Sherwood Blount’s First Million

Poor Texas boys used to get rich running cattle or drilling for oil. Now they get rich doing real estate deals out on the urban frontier. And those deals all start with someone deciding he doesn’t want to be poor—ever again.

Sherwood E. Blount, Jr. learned that he wanted money one Saturday morning in the winter of 1961, when he went into the kitchen of his parents’ small, neat white clapboard house in East Dallas and asked his mother for a quarter so he could go to the afternoon double feature at the Arcadia Theater. “Honey,” she told him, “I don’t have a quarter. Daddy doesn’t get paid till Monday. It’s not in the budget.” That was when Sherwood decided he wanted not just as much money as Daddy had — enough to eat and live in a house — but enough so he could always go to the movies, enough to buy a Chevrolet, enough to eat at Kip’s Big Boy every night, enough to join the Lakewood Country Club and play golf. Even as a boy he knew that the main worry in the lives of his parents and his grandparents was not having enough money. He knew the whole point of the hard work they did all day was money, and that even so there was never enough.

Sherwood’s father, Sherwood E. Blount, Sr., grew up in the Depression. His most vivid childhood memory is of his father coming in from the fields to the family’s sharecropper cottage in Kaufman County one cold day and his mother looking up from the stove and saying, “George, we lack three hundred and eighty-five dollars to pay the landlord.” The family, destitute, had to leave the farm and move to the town of Terrell. When Sherwood Blount, Sr., grew up he left Terrell and, after serving in World War II, moved to Dallas and became a fireman. On nights and weekends he moonlighted to make ends meet and dreamed of something better for his only son. The Blounts knew that big things were happening in Dallas, that the city was growing and that fortunes were being made, and they hoped Sherwood, Jr., could be part of that.

When Sherwood E. Blount, Jr., was a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School in East Dallas, he was all-city in football and baseball and the college recruiters were courting him. One of them was a man named Dick Davis, who had gone to SMU and played ball on the great team of the late forties with Doak Walker and Kyle Rote and then gone on to become a stockbroker. One night Davis took Sherwood and three other football prospects to a Golden Gloves match and then to dinner at the Dallas Petroleum Club. Sherwood had never seen a fancy place like that before, in fact had no idea such places existed. Somehow, it was clear, Dick Davis had made a lot of money, and his friends in this club had, too.

Davis ordered everyone a steak, and when they were finished he asked the boys whether they’d like another steak. At that moment Sherwood was still unsure how he was going to make his fortune, but he knew that the first step was to keep playing ball and go to SMU.

He did well there; he made good grades and was co-captain of the football team in his senior year. He even made some all-Southwest Conference teams as a middle linebacker. He was a clean-cut, direct, polite young man, confident and hard-working and a Christian. After receiving his degree he went to graduate school for business for a semester, but he was restless there and wanted to get out into the worlds. It was time for him to decide what to do. “I looked at all the opportunities,” he says. “I looked at insurance, finance, marketing, accounting. And I said ‘Okay, in all the areas of business where do you see the greatest opportunity for achievement and the chance to accumulate real wealth?’ I decided to be in selling. I wanted to competitiveness and the self-sacrifice and the hard work of athletics. I wanted to be able to get up half an hour earlier than the next guy. And, I decided, I wanted to be selling a big ticket item, where I’d be really, really, well compensated. So I decided to sell real estate.”

Today Sherwood Blount is 29 years old, president of his own real estate brokerage firm, and the owner of two 1979 Cadillacs and a brand-new house in the fanciest subdivision in Dallas. In the first four months of this year he made more than a quarter of a million dollars. His net worth is $2,194,800. He is a true self-made millionaire.

There are thousands of Texans like Sherwood — people who live in the booming cities but are just a generation removed from tenant farming and the Depression. Somewhere in all of them is the conviction that they are a generation living in a special time and place in which it is possible — through hard work, or faith in God, or somehow running in tune with the engine of urban growth — to erase the worrying about money that dominated their parents’ lives, and to live in a world where everything is new and clean and nothing is impossible.

The Deal

Early one morning in June, Sherwood Blount got in his pearl-gray Cadillac Brougham and drove up Preston Road into North Dallas, to a subdivision called Northwood Hills. He pulled up at a huge brick house with a mansard roof, double wooden doors, and leaded windows. In the driveway was parked an odd assortment of Lincoln Continentals and pickup trucks. This was a Peter Shaddock home — “professionally designed,” as the brochure for Shaddock and Cook, custom homebuilders, puts it, and featuring, “an abundance of handcrafted cabinetry, distinctive wall paneling, high wood-beamed ceilings, elaborate fire places, elegant foyers, lush atriums, and many other fine appointments.” In fact, it was the home of Peter Shaddock himself, with whom Sherwood had some business that morning. Sherwood took his suit coat off a hook in the back of the car, put it on, squared his shoulders, took off his sunglasses, pulled in his waist a little,

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