Hello and welcome to 7F. Many people ask us to tell the story of 7F and we should. It is a good story about good people.
During the Depression, my father and his two brothers rode the train from Abilene, where the 7F began, to College Station to attend A&M. Of course, they were all in the corps and they all studied Animal Science. All three served as officers in the US Army during WWII: my father served 56 months in the Pacific, one uncle landed in Calais and marched through and into the French front, and the other was part of the artillery division that was instrumental in the take over of Berlin. Other Aggies were fighting with them or near them during that awful time and they vowed to find each other again.
Following WWII, my father returned to A&M to acquire a graduate degree in Animal Science and while he was here he and his brothers began to buy land in the Wellborn area. Our Hill Country Lodge was the original deer cabin used by these men and their friends. There was ample game and the tradition to be here throughout the season was not missed by a large group of WWII Aggies. There was a policy that “no women were allowed” until the year that my mother died unexpectedly and at that time, they agreed that I could be the very first female EVER to come to the camp.
You can imagine my surprise and excitement. It was a cold, wet and enormously muddy day. I dashed to my room to get a little glass doll’s bottle that my mother had given me in case I might see a deer and catch it and feed it. We traveled most of the morning opening the gates and crossing swollen creeks, feeding cattle and counting calves when we finally arrived at the camp in time for lunch. It was beyond description when I first saw this place on that cold gray day. It looked like a scene from M.A.S.H.
Smoke was curling up from at least a half dozen small fires. One large bonfire had plenty of camp chairs around it and sausage was grilling next to some venison back strap on a homemade oil drum grill. I saw at least 14 deer gutted and hanging upside down on a long board that had large spikes well placed through the back of the board to hold the deer. A large Caterpillar diesel generator was sputtering enough to allow for a string of light bulbs to burn in daylight and a funny looking outhouse was off in the distance under a stand of trees. Old Army jeeps were buzzing around. Men were gathered in clusters, 2 here, or 3 or 4 there and many with old army jackets on to shield the cold, but the thing I saw that shocked me most, was the fact that some of the men were crying. At first I thought it might be the fact that they had killed the deer, but then I realized some were drinking and crying over the loss of their friends during battle or the fact that they had to take the lives of others. It was a shocking experience and I knew well and with the clear knowing of a child that I was witnessing the aftermath of war. I promptly dropped the bottle. I completely lost it and some time later some other men helped my father fix me some lunch and engage in distraction.
What I know now is that this site was a place of great healing and understanding. These Aggies could only verbalize to each other their heartbreak and their desperate need for their continued companionship. I saw what happens after some men return to a world away from the real knowledge of battle. It impacted me and it changed my life. All of these men stayed close to each other for the rest of their lives and in their eulogies some of their friends and families learned, for the first time, how their bravery was displayed during that war. As a young woman I listened to some of those eulogies and I guess you could say, like Paul Harvey said, “now I knew the rest of the story.”
Soon after this time, my father sold the family holdings in West Texas and we made this area our permanent home, officially moving the 7F brand to Brazos County. He raised cattle on a small scale here and after I grew up and graduated from high school I went off to college and did not return to live here until 25 years later..
Actually, I had been traveling and studying in Peru, when I heard a voice say “go home.” When my flight landed and I cleared customs, I did some laundry and drove from Dallas to this place in the woods. By now there were no roads left, the cabin had been abandoned for 25 years and it had been vandalized, but many recognizable things remained. The board where the deer had hung, the outhouse, the campfire ring, the light bulb string, and the very grill where the sausage had been cooking back in the 50’s. I camped there that night and listened to my heart. I decided to restore that place and although I didn’t know how, I used the only tools I had and I got busy.
A few months later I had reordered my life, sold my house and moved into storage here in town. The Eagle newspaper called and asked if I would like to take the paper as a new resident and I accepted. The first day it arrived I saw an ad for an estate sale and I went to that sale. It was there that I met my husband, Craig, and on his first trip to visit me at the site of the cabin I was restoring, he took the rake out of my hands and began working in the dirt. Moments later he found that little glass doll’s bottle and we were married 14 months later here at 7F in the little Chapel where so many other couples choose to marry, too. My husband built that church specifically for our wedding.
My father had no sons and I was lucky enough to inherit the 7F brand after his death. His request was that I keep it alive, so my husband and I have built a bed and breakfast and named it thus for after all, I am the keeper of my father’s wish and there is magic in this place created by the hearts of great men who so selflessly taught me the depth of love as they shared their grief and their sense of love for their fellow Aggies. It was a sort of personal Muster and I do believe that we are the grateful custodians of a place that is almost seared by these men’s hearts.
Therefore, having witnessed it, we knowingly believe that LOVE SAVES LIVES. It was the love of these men for their friends that held their world together and healed their emotional wounds, for they did recover and the laughter returned to their lives. Our story of finding each other and of finding that bottle, is a testament to that magical energy guiding us to…love.
So, we’ve built a collection of buildings and we are continuing to build more and more, little by little, step by step, celebrating the imperfections rather than perfections. And we are having fun.
Today, years later, hundreds have married here. Wonderful publications have featured us, television shows have filmed us and famous people have traveled here to experience the magic. Proposals have been offered and received, precious children conceived and hearts have opened wide to the greatest of all energies that man can experience…LOVE.
We’re glad you are here. Thank you for you business Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you.
7F LODGE & SPA
Carol Frierson-Conlee, Original Proprietress
In 2007, Carol and her husband sold 7F Lodge to their dear friends and loyal Aggies, Donna (’89) and Phillip (’91) Garrett. The Garretts have continued the traditions of 7F, while adding to its appeal. Until they sold it to dear friends of theirs and the Conlee’s in 2017, Bill & Lisa Wantuck and Ryan (’01) & Ginger (’06) Lundell.