Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

October 21, 2012


Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:44 am






Rarely does an opportunity like the one Clara and I recently experienced come along in our lives.  It would not have happened to us without the loving generosity of a friend and classmate of Clara.  Martha Fuller Turner graduated from Hemphill high school in 1958, a member of Clara’s graduating class, and one of three buddies that she had during that time.  Martha married a San Augustine native, Keith Turner, in 1962, and taught first grade in our school system for a short time.

Martha and Keith moved around while attending college and eventually settled in Houston.  Martha decided to go into the real estate business in Houston around 1981 with only one house to sell.  As is often stated, the rest is history.  Unfortunately, Keith died in 1986 leaving her to run the business by herself.

Martha has grown her business, “Martha Turner Properties”, into the largest independently-owned real estate business in the Houston area, with gross sales of $1.3 billion in 2011. She has over 200 agents on her sales staff.  She has won many awards in her career.  Her latest award was the reason that we were involved.  The American Advertising Federation of Houston awarded Martha the prestigious “Trailblazer Award” for 2012, the only woman to be
so honored in its fifteen-year history.

Several months ago, Martha called Clara and asked if she would come to Houston and participate in a biographical movie being made about Martha’s early history.  Since she and Clara had been friends since elementary school, Martha wanted Clara to participate in the filming process.  We agreed to do this and Martha housed us in the St. Regis hotel where we were definitely out of our element.  I noted the cost of the room to be $750 per night.  I urged Clara to take a look at the card on the door, “We’ll never stay in another room like this”, I ventured.  To add to our adventure, we ordered up room service for dinner, and breakfast.  I soon discovered that the $2.00 tip doesn’t cut it in a hotel like this one.

Martha sent us free tickets to the event held on the night of September 20th in the Houston Museum of Natural Science building.  It was a black-tie gala including a silent auction of paintings by local artists, and a cocktail party.  Ambling through the auction with a glass of water with lime, I evaluated all the paintings.  Many of them looked much like something a kindergarten student would create, and they required a minimum bid of $1,000 each.  I guess I just don’t appreciate modern art.  But, I was rubbing elbows with the elite of the elite of Houston – doctors, lawyers, and moguls of all kind.  Surely some of that culture will rub off on me because I was in a black tuxedo with a red cummerbund.  No one even suspected that I was from a little country town in deep East Texas, one of the few small fish in this large pond.

All 350 of us were ushered into the huge I-Max theatre to hear congratulatory speeches and watch the prepared movie honoring Martha on the big screen.  There Clara was, larger than life upon the screen, making complimentary comments about her friend, Martha.  The film lasted about twenty minutes after which Martha made her acceptance speech, brief but impressive.  A mini-bus transported all her close friends back to the St. Regis hotel where we bedded down for the night.  There’s nothing like “roughing it” in such a hotel where “the help” hovers around you catering to your every whim, for a tip, of course.

Martha had planned a breakfast the next morning for all fifteen of us in the “red room” of the dining area of the hotel.  So there we were swimming with the big fish once again dining on a breakfast fit for any king.  A large plate filled to the brim with scrambled eggs, two strips of bacon, two sausages, potato wedges, a half tomato baked and stuffed with something, coffee, juices, and topped off with a salad plate loaded down with fresh berries, orange slices, pineapple slices, and kiwi.  My typical breakfast is a bowl of Cheerios and a cup of coffee; therefore I had to do some adjusting to minimize the shock to my digestive system.

Then it was time to check out and head north back to East Texas.  The most beautiful words of all were uttered by the clerk at check-out, “Mr. Murphy, your bill has been taken care of.”  A pregnant pause. “Does that include the parking for my car?” I queried.  “Of course, Sir.  Have a great day.”  It just does not get any better than this.  Thank you, Martha Turner, for your hospitality.  We were quite pleased to be with you on the night of your prestigious award, and very happy to have been a part of the program. We are hoping that you win even more awards in the future.  We will be happy to go down to Houston and help you out again.

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