AUSTIN (KXAN) - When Moody Anderson was in his early 30s, he decided, just forgrins, to go to an auction. He took a shine to a blacksmith forgeand some tools on the block that day. When they bidding started, heraised his hand.
"I didn't have anybody to bid against me, so I got 'em forlittle o' nothin'," said Anderson. "I just took it home and throw'dit in the garage." (Watch the full interview with Andersonhere)
At some point, he bought something else for his "collection,"but he no longer recalls just what it was.
"I don't know; I just went crazy after that," he laughed.
Then, in 1972, Anderson happened by a small, but well-preservedtown just north of Fort Hood. Years before, the people of TheGrove, Texas, had banded together to stop a highway from comingright through the center of town and covering up its only well. Thewell is still there and has never run dry. But with the new highwaybypassing the community, the town did dry up and almost everyonemoved away. Anderson found the owner on the "liar's" porch in frontof the general store and eventually talked him into selling out.That's when Moody Anderson went to work.
"I got all these counters in the middle of the store from Paige,Texas," he said during a tour of the place. "J. E. Pauls, he usedto run a store down there that was built in the 1800s. And it wasall pine building. And so I took all of the fixtures out of thestore and some of the merchandise that's on the shelves. (Watch the full interview with Andersonhere)
"Then I bought another old general store down in Dale, Texas,the first store I ever bought in my life. I bought the brickbuilding and all the contents. And so I've got a lot of contents inhere that haven't been opened, way back in probably the early1900s. Some of them may have not been opened since the 1800s. Thelids haven't been taken off of them, lot of the stuff in theoriginal boxes."
Room after room in the store and nearby buildings are burstingwith antiques and curiosities from a time long gone. There's a signsporting a woman whose eyes seem to follow you as you move about.Parts of an antique sausage maker lie sprawled across the floor.All manner of canned goods, tobacco containers, kitchen tools andadvertising signs are neatly arranged on every surface, wall andspot of floor. There's an old post office and a bank teller's cage.Mannequins dressed in period clothing sit at desks, seeminglyfrozen in time.
The items, though, don't just sit there forever. A casket on ashelf was once used in the film, Lonesome Dove. In a vault, aremeat cleavers and knives that served as props in The Texas ChainsawMassacre. Anderson never intended to lease to filmmakers. Thatstarted when someone from a production house stopped by and offeredgood money and even more money if something should get broken onthe movie set. Now, Anderson is a fixture in the industry.
"Many a film, I would even almost guess that any movie made incentral Texas probably ends up with something of Moody's stuff init," said Carol Pirie, Deputy Director of the Texas FilmCommission. "It's been a big part of how popular the central Texasarea has become for film making. What Moody has there is such acollection of period antiques, and not just big stuff like thehorse-drawn hearse, but down to the seed packets from 1900 and soforth. To have this tremendous plus of filmmakers being able to goand pickup truckloads, absolute truckload after truckload of periodprops and antiques, and so forth; to get it all in one place hasbeen huge."
Anderson also has a mammoth warehouse west of Austin that isalso packed with props and antique items. He expects to lease muchof them to the Coen Brothers for their upcoming remake of theclassic John Wayne classic, True Grit. The movie will be shot,beginning in mid-March, in Granger, Blanco and other central Texaslocations.
All of this came about because of the Texas National Guard.
"I worked for the United States Property and Dispersing Officeat Camp Mabry in Austin," said Anderson. I retired out there aftergoing on active duty for a short period. I retired after thirtyyears." (Watch the full interview with Andersonhere)
Back then, there was a requirement that anyone who worked atMabry had to be a member of the guard. That meant having to attendperiodic training sessions that came with extra pay. Anderson callsthem, "drill checks."
"That's one thing my wife never touched, was my National Guarddrill check, but she helped me spend the rest of the money," helaughed.
Outside, the sound of passing car penetrated the thin walls ofthe store. The 81-year-old Anderson cocked his head at the raresound, then returned his eyes to his "collection," drifting backinto the land of his parents and their parents and their parents,unfolding before him, the culmination of his life's work.
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