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What does “Kelley Lane” mean?

What does “Kelley Lane” mean?

August 01, 2023

About eleven miles off of Highway 6, between College Station and Waco, is a small town called Franklin, Texas. If you leave the city limits and head northwest on Little Mississippi Cemetery Road, after a few miles you come to a fork. The right fork leads to the cattle auctions in Bremond and Calvert. But years ago, if you took the left fork, a dirt road called Kelley Lane wound into the woods another mile or two past a few farmsteads—first the Barker’s place, and then the Young’s place. Then, down the last driveway before Kelley Lane turned into an overgrown, sandy path was a modest, three-bedroom ranch house that sat in front of about a hundred acres of pasture and woods.

My parents and I would make the two-hour drive from Houston to those hundred acres as often as we could when I was a kid to visit Grandmother and “Daddy Mac.” As a child, I learned to fish, shoot guns, ride a horse, and build a fire on those acres. I also learned about wasps, spiders, snakes, and sticker burrs. Later I would learn to drive in Daddy Mac’s old Silverado, first in the pasture, and then on the dirt roads. When I was a student at Texas A&M, I would make the short trip to Franklin for the weekend to do laundry and eat a homecooked meal. But Grandmother and Daddy Mac’s relationship with Kelley Lane was much deeper.

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In their previous life, Lois had been a buyer for Foley’s Department Store and Mac was a Houston Metro bus driver. They met in the early 1950s when Lois rode Mac’s bus to work every day. Lois was a confident, tough, stubborn, independent, single mother of two. When Mac asked her on a date, she gave him a long list of things he would have to change about himself before he could take her out. But he kept taking the next step, checking things off her list. They eventually got married and Mac adopted Lois’ two sons. They bought the land on Kelley Lane as a weekend hunting property, but Mac had it in mind to build a house and move out there full-time someday. Lois wasn’t so sure about moving to the country—she was a big-city girl. But, together, they kept taking the next step, and by the time they retired—him from Champion Paper Company and her from Sears Roebuck—they had had built a comfortable home for themselves at the end of Kelley Lane.

One thing that struck me once I became an adult was the amount of saving and planning it took for them to create that farm. I didn’t think of the farm like this as a kid, but looking back now, it was my first glimpse at someone’s retirement. It was my first lesson about imagining a dream and then taking the steps—and the risks—to make it come true. While they raised a family, they also built careers. Instead of buying a working farm, they bought empty land and developed it in phases. In the early days, Mac would camp on the land by himself on the weekends. Eventually they put a trailer out there, and ultimately built their little ranch house. They cleared pastures, strung fences, raised barns, and dug a pond. Mack didn’t know the difference between a Brahman and an Angus, but a man named Bobby Sullivan taught him how to keep a small herd of cattle alive and make a profit. It wasn’t easy, but for years they kept taking the next step to make it happen. They raised their cows, grew a big garden, and lived simply. Even though their family spread out across Texas and the rest of the country, they never failed to congregate at the farm for holidays and long weekends.

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Over the years, Grandmother turned into a country girl through and through, even though she sometimes hated to admit it. Perhaps as a rebellion against her more domestic life in the country, she would tell anyone who would listen that she wasn’t a very good cook (we knew better). To get under her skin, Daddy Mac used to lean back in his chair after cleaning his plate and say, “that was a pretty good jumped-up meal, hippie kitten.” The joke never failed to elicit daggers from Grandmother’s eyes and—by extension—laughter from all of us.

Daddy Mac was a tall, thin man always dressed in a white cowboy hat, a pearl-snap shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots. He died instantly of a massive heart attack one morning while he was doing his farm chores. If you’d asked him, he probably wouldn’t have had it any other way. Even after that, there was no getting Grandmother off that farm—and not for a lack of trying. The land and her neighbors had become part of her. She lived out there by herself until she was over 90 years old.

So if you were wondering what “Kelley Lane” is, there you have it: it was Grandmother and Daddy Mac’s dream.

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This firm’s purpose lies within that story. Not everyone’s dream looks like a hundred-acre farm in east-central Texas. But I’m never surprised when clients’ future plans include some of the same elements and themes as Lois and Mac’s: slowing down, simplifying, and having the financial freedom to travel and spend time with friends and family.

I named this firm after Kelley Lane because it’s not about me. It’s about listening to my clients’ dreams and helping them take the next step—and then the next one and the one after that—toward achieving them. It’s about helping people create their own version of the farm at the end of Kelley Lane.

What does “the farm” look like to you? I’d love to hear about it.

1 In an amazing act of neighborly love, Bobby Sullivan’s son drove down Kelley Lane for the next 15 years to manage the herd for Grandmother.