“It was a dream come true,” said Jamie Bodiford-Brinkley,a member of the Parker County Historical Society. She and several others, including former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright, gathered to commemorate his boyhood home with a Texas State Historical Marker ahead of the ice storm on Thursday.
Bodiford-Brinkley recalled playing in the home when she was a little girl with the Wrights’ daughter, Ginger. So a few years ago, when discussion to save the house from possibly becoming a parking lot for one of the nearby churches, Bodiford-Brinkley jumped on board to save the house at the corner of W. Oak and Waco St.
Harold Lawrence, president of the historical society at the time of the application was submitted, said that the project was “near and dear to his heart.”
“Certainly he is one of the most distinguished Weatherfordites in history and his name will be prominent in this community, as well as national history, forever,” Lawrence said.
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Lawrence broke down the application process, thinking it should be “easy.”
“There’s only one other Speaker of the House of Representatives in the state of Texas, and that was Sam Rayburn, Speaker Wright’s mentor and friend in his early years in Congress; it seemed like a no-brainier,” Lawrence said. “So we write it up and indicate how long its been in the family, how significant the house is and they sent back the letter rejecting the application because Mr. Speaker has not been dead long enough.”
As the crowd erupted in laughter, Lawrence said they resubmitted the application in the name of Wright’s father, Jame Claude Wright.
“This was the family home, and this is is what home is — it’s where the family is,” Lawrence said. “It’s not going to stop there, we’re going to get the Speaker’s name on this before it’s all over with, but we’re in no rush to do that.”
He said there are more than a dozen makers within a block and a half of the home.
Wright, who will be 91 this month, followed up saying that he was “pleased” that the marker was in his father’s name. He spoke briefly about his father, remembering the kind of man he was.
“He never had the pleasure of going to college but his dream and ambition was to assure each of his children would be given the opportunity to go to college that had been denied him by circumstances,” Wright said. “Years later he had an agreement with the minister of the Presbyterian Church, secret, not even known to me at that moment, that he had deposited money into an account, and I don’t know the amount, with some instructions.”
He said that whenever the minister discovered a “well-meaning, well-intentioned” young person that desperately wanted to go to college and couldn‘t afford it, he would pay their way with the funds he had left.
“My dad, in this place, gave me one of the best lessons of my life,” Wright said. He had lost a race for re-election to the Texas House just after World War II. “I was home complaining to my dad and mother that there were prominent men in Weatherford who had not supported me in the election.”
He said his father told him of a story about Abraham Lincoln and how he dealt with “political enemies.”
“He said the only way to destroy a political enemy is to make him your friend,” Wright said. “That’s your challenge,” his father told him.
“They think they don’t like you because they don’t know you. You haven’t given them the opportunity to know you; I set out to do that and achieved it.”