They were high school sweethearts, Rick Marr and Beverly Sanford Marr, and before that, childhood friends. Beverly remembers it was in the sixth grade when she first singled out her husband-to-be as, “pretty cute,” adding, “we dated in high school and college.”
That was 25 years and three children ago. A lot has changed since then, but one thing that never changed for Rick and Beverly is the neighborhood they call home…home with parents and siblings and then married with children.
When Beverly and Rick graduated from Lake Highlands High School in 1974, married as sophomores in college, they soon purchased their first home on Middleknoll. Beverly says they never were tempted to move elsewhere.
“Isn’t that sick?” she laughs.
It’s certainly uncommon. Cultivating deep community roots takes time, with the rewards slow in coming. But staying in one place promotes lasting relationships, and the couple has made many friendships throughout the years they’ve called Lake Highlands home.
Home these days for Beverly is contained in a rambling, brick contemporary home on Parkford, a long street bordered by green, manicured lawns where the neighborhood feels protected by the canopy of tall trees overhead.
The couple recently served as leaders of the Lake Highlands Booster Club and Young Life organizations when their older children, Brian and Brenda, attended Lake Highlands High School. Today, their daughter is a freshman at Texas A&M, and their son is a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin.
Beverly’s mother reflects upon the time when she and her husband, Bob, were watching their grandchildren’s parents grow up in Old Lake Highlands.
“I remember Rick was a real good linebacker,” Lola Sanford says. “Beverly was on the drill team in high school, and we lived on Clearhurst. But it was on Lanshire,” she says, “where we brought Beverly home from the hospital.”
Lanshire was part of the original “L streets” of Lake Highlands, a five- or six-street planned development not unlike many other subdivisions sprouting up around the country. It was the early 1950s, post World War II. Young men such as Robert Sanford were returning home from the war ready to take advantage of the GI Bill, get married and buy a house. Television was about to come on to the electronic scene, and actor Robert Young of Father Knows Best, a popular television program, convinced us he really did.
Television was a benign source of “family entertainment” when everyone seemed to agree on the definitions of family and entertainment. A 10-inch TV’s test pattern didn’t even start to make its annoying siren-sound until the mid- or late-afternoon. And talk about channels: There was one.
People were used to thinking of ways to stave off boredom. At the Sanford home, horses came to mind.
“Mother rode horses when she was a kid,” Beverly says.
“When my parents moved here from Oklahoma, their first home was on Walnut Hill Lane,” Lola says, “and we would ride all through there. Back then, there was nothing past Walnut Hill.”
“Riding horses appeals to most kids,” Lola says, “especially girls. But for some, horseback riding becomes a lifelong love. We’ve been riding with all our grandchildren (which numbers 10 and range in age from kindergarten to a sophomore in college). Some take to it more than others, but we have a wonderful time as a family, riding together.”
Indeed, it was Beverly, not Doug, who couldn’t stay away from the “White Barn” on White Rock Trail. Her mother tells the story of how her young daughter would pay her teenage friends just so she could brush their horses.
“That’s when we decided to get her a horse,” Lola says.
Merryleggs, named after a horse in the classic novel “Black Beauty,” was “sweet and gentle, just a wonderful riding horse,” Beverly says.
The pasture where the Sanfords kept their five horses was next to the White Rock Nursing Home.
“The people who lived there would always wave to us from their window,” Beverly says. “When the nursing home thought they would expand, which they never did, my parents had to find a place to keep our horses.”
And that’s exactly what Bob and Lola did when they bought property in the Gunter/Van Alsteyne area. They hauled their horses to the much larger pasture north of Dallas, and every weekend, the family would head north to ride their horses. Eventually, they built a home there and settled into a regular commute.
Of course, in a family as tied to the area as this one, their feelings about the holidays and traditions tend to reflect the common experiences of their years together.
When it’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving, Lola prepares a traditional turkey dinner (to feed about 30). She claims there’s not enough time in that busy day to think about riding horses, but while everyone’s in the kitchen, you might want to look for Beverly in the barn.
“I’ll probably be brushing the horses,” she says.
Some things really never do change.