Part 1: The History of Pate
The museum was filled with antique automobiles, motorcycles and other modes of transport along with memorabilia of all sorts. There was a library filled with transportation material. The grounds around the museum had numerous airplanes and military vehicles such as tanks, artillery, a naval mine sweeper ship and more. I was particularly fond of a large Studebaker sign mounted on the outside of the museum. There was also a small historic church on the grounds.
Originally known as The South Central Swap Meet organized by Barney Calvert of the Gulf Coast AACA and other dedicated individuals. The idea was to pool the resources of 17 car clubs, some of which had their own swap meets. They decided to locate somewhere in the Dallas area. Brilliant!! Let’s have a swap meet on the bottom end of tornado alley at the peak of storm season in April. He enlisted the help of area car collectors such as Aggie Pate who was President of the Texas Refinery Company that owned an employee recreation ranch SW of Ft. Worth near Cresson where the Pate Museum of Transportation was located along with Aggie Pate’s herd of Longhorn cattle. After a couple of years of organizing, the first swap meet was held in 1972 with around 350 vendors situated in a rough semi‐circle around the museum. The meet grew quickly and moved into the pasture. The South Central Swap Meet came to be called Cresson or Pate but wasn’t officially titled Pate Swap Meet until after the death of Aggie Pate in 1988. The 7,000 space capacity event generally sold out.
As I recall B.R. Spier, who was our local president in 1987‐88, and Gary Baker were instrumental in getting us into the Pate organization. Originally we were admitted to the Pate Association as a satellite of the Houston AACA and our first duty was parking cars. The Road Relics were able to become a full member when the AACA region in Big Spring disbanded and was no longer able to participate. Our next assignment was similar to current day in that it involved using golf carts. We directed parking for the RVs. The most common request was for a flat camping spot. On this rolling ranch land ‐ NOT!! The Road Relics camped together behind the museum. Back then Pat and I always had a tent which would be full of old toys by the end of the meet. Bob Blackwell had his 1953 Chevrolet House car (aka bread truck) which he had converted into something “roughly” resembling an RV. The shower was located in the footwell of the passenger door. He had a hose with a sprinkler end that he would drape over the shower curtain rod. The water would just drain past the bottom of the door. That was always my signal to walk over and open the door on him.
It all ended in 1997 when the kids sold the land but I loved “Old Pate.” It had an aura about it the new location can never attain. It had character!! I liked walking in the grass, up and down the hills, under the trees and across the creek. When it was hot and dry it would be dusty. One year, after mostly taking down our sales space, our daughter climbed up and laid down on one of the tables and made a “dust angel.” When it rained, folks got stuck in the mud and tractors pulled ‘em out. Even though it didn’t change much, I loved going through the museum every year. Maybe I’m easily amused but the same cars, trucks, airplanes, tanks, and boats excited me each and every year. They had a Flying Boxcar in the front yard for crying out loud!!!!