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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

News & Updates

I want to catch up on news-&-update items that have collected in the recent past.  The first is an identification sent from Donna Christopher Baker (DHS '63) regarding the man in the photo below.

Moses Shelton near the time of his retirement in the '60s.
She spoke with her aunt, Faye Martin Baker, who tells us his name was Moses Shelton.  Faye said he also worked for her father, Robert F. Martin, who ran the lumberyard.  Many thanks to Donna and Faye for this identification.

I got some help from Jackie James (SLHS '57).  She has told me her father is the man on the far left in this photo from 1959, showing a tour of the new Melt House.  I wondered if that was her father (not W. H. Louviere, Sr.), but I couldn't be sure without confirmation.

 L to r: Tom James, Hugh Lynn, W. O. Caraway, & George Andre touring Imperial's new Melt House in 1959.
Jackie also told me the next photo was taken at the Slot home on Dogwood back in the '60s, and that's her daughter, Lynn Elise Slot, who died just a few months after this photo was taken.

Wayne Landin (DHS '66) helped with the photo I posted of the Presbyterian fundraising committee.   That is Rev. Donald Davidson in the center and his wife hidden behind the model of a church, which Ernie Wood is handing her.  Thanks, Wayne.  (His parents are on the right.  Bob Armstrong is on the far left.)

My thanks go to Randy Trncak (DHS '65) for help in identifying more children in Stephanie Youngblood Wilson's (DHS '65) photo of her kindergarten class at Mrs. Boyer's.  Randy told me that is Martha Greenwald on the swing at the far right with Roy Cordes, Jr. (DHS '65) and Danny Hrncir second from the left.  (I think I may have misidentified Danny as Bruce Edwards, Jr. when I originally posted this.)

Last, the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation is participating in Houston's 2016 FotoFest.  They are open on Thursday and Friday afternoons, as well as Saturdays.  (Call 281-494-0261 to confirm exact times.)  They have 8 new photos illustrating Sugar Land's era as a company town.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

More People of Old Sugar Land

I got a message from Linda Cruse Wilson (DHS '65) asking if I had a photo of her sister Blanche who attended Sugar Land High School, although the Cruse family lived in Fresno.  I have a 1947 Sugar Land annual, so I told her I'd check.  

I found her in the Class of '48, so she'd have been in the junior class that year,.  I have a graduation photo for the class from the following year, but Blanche doesn't appear in it.  In fact, the '47 annual shows 17 students in the class, but 15 graduated the following year.  Maybe Blanche moved over to Missouri City High School.

There are some very familiar faces (to me) in that class.  Click the image to view the album of selected photos from the '47 Gator yearbook.  (I saw my mother in the photo of the band class at the end.)
This next item is a few more excerpts from the '61 edition of The Log, Sugar Land Junior High's yearbook. I recognize many knuckleheads in there.  Click the image to view the album.
Finally, I want to thank Bill Fisher (DHS '71) for posting this family photo on Facebook.  It shows the Frank Fisher family when they lived in Kerrville in 1960. I may be wrong about this, but I think his father was principal at Pasadena High School before coming to Dulles in the early 1960s.

Char House & Groesbeck Brick

The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation has a copy of the Texas Commercial News printed in Sugar Land on December 12, 1925.  It contains an article on the newly completed Char House, which you can view in its entirety by clicking on this link.

I have taken the following excerpt about the brick used in its construction.  

The Char House, just completed, is built of brick. One million blocks of burned clay furnished by the Groesbeck Standard Brick Company and shipped from their plant at Groesbeck, Texas; selected for their quality -- their beauty in appearance. Their color is a bright cherry red, non-scumming, very attractive, but insignificant all when compared with the actual quality of the product within itself.

The "Groesbeck" Brick is noted in Texas and over the south for its hardness of texture -- its low absorption. In meeting the tests layed down by the American Society for Testing Materials, it rated 319% higher than their requirements called for in compressive strength. 20% higher in modulus of rupture (cross bending strength) and showed to have three percent less absorption. The last figure is nine percent lower than that exacted by government architects in the erection of Federal Buildings.

The "Groesbeck" Cherry Red Face Brick is made in three styles and textures, different from the square cornered smooth texture product used in the Char House. A round edge face brick, matte face brick and a ruffmingle complete the quartet. The latter is an entirely new product introduced in the first part of this month and designed particularly for the new irregular styles in residence construction.

These four separate products, three of which are Face Brick, have grown from the reputation of the old brick manufactured at Groesbeck and sold for years in small stock quantities for lumber yards.

The present management under the leadership of A. M. Smith, for years associated with the brick industry in Texas, has within the last two years greatly enlarged the plant, modernizing it in every respect, and is now one of the leaders in the brick industry in Texas. Millions of their product are distributed annually within Texas, with large shipments into New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, in many cases where the freight is larger than the cost of the product itself.


I want to thank everyone who has sent me albums of historic photos.  I've received some extraordinarily good ones in the past month or so.  Here are three -- click the images to view the albums.

US Red Cross personnel landing at a Normandy Beach in June 1944.

Earliest known image of Abraham Lincoln.

Bat Masterson in the 1920s when he was a sportswriter for a NYC newspaper.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

News & Updates

I've been busy over the past couple of months and haven't been able to update the blog as frequently as I'd like.  News and updates have piled up.  I will get to all of them soon, but I wanted to pass on sad news.

Thank you, Diane Broughton Lundell (DHS '65) and Marjorie Hauerland Polasek (SLHS '49), for notifying me that Marjorie's brother Charles Hauerland (DHS '65) died recently.  I hope Marjorie and the extended Hauerland family find security and strength in this time of grief.  Here is an obituary.

Charles Allen Hauerland

Like Marjorie, my mother graduated from SLHS in 1949.  One of their classmates, Harry McBride, died recently.  I'm very sorry to hear this news and hope the McBride family is doing well.  Here is an obit. Thank you Betty Sue Douglas Lubajosky (SLHS '49) for sending me this news.

My mother told me a funny story about Harry.  When they were in the 1st grade, Harry visited my mother out at the Humble Camp one day after school.  (Their mother's were good friends and the play date was easy to arrange.)  When my grandfather got home from work, my mother introduced Harry to him as her 'boyfriend.'  My grandfather got a kick out of that.
Harry McBride in the '49 Gator yearbook.

Harry as a young lad.

Sugar Land or Sugarland?

I did some research recently on the issue of 'Sugar Land' vs. 'Sugarland.'  Not only was it interesting, but I learned some things.

I found a list of postmasters and post office names on John Walker's Web site, Life on the Brazos River.  You'll notice that Mrs. Nena Iiams was acting postmistress for Sugarland (sic) in 1927.  She eventually became the town's permanent postmistress and held that position for many years.

I then decided to look at some old postmarks to see what they said.  The one below comes from Janice and Nancy Jenkins.  It shows a get-well card sent to their father in 1959 after a plane crash.  (It's an interesting story that deserves it's own article on this blog.)  Anyway, you can see the cancellation stamp showing 'SUGARLAND.'

Well, maybe US Postal Service wasn't too concerned about an old designation and let the discrepancy ride, because town residents have used 'Sugar Land' from the beginning.  I've seen a letter from Sugar Land written in 1859, which shows the town's name as two words.  This letter was written just 7 years after the Terry-Kyle partnership purchased Oakland (the Williams brothers' plantation) and renamed it Sugar Land.

The next item is an example of the letterhead used by the Imperial State Bank in 1913.  As you can see, it has Sugar Land as two words on it.
Further evidence is this photo of the train depot soon after it was completed in 1927.  The town's name is written with two words.
Further proof (if you want it), but a little more puzzling, is the name on the town's post office.  This photo was taken in 1952.  As you can see in the magnification, the post office used the two-word version on its public sign.

Last but not least is this 1954 photo of a road sign on Highway 90A at the town's western boundary.  It too displayed the two-word version.

Of course, we have the Sugarland Industries, whose name was misspelled by a Delaware lawyer when he drafted the charter of incorporation in 1919.  Note the name of the company in the 1956 phone book.
Outsiders, quite naturally, still find this issue confusing.  There's probably more to the story.  For example, I don't know what our current postmark looks like.  In fact, I don't know if there is a Sugar Land postmark anymore, since our mail is processed in Houston.  If we have one, and it has Sugar Land as two words, I don't know when the US Postal Service made the change.  What I do know is the name on the outside of the post office has always been 'Sugar Land,' and locals have never been confused about the town's name.  (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.)

More People of Old Sugar Land

My thanks go to Debbie Batten Dunlap for posting this photo of her mother, Barbara Batten on the right, and her mother's sister, Mollie Williams on the left.  I'm sorry to report that Debbie's Aunt Mollie died recently.  My parents and I had the pleasure of visiting Mollie, her husband Bill, and their daughter Lara on a trip to Dover, England in the late 1970s.  We had a wonderful day.  To add to Barbara's misfortune, I understand she's been in the hospital recently.  Here's hoping there's a bright day coming very soon.

Some of you may have heard that Wayne Boehm has been in the hospital recently.  I want to thank his daughter, Jennifer Boehm Kocich, for keeping us informed and posting some photos on Facebook.  The first one appeared in The Imperial Crown, I think, and it shows him in the refinery lab.

Jennifer posted the next two, showing Wayne when he was in the US Army.

I'll never forget something Wayne said in an interview a few years ago about playing football at Sugar Land High School.  The interviewer asked, "What was it like playing guard in the Notre Dame Box?"  (The ND Box was a rare offensive formation the Gators used back then.)

Wayne said, "If you played the guard position in the Box, you had to be mean, fast, and dumb."  He laughed when he said that, and I still think it's funny. 

Another bit of bad news: Maxene Gary, my 1st grade teacher shown in our class photo from 1957, fell and broke her hip recently.  She's doing fine and rehabbing her way back to normality.  Hope she gets well very soon.
I think Robbie Harrington Raska posted the next photo on Facebook.  It shows her mother, Dot Powell Harrington, Judy Harrington Diamond, Kathy Harrington Spillers, Robbie, and Dot's granddaughter. I don't recall whose daughter she is, but I know she's a Harrington.  I think they were trying to decide if was time for plastic surgery.  (I don't think so.)
The next article came from The Imperial Crown issued in May 1955. It spotlights Lee and Delia Townsend.  Notice Lee was born near Clodine and attended Pleasant Green School, which predated M. R. Wood by several years.  Also notice he maintained the goldfish pond, which was a regular stop for me when I visited the refinery as a child.  (It's still there by the way.)
I found this article spotlighting Bud Jenkins in the June 1955 of The Imperial Crown.  The Kellys were neighbors to the Jenkins family when we lived on Guenther St. in the 1950s.  I grew up with Darlene, Belinda, Betty Ann, and Denise.  We had a ball in those days.
The next photos come from Ernie Wood's photo archive.  I'm not exactly sure about identifying everyone, but I recognize quite a few people.
Date & location are unknown to me, but that's Ernie, Bob Armstrong, Tom James, and (I think) Lou Armstrong.  I don't know the young girl on the floor.

I've posted this before.  It shows a fundraiser for the First Presbyterian Church.  L to right: Bob Armstrong, Ernie, the church pastor, Dolly and Kenneth Landin.

I'm reasonably certain that's Herbert Helmcamp, Lou Armstrong, and Ernie on a cruise.  That's the only photo of Mr. Helmcamp I have.

An undated photo (1980s?) of the Lee Shelton family.

An undated photo of the Shaw family, who lived out on Flanagan Road near the Friersons.  Mr. Shaw was a prison system employee.  His son Glen was in the Class of '67 at Dulles.

This is a photo of SLHS's Class of 1950.  They look sort of tough to me.

Commencement program for the Class of 1950 1952.(Oops, I posted the wrong program.)

Commencement program for the Class of 1950 1952.(Oops, I posted the wrong program.)

An undated photo (1970s?) of the Pamplin family.  (Thank you Vivian Pamplin Dimmock.)

More Images of Old Sugar Land

The following article appeared in the November 1956 issue of The Imperial Crown and noted the demolition of two old buildings.  The first housed Sugar Land's meat and produce markets, but before it served those purposes, it was the town's saloon and gambling house.  I think Kempner & Eldridge repurposed it soon after they took over the Imperial Sugar Company and Sugar Land in 1908.

Here is a panoramic photo showing the building when it housed the town's meat and fresh produce markets.  It's the two-story structure in the center of the photo.  You can see the old tailor shop and shoe shop on its left.  That building became Sugar Land's first city hall in 1959.

Sugar Land's west side in the 1920s.

The article mentions that the old Marshall Canning Plant (earlier it was the Sealy Mattress Factory) was torn down at the same time.  Here are a couple of photos of that structure, which stood on the northwest corner of Main & Kempner Streets.

I found the following undated photo of Sugar Land's first drug store.  Sugar Land's first doctor's and dentist's offices were located in that building until the clinic at Ulrich & Kempner was built in the late 1930s.

More Imperial Sugar Company Photos

The first set of photos showcases Imperial's fleet of liquid sugar trucks.  Of course, Imperial delivered liquid sugar by rail tank cars, too.  Click on the image below to view the photo album. (Click the 'I' icon in the upper right of the images to view their captions.)
The following photo album shows Imperial's Raw Sugar Warehouse and Melt House operations.  I have not labeled the photos individually, but you'll see that handling raw sugar was definitely a bulk operation.  Click the image below to view the photo album.


This first item is roughly a month late, and the image quality isn't as good as I'd like it to be, but I saw this map on Facebook and thought it was informative.  It shows the Alamo as it looked in February 1836 with an overlay of modern streets.

As you can see, the Alamo was much larger than we imagine.  I think the State of Texas has acquired the land on the west side of the plaza where Ripley's is located.  I think their intention is to eventually reconfigure the plaza so it's closer to its layout in 1836.

I recently read Blood of Heroes by James Donovan and finally understood that the main entrance to the Alamo complex was on the south side, where Jim Bowie's room is noted on the map.  The other thing I didn't realize is that the main part of the battle did not occur at the west wall.  The north wall and east wall were the site of the most intense attacks on the final day.  An attack from the south and a late surge at the west wall occurred at the very end.
A fellow who posts photos on Facebook under the name Traces of Texas posted the following, which show Rollover Pass in 1957.  (The pass is on Boliver Peninsula several miles east of the ferry landing.)  

I never realized that Rollover Pass got its name from smuggling.  The pass was a strip of land where the peninsula was at its narrowest.  Smugglers would land their boats in the surf and then roll barrels over the narrow spot and reload other boats with their contraband and haul it into Galveston Bay for distribution at various rendezvous.  Smugglers skirted customs at the Port of Galveston which patrolled the mouth of the bay between Galveston and Boliver.

Apparently, the pass was dredged on private land in 1955.  By 1957 it was a hot spot for fishing, as these photos attest.  Actually, it's still a good fishing spot, judging by the photos I see on Facebook.
Rollover Pass in 1957.

Rollover Pass in 1957.
Some of you may have read recently, that Schlumberger is moving its US headquarters out of Houston to Sugar Land.  I found this article in the September 1956 issue of The Imperial Crown, announcing Schlumberger's purchase of 1,300 acres of land in what eventually became Sugar Land's industrial park north of Highway 90A.

I had forgotten Schlumberger came to Sugar Land that long ago.
I could have sworn I saw Milkdrop Moe on Houston television when I was a child, but based on what I've found on the Internet, he was gone before I could turn on a tv set.  Here's what Earl Blair posted on Facebook:
Milkdrop Moe with Uncle Ned.
THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING MILK DROP - I've been watching Houston television, off and on, since 1951. In those distant days, KPRC-TV was the only station telecasting blurry, black and white images to the rabbit ears perched precariously atop our 14" family Philco.

My very favorite Houston television personality from that time, was a large, talking milk drop -- yes, talking milk drop -- named "Milkdrop Moe."

Along with his human counterpart, Uncle Ned, Milkdrop's fifteen minute daily show basically served to introduce Crusader Rabbit animated cartoons and sell Sanitary Farm Dairies' milk. What could possibly provide a better endorsement of milk to a six year-old mind like mine, than first-hand testimony from a milk drop?? And one that peppered his salesmanship with a bounty of bon mots, to boot.

Noteworthy is fact that Crusader Rabbit was the very first animated cartoon series from Jay Ward, then partnered with the show's creator Alex Anderson, who later delighted television viewers with Rocky, Bullwinkle, George of the Jungle and dozens of other memorable animated cartoon characters. It was also the first cartoon series designed specifically for television. The initial episode—"Crusader vs. the State of Texas"—aired on KNBH (now KNBC) in Los Angeles on August 1, 1949.

Inside the cramped costume was talented comedian, Bobby Lauher (sometimes spelled Larr professionally). Lauher (1930-73) was born in Illinois, but grew up in Houston. A popular personality on KPRC-TV, he also teamed with Johnny Royal for that station's local comedy show, "The Guys Next Door." He found greater fame as part of Ernie Ernie Kovacs' ensemble and as a comedy writer providing laughs for Rowan and Martin and many others.

As memorable as Milkdrop remains in my mind, the show was only on the air for two years, 1952-53, and was a local Houston creation, which made finding memorabilia difficult. I located images of a badge and personal appearance flyer, but a photo of the pasteurized personality had proven elusive for decades.

That is, until this morning when, in one of my endless Internet searches, happened, purely by chance, to come across the below photo. Here, then, for all of you old enough to remember, is Milkdrop Moe and his pal, Uncle Ned. (See photo above.)

Monday, January 25, 2016

News & Updates

I regret to say that I have nothing but bad news to report.  Lou Payton (SLHS '46) passed away recently.  Click here to view an obituary article in the Fort Bend Herald

I attended his funeral a couple of weeks ago.  Here are scans of the service program.

I also regret that Earl Tise, Jr. (SLHS '43) died recently, too.  Here is an obituary.

Earl Tise, Jr. on the right with Ralph McCord and Sammy Norvic in front of the Sugar Land drug store in 1942.
My sincerest condolences go to the Paytons and Tises at the loss of their loved ones.

More People of Old Sugar Land

I've selected some images of Imperial employees who worked in the Packing Department.  If you look at the 1928 map of Sugar Land included in this same collection of blog posts, you'll see where the Packing Department was located.  It's labeled as the 'old warehouse' near Notation #2.

(Click on image to view album.)

I've also prepared an album of photos from The Log, Sugar Land Junior High's yearbook published in 1961.  The Vavrecka family donated it to the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation recently.  (Thank you, Janice Hartman.)

I'll post more of this yearbook in the future.  This time I've focused on the Dulles Class of '65, who were 8th graders back in '61.

I also want to point out the two photos at the end of the album.  The first shows a magnification of a building on the campus. (The one at the far right of the photo.)  Coach John Allen taught me 7th grade science in that building.  It was in use for quite a while.

My brother has suggested it was the two-room school house at Wood and 2nd St., which preceded the Lakeview campus constructed in 1918.  I think he may be right.  A few windows may have been added in later years, but the general appearance is the same IMO.


I found the following image of Curly Fox and Texas Ruby with their band at KPRC's television studio in the 1950s.  It was posted to the KPRC History page on Facebook, which is well worth a look if you're interested in the history of Houston television.  Obviously, Texas Ruby is the woman standing on the left.  Curly Fox is in the man standing on the far right.

My good friend and DHS classmate, Frank Lampson gave me a card on my recent birthday.  (It was my 66th BTW.)  It included a booklet with interesting facts about that important year.
(Click on the image to view album.)

Sugar Land in 1928

The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation has a remarkably good collection of old maps.  I've looked at a few recently, including this one showing the town as it was on August 8, 1925.  At least, that's the date on the map.

An aside: I'm not at all happy with the way Google handles large images.  I've wasted time trying to find an alternative, but have had no luck so far.  So, I'll just work with what I've got until I can find something better.  (On the positive side, Google's tools are free, but maybe you get what you pay for.)

The first image shows the old map in its entirety.  Unfortunately, Google doesn't provide a suitable method for showing it in high resolution, so the second image shows the areas where I've magnified portions of it.

The next image shows a Google Earthview of the same general location today with annotations of the magnified areas.
Here is the first magnified zone.  It shows the western edge of the town in 1928. Notation #1 shows Sugar Land's dairy, which included a barn and a 'milk house.'  Notation #2 indicates a 'hay barn,' which I assume was part of the dairy.  If you look closely you can see a bridge over Oyster Creek, not far from the one for modern Imperial Blvd.  The dairy's cows walked over that bridge to graze in the pasture that is now home to Constellation Field and the new Imperial subdivision.  Notation #3 shows the bulk fuel station.  I never knew it was in operation as early as 1928.
Notation #4 shows the lumberyard.  (I recently posted a photo of Hugh Charleton standing in front of that building at the time of his retirement in the 1960s.)  Notation #5 is labeled 'work shop,' but I always heard it referred to as the 'labor office.'  I didn't know till much later that there was an apartment in the 2nd floor of that building.  Nation #6 shows the cotton gin, and as you can see from Notation #7, Visco (eventually Nalco) didn't exist in 1928.  According to company history in began in the early 1930s.  I've seen a photo of the original shed where it all begin.  I wonder if it was the one labeled 'cake house.'  The one labeled 'potato house' is too large.

The next magnified zone shows the refinery complex, but the first thing to note (#1) is the building labeled 'new sugar house & cane mill.'  It shows Imperial's last raw sugar mill, which closed in 1928.  Although it is 'new' per this map, I think it was actually built by Edward Cunningham in the 1880s or '90s.  I believe the building labeled 'wash plant & melter' (near # 5) was an older sugar mill (later repurposed for other uses), but Leon Anhaiser (and others) may have more certain info on this question.

The image immediately below shows the last cane crop processed at this mill in 1928.  The camera was pointed east at the spot where I've put Notation #1.  Annotation #2 shows the 3-Bay Warehouse which still stands and will be part of Imperial Market.  The structure labeled 'old warehouse' was actually the Packing Department (I think).  That building and everything to the east of it has been demolished, as you can see in the Google Earthview.  Notice #3 indicating the 'feed mill.'  I always thought it was near the cotton gin, but this map shows it was located where the Distribution Warehouse stood, which was recently demolished but still visible in the Google Earthview image.  Notation #4 shows the 'cooperage,' or barrel-making/repair shop.  I assume Imperial still shipped sugar in wooden barrels in 1928.  It certainly did in the very early years.

Annotation #5 identifies the Char House (constructed in 1925) and W. T. Eldridge's old home beside it.  Eldridge moved to his last home on Lakeview in 1928 - it is labeled as a 'restaurant' on this map.  Notice at #5 that the back of the Mercantile Store housed the railroad office.  The bakery had a separate oven, as shown at #6, and the barbershop was in the same building as the bakery.

The 'meat market,' 'tailor shop,' and 'shoe repair' are near #7, as is the depot.  Across Highway 90A (which is labeled Highway No. 3) at #9 is the service station and mule shed.  

As #8 indicates, the Sealy Mattress Factory was gone and the building housed a 'fig factory.'  The fig business was a serious disaster for Sugarland Industries not too many years later.

The east side of town appears in the last magnified image.  Notation #1 shows the Salvage Building, which housed multiple departments, but notice the 'printing plant.'  It printed the Texas Commercial News, Sugar Land's local paper which I've mentioned frequently.  The area around #2 shows a 'hemp plant,' which I assume made bags, and two other buildings for servicing trucks (I think.)  The old John Deere maintenance building hadn't been built in 1928.

One last item: notice the erasure just north of the Salvage Building.  I think someone removed traces of the old Sugar Land Railway yard: the maintenance shed, roundhouse, and sidings.

We have numerous photos that supplement this map.  I'll post some of them in the future and use this map to orient what they show of Sugar Land's past.