Natural beauty lives on in the heart of Lake Highlands thanks to them
Amid bundles of apartments, upscale subdivisions, a busy high school and emerging new developments such as the Lake Highlands Town Center lies a pastoral 14-acre remnant of Lake Highlands’ past.
Tinted by the rose-colored lens of time, many Lake Highlands natives associate the land with a childhood paradise.
They recall the green pastures, owned by the Oddson family, teeming with laughing children on recreational trips through fragrant pastures, drawn by horse or tractor.
“They gave rides through the park all the way to Flag Pole Hill,” recalls Harold Timm, a 1964 Lake Highlands graduate. His best buddy was Texas Oddson Jr., better known as “Scooter.”
Read about the other Lake Highlands legends whose legacies refuse to die:
Skateboarder Jeff Phillips
FM radio icon John LaBella
“Everyone knew who the Oddsons were in those days,” Timm says.
The Oddson family patriarch founded White Rock Stables in ’48.
That was Scooter’s father, also a Texas, or “Tex.”
He was a genuine horse whisperer, the lore goes, who learned his trade from Minnesota cowboys, gravitated to Dallas/Fort Worth at 16, and made his early living training thoroughbreds at Arlington Downs racetrack in Fort Worth. Later, generations of White Rock area children learned to ride horses under Tex’s tutelage.
No one knows how the son of Norwegian immigrants came to be named Tex, his son told the Dallas Morning News in ‘94. “Texas was his destiny,” he supposed.
His time in Lake Highlands began with a training gig at long-gone stables located where the Moss Creek neighborhood now stands.
“He was a real man of the West. A real icon,” his attorney William P. Davis told the Dallas Morning News in ‘94. He worked miracles with the horses, he said.
“He could get on a troubled horse and the horse’s ears would come up, and the horse knew he’d met his match.”
Oddson had a saying that stuck with his students: “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.”
The obit mentions that the elder Oddson holds a jumping record, to this day, set on a horse that supposedly was no jumper.
Scooter and his brother Terry had it a bit tougher than the neighborhood kids who came for riding lessons and horse-drawn treks. “Growing up I had a lot of work,” Scooter told the White Rock Weekly in 2010. “My brother and I worked seven days a week when we weren’t in school. We worked with the horses, maintained the barn, the fences and we mowed the grass … and unlike many homes in the White Rock neighborhoods of the day, we did not have air conditioning.”
Still it was a fantastic upbringing, he recalled.
Timm remembers Scooter’s mom, Louise McCamy Oddson, especially fondly.
“Ms. Oddson was a wonderful cook, a wonderful mother to all the kids in the neighborhood,” he says. “They were a real family to everyone. They went out of their way to remembers kids’ birthdays, things like that, would talk to kids having problems, just being like a second family.”
Scooter was a loyal, if polarizing, companion, Timm says. “Yes, you could say he taught me to ride,” he says, laughing at a memory.
“I could count on him to kick my horse, sending him running. I had to learn, to save my own life.”
Through several separations, the young men remained friends — Timm went to Lake Highlands High School, college in Oklahoma and joined the Air Force. Scooter attended Richardson High School, followed by Texas A&M and the Army.
“Then we both ended up in [Viet] Nam.”
They continued their friendship through letters, Timm says, but Scooter had a much harder time in war.
“He was taken prisoner and bounced around in a bamboo cage in the jungle for six weeks before he could escape,” Timm says.
He came home to a marriage and family, but post-war trauma got to him, Timm believes.
Timm doesn’t want to say why, exactly, on record, though he understands it, but in those years, Scooter forgot Timm. Literally, he could not remember his childhood pal, according to Timm.
“I lost my best friend in Vietnam,” says Timm, who is now married to a fellow LHHS alum and living in Clearwater, Fla.
But Scooter ostensibly recovered, and when his father died, he took over operations at the stables, keeping Tex Sr.’s dream alive.
In 2010, Scooter talked to the White Rock Weekly about his life on the farm, calling the horses and the families that board them “very good therapy,” and assuring readers that he would be around for a “very long time.”
He loved his pet dog Dooley, his miniature horses and his 1962 Corvette convertible, he said at the time.
But in the spring of 2015, Scooter’s heart gave out, according to his obituary, published in February last year.
“White Rock Stables represents the investment of his lifetime, as it was for his father and mother who preceded him in death,” according to the obit.
Today, Scooter’s brother Terry, a doctor who lives between Dallas and property in Little Rock, Ark., owns White Rock Stables.
Granddaughter Amelita Facchiano says she’s made it her life’s mission to maintain the acreage in its current form, seeking historical designation if necessary, she says.
Though horse-drawn rides and lessons are no longer part of the program (insurance to do such things these days runs about $150,000 a year, Facchiano says), the stables still board and care for more than 20 horses. The property itself, a rare swath of natural beauty in a rapidly developing area is often used in commercial photo shoots — Neiman Marcus, Anthropology and Children’s Hospital are among recent companies who have shot ads on the land.
“My intent and purpose,” Facchiano says, “is to keep the property intact and help ensure that the legacy of this family lives on.”