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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

News & Updates

I have had no time over the past few months to update this blog, therefore I have several items of sad news to report. I hope I haven't missed anything, but if I have, I'll catch up in future posts. 

I learned recently that Ellie Nichols passed away. Louise Gau and Charlie Nichols are her living children. Click here to see an obituary for Mrs. Nichols.

Mary Louise Johnston, mother of Marilyn Bates Moore, Terry Bates, and Debbie Johnston passed away in October. (I didn't hear about her death until a few weeks ago.) She was a long-time employee at Imperial Sugar Company. Her husband Reagan worked at Nalco for many years. Here is an obituary for Mrs. Johnston.

I also learned that Jane Broughton Schiller (MCHS '56) passed away in December. Diane Broughton Lundell, Joan Broughton Vaccaro, and Bill Broughton are her siblings. Here is an obituary for Jane. (If you view the full version, note the accompanying photo gallery.)

My classmate and friend, James 'Happy' Barker (DHS '68) died in December. Here is an obituary for him. (If you view the full version, note the accompanying photo gallery.)

Ronnie 'Rusty' Moffett (DHS '62) passed away late last year. (Note there will be a memorial services on February 3rd.) I don't have an online obituary, but Rusty's classmate, John Martin, sent me this information:

Ronnie "Rusty" Moffett lost his two  year battle with brain cancer on December 4, 2017. He was a long time resident of Alvin and Sargent. He was born on September 20, 1943 in Jennings, Louisiana to Joe and D'eva Moffett. His family moved back to Texas when he was an infant.

Rusty was married to Catherine Shinsky Moffett for 42 years. His blended family consisted of Sunday Moffett Doebbler and husband Tom, Craig Warley and wife Trish, Carol Warley Ray and husband John. Grandchildren Trey Doebbler, Summer Doebbler, Marissa Warley Cardin and husband Louis, and Nicholas Warley, Janie and Jackson Ray. Great-grandchildren Cadence and Kenneth Cardin.

Rusty graduated from Dulles High School and attended Wharton Junior College. He worked for over thirty years at Tuboscope  and retired in 2009.  He then worked part time at Tractor Supply and O'Reillys in Alvin. He loved to fish, collect antiques, and working on his historic home.

Join family and friends in a celebration of Rusty's life February 3, 2018 at Elks Lodge, W. Airport , Stafford, Texas, 77477 from 1-4 PM. Please bring your favorite dish for a pot luck meal.

Mary Morales Camacho, aged 95, passed away on Thanksgiving Day. She was a real old-time Sugar Lander. I haven't found an obituary for Mrs. Camacho, but click here to read an oral interview she did with the Fort Bend County Historical Commission.

Another long-time Sugar Land resident, Darrell Pamplin, died on November 29th. Mr. Pamplin was an old Sugar Land enthusiast and long-time resident of The Hill. Click here to view his obituary.

Louis Mutina (DHS '67) died very suddenly on January 20th. Click here to view an obituary for him.

Charles 'Pete' Coburn passed away just a few days ago.

Pete Coburn

I received this obituary from Pete's daughter:

Charles A. “Pete” Coburn, age 84, of Alvin, Texas passed away Wednesday, January 24, 2018. Pete was born on February 12, 1933 in Sugarland, Texas. He worked in the Fire Protection and Safety Industry for his entire career, also serving in the United States Army during the Korean War. Pete was a member of the National Fire Protection Association, the American Society of Engineers, and served as a training specialist for Texas A&M. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Alvin. Pete retired from both Monsanto Chemical and Sterling Chemical. He was an avid gardener and deer hunter. Pete was preceded in death by his parents Charles Arthur Sr. and Mary, as well as 3 older siblings.
Pete is survived by Marilynn, his wife of 63 years, his daughter, Vivi Skeen and husband Jack, son Chad Coburn and wife Janet sister, Weesie Lubojasky, 5 grandchildren, Brooke, Nick, Kelsey, Keeley, and Korey, and his great grand-daughter, Sadie Lynn, as well as numerous other relatives and friends.
Visitation will be from 6:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. Monday, January 29, 2018 at Scott Funeral Home. Funeral services will be at 10:00 A.M. Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at Scott Funeral Home. Graveside services will be at 2:30 P.M. Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at Davis Greenlawn cemetery in Richmond, Texas.
Arrangements under the direction of the Scott Family, 1421 East Hwy 6, Alvin, Texas 77511. (281) 585-1000 www.scottfuneral home.net.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Alzheimer’s Association at 2242 W. Holcombe, Houston, T, 77030-2008 www.alz.org.

My sincerest condolences to all these families who have lost love ones.

I have some happy news to report, too.  T. V. Abercrombie, Jr. (DHS '64) and Robbie Womack (DHS '67) celebrated 50 years of matrimony with a cruise to Alaska. They have 4 children and 5 grandchildren. They are enjoying life in Navasota. Congratulations -- they seem much too young to be married for 50 years.

A final item, which I really enjoyed. I got a note from Art Montemayor, who must have stumbled across this post while surfing the Internet, because he sent me this message:
Being a BOI raised in Galveston, I enjoyed reading your comments on Manuel’s Cafe because it brought back sweet memories. I worked for Manuel and his brother at the cafe on 61st and Seawall boulevard during summer month’s in the 1950s when I was in High School. Manuel trained and had me clean the large, hand-selected, fresh flounders he received almost daily and taught me how to make a surgical cut down the top of the fish and extract all the back bone and ribs in one quick and efficient procedure. The result would be passed on to Manuel’s assistant who would inspect the fish and pass it on to Manuel who would prepare it and stuff it with his secret, delicious stuffing. The finished, spicy, deliciously cooked product was out of this world. I have looked and tasted so-called stuffed flounder in almost every seafood restaurant in the Houston and Galveston area and have never again tasted a stuffed flounder that could come close to what Manuel produced.

After graduating from Texas A&M in 1960, I went overseas and worked in a lot of countries, coming back in mid-1970s to discover that Manuel had sold the restaurant. Whatever happened to his secret recipe is something I would dearly love to find out about. I remember Manuel’s menu well. I identify it as the one we worked with in the summer of 1954. Yes, a large stuffed flounder the size of a large frying pan cost $1.75! Incredible ... I dearly hope Manuel didn’t take his recipe with him to the big kitchen in the sky.
This near-random connection with the past made my day.  Thanks for responding, Art.

The Sugar Land Heritage Museum & Visitor Center Is Now Open

It's taken considerable time and effort over the past few months, but Sugar Land's Heritage Museum & Visitor Center was officially opened last Saturday, January 27, 2018.  There will be more about our new facility in the future, but for now here are the relevant details:

Location: It's on the 2nd floor of the old Container Warehouse in Imperial Market, the old Imperial refinery site. (The street address is 198 Kempner St.) The building is behind the tall, cream-colored silos. The Children's Discovery Center is on the 1st floor.
Hours: Monday from noon to 5:00 and Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 to 6:00. Closed Sundays.
 Admission: Free.

Here are a few videos of the opening:
Link to promotional video for the opening
Link to short video of the visitor center & front gallery in the museum.

Lakeview Elementary School Will Celebrate Its 100th Anniversary in March


This is a save-the-date message announcing Lakeview Elementary School's celebration of its 100th anniversary on Saturday, March 24, 2018. More about this as we get nearer the date.

More People of Old Sugar Land

More People of Old Sugar Land. Click the image to view the album.
Gilbert Uresti (DHS '62)

Video of Snow Storm on February 12, 1960

We had a surprise snow fall here in Sugar Land on December 8, 2017. Donna Christopher Baker (DHS '63) sent me this link to KTRK archival footage of the snow fall we had on Friday, February 12, 1960. I remember it well. I have posted items about this snow fall, and others, in earlier blog entries.

I'm happy to report that we've recently received digitized home movies of Sugar Land after the 1949 snow storm. We've also received digitized movies of the 1951 ice storm. Once we have edited these clips, I'll post them on the blog. They offer superb scenes of the town nearly 70 years ago.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Harvey News & Updates

I haven't left the house since Saturday, and even then it was a half-mile trip to the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation to make certain everything was okay. 

My best guess is that old Sugar Land is almost back to normal. 

Emergency Contact Info

Here is some useful information from Mary Lee Sebesta and Wanda Benge. (Thanks!) 

Thank you Kathy Stewart Ezell who works for FEMA for all this valuable information!!

Homeowners.... You must go through your insurance company first.....FEMA comes in behind your insurance for further possible assistance... You must register 1800-621-3362.

If you lost income because you can't go to work... Call FEMA 1800-621-3362 and register for disaster

If your vehicle flooded out in the storm.... You'll need to have liability coverage on your vehicle at the time of the disaster, your title & registration for FEMA (1800-621-3362)to pay. 

If you have full coverage you must file with your insurance company first.

If you're under mandatory evacuation... Call FEMA and register... You will get up to 2 months of rental assistance at the fair market value of your area.

If you have bills you are behind in or if you have some coming due you can call them EVERY COMPANY is pushing back due dates & some are even credited full months of service if youre in Houston or surrounding areas. My friend just got 3 months no car note w/toyota due to weather & another friend who has chevy got car note credited for 2 months! Call your light companies , phone companies ,cable companies whoever and get the extra months to give yourself time to come back from this disaster!! If you don't need this info then disregard but share. Never know who this can help.. All you have to tell them is you are located in Houston or surrounding counties and was affected by the hurricane... A lot of them are already aware of whats going on here and have policies in effect to help us.
There is a free app to help neighborhoods coordinate their recovery. It's called Next Door. Click here to find it on iTunes. Click here to find it at Google Play.

Sugar Land

Here is a link to the City of Sugar Land's page on storm info. Click this link to access the page

Here is a short clip of drone video Tommy Laird sent me. (Thanks, Tommy.) It shows Sugar Mill on August 27th, which now seems like a long time ago. I was a little confused when I first saw this, but I can tell it was shot on the western side of Sugar Mill. At one point you can see the pool near Burney and Ragus Lake Dr. 

Click this link to view the video. The map below will help you identify the area.

Fort Bend County & Brazos River

The major issue now is the Brazos River.  Here's a link to a the National Weather Service station at Richmond, which reports on the river's height. Click here to view the link.  As you can see the river should crest tomorrow.

Here is a link to drone footage shot by the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management.  Unfortunately, a lot of it looks exactly like last year's flood.  Click here to view the list of videos.

Fire Ants

And last but not least, an interesting video on Fire Ants. Click here to view the short video.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

News & Updates

I have one item of regrettable news to pass along. Judy Bunting Goodson (DHS '77) passed away on August 3rd. She was the younger sister of Nan Bunting Middlebrooks (DHS '63), Mike Bunting (DHS '66), and Richard Bunting (DHS '67). I never knew Judy, but offer my sincere condolences to her family. Click here to view an obituary.

Morales Family Donations to SLHF

In 2014, the Morales family, long-time residents of Sugar Land, donated two historic jerseys to the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation. A ceremony highlighting the donation occurred at a Turn Back The Clock Night at Constellation Field before the start of a Skeeters game.

The jerseys were worn by George Morales, Sr. who played for the Imperials, a Hispanic team sponsored by the Imperial Sugar Company for many years. These jerseys date to the mid-1950s. You can see examples in the two photos below.

Sugar Land Imperials, mid-1950s.

 Manager Joaquin Mora wearing the same uniform.

In early August, the Morales family made another visit to the SLHF to donate a jersey from another team sponsored by Imperial. This one is an Imperial Pirates jersey. Here's an old team photo from the 1970s, showing the jersey.

Imperial Pirates in the 1970s.
The next photos show the Morales family displaying the Imperials and Pirates jerseys during their recent visit. The SLHF is very pleased to have these jerseys, which commemorate the tradition of Hispanic baseball in old Sugar Land.
Joe Morales with Imperials jersey and George Morales, Jr. with Pirates jersey.

The Morales family, long-time Sugar Landers and generous donors to the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation.

The visit included a surprise. Notice the black-and-white photo of the young boys in the background.  Here's a clearer view of it.

Four young SL baseball fans in the mid-1950s. Clockwise from lower left: George Morales, Jr., Julian Astorga, Fred Mora, and Mike Mora.
George Morales, Jr. saw it as we gathered in the museum and said, "That's me!"

George Morales, Jr. then and now.
The old photo was part of Sugar Land's 2016 FotoFest exhibit. When we put it together, we liked the photo and decided to use it, but had no idea who the boys were. There was no annotation on the back to give us a clue.

George said, "I heard all over town that people had seen my picture, but I never saw it. I'm glad to see it now!" 

The photo was taken for an article that appeared in The Imperial Crown, the monthly bulletin for employees, but it wasn't used. George supplied the identities for us. He's kneeling on the left. Behind him is Julian Astorga. Standing on the right is Fred Mora. Kneeling on the right is Mike Mora.

One last item to mention. We learned recently of an Arcadia book on Hispanic baseball.  It's Mexican American Baseball in Houston and Southeast Texas. There's a chapter devoted to Sugar Land, which is very good. I enjoyed it.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

People of Old Sugar Land

Thank you, Mark Schumann, for posting on Facebook many of your family photos. They are terrific. I'd also like to thank Elaine Cantu Bauer for posting some of her family photos, which I've included here. Click the image below to see their photos.
St. Theresa Catholic Church in the February 1960 Snowfall.
The next items are clips from my family's home movies. The first is a repeat, showing the summer, or spring pre-school camp at Sugar Land High School in 1953. The location is the Lakeview campus, which is now Lakeview Elementary. We're under the trees just a few yards southeast of the gym. Lakeview Drive is behind the camera.

SL Pre-schoolers in 1953.
The next clip is also from 1953. It shows a Kelly-Salter family gathering at 214 Brooks St., which was my grandparents' home. 
C. E. Kelly, Sr. clowning in front of the movie camera in 1953.

Dulles High School

I've looked at several things related to Dulles High School recently.  The first was an eye-opener for me.  Of course, I knew the Dulles football team's MVP award is named after Johnnie Frankie, but I didn't really know his story. Click the image below to read an article, entitled "Toughness Tempered by a Warm Heart and Pervasive Good Will." It appeared in a blog devoted to Rice University history. 

I'm not sure if the Frankies lived in Stafford or Missouri City, but their son Tony is a DHS alum in the Class of '65. (I'm amazed at how much Tony looks like his father.)

Captain Rice Football Team, 1936.

The Class of '77 celebrated their 40th anniversary a few weeks ago. They posted photos on Facebook. I've reposted a small selection of them here. (Thanks T. Champion and K. Walling Burnham.) Click the image to view the album.
Class of '77 Reunion Photos.

Janice Jenkins Girard (Class of '68) did some serious house cleaning a few weeks ago and sent me some vintage items, including the pennant shown above.  Here is another blast from the past.
Calvin Lee, Coach Bill Martin, and Happy Barker in the '67/8 school year. (Calvin and Happy are member of the Class of '68.)

Sugar Land Photos, 2005

Barbara Wadzuk donated some of her photos to the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation a couple of months ago. (Thank you, Barbara.) Among them were photos she took while touring the town in 2005. I thought they were very appealing - the town seemed to sparkle that day. 

Click the image below to view a selection of Barbara's photos.

First St. looking east from Main St.

Photos from The Great Depression

A couple of people recently sent me a link to a Google album containing images of the US during The Great Depression. The album provided no captions, but I think WPA photographers captured the images. 

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was a depression-era agency whose purpose was to provide jobs for the unemployed. At its peak the WPA employed more than 3 million Americans. The agency's projects were widely varied. They included the arts as well as conventional commercial/business endeavors. The arts group produced murals, posters, plays, and photographs, among other products. A large number of the photographs are now recognized for their aesthetic, as well as historical value.

Click the image to view the photo album.
Migrant farming family.

Friday, August 4, 2017

News & Updates

Sugar Land Heritage Foundation

As I've mentioned in the past, the Sugar Land Heritage Museum and Visitor Center is under construction. I can't give you a firm date on the opening, but it should be around the first of next year. I'll report more when I hear it. For now, you can read a recent newsletter from the SLHF board by clicking on this link.

Fort Bend County Historical Commission

The Fort Bend County Historical Commission will have its 3rd quarter meeting on Tuesday, August 15th. It's free and open to the public. Our speaker will be a good one. He's Dan Worrall, local historian and author. He will talk about Pleasant Bend and The San Felipe Trail.  Here's a blurb on his presentation:

The story of Upper Buffalo Bayou and the San Felipe Trail as they existed west of Houston in the 19th Century will be the program topic for the Tuesday, Aug. 15 full membership meeting of the Fort Bend County Historical Commission.

The meeting, which is open to the public free of charge, is booked at the Gus George Law Enforcement Academy, 1521 Eugene Heimann Circle in Richmond, beginning at 3 p.m.

Presenter is historical preservationist Dr. Dan Worrall of Fulshear, an active member of the Harris County HC. Worrall, a retired exploration geologist, is currently searching out prospective historical marker sites in west Harris County. He was instrumental in rescuing the 19th-century Morse-Bragg Cemetery, near Post Oak Boulevard in Houston, from loss to development.

Worrall extensively researched what he called "nearly forgotten" rural areas where pioneers settled and lived a century and a half prior to the sprawling westward growth of Houston. In describing the content of his recently published book, "Pleasant Bend," Worrall wrote:

"One such area is that of Upper Buffalo Bayou, extending from downtown Houston to Katy. In this area, European settlement began at Piney Point in 1824, over a decade before Houston was founded. Ox wagons full of cotton traveled across a seemingly endless tallgrass prairie from the Brazos River east to Harrisburg along the San Felipe Trail, built in 1830.

"Also here, Texan families fled eastward during the Runaway Scrape of 1836, immigrant German settlers trekked westward to new farms along the north bank of the bayou in the 1840s, and newly freed African-American families walked east toward Houston from Brazos plantations after Emancipation."

Fort Bend CHC Chairman Chuck Kelly, who helped secure Worrall as program presenter, noted that while Pleasant Bend lay beyond the Fort Bend County line, "its history and that of our county are contemporaneous in time and contiguous in location, and our ancestors were doubtless familiar with the story we will hear from Dr. Worrall in August."

Sons of the Republic of Texas

The Lamar Chapter of the Sons of the Republic of Texas (SRT) has been inactive for several years, although it was the first chapter of the SRT. Fort Bend County resident F. M. O. Fenn was the driving force to start the organization. It's important that we make a determined effort to restart the chapter.

Tom Green of the SRT has told me he found a copy of a letter from John R. Fenn's son, Frances Marion Otis Fenn, a lawyer in Richmond, Texas, who started the SRT in his legal office there in Richmond on April 11, 1893.  As far as we know, F. M. O. Fenn became the first member of the SRT on April 21, 1893, and a copy of his membership certificate is in the San Jacinto Monument archives.

There are no annual fees. The organization's mission is to promote local history, particularly in schools and educational organizations. The only qualification for joining is documented evidence of an ancestor living in the Republic of Texas (1836 - 1845).

Members of neighboring chapters have graciously volunteered to help this effort. If you want to become a member of the Lamar Chapter of the SRT, respond to this this message. An SRT member will contact you.

If you want to join the local chapter of Daughters of the Republic of Texas, please respond to this message, and we'll put you in touch with the chapter in Richmond. They are a very active group.

Old Timer News

I'm very thankful I have no deaths to report, but I do want to mention Steve Shelton. Some of you know he suffered a stroke a few months back.  He's at home in Hillje. I saw his sister Nancy and brother Lee a few days ago, and they said Rose (Steve's wife) and Steve would appreciate your prayers and good wishes. I'm not certain Steve is ready for visitors just yet, but I'll report on his progress when I hear it.

DHS Class of 1977 Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Dulles High School's Class of 1977 is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its graduation from that august institution with a reunion at the Redneck Country Club.  I'm very late with this, but the reunion is tomorrow evening, Saturday, August 5th.  I hope they provide post-reunion photos. Click the image below to view an album of images they've collected. (Thanks to all who have posted them on Facebook.)

DHS Class of '77 mementos & photos.

 An undated photo of The Viking Den posted by the Class of '77. (Thanks for the memory.)

I thought this last item was a hoot. Mark Schumann posted it on Facebook.  It's a Dulles directory from 1976. I don't think we had anything like this in my era. Click the image to view selected pages.

More People of Old Sugar Land

I've stretched the topic a little, but for good reasons. Click the image below to view the photo album. Be sure to turn on the captions option.

The Schumann kitchen on 6th St. back in the early 1970s.
I've posted items on the aircraft observation group in Sugar Land during WWII. Jackie James has kept her mother's certificate of appreciation for serving in the group. You can see it below.

I've talked to my mother about this. They had a similar group out at the Humble Camp. She said kids were allowed in the group, and when they were on watch they reported almost everything that flew in the air. She said the operator at the other end was always respectful and polite. He or she never told them to cut out the useless chatter. Who knows if they ever wrote down what  children called in, but they made them feel they were part of the war effort.

Certificate awarded to Miriam James for service in Sugar Land's aircraft observation group during WWII.
The final item was a surprise. I never knew former council woman, Cyril Hosley's family was connected to the Hoggs and Bayou Bend. Fascinating. Click the image below to read an article on her grandmother's employment with Ima Hogg at Bayou Bend.

Cyril Hosley on the right with her sister Carol and grandmother, Velma Arisman Beasley at Bayou Bend in 1949.

Brazos River & Fort Bend County History

About a month ago, I talked with John Rich, a member of the Harris County Archeological Society about water management on the lower Brazos River. We were looking through an Arcadia book Sharon Wallingford brought to my attention: Lower Brazos River Canals by Lora-Marie Bernard. 

John told me about a series of locks and dams on the river near Navasota. I had no idea there were ever any locks on the Brazos, but John said he discovered them on a canoeing trip he took in 2011 and documented in this article, which includes photos. Great stuff. Click here to read about John's trip.

A colleague on the Fort Bend County Historical Commission, Chris Godbold, writes a regular column on local history for Fort Bend Life Styles and Homes.  Here is a sampling.

Click here to view an article on Fort Bend County during WWI. (We are now in the 100th anniversary of The Great War.)

One final item: my brother found these photos of the Fort Bend County Courthouse by noted photographer Yarnell Richtie. (I wonder who those kids are.)

Fort Bend County Courthouse in 1948 by Yarnell Ritchie. (DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University)

Fort Bend County Courthouse in 1948 by Yarnell Ritchie. (DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Old Imperial Brochures

While researching items for a future exhibit, I found several brochures Imperial Sugar published for different audiences through its corporate history. They span several decades and reflect changes in the company and, implicitly, in the town. I'll post a couple of early ones now and several more in the future.

The first is a short pamphlet on how sugar is made. M. R. Wood was a real renaissance man and eminently qualified to talk authoritatively about sugar technology. (Wood was the chief engineer and chemist at Imperial in its very early days.) Click the image below to view the brochure.
Cover of M. R. Wood brochure on Sugar Refining, c. 1920
The next brochure was printed in 1925. Note that the author is C. B. Gillespie, who was managing editor of The Houston Chronicle at the time. (My brother found this interesting tidbit about him, which says he was a newspaperman, who worked for W. T. Eldridge in Sugar Land for a few years before returning to the newspaper business and becoming a senior figure at The Houston Chronicle. I guess he did some free-lance work for his old employer and friend.)

Take a quick look at the images because they give an distinct impression of Sugar Land in the mid 1920s, but the business reason behind the brochure is interesting, too. 

The biggest sugar refiner in the US in those days was American Sugar Company, which produced Domino Sugar. The New York-based behemoth was trying to poach Imperial's market in Texas.  Eldridge was defending his company's territory from what appear to be under-handed practices.  American was selling inferior sugar as 'pure cane' sugar -- at a much lower price than Imperial. They seemed intent on driving Imperial out of business - or that's what Eldridge thought. 

Imperial (Eldridge) filed an anti-trust suit against American Sugar and won after a court battle that lasted several years. Eldridge was a real bull dog.

C. B. Gillespie's brochure on Texas Pure Cane Sugar, 1925

Thursday, June 22, 2017

More Images of Old Sugar Land

Click the image below to view a photo album of images of old Sugar Land.
Mr. & Mrs. Pilz with Kate & Joe.