Chapter 01: The Origin of MD Anderson Land in Research Park, Smithville and Bastrop

Title

Chapter 01: The Origin of MD Anderson Land in Research Park, Smithville and Bastrop

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Identifier

PickleJJ_01_20150315_C01

Publication Date

3-15-2005

Topics Covered

The Interivew Subject's Story - Overview; MD Anderson History; MD Anderson Snapshot; On Texas and Texans; Research; MD Anderson and Government

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Disciplines

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History

Transcript

Lesley Williams Brunet

Let me just test our meters and things.

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

I can hear. Can you hear me?

Lesley Williams Brunet

Looks like they’re all working.

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

I want to be sure you don’t miss a single word.

Lesley Williams Brunet

OK. This is

Lesley Williams Brunet and Dr. Earl Walborg.

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

Now, Leslie? I’m holding -- I’m trying to recall a lot of this from 30, 40 years ago. And I can’t remember, so history-wise, you all can put some of this together in the early stages before we got into the MD Anderson part of it.

Lesley Williams Brunet

All right.

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

You’ll know that better than I will by form.

Earl Walborg

Well, there are probably some parts that you may well recollect. I'll try to tickle your mind.

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

I know the point that I’m going to make, to make it for the record, and that’s the history part of it. When I was with -- years ago -- with the old National Youth Administration, I had best top county assigned to me, and us local Central Texas and state organizations used to go to the Bastrop State Park, which was built in the C.C.C. days of the early depression years. And they built a huge swimming pool at Bastrop State Park and some huts in connection with them. And at that time, most of the work was done by either C.C.C. workers or the old N.Y.E. workers. And so we built 10 or 12 condominiums in connection with a big swimming pool and kind of a play area down there, and a lot of time the people of the state organizations from primarily the center of Texas would go to Bastrop State Park and have a weekend. They had some facilities were you could not only have sleeping quarters but you’d also have a few card games if you wanted to. And I’m even told -- though I’ve never participated -- but I’ve been told that you can even go down there and hold some dice games (laughter). Like what you call “medical arts”. But we used to use that little facility down there for recreational purposes. And at one point years ago, the N.Y.E. what we would do was not only build some of that structure down there, but we were to make it a recreational area for the whole central state area. And we got ideas we could do that, and we decided that what we had to do was to build a little lumber camp, a lumber park you make it -- what you called it? -- a lumber yard?

Clifford Drummond

Or lumber mill?

Earl Walborg

Sawmill?

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

We actually cut and dried the pine trees that made desks for schools and other places that needed them for the public use. So we actually used that facility down there not just for recreational but actually to have a Bastrop state lumber camp or manufacturing plant, and we made a lot of desks and chairs and things out of that lumber. We would actually cut the pines and leave them out to weather -- what do you call it?

Lesley Williams Brunet

To dry?

Clifford Drummond

To cure?

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

And so we put it to good use. So over the years, we were familiar with that area, and we used it for a lot of purposes. And I was familiar with it because I was in with the 10th district N.Y.E. Well, along about that time, the state parts board decided they wanted to make a state parks system out of the Bastrop area. Instead of just a state park facility, they were really going to make a first-class preserve -- a whole area, I don’t know how many acres, 100 acres? I mean 100,000 acres or something in that -- and the reason was, there became kind of clamor for some way to preserve the lost pine area of central Texas. It’s a kind of phenomenon how the pines have come to grow right in that central part backdrop area, and it’s not anywhere in the state except in far east Texas, and it’s what we called then the “lost pine area”. So they wanted to make something out of it, and at that point -- I don’t know who really took the lead -- but at that point, the Texas wildlife department decided to enlarge the camp area and build a state wildlife park system there, a facility there. And I don’t know how many acres in the original land--

Clifford Drummond

Several hundred?

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

Several hundred. It’s large acres. But they tied this slice out, a good hump of it said to protect the backdrop area, was the old pine loblolly pine, where it grew and developed, and so that became a kind of precious little project they wanted preserved. That appealed to the people in Bastrop and Smithville and Elgin. It appealed to them because it was going to preserve the lost pine area into a state park system. So it suited everybody fine. We had the land then and it was a pretty good-sized tract, pretty sections of land right through that area. And we’d all sit along happy we had the land, we were glad to have it, we wanted it to expand, but the question was: what do you really do to expand a wildlife park except to just have there for people to come out and visit where the loblollies grew? That didn’t have much glamour to it; didn’t have much appeal. It was just plain land and you’d just come to visit it. So we thought: what could you make of it? And so constantly the people in Smithville wanted to protect that land so to see that permanently, and we had some real strong people in the Smithville area. I think Dude Allen was part of it, Shyrocket family, and Bill Allen, I think, who was president of First State Bank -- one of the banks -- was on it, and they were a very active park of the science park, which then was called the Buescher Science Park. B-U-E-S-C-H-E-R. Buescher, Buescher. Old German family owned part of that land originally before it was made into the state parks board. So we got them interested in it and they tried to protect that land ‘cause they figured that was their land. That was Smithville-Bastrop land and they didn’t want people from Austin, Fort Worth, or Dallas to come down and get their land. Well, you couldn’t blame them for that attitude, and so they wanted then to make out of it. And we were trying to figure how do we put it to the best use rather than making it just a visitor center, ‘cause if we had a visitor center then you had a lot of people coming in to Bastrop State Park, and with them they brought a heck of a lot of pollution and we didn’t want that.

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Chapter 01: The Origin of MD Anderson Land in Research Park, Smithville and Bastrop

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