A Painting that Inspires


In June of 2010, we were home visiting my family in East Texas. We didn’t have anything special planned. We typically just hang out with my brothers and sisters and their families. We sometimes go to the lake or the airport and my husband plays some golf with my brothers every now and then.  Our goal is to have our kids be able to hang out with their cousins and enjoy having no schedules.

During this visit, there was an estate sale and auction being held. This wasn’t your typical estate sale. The contents of entire house,barn and livestock were being sold. The ad in the Kilgore News Herald, the local paper, called it the “Richardson Ranch Castle.” My sisters and I decided to go see what a castle looks like in our small hometown. The four Ott women that were in town went on a little adventure together.

The estate is tucked away behind a highway that is considered “oil field service row.” There are various types of businesses that serve all phases of the oil business. I never knew that the road existed behind the big warehouse type structures and had to turn around because I missed our turn.

We couldn’t believe the sight of the house as we made our way around the curvy driveway. How in the world was the house tucked behind here and we never knew it? It was breathtaking. You felt like you were seeing something in a movie. It was so perfectly kept. It was five stories high and had over 20,000 square ft of livable space, with quarters and the barn included.

It would take awhile to find a place to park. We quickly found the tent where the auction was taking place. It was all very exciting. My sisters and I had never done anything like this together. Not only do we usually have our children or spouses with us, we were actually thinking of spending a little money. Although our Dad was a doctor, he also had nine children to pay for and frugality was what we had grown up to know.

After visiting with some friends in attendance and seeing some of the items for sale, we took a tour of the house. I had never seen such decadence. The house was packed full of antiques. The lady who had owned and built the house was in the antique business. It seemed as if the entire house was furnished from around the world. Her husband had been in the oil business and she had the house built after he passed away. There was no expense spared in the building materials used or the way in which it was furnished. It was so opulent that words cannot really describe all the contents found in this mansion.

We went back out to watch the auction. You couldn’t help but get caught up in all the excitement. The property was so unique that you wanted to capture a little piece of it. I wanted to remember an extra special day.

My sisters, Janie, Kathryn and Liz started to bid on a few items. They were able to get oriental rugs, some tables and candelabras. We checked in with our spouses to let them know that we were staying a little bit longer. They couldn’t believe we were actually bidding on items. We are usually so frugal but were getting caught up in the moment and the excitement of being together. There were indeed bargains to be found. By the end of the day, I was still looking for something special to purchase. By this time the spouses had come to the auction to pick up the big items my sisters had bought. I think it all totaled about $500. They wanted to see the inside of the house too so we went back in to look around some more.

As we got to the top floor in the very last room of the tour, a bathroom, I spotted this painting. It was hung on the wall over the bathtub. I knew I had to have it. I had never bid on a piece of art in my entire life but I knew I wanted this one. I jokingly went around to a few friends that were still there and begged them to not bid against me. I just knew this painting was meant for me. I loved the colors and it had a tube of lipstick on it.

I waited around an hour or more until one of the auction workers finally brought the painting down. I was nervous about the amount of the opening bid.  I couldn’t afford to spend much money on art. It wasn’t a necessity. I wasn’t working a full time job. It seemed like a luxury. For some reason, I just had to have this painting to remember this day, a very special day with my sisters.

There were very few people left bidding since this was the end of a long and hot summer day. I bought the painting for $125. But it is worth so much more to me.

I have tried to find the artist and its history. It is signed “Munn 98.” I have it hanging on the wall by the computer in our living room that also has our home office.

I feel inspired as I look at this painting on a daily basis, especially today. It would have been my sister Liz’s 53rd birthday and my Daddy died on her birthday sixteen years ago. It is also my sister Trisha’s birthday, they were three years apart. It only seems fitting that so many of our family members share this day together.We were and still are a very close knit family.

There was never any doubt that my family loved one other. We had no problem showing love and affection and would often say that we loved on another out loud and often.

I wish that my sister were here so I could tell her again today. To be loved and feel loved is everything. I want for nothing; especially material things because I am loved.

I found this painting on the top floor of a decadent mansion that was so unlike the house that I grew up in. I wish I could go back to that day, but it isn’t possible.

My sister Liz was going through chemotherapy on that  summer day but she was feeling good. It was so obvious that all of my sisters wanted this to be an extra special day together. But looking back, all of our days as sisters were special because our parents never felt the need to build a bigger house. What we had was always more than enough.We had each other.

Our house growing up was indeed decadent and opulent because it was overflowing with love, faith and family.

And I wouldn’t auction that off for all the antiques in the world.

For this, I am eternally grateful.





Pictures of  “the Castle in Kilgore” were found on The Hoffman International Properties as listed by Alicia Hipps





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