-professional applicants interviewed. The results are a credit to this prolonged search.

Sean Penn gives a taut portrayal of the troubled first son, Jack, now an adult, who struggles to find the best in his harsh, disciplinarian father. As an actor he somehow expected more. He is quoted as saying: I didn’t at all find on the screen the emotion of the script, which is the most magnificent one that I’ve ever read.

A clearer and more conventional narrative would have helped the film without, in my opinion, lessening its beauty and its impact. Frankly, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing there and what I was supposed to add in that context! What’s more, Terry himself never managed to explain it to me clearly.

The adult Jack keeps looking back on his past. One of his younger brothers has died. He is working as an architect in a glass skyscraper in downtownHouston,Texas(little is really explained about who he has become, as it is his remembered past that occupies the screen).

Still, this is a film about mysteries, well worth watching and debating.  It is a poetic movie, but you don’t have to be a poet or a true believer to watch it.

Thus may be The Tree of Life, but in this resurrection it is the American suburb of half a century ago with its green lawns, cars to wash, and sibling rivalry to be transcended. It is a coming-of-age story with a difference. 

The Tree of Life is two hours and 13 minutes long. It is rated 12+. The director is Terrence Malick who also wrote the script. The cinematographer is Emmanuel Lubezk. The editor is Mark Yosikawa. The music is both by and arranged by Alexandre Desplat. 
sasa_majuma@yahoo.co.uk

(our bed and breakfast, the Katy House is 10 blocks from the home used in Tree of Life. Sallie Blalock)

 


MonFeb201220

Tom Tierney’s Texas Paper Doll Party

Tom Tierney & Kathy O’Tierney invited you to

4th Annual Texas Paper Doll Party

Sat, Mar 31, 2012 from 9:30 PM
to Sun, Apr 1, 2012 at 12:00 AM

Where:
Tom-Kat Paper Dolls
216 Main Street
Smithville TX 78602

Our Bed and Breakfast is one block from Main Street and the Paper Doll Party. Give the Katy House a call if we can help you plan a trip our way. (512) 236-4262.  www.katyhouse.com

 


ThuAug20114

Chitlin Circuit Blues Review in Smithville, TX

Sonny Rhodes with special guests

Jeff Haney

Peterson Brothers

Ruby Jane

Greg Izor

“Music Has the Power to Liberate and Bridge All Gaps”

Playing Saturday, August 13, 2011

7 PM- 1 AM

Tickets are $10.00

Location is Big Daddy’s Roadhouse

242 Hwy 95 South

Smithville, Texas 78957

phone: 512 237-1098

We still have a few rooms available at our Katy House Bed and Breakfast.

Smithville is the hometown for the movies “Hope Floats” “Tree of Life,”  “Doonby” and many more!


TueMay201124

Smithville, TX is proud of “Tree of Life”

Here is a wonderful review of  “Tree of Life.”  Our little town, Smithville  has had movies filmed here before.  The first was “Hope Floats.”  Reading the review below  makes me want to see the movie at least twice.  And I wish we didn’t have to wait till June 3rd.  We had the three boys that played the three brothers in movie,  and their families,  stay with us at our Bed and Breakfast last September when they came to town again.  For more info. on Smithville visit the Chamber page at http://www.smithvilletx.org/   and visit our web page at http://www.katyhouse.com

This review is from the web site: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/49760

Nordling here.

Audiences who engage with Terrence Malick’s THE TREE OF LIFE may find that it will be impossible to watch without bringing their own personal history, their emotional baggage, their own family experiences with them to the film.  The film’s considerable power comes from Malick’s ability to go to a universal place and yet still make the film seem very personal and relevant to each individual who sees it.  It is possible to view the film empirically.  Just from the one viewing that I had, I feel it is a masterwork, but it resonates with me with such force that I find myself unable to think about the film without it being filtered by my own life experiences.  I do not think I will be the only one who feels that way about this film.

THE TREE OF LIFE is absolutely not for everyone.  It’s quiet, contemplative, and it rewards patience and understanding.  Many moviegoers will flat out hate it – they will hate Malick’s refusal to tell his story with a conventional narrative; they will hate Malick’s flights-of-fancy that will come off to some as incredibly indulgent; they will hate the fact that Malick devotes most of the film to a portrait of a family in small-town 1950s Texas and think that it is not a subject deserving of so much time and attention. The criticisms put against this film – it’s indulgent, pretentious, too long – could be valid for a moviegoer unused to working with a film the way Malick requires.  The film is as full and as long as Malick needs it to be; critics of the length remind me of AMADEUS’s Mozart asking which notes he should take out of his opera.  He has a journey in mind, and he will not skip any step, because as so many have said before, the point isn’t about where you arrive but how you got there.  But Malick tells this story the only way he can, and how audiences respond to it is very much what the movie is about, as opposed to any kind of linear narrative path.

We begin with a Bible verse of Job 38: 4, 7 – “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”  But the film doesn’t approach religion from a strictly Christian perspective (although its influence on Malick is clear).  The film’s theme is specified in the opening dialogue from Mrs. O’Brien – “There are two ways through life. The way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you will follow.”  Nature, we are told, is selfish and full of itself.  Grace is love, and the giving of oneself to a higher calling or power.  From there we are taken on a journey through the very foundations of the universe, and into the inner workings of the human heart.  Malick’s film suggests that the difference is miniscule.

Each scene in THE TREE OF LIFE doesn’t play out in a traditional narrative sense – we are either in someone’s inner imaginings, or we are dropped into a remembrance without any pretense.  However, the film is not without plot.  Instead of laying out each scene with a narrative precision, the film puts us in the emotional perspective of the character.  This film isn’t so much watched as it is lived through.  Brad Pitt plays domineering but loving Mr. O’Brien, who is a strict taskmaster to his children and seems unable to express into words his deep, stirring inner feelings.  On the other end of the spectrum is Mrs. O’Brien (Jessica Chastain) who isn’t so much a character as she is an ideal of motherhood.   Jack (Hunter McCracken as a child, Sean Pennas an adult) is very much the product of these two powerful figures in his life.  The film is bookended by modern day sequences in Houston – and I’ve never seen Houston look as beautiful as how Emmanuel Lubezki shoots it here, all glass and sunlight – as Jack remembers his conflicted youth, and the loss of his brother.  In the film’s opening, Mrs. O’Brien receives a letter, a telegram that shatters the O’Briens – the death of their child R.L. (Laramie Eppler, who looks uncannily like Pitt) when he is 19.  It is assumed, because of the time and the manner of the telegram that he dies in Vietnam, but I think Malick deliberately left this vague, especially in today’s present circumstances.  It doesn’t matter how he died – what matters is that his death sends the family into a deep questioning of their faith and why it happened.  Mrs. O’Brien, in particular, takes R.L.’s death hard, asking God why, and receiving little comfort.  

It’s in this part of the film that Malick takes us into the depths of Creation and into the beginnings of life on Earth.  Audiences may struggle with the meaning behind it, but that’s the point – when we are given difficult moments in our lives, we question why, and our thoughts may turn to the very foundations of the universe to find our answer.  This 20-minute sequence takes us from the creation of everything to the pool of water where the first life takes shape, to dinosaurs on the beach and in a forest, and in all of this we are shown the aspects of Mrs. O’Brien’s argument of nature and grace.  Huge in scope, Malick himself seems to search for the truth as much as Mrs. O’Brien.  Nature can be cruel, as demonstrated in a sequence where two dinosaurs meet in a forest, one dinosaur putting his heel to the other, fallen dinosaur’s head, almost teasing, much like a brother teases his younger. 

From these origins of the world we go to Waco, Texas, and a loving couple, as they fall in love and have children.  The three O’Brien boys, Jack, R.L., and Steve (Tye Sheridan), behave as children do – they play, they do their father’s bidding, they grow.  R.L., especially, seems a sensitive youth, into music (in one of my favorite scenes of the film R.L. sits on the porch outside playing guitar as his father quietly accompanies him on the piano).  The youngest, Steve, is quiet and unassuming.  But it is Jack, the oldest, who is the most tempestuous, questioning his father’s authority and his own place in the world.  The film portrays childhood wonderfully and truthfully – never has a film captured quite so well what it is like to be a young boy with the infinite summer ahead of him.  In the meantime, Mr. O’Brien is struggling; feeling rejected by his peers and neighbors, he is increasingly tougher on his children as they grow older.  In his rebellious nature, Jack starts to push back, and this becomes the central conflict of the film.  Will Jack go the way of nature, or of grace?  Is he his father’s son, or his mother’s, or both?

Brad Pitt is amazing in his performance.  It is a simplification to say that he’s a simple abusive father.  For Mr. O’Brien, his children are his hope to achieve in ways that he has not, and he truly loves them.  At the same time, every moment of anger pushes them further and further away, and he is incapable of articulating the storm of emotion within him.  Jessica Chastain is terrific as well, although as I said, her character is a very broad portrait of motherhood as opposed to anything specific.  She seems to live to serve her husband, and only when he is gone away on a trip that she comes to life with the children, playing and enjoying life.  Young Hunter McCracken’s Jack doesn’t feel like a performance – it feels like a life.  His curiosity, his imagination, and his love for his family all shine through.  It is an entirely genuine performance.  Sean Penn isn’t in it much, but his performance is essential as a touchstone to the audience, especially in the film’s ending, which will either send filmgoers out either enraptured or just confused.  I felt that the ending was Malick’s way of making peace with loss, and found it very effective.

Emmanuel Lubezki’s camerawork is transcendent.  It’s one of the most beautifully shot films I’ve ever seen.  The way he captures the light, the angles, and the playful movement – it’s cinematography on a level that seems larger than any accolades that could be thrown at it.  Alexandre Desplat’s score is triumphant, and as the focus of the film shifts from cosmic to intimate in a breath’s time, his music accentuates the shift and stays cohesive.  The effects work of the Creation sequence is immaculate – Douglas Trumbull of 2001 and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND was a consultant on the visual effects, and it shows.  There is a real weight to each vision, and as we go from the very foundations of the universe to present day Texas, it feels effortless.

But it is Terrence Malick, the master filmmaker, who creates something truly amazing with THE TREE OF LIFE.  The film is a prayer, without being any specific religion (although the underpinnings seem decidedly Christian).  The film’s portrayals of spirituality and our relationship to the universe and each other are very universal, and yet, I felt the film was intensely specific to my own life.  I imagine my experience with THE TREE OF LIFE will not be unique.  The film is both epic and intimate, both grandiose and personal, and challenging to the extreme.  There will be those who will not be open to what the film offers.  Because the film refuses to follow a traditional narrative, because the film wears its emotions on its sleeve, and because of the length, if you are not a diehard film fan, willing to take risks, I cannot recommend this film.  As for me, I’ve seen it once, and I know I’ll be seeing it again.  This summer will be full of action films, and superhero films, big budget effects extravaganzas that will promise an experience never seen before.  But if any come close to what Terrence Malick’s THE TREE OF LIFE does, then they may have something to brag about.  It is a difficult film, an ambitious film, and not for the casual filmgoer.  THE TREE OF LIFE, for any true film fan, must be seen on the biggest screen that can be found.  It is a celebration of life, hope, family, and a singular, transformative film experience.

Nordling, out.


SunMay201122

“Tree of Life” wins at Cannes Film Festival

Breaking news: Here is a blog about “Tree of Life”.  Part of the movie was filmed here in Smithville, Texas, about 10 blocks from our Bed and Breakfast.  Most of Smithville will be in Austin to see the movie the first week it is out.  Read below about “Tree of Life” at the Cannes Film Festival.  I wish I had been there!  For more information on the Katy House Bed and Breakfast visit http://www.katyhouse.com/ or call (512) 237-4262.

Austin360 blogs

Director Malick wins Palme d’Or at Cannes for ‘Tree of Life’

By Charles Ealy | Sunday, May 22, 2011, 01:09 PM

CANNES, France — Austin director Terrence Malick  became the first Texan ever to win the top prize, the Palme d’Or, at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday, for his ambitious, cosmic “The Tree of Life.”

The movie centers on a family in 1950s Waco, includes about a 20-minute segment that focuses on the birth of the universe and has been called a Texan “2001,” a reference to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Malick, who does not make public appearances, did not show up at the Palais to accept the award, but two of his producers did. “He remains notoriously, infamously shy but quite humble,” said producer Bill Pohlad.

When the movie premiered Monday, it received a mixed reaction from the press, but support for the film, which was made in Smithville and Austin, has been growing in recent days. It stars Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain and Sean Penn.


SatMay201114

Movie Review on “Doonby”, filmed in Smithville

Here is a movie review about Doonby, filmed here in Smithville, last spring. And will be released in September 2011.  The crew and actors were a great group.  It was fun having them film in our little town. Some of them stayed at our Bed and Breakfast.

Movie Review: Doonby

by Bill Sardi

Directed By: Peter Mackenzie

Produced By: Mike Mackenzie, Peter Mackenzie, Mark Joseph, Tommy G. Warren,
Dawn Krantz, Antonio Quintos

Starring: John Schneider, Jenn Gotzon, Robert Davi, Jennifer O’Neill, Joe Estevez,
Will Wallace and Ernie Hudson

Most of us look forward to a night at the movies to enjoy a comedy, a thriller, or even an on-screen romance. But would we be enticed to go to a movie that had a serious meaning to it?

The tag line to the movie I’m talking about is: “Every story’s worth telling. Every life’s worth living.”

Hmm, sounds a little heavy for a night at the movies. But the meaning of the movie is held right up until its tearful end. So its meaning doesn’t get in the way of an action movie that will grip your insides. It jumps from one action scene to another as movie goers are left to ask just what the connection is between each spine-tingling scene. As much as you want to figure out the meaning of this movie, it won’t let you discover it till its emotional end.

 

There’s a shoot ‘em up robbery at a bar, and a just-in-the-moment of time plucking of a baby from the path of an oncoming truck, and a rescue of a damsel in distress from a knife-wielding stalker, thrown in with a doctor who is falsely accused of rape. And then there is a budding but immature romance that is woven from beginning to end.

Well then, you ask, is it a guy flick or a gal flick? Not telling.

To understand the movie, entitled Doonby, you have to understand its lead character,

Sam Doonby, played by John Schneider of Dukes of Hazard fame.

You will join the entire cast of the movie in trying to figure out just who Sam Doonby is.

They all want to know too. “Where’d you come from Doonby?” asks the town’s sheriff. He says a small town in Louisiana, where his girlfriend and her mother travel to find out what they can about this mystery man named Sam.

You get to see flashbacks in his life, which gives you a growing hint at his roots, his true identity. Yet every tidbit of information is never enough to let you know what you need to know about Sam.

This guy Doonby turns a sleepy Texas town into a whirlwind of events which somehow throw him into the center of each one.

And as the movie unfolds you are going to ask yourself, why is this saintly guy Doonby falling in love with the town’s floozy? But then again, why is angelic Sam working as a bar tender in Smithville, Texas?

And why doesn’t Sam Doonby become, just for a moment, a little bit human and succumb to the seductions of his lusty drink-mixing bar maid whom Sam discovers naked in his bed?

Sam Doonby has this mysterious diary which we never get a peek at, and with every event in the movie, he jots down another chapter. Laura, his spoiled girlfriend, played by Jenn Gotzon, whom he says he fell in love with the moment he spied her from a bus driving down the highway in her convertible sports car, is dying to get a look at that diary. At the movie’s very end, she finally snatches Sam’s diary. You’ll want to be there when Laura opens its cover and examines its pages.

May 14, 2011

For more information on Smithville, visit the Chamber web page.  www.smithvilletx.org

For more information on our Katy House Bed and Breakfast visit the web site. www.Katyhouse.com


TueMay20113

Robert Davi on Doonby, the Movie, filmed in Smithville, TX

This is a blog from http://bighollywood.breitbart.com.  Actor Robert Davi writes about Doonby. Doonby was filmed in Smithville, TX and we were honored to have Mr. Davi stay here at the Katy House Bed and Breakfast.

Exclusive Premiere: Trailer for John Schneider’s ‘Doonby’

by Robert Davi

Friends:            When I write it is usually out of a deep concern for our country and the world in which we live, and not to hawk a project except, perhaps, in those cases where entertainment and a cultural message can be married. This is one of those times. Also, the producer of the project, Mark Joseph, is one big pain in the butt and wouldn’t leave me alone until I did this. I know it comes from his passion for the project and he is a friend, so here’s the trailer for the new John Schneider film “Doonby“:

Doonby from Doonby the Movie on Vimeo.

I don’t have a major role in the film. I did my best to serve sensitive English director/writer Peter Mackenzie’s vision, as I always do when I take on a project. Speaking of the English, I confess I did watch the Royal Wedding and was moved. In this chaotic world a little romance and beauty is good for the soul. To see the crowds cheering was very emotional, but more importantly, it proved that a tradition for love and magic is what we all yearn for, as opposed to the latest celebrity rehab reality show. We yearn for the nobility of the human soul, the best it has to offer, not the lowest that we are barraged with continually on television and elsewhere. The poetry of life has given way to crude and destructive programming . But last week while watching the marriage of a beautiful young couple, two billion people dreamed.

One of my favorite films is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” When first released it was not received well because it was considered “Capracorn,” a derogatory term referring to the sentimental and heartfelt emotion that director Frank Capra infused in his work.  So of course the cynics panned it, but the public eventually discovered it and today it is considered a classic . The basic theme of Capra’s classic is that one life can make a difference, and here n lies the similarity to “Doonby. ” Only this time you have John Schneider in the Jimmy Stewart role.

How many of us may have imagined what things would be like if we did not exist – – what lives would be touched or not? I have not seen the finished film so cannot give you a full rundown, but from what I’ve been told it packs a wallop.

Yes, Mark told me so!

Anyway here’s the trailer, please watch and pass on. Thank you for your your indulgence.

–Robert Davi


MonFeb201114

M-K-T Locomotive Boiler Explosion, Smithville, TX

 

Explosion rocked Smithville

Thursday, February 3, 2011 | Denis McGinness, Smithville Times

Ceremony to commemorate dark day in history from 1911 

 Like tracks weaving through a rail yard, Smithville’s history is intertwined with the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad, affectionately dubbed the Katy. On Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m., at the Gazebo, a ceremony will be held to commemorate a dark day in that history known as “The Terrible Explosion at Smithville.” 

 The ceremony will take place 100 years to the day and almost to the minute that the disaster took place.  

The tragic event occurred when a boiler on one of the huge switch engines exploded from massive steam pressure at the large MK&T Railroad roundhouse facility on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 1911 at about 2:10 p.m. 

“I am unaware of any greater tragedy that has befallen this city,” said Bruce Blalock, railroad historian and a member of the James. H. Long Railroad Park and Museum board. 

 Dozens of Smithville residents can be seen taking in the scene of a boiler explosion on Feb. 8, 1911 that killed 10 men and injured several others. Pictured to the right, the remains of the switch engine after the boiler blast. Prior to the explosion, the engine had been located in the center of the picture between two locomotives. Bruce Blalock/Courtesy Photo Dozens of Smithville residents can be seen taking in the scene of a boiler explosion on Feb. 8, 1911 that killed 10 men and injured several others. Pictured to the right, the remains of the switch engine after the boiler blast. Prior to the explosion, the engine had been located in the center of the picture between two locomotives. Bruce Blalock/Courtesy Photo 

 The commemorative ceremony will be simple, according to Blalock, with a recap of the event, a reading of the names of those railroad workers who were killed, a moment of silence and the ringing of the train bell. 

 The tragic story starts with switch engine No. 233, which had just been turned out from the maintenance shop after overhauling. Mechanics were making adjustments to the safety valve, or pop-off valve, on the huge steam engine when the explosion occurred. 

 It is suspected that a defective steam line to the pressure gauge prevented the workmen from knowing the actual pressure in the engine and they tightened the pop off valves until an estimated pressure of 800 pounds. per square inch was hit, rupturing the boiler, blowing the engine forward 75 feet and sending the rail tender backward into the turntable pit. 

 Ten men were killed outright by the powerful event, two died later and several had serious injuries. Killed instantly were H. E. O’Rourke, Charles Gray, Thurston McNeill, Harry Clark, Will Phelps, F. Barino, Aaron Harless, Phil Hubbard, Albine Mitchell and Henry Stoglin. 

 O’Rourke’s body was identified by his foot, which had one toe amputated. The bodies of Charles Gray and four others were found under Engine No. 550, which stood on one side of the switch engine. One body was found under Engine No. 327, which was on the other side. One body landed on a house more than 300 yards from the explosion. 

 The Katy’s division surgeons in Smithville, Dr. J. H. E. Powell and P. Chapman (who had offices over the Hill and Trousdale buildings, respectively) were overwhelmed giving proper care to such extensive injuries so a special train was arranged to bring physicians from La Grange. Then at 6:30 p.m. on the day of the accident, a special train took six of the most seriously injured to Waco to the Katy hospital facility there. 

 According to a Houston Chronicle story published on Feb. 9, 1911, part of the engine’s firebox flew through the air and landed in town alongside Mohler’s grocery store, (105 W. Second St.) breaking the leg of his delivery horse. The story said most of the glass in adjacent buildings was shattered, as were fixtures in buildings along Second Street. The explosion caused a shock wave that “set the entire people wild with excitement.” 

 Pieces of the engine were also thrown six blocks from the rail yard. Smithville resident Johnny Stalmach picked up one of those pieces and put it in his yard. The twisted steel sat for 98 years, until, realizing the historical nature of the wreckage, Ruth Stalmach Whitehead and the Stalmach family got the idea to create something from it that would commemorate the accident. 

 The Railroad Museum, through the help of historical author David Herrington and art promoter Richard Latham, is working with local artist Russell Smith to create a memorial sculpture that will be dedicated the first week in May during the annual Katy Railroad employee reunion. 

 Blalock said the public is encouraged to attend the commemorative event and visit the museum to learn more about the history of the accident and the Katy Railroad in Smithville. The museum houses documents, photos and memorabilia of the MK&T Railroad’s long history in Smithville. 

P.S. Bruce is the owner of the Katy House Bed and Breakfast, named for the M-K-T Railroad, the Katy. 


SatJan201122

Bed and Breakfast Myths-A better way to stay!

B&B Myth Busters- some facts from the Katy House Bed and Breakfast

Are you shying away from staying at a B&B because you’re not sure what to expect?  Research shows that B&Bs and country inns are sorely misunderstood.  We’re here to explain why B&Bs are a better way to stay.  Younger travelers think B&Bs are for “oldies” and others believe the B in B&B stands for boutique or expensive. Let’s debunk some of those B&B myths and learn more about today’s B&B experience.

“But I’ll have to eat with people I don’t know!”

Today’s B&Bs are split with about half offering private tables for those who’d rather not eat breakfast with others and the other half serving family style so guests can meet one another.  Some innkeepers even serve breakfast in the room. And just to set the record straight, you won’t be eating Cheerios with the owner’s kids either, separate living quarters for the innkeepers and guests are standard at all B&Bs.

“I don’t want to share a bathroom!”

According to the Professional Association of Innkeepers International and BedandBreakfast.com’s innkeeper surveys, more than 97 percent of B&Bs offer private baths in some if not all rooms.  For those looking to economize on rates, a shared bath option is available in approximately 12 percent of B&Bs.

“It’s so expensive!”

Actually, when you add up all the extras including complimentary breakfast, snacks, beverages, wi-fi, movies and parking, then compare prices to local hotels in your travel destination,  chances are you will find as much as a $175 per day savings.   We recently compared Boston B&Bs to hotels, and here’s what we found.  When the hotel’s higher rates were figured in, we realized a daily savings of $175 a day!

“B&Bs are only for couples”

While every B&B has some romantic aspect to it, there are plenty of inns and B&Bs that specialize in other aspects of travel.  You’ll find that inns B&Bs are a better way to stay for families, business travelers, even those traveling with pets.

They’re old buildings and I need my wi-fi connection

Recent surveys of innkeepers conducted by BedandBreakfast.com show that more than 91 percent of inns and B&Bs offer complimentary wi-fi connections.  Innkeepers throughout North America understand that guests travel with a full load of tech-items.  Many are adding iPod docking stations and power strips to rooms to allow plenty of wattage for powering up tech toys.