Proud of East Texas: Harold Wells

GLADEWATER, TX (KLTV) - Gladewater Mayor Harold Wells is a collector in a city of collectors.

"What I like is local history, what I grew up with."

Wells was born in West Mineola in what he describes as his family's combination home-grocery store-service station-used car lot.

"I was born under a sign that says ice cold watermelons for sale."

No wonder Wells appreciation for signs dominates his collection.

"I love collecting because everything came from a special person."

While just about every square inch of Wells' Gladewater building and yard are covered with his collections, it's usually the big farm equipment that catches the eye of passers-by.

"This is an old John Deere tractor, 1937 here we're standing on called a Poppin John, I've had it a couple of years."

1948 Gibson tractor also attracts a lot of attention.

"My favorite item is on the other side. It's a 1950 Western Flyer bicycle with a light, a horn, cost $19.95 in Mineola when I was a kid."

Wells says his family always had good credit. They had to since his mother was a widow with five children to support.

"That man let me pay $1.75 per week and I had the best bicycle in town, A Western Flyer."

Wells paid off his bike by washing dishes at a local cafe, alongside Jack Rhodes, who later became famous for songs such as Silver Threads and Golden Needles.

Just like Wells' Western Flyer, every item in Wells' collection has a story. Maybe that's one reason they're not for sale.

"I trade with folks back and forth, I give things away, but I send them right on downtown for the antique dealers down there."

Even though many items in Mayor Harold Wells' collection may have been thrown away over the years by unappreciative owners, in the hands of Wells, they are what he calls 'safe keeping'.

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