Although the Key Schoolhouse settlement, established in 1858 by Dr. George Key, was only about a mile from what became the downtown part of Aubrey, Edwards, a Civil War veteran from Alabama, is given credit for founding the town. He built the town's second house, a large, imposing, two-story structure, of lumber hauled from Jefferson in 1867. He then eventually gave each of his 10 children (holy cow, I wonder how Mrs. Edwards felt about that) a lot on which to build a home.
After the first businesses, east of the railroad tracks, burned in 1887, the town was rebuilt west of the tracks, where it stands today (as well as the railroad...more on that later). By 1920 Aubrey had more than thirty businesses and a population of 700. The automobile, the boll weevil, and the Great Depression contributed to the decline of the population over the next several years.
By the 1980s peanuts had replaced cotton as the number-one crop; an annual average of 3,000 tons is processed in the local drying plant. The sandy, fertile land and the moderate climate have attracted many horse ranchers to the area, which, according to some, is becoming the "horse capital" of Texas. Other farm products include cattle, hay, fruits, and vegetables. In 1986, Ray Roberts Dam was completed nearby on the Elm Fork of the Trinity River which has boosted the economy and has added to the towns growth of new home development.
Aubrey Economic Development Corporation and several town businesses.
Dianna and I had packed our usual wine refreshments with two clear plastic cups and our trusty PVC folding lawn chairs. I went to the little snack table and bought a Snickers Bar for Dianna and a small bag of M&Ms for myself (chocolate really goes well with wine). We initially sat to the left of the stage, well back in the growing crowd but when Doug came up he insisted we sit just behind his chairs in "sound central" to get the best effect.
We sat as the opening act, a local singer-songwriter named John Rutherford, sang for the late stragglers and allowed Doug to fine-tune the sound for the main act, Mark David Manders , another singer-songwriter based in Plano, Texas.
As John Rutherford strummed and entertained, we all got a reality check and discovered how it is to live in rural Texas. Remember that railroad track that runs through town? Well it actually runs right behind the park stage and every hour on the hour, a large Union Pacific Railway freight train would announce its arrival and roll for several minutes as it made its way north or south of town. John would stop each time it passed and then continue.
As the sun settled in for the night, Doug moved his operation to the light board a few feet away. You wouldn't know it by looking at him, but Doug has got "techie" written all over him. Doug is a "60 something" but has almost completely automated his sound system using his iPad (yes...there's an app for that). Wirelessly, he stalks the venue listening and tweaking his sound to get the most out of the players and the equipment. He finally settled in at his light board to paint the stage for mood and accent.
When Mark David Manders and his band took the stage bringing Bob Wills and Merle Haggard standards with them, they too had to suffer the train and horns but would immediately break into a "train Country song" (think Johnny Cash "Folsom Prison Blues") until it passed. Mark's band was great but his fiddle player was really phenomenal. Manders and the boys went on for about an hour and a half and at one point brought a gaggle of little girls up on stage to help him on a rendition of "I'm Alright" and then did his seminal work "Beer". To close, Mark even did his best Mick Jagger imitation for a rendition of "Honky Tonk Women" the 1969 hit song by the Rolling Stones. Not bad, if I say so myself.