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Sunday, April 16, 2017

News & Updates

I regret to say I have another death to report. Alfred Smallwood (DHS '67) passed away a couple of days ago. I don't have an obituary yet, but I'll post one when it is available.  My best to his wife Gloria, brother Roy, and all the extended Smallwood family. (Thank you Ella and Fred for notifying me of Al's death.)

(from the 1967 Dulles Viking yearbook)

Sugar Land Shopping Center 1952 - 2017

As many of you know, the Imperial Offices (formerly the old Sugar Land Shopping Center) are being demolished. My brother sent me some photos which you can view by clicking the image below.
Sugar Land Shopping Center 1952-2017.
Here are a few photos I've posted in the past. (Sorry about the quality of some of them.)

The old drug store.

Opening day, January 26, 1952.

Old grocery store.

Old sign in 1957.
Another construction photo from 1951.

Interior of drug store in its original configuration.

Interior of Dry Goods Store.

Pharmacy counter in the old drug store.

More People of Old Sugar Land

My brother recently sent me info identifying people in old photos we've collected. (I've posted a few before without the ids.) included a few of them at the beginning of the photo album accessed by the link below. 

You'll also see some photos Roy Lemke has  posted on Facebook. (Roy was adopted by his uncle Roy Lemke when his family was killed in an auto accident in the late 1950s.) The Lemke family lived on Imperial Boulevard and have a large number of old photos. I've 'borrowed' just a few for posting here.

Finally, lots of people celebrated 'Siblings Day' on Facebook last week. I've included a selection of what I saw. Thanks to everyone for sharing their photos.

Click the image below to access the photo album.

First Baptist Church Choir

Historic Preservation: Margaret Bowie Home on UT Austin Campus

The last round of posts included a photo album of College Station, so I thought I should reciprocate with an item related to UT. The oldest structure on the Austin campus is a home that originally belonged to Margaret Bowie, widow of Rezin Bowie and sister-in-law of his brother Jim. The home was built in 1853, and was occupied until the early 21st century. 

As you'd expect, the house has been remodeled extensively and has deteriorated since it became vacant. Preserving it is a difficult issue, as explained in this article in the Austin American-Statesman.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

News & Updates

I have three regrettable pieces of news to pass along.  I forgot to include this first one in the last batch of posts, but Mr. Pat Gibbons died a few weeks ago.  Many of us who attended Dulles High School and many who had some connection with FBISD knew Mr. Gibbons. He was a wonderful teacher and an admirable man. My sincerest condolences and prayers go to his family. It was always a treat to see him at our later class reunions. Click here to read an obituary.

(from the '68 Viking yearbook)

I also want to note the passing of Nancy Krachala Landry, who grew up on The Hill in Sugar Land, but moved to Richmond where she graduated from Lamar Consolidated. Here's some background her cousin Dorothy Syblik (DHS '68) sent me:
My cousin Nancy Krachala Landry died in March.  She was the daughter of Millie and Frank Krachala and sister of Emmett Krachala and Ida Krachala Porter.  Frank worked for Imperial Sugar until he retired.  Both Emmett and Ida graduated from Sugar Land High School.  Nancy went to school in Sugar Land until high school when the family moved from 'the hill' to Richmond.  She was forced to graduate from our rival, Lamar High School.  She is survived by her husband, three children and five grand children. 
Click this link to view an obituary. My condolences go to the Landry family as they grieve their loss.

One last item before moving to happier things, Harold Sollock, friend of the DHS Class of '67 passed away recently. (Thank you, Tommy Laird, for bringing this to my attention.) It's ironic that a photo of Harold appears in the Dulles Rodeo album. (See the post below.) He's the boy on the far right in the photo from the '63 Viking yearbook.
On a happier note, I'd like to congratulate my first grade teacher, Maxene Gary, on her recent birthday. It was her 90th. Here's a photo from her 'golden era' followed by a recent photo (also golden).

1st grade Sugar Land Elementary 1957.
Standing behind Maxene are daughter Sheryl, sister Beverly, grandson Jonathan, & son-in-law David Lambert.
I want to mention something I missed when I wished her a happy birthday last November. Shirley Laird celebrated her 95th back then and is well on her way to her 96th!

Milton R. Wood

I received a request recently about information on Milton R. Wood. I've posted quite a few things about him, so I thought I'd collect them here. He was a fascinating person, sort of a renaissance man, who was influential in early Sugar Land history.

Click this link to view a brief profile my brother Bruce wrote on Wood. It focuses on his involvement in the design of Sugar Land's school on Lakeview Drive, where Lakeview Elementary is now located.

This next link accesses a post quoting from Bob Armstrong's book, which also includes brief info about Wood's role as Imperial's chief engineer and chemist in the company's very early days. Note the embedded link to a short history of M. R. Wood School by Mrs. Jean Sampson Johnson. The school in Mayfield Park was named after him. It served Sugar Land's African-American students before integration in 1965. Nowadays, the school serves FBISD special needs students.

Here is a photo of Mr. Wood taken in 1932, when construction began on the Sugar Land School gym, which still stands today. (You can see houses on the north side of Lakeview Drive in the background.) Note the two men in white suits. The one on the right is M. R. Wood. The other (wearing sun glasses) is W. T. Eldridge, Sr., co-owner of Imperial Sugar and Sugarland Industries. He died later that year. The man identified as Albrecht is Mr. A. H. Weth, Imperial Sugar's chief engineer at the time and WWI German fighter ace. (I think.) The man in white shirt and dark pants, standing in front of the women, is Gus Ulrich, general manager of Sugarland Industries.

M. R. Wood died in 1940 (I think, I'll have to check the exact date) in the Rio Grande Valley while visiting relatives. I've no doubts we'll learn more about Mr. Wood in the future.

A Little More Dulles High School History

Roberta Cooke Prater, a Dulles alum and a teacher at the school, asked if I had any photos of the Dulles High School Rodeo. I found a few in old Viking yearbooks. I may find more in old copies of the Viking Shield, a page in the old Fort Bend Mirror for journalism students to publicize school events, activities, teachers, and students. The Mirror had an identical page for Lamar Consolidated High School.

Click the image below to view the album of photos. Note the first photo which I found in the '61 Viking. It's not relevant, but I couldn't resist showing the entrance to the original school, which was located next to the Missouri City Gym.  (It was old Missouri City High School, which became E. O. Jones Elementary after Dulles moved to its new campus on Dulles Avenue in 1962.)

A Little More About The Dome

The rodeo ended last month, so I know I'm a day-late-and-a-dollar-short, but I wanted to post this series of photos which comes from a soft-cover book published in 1965 promoting the newly opened Astrodome. (My thanks to Frank Lampson for lending me the book.)

The final section was a look ahead at the 1966 Fat Stock Show and Rodeo, which appeared in the Dome for the first time. Johnny Harris (DHS '64) tells a hilarious story about 'helping' a performer get on his horse before riding through the big gate in center field to entertain the crowd. Let's just say Johnny thought the entertainer needed a seat belt on his saddle to make it through the performance!

Click the image below to view the photos.

College Station & Texas A&M Photo Album

A recent edition of the Houston Chronicle contained this photo essay on College Station and Texas A&M. I thought it deserved a posting here. Click the image to view the photo album.

Some Texas Revolution History

October to April is an important interval in Texas history, and we're rapidly approaching its culmination in a few weeks. I've been reviewing some early Texas memoirs and want to post a few items that may pique your interest.
The first is from Noah Smithwick's book, The Evolution of a State, Or Recollections of Old Texas Days. I've posted a passage before, but I thought this was a good chapter.  It's not long, but it give a snapshot of life during those times. If you read the chapter to the end, you'll see he mentions a musical instrument called a 'clevis.' I haven't found a good definition, but my best guess is that it was a forked/cleft object with a flexible leather strap or string strung between the two tines. The player would pluck it and, maybe, control the pitch by changing the tension on the strap or string. If I'm correct, it must have made a 'twanging' sound. (I guess you go with what you've got.) Click Smithwick's photo to read his memoir.

The second item is a chapter from the memoir of John Crittenden Duval, a survivor of the Goliad massacre. His escape is quite a fascinating tale (to me), but even more harrowing is the William Hunter's story, which Duval recounts. Hunter was shot, stabbed, his throat cut, and his face beaten badly with a musket, but he survived and fled eastward to safety. Even then, he would have been recaptured and killed if a sympathetic Hispanic woman hadn't helped him. The link below starts with his escape after the captives were massacred, but you can begin earlier in the book if you wish. (The link should show a complete copy.)
This last item is more relevant to Fort Bend County. About this time in 1836, Santa Anna's army was moving through our area. I've provided a link to Clarence Wharton's History of Fort Bend County, where he takes up the story and cites Juan Almante's journal. (Almante was a Colonel in the Mexican Army.)
Once again, the link accesses the whole book, but if you want to skip to Santa Anna's foray into central Fort Bend, go to page 72 in Chapter VII, entitled The Revolution. Click the image below to access the book.

Monday, March 27, 2017

News & Updates

Unfortunately, I have several deaths to report. The first is Symbol Ordeneaux, mother of Roddy (DHS '63), Greg (DHS '68), and Paula (DHS '72). Click here to view an obituary. Roddy predeceased his mother, but my condolences go to Mr. Elmo Ordeneaux, Greg, Paula, and the extended Ordeneaux family.

I do not know the Kocich family, but someone alerted me to Martha's death a couple of months ago. As you'll see from her obituary, the whole family has close ties to Sugar Land. Click here to read an obituary. My prayers and best wishes to the Kocich family.

Gayle Alaminsky Maresh

I didn't learn of Gayle Alaminsky Maresh's (DHS '71) death until weeks after it happened. I hope the extended Alaminsky-Maresh family is coping well with this loss. Click here to read an obituary.

LaWanna Pamplin Hemphil (from the '71 Viking yearbook)

More recently, LaWanna Pamplin Hemphill (DHS '73) passed away. Some of you may know here from her connection to Lakeview Elementary. She worked in the school office for many years. Others will remember the Pamplin family as long-time residents of The Hill. Click here to read an obituary. My prayers go out to the Hemphill-Pamplin family.

Bill Gremillion

Last, my classmate, Bill Gremillion (DHS '68) passed away a few days ago. My prayers and best wishes go to his extended family. I know they will have a memorial services at River Pointe Church on Friday, March 31 at 1 o'clock at the River Pointe Church. The address is 5000 Ransom Road, Richmond, 77469. Click here for an obituary. My sincerest condolences to the Gremillion family.

I have some good news to report, too. Fort Bend ISD recently named a new school after James Patterson. He and I go back far enough that I'll always think of him as 'Coach Patterson.' Congratulations, Coach. Click here for a look at the school's Web site, which shows photos of the school now being constructed.

The Fort Bend County Historical Commission will dedicate a state marker commemorating the Randon-Pennington League on Wednesday, March 29th at 10:00 am near Fulshear. See the notice below for details.

I have one more news item relating to Fulshear. The second annual Fulshear Farm & Vineyard Faire will happen on the afternoon of Sunday, April 30th. Beneficiary of this year's event are the Friends of the Fort Bend County Historical Commission. Join us if you can; it's a good cause. Click the image below for more details.

Jamie Farrell Wood (DHS '66) plus a few other people helped me with ids in the following photograph. That's not Carl Batten, but John Dullahan on the far left. She said the photo was taken at a Christmas or New Year's Eve Party at her parents' home (Verna & J. T.) on Oyster Creek Drive. Thanks to everyone for the help. 

Here is the caption I put on the photo originally: Jamie Farrell Wood posted this on Facebook last year.  I recognize most people in this photo, so I'll take a stab at identifying them starting on the left: Carl Batten, Joy Bartolo, Al Bartolo, & Tuggie Krehmeier. I'm not sure about the next couple - are they the Louvieres? Then there's Gloria Hall, Linda Appelt and Barbara Batten on the right. Kneeling are Bill Krehmeier, Ken Hall, and Bill Appelt.  Not sure when or where this was taken.

Pam Helmcamp Clark (DHS '60) told me the painting below by Blondie Moses hung in the Helmcamp deer cabin for years. I mistakenly guessed it may have hung in her father's office. Thanks, Pam.

Last but not lease, I want everyone to know I submitted 150 reels of 16mm film, 39 reels of Super 8mm film, 34 VHS cassettes, and 2 Umatic cassettes to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) last week. They held a Round Up event here in Fort Bend County, which I've mentioned in the past. All of these films were donated to the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation (SLHF).

TAMI will digitize them free of charge as long as they receive a copy for their collection of Texan moving images. It is a very good deal, and I can't wait to see the hidden treasures on  those spools of film. TAMI will need several months to complete the process, but once they do, we'll begin looking at what we've got.

Thank you to all the people who donated film to the SLHF. I will contact you to see if you want digitized copies of the film you donated.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

More People of Old Sugar Land

I don't have a precise date for the first photo, but it shows Sugar Land's first city council and mayor watching as Fire Chief Soapy Borowski gives Albert Grohman his Assistant Fire Chief's cap. This must have happened in early 1961. I think the location may be the old fire house between the Char House and Oyster Creek.

I found the first two photos on Facebook and wanted to post it. I recognize some, but not all of the people shown, who were receiving Junior Achievement awards. They are all members of the Class of '71 at Dulles High School, I think.

The next photo comes from Facebook, too.  It's a clipping from The Fort Bend Mirror, showing class favorites in the sophomore year (1969) of Class of '71.

I found the final item in an issue of the Mirror published in December 1959. It shows Miss Louise Short, who was featured in the faculty profile column of the Viking Shield page of the paper.

Carolyn Earnest Watson posted on Facebook the following photo of an early 6th St. gang. The poses are terrific.  

Here's what Carolyn said:

"This was in our back yard in Sugar Land. Red Binford, Archie Milam, and Charles Greggs are also in the picture, plus my brother Billy standing behind Charles."

BJ Binford Pitts is the damsel in distress with her hands up.

More Images of Old Sugar Land

I have posted the following image before, but I enjoy studying it because it shows the 'Flats' in 1955. This is the neighborhood where my family lived, and this is the way I Sugar Land appears in my earliest memories.

This next photo shows houses on the west side of Brooks St. just after completion in the early 1920s. If you compare it to the preceding photo, you'll see that trees and shrubbery between the sidewalk and the street have grown considerably in the intervening 30 years.

The next two photos show a cafe near the northern boundary of the refinery in the early 1960s. I've seen references that call it Mamie Bell's or Mattie Pipe's Restaurant. You can see the Melt House tower in the background. These photos were taken because the building would be razed for northward expansion of the refinery.

We have this photo of Mayfield Park from the 1920s. It shows the same general area where the restaurant was located. It could be either of the two buildings I have noted.

Imperial Crown, June 1985

A couple of months ago, I read a blog that referred to Sandy Kempner's death in Vietnam in 1966. (He was the son of Harris & Ruth Kempner and grandson of I. H. Kempner, Sr.) The blog included a link to his letters home, which were fascinating for a variety of reasons.

I remembered an article about Lt. Kempner in the June 1985 issue of The Imperial Crown and thought it was well worth posting here. 

Click the image below to view the Crown and article.

White House Renovations 1950/51

The 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, moved into the White House in 1945. To his surprise and dismay, the house had serious problems. Not only was it drafty and creaky, it was downright unsafe. Chandeliers in the house were observed swaying for no apparent reason, and floors moved underneath people’s feet when stepped on.

All of the above resulted in a structural investigation of the building, revealing haphazard retrofitting, fire hazards, and a second floor that was on the verge of collapsing. What's more is that the White House's foundations were sinking, walls were peeling away and disused water and gas pipes were weighing down the building and making it unsustainable. 
The situation was so bad that, in June 1948, one of the legs of First Daughter Margaret Truman’s piano fell right through a floorboard of her second-floor sitting room.  This event, along with others, made the Presidential family and its aides realize that serious measures were required to save the historic building.

In 1949, Congress approved a $5.4 million project to gut the building in its entirety, replacing its interior while retaining its historic facade. Architects, engineers, and workers toiled for the next 22 months, trying to figure out how to remove unstable structural elements while somehow ensuring the exterior of the building remained intact. 
All of the construction equipment used on the site had to be carried inside in pieces, then re-assembled before being used in order to prevent exterior damage. The first and second floors were replaced, while several expansions and basement levels were added, including a bomb shelter that was capable of withstanding a nuclear attack. 

President Truman and his family returned to reside in the White House in 1952, with a small ceremony marking the occasion. The First Family received a gold key to its newly-refurbished residence.

Click the image below to view the photo album. (All images are copy written by the Library.)
 1950 White House Renovation