Franz had no trouble finding the site since he had already taken a tour of the house with Karen the day before. The Early property was located in a modest, but mature neighborhood known as Terrell Hills, which bordered a slightly more prestigious Alamo Heights. The area consisted mostly of low-scaled houses with not one monstrous MacMansion in sight, which said a lot about the integrity of the neighborhood. Just about every home in the district was built in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s with every lot sprouting huge deciduous trees, a testimony to the new homeowner’s prescience to plant young oaks, elms, sycamores, whatever. The Early’s lot (a generous 170 feet square) sat on a 1:10 east-west slope paralleling the street, but had no signature trees on the site, just some scrub brush and scraggy trees, which was an obvious indication that the Wiltshire Street property was probably the only remaining vacant lot in Terrill Hills. I figured Ted must have finagled a sweet deal with the owner since it was definitely a buyer’s market, especially since the proprietor had been sitting on the property for more than twenty years with nary a nibble.
The outside of the house was virtually finished, reflecting the indigenous style of the southwest – a low-profile exterior with deep (36 inch) overhangs, a gentle 1:4 roof slope, native limestone veneer, along with my propensity for comer windows. The late afternoon sun just happened to be reflecting off both the first and second story roof overhang facias, which only accentuated the strong horizontal affect that I wanted. The recent rain had left a morass of mud surrounding the house, so I was unable to use the walker to get inside and explore the interior. It was just as well since Franz had videotaped multiple shots of all the rooms so that we could view them at a later date. Good going, bro’.
I thanked him for making a special stop so I could see first-hand my AIA award winning design. Yeah, right, only in my dreams. We made our way back home to Tom Bodett’s haven (a.k.a. Motel 6) where I suggested that we have a nightcap in the friendly confines of my room no. 116. As we sat around the round table sipping our vodka tonics, I said, “Bro’, you making it here made all the difference. If you hadn’t come, I don’t think I would have had the incentive to drive down here. Now, looking back at the grand times we’ve had this weekend, it would have been a real shame for me to miss all of this.” Franz raised his glass in a gesture of appreciation for my indebtedness. I was not to see Franz the next day since he was scheduled on an early-morning flight back to San Jose, so we made a final toast to each other and called it a night.
I had kind of an empty feeling the next morning without Franz around. I wanted to make a farewell call to Ted, but I figured he and the family were attending morning mass at St. Joseph’s, probably saying a little prayer of thanks for having pulled off one beautiful wedding. While checking out, I thanked Tom (Bodett) for “leaving the light on”, and then headed north a short distance on I-35 to where I merged with westbound Loop 410. About four miles down the pike, I exited onto northbound U.S. 281, a pleasant four-lane divided highway that seemed to stretch interminably past residential and commercial development, apparently spurred by the proximity of the San Antonio International Airport. I thought to myself, “How times have changed over the last century and a half. During the last half of the 19th century and into the early 1900s, towns mushroomed across the country spawned by the voracious expansion of America’s railroads. The romantic train depot had long since been replaced by the sterile jetport.”