Thursday’s weekly luncheon of the Cleburne Rotary Club played out like an episode of the old “This Is Your Life” Television display with longtime Rotarian Lowell “Stretch” Smith Jr. using the incredibly hot seat to share memories of his life and occupation and Rotarian Matt Victory subbing in for Ralph Edwards in the interviewer’s job.
Smith discussed atomic bombs, 1st kisses, German prisoners of war, banking, the worth of providing back again and other matters for the duration of the interview.
Smith, Victory stated, demands no introduction.
“He’s been known as a rancher, banker and philanthropist,” Victory said. “His identify is on countless buildings and scholarships and he’s been inducted into various halls of fame and the New York Periods once profiled and described him as a dwelling legend.”
Smith has been a member of the Cleburne Rotary Club considering that about 1971.
“Dr. Alex Howard, a dentist in Cleburne some of you could don’t forget, held on me,” Smith explained. “I’d long gone to an air display in Paris with a pal, we the two made use of to fly. I informed [Howard] that the moment I get back from Paris I will show up at Rotary. He claimed, ‘Well, thank you. We’ve been striving to get you in for a prolonged time and you have ignored us.’ I instructed him I appreciated that, explained, ‘I did not mean to do that. I have just been actual busy.’
“Dr. Howard informed me that they experienced previously put my title in and it experienced been permitted and it was just a issue of me going. He explained, ‘You’ve been accepted. You just never have gone.’ I informed him, ‘Well, I’m sorry. I’ll consider to do a much better task.’”
Early on, Smith mentioned it was tough to get away from do the job long enough to show up at weekly Rotary conferences but worthwhile in the very long run.
“Finally I explained, ‘OK, I’m heading to do it,’” Smith stated. “I obtained into Rotary mainly because it’s a sharing with some others form organization. At the time I bought into it I identified it experienced so many things that I preferred and I have genuinely appreciated the option to be in Rotary for near to 50 a long time.”
Meeting attendee Elizabeth Victory questioned Smith about his visits to Rotary golf equipment in other nations and the actuality that he always normally takes a Texas and U.S. flag along on these types of instances.
“Anytime I go somewhere else I constantly consider to go to a Rotary meeting if feasible, and those were being constantly genuine exciting,” Smith mentioned.
Smith referred to as his visit to the London Rotary Club particularly unforgettable and shared a humorous memory to another club.
“In a person region a person leaned above and mentioned that he had listened to that we let gals into our Rotary club,” Smith said. “I stated, ‘Well, yes, we do and it is been fantastic and a lot of fun.’ Perfectly, that wasn’t the remedy that he wanted to listen to and he leaned again in excess of and said, ‘They’ll cause you issues in advance of it is all in excess of.’”
Matt Victory next asked about the Cow Pasture Lender, a Rio Vista bank that Smith’s father experienced a hand in founding.
“That was 1919 right after [World War I] and it opened in 1921,” Smith claimed. “In the 1950s I labored there evenings and summers. When I came back again from the military services I was a lender examiner for a even though and then in the late ’50s is when I went to get the job done in the [Cow Pasture Bank].”
Victory asked Smith to identify the oddest detail he had ever seen available as collateral on a financial loan.
“Oh mercy,” Smith responded. “A ton of items had been talked about but we did not finish up working with those. I’d have to assume on that one particular but I know there had been some odd items.”
With a runway in the back again, the Cow Pasture Lender was most famously recognised as remaining probably the only lender that customers could fly into.
“That was a very good detail for us,” Stretch explained. “It was a type of banking that you just did not see wherever else. I don’t know of any other financial institutions that desired to do that, and we obtained a large amount of customers from the Metroplex and regionally for the reason that of that.”
Smith sold the bank to Wells Fargo in 1999.
Victory asked Smith no matter whether it is real that he deposited $100,000 of his personal cash into a then recently-opened competing bank to welcome them to the neighborhood.
“Well, I can’t say that didn’t materialize,” Smith joked. “It’s probably some thing we would’ve performed. If we did not, we possibly just didn’t believe about it. Due to the fact opposition is high-quality and we wished it. We just went to function early in the morning and came dwelling real late.”
Victory requested about Smith Ranch, started by Smith’s terrific grandfather in 1887 and nevertheless going four generations and 130 as well as several years on.
“It’s expensive to preserve up but it is meant a whole lot to us through the decades,” Smith reported. “I’ve often appreciated the ones who went in advance of me there and feel bound in the custom.”
For the duration of Entire world War II, Germans POWs housed at what is now the Cleburne Convention Center had been routinely despatched out to work the Smith Ranch and other encompassing ranches.
“I was about 12 at the time,” Smith reported. “They ended up awesome men and we all bought along rather well. They were all anxious about a single issue and that was their people. They did not know the standing of items back in Germany and so that was the biggest stress they experienced.”
Only 1 created a fuss, Smith reported.
“The rest mentioned just not to pay any notice to him,” Smith explained. “He was the captain of a freighter and not truly in the military services. The freighter experienced been knocked out and they picked him up out of the drinking water. They did not know what to do with him so they place him with the enlisted guys and that didn’t go quite well with him. He was constantly fussing but we just did not pay considerably focus to him and went on about our business enterprise. After he was in the again conclude of a trailer and I was driving and I permit the clutch slip and it threw him out in the dirt.
“But, I think that was an incident seriously.”
The nickname, Smith reported, came courtesy of fellow baseball player Dick Miller at Cleburne Significant Faculty.
“Came in rapidly and stretching out to get a enjoy at 1st foundation and I guess that seemed a very little odd to some persons so he started calling me that,” Smith reported. “Before I knew it I went dwelling and my father mentioned, ‘Well, we’re contacting you Stretch from now on.’”
In response to a issue from Rotarian Tom Hazlewood, Smith discussed getting stationed at Place 51 in Nevada and staying 5 miles absent from the detonation of a nuclear bomb.
“An awing thing,” Smith mentioned. “It x-rays you and I could see the bones in my hand. It took 48 seconds for the nuclear wave to hit us. You could see it coming, throwing filth and doing every little thing.”
Smith mentioned he was born in the Cleburne Sanitorium.
“That’s what the clinic was referred to as again then,” Smith explained. “Course, you inform people that now and they consider that completely wrong.”
Attendee Martha Daniels requested Smith when he 1st kissed a woman.
“Oh mercy,” Smith stated. “Really was not organized for that query, 15 or 16 I guess.”
Smith talked about a significant school girlfriend and later conference his wife.
“And, you can inform I’m just dodging [the question] listed here,” Smith joked.
Daniels expressed surprise more than the simple fact that Smith apparently flew airplanes prior to he to start with kissed a girl.
“Yes, we had an aged airplane at the spot and would all sort of climb in it and fly all around for a whilst,” Smith claimed. “I don’t know if we have been supposed to be carrying out all that but we did.”
Smith mentioned he and his spouse Shirley started off the Mustang Basis in reaction to requests from previous Cleburne businessman George Marti.
“Anytime we went wherever George would pin us to check with when we’re heading to commence a foundation,” Smith reported. “Shirley requested me just one night driving house what we should really do. I claimed, ‘I never know. I guess we’ll just have to do it.’ But by the basis we have aided learners with scholarships a variety of charities these kinds of as Procedure Blessing and other individuals.”
That in the end, Smith claimed, is what it is all about.
“I’ve been very blessed,” Smith claimed. “And because of that wished a place in which we could get started serving to persons. Of class at the lender we made loans and items that assisted men and women, but that was a company. And I’ve constantly felt that if you have been fortunate then you can share. And so, my wife and I commenced the foundation to make sharing section of our life.”
Glancing at notes Smith brought to the meeting, Victory pointed out that the text powerful religion had been underlined.
“I feel you’ve carried out that solid religion in almost everything you’ve accomplished,” Victory informed Smith. “We appreciate all you have performed for the local community and all the lives you’ve touched.”