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Saturday, October 15, 2016

News & Updates

As is too often the case, I have sad news to report. I want to thank Ike Hestrie for notifying me that Lee Foy passed away recently. Here is a link to his obituary. I know several members of the Foy family; in fact, Freddie was in my class at Dulles ('68). I'll try to determine how Lee was related to them.

Some of you may remember Robert 'Bo' Harrison who taught at Dulles in the late '60s. (He was Coach Dugan Hightower's nephew.) He too passed away recently.  Click here to view an obituary.

(from the 1968 Dulles Viking yearbook)

A few real old timers (like me) may remember Frank White, a founder of Parker Music Co. in Houston. He sometimes substituted for A. C. Hart, Sugar Land Junior High Band Director, and James Gary, Dulles High Band Director. He passed away recently. I didn't realize he was a Sugar Land resident for so many years. Click here to read an obituary.

Bettye Anhaiser noted the recent death of 93-year old Lillie Sontag, a 30-year resident of Sugar Land. I'm not certain how she's related to the Sontag's I know, but I presume she is related to them. Click here to read her obituary.

My sincerest condolences to the Foy, Harrison, White and Sontag families for the loss of their loved ones. God bless them all.

I want to highlight a Kempner High School student's project to honor my old school, now known as Lakeview Elementary. Vianca Jiminez (KHS '16) has created a garden to celebrate the campus's 100th anniversary in 2018, and as a result, she's won a Girl Scout Gold Award. Congratulations to her! Click here to read a Houston Chronicle article on her project.

I also want to mention a correction Charles Farrugia (Clements '90) sent me about the item I posted on his great uncle Alvin Kadlecek. I mistakenly said Gloria was his sister, but actually, she's his mother (formerly Gloria Solomon). I'm sure I know some of Charles's aunts and uncles, but I can't place his mother. Anyway, I want to thank them both for that information. It's a great story.


Finally, I have a few announcements. The first is an invitation to the next meeting of the Fort Bend Archeological Society. (Sorry to give such short notice.) It's on Tuesday, October 18th at 7:00 pm in the Gus George Academy in Richmond.) The guest speakers are Linda Gorski and Louis Aulback of the Houston Archeological Society. Their presentation is "Along the Aurelian Wall - Rome in Ruins - A Self-Guided Walk." If you are interested in archeology, let me know, and I'll give you details on their regular meetings.  

Click the image below to view the latest FBAS monthly newsletter.
Linda Gorski & Louis Aulbach.
Last but not least, the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation is having a speakeasy-themed fundraiser on Thursday, November 10th. Click the image below to get all the details. I'll have more on this in the future.
A scene from the 2015 SLHF Speakeasy Fundraiser.

More People of Old Sugar Land

Thank you, Kristin Lytle, for posting this photo on Facebook and alerting me that today is Frankie McFadden's 86th birthday.  Congratulations, Mr. McFadden (SLHS '48).

Way back in 1947.

Some of you may know I'm a graduate of Rice University. I enjoy reading a Rice history blog that comes out daily. I was surprised recently to see a Sugar Land Gator turn up in the blog. The person in question is fellow Rice alum, George Salmon (SLHS '52), who had a remarkable career on Rice's track teams of the mid 1950s. If you'll click on the image below, you'll view the article. Scroll down to the third photo, and you'll see George, other members of a relay team with Emmett Brunson, Rice's famed track coach. They are standing on the track at old Rice stadium.

I've found the following images Facebook and took the liberty of reposting them here.  Thanks to everyone who contributed them.

The first shows Pam Schmidt Moore (DHS '64) on the right with sister Sabrina Schmidt Rust (DHS '72) at the '64 Texas Prison Rodeo in Huntsville.

The following photos shows the wedding party at Janice Jenkins (DHS '68) and Dexter Girard's nuptials. I don't know the date,  location, or all the people in the photo, but I do recognize Janice's two daughters on the far left, I don't know who the young girl is, but that's Janice, Dexter, Robert Allen (DHS '68), then a man I don't recognize, and Gary Horstmann (Janice's brother-in-law) on the far right.
The next photos shows members of Dulles High's Class of '65 enjoying themselves recently. From left to right that's Sherry Howard Davis, Diane Broughton Lundell, Joan Davis Kendrick, and Pat Schiller Bono.

The final image shows members of Dulles High's Class of '66 at the 2008 Mega Reunion.  I'll let you guess who is who.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Texas History: Galveston & the Alamo

I received the following note from Wanda Skidmore Benge (DHS '69) after I posted the videos of the 1900 Galveston Storm.

Your story about the infamous Galveston Hurricane reminded me of Ron's (Wanda's husband's) grandfather. Thaddeus Parsons, was a General Contractor on Galveston Island.
Thad hauled granite from the Texas Hill Country to build the Galveston Seawall. He invented a dump trailer to haul and dump the granite much easier, and he received a patent for this trailer. 
So, when you see that pink granite in the Galveston Seawall, it came from the Texas Hill Country. Thad was originally from Center Point, TX, in the Hill Country.
Of course, I think, he was a very handsome man. (See the first photo below.) And, I married one of his handsome grandsons. He had 14 children and 39 grandchildren.
Thad Parsons, bought (the home shown in the second photo) in March 1928 and owned it until 1967. It was one of the few homes that survived in infamous 1900 Hurricane. It sits behind Sacred Heart Catholic Church and they think the church protected this particular home. Hence, the reason Thad purchased this home for his large family of 14 children.
This home was designed by the premier architect of Galveston Island, when it was constructed in 1876. Nicholas Clayton built this home originally for the Lemuel Burr Family.
The current owners, the Floyd Pollock Family have completely restored this home to its originally glory. It is a historical home and sometimes it is on the Galveston Home Tour.
Every Mother's Day weekend and the weekend before, approximately 10 homes are on the Tour. A VERY fun tour to go on with your Mother, friend, etc
This home is considered one of the most beautiful homes in the entire Southern USA. It is a quite lovely old home. The Pollocks have outdone themselves with the restoration to this home.
It is now 140 years old. Still standing and people still living in it on a daily basis. It has survived many hurricanes as Ron's grandfather had hoped.
Thad Parsons.

Former Parsons Home.
I read the following article about Adina de Zavala on the Texas General Land Office Web site. Her story is not well-know but should be. Click here to read the article

Researching Local History: The Fulshear Race Track

Where was Churchill Downs?
by Bruce Grethen, Fort Bend County Historical Commissioner

I am certainly not the first to be interested in this question. I ran across some clues through my work at the Fort Bend County Historical Commission and thanks to the help of local historians. I believe we are much closer to solving this puzzle.


In 1850 the Fulshear, Texas area was a small agricultural community centered around the Fulshears' cotton gin and flour mill. The Fulshear area was less populated than Pittsville located three miles to the northwest. In 1888 Churchill Fulshear, Jr. granted the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway a right-of-way through his land. Many families moved to the developing Fulshear community from Pittsville, which had refused the railroad, and in 1890 the town of Fulshear was laid out and granted a post office.

Churchill Downs

From 1850 to 1870, after his father and brothers had all died, Churchill Fulshear, Jr. operated a race course called Churchill Downs on the family plantation in Fort Bend County. It is believed that it was located on land that is now in the northern part of the City of Fulshear. His pupil, John Huggins, won world fame by training the first American horse to win the English Derby. Click here to read Bruce Grethen's entire article.

More Images of Very Old Sugar Land

The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation's photo archive contains an album of very old photos, which appear to date from 1908 to 1910. There are no annotations, but the first of these photos is very similar to one that appeared in The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer Gazette in February 1908. Click here to view the article.
East side of Imperial Refinery around 1908.

Approximate view of 1908 photo.

View of old Sealy Mattress Factory at Main & Hwy. 90A around 1915.

View of scene shown above as it appears today.

View of the Imperial Inn on the east bank of Oyster Creek at Hwy. 90A around 1908.

View of scene shown above as it appears today.

View of Salvage Building at Main St. and Hwy. 90A around 1908

View of scene shown above as it appears today.

Monday, September 19, 2016

News & Updates

Unfortunately, the first item is sad news that skipped my notice until Brenda Albers Miles notified me a couple of weeks ago. Duane Phillips (SLHS '52) and his wife Sarah died in a car accident in West Texas late last month.  Click here to read an obituary.  I didn't know him and was intrigued by their interesting experiences - for example sailing their boat from Chesapeake Bay to Corpus Christi after he retired from IBM.

Duane Phillips, 1952.

My high school classmate Marsha Krause Smith is a good friend of Duane's sister-in-law Margaret Dierks Phillips.  (She was married to Duane's older brother Rufus.)  Margaret told Marsha the story about Duane climbing the old water tower and painting "Srs. '52" on it.  It was there for years -- I clearly remember it. As Margaret said, everyone knew he was the culprit because he was the only kid crazy enough to do it.

Old timer B. I. Webb (SLHS '51) told me the story a few years ago. He corroborated what Margaret said, but added another detail. Duane told B. I. that he found dozens of duck bills scatter on the walkway around the tower. Hawks nested up there, and apparently, ducklings were their regular cuisine. If you've seen Randy Koslovsky's 2014 video of the water tower (taken with his drone), you'll see a hawk perched on the tower's railing.

I extend my sincerest condolences to the Phillips family, which includes Carole Phillips Bossley (SLHS '56) as well as Margaret.

David Wickersham (DHS '63) related another incident in which Sugar Landers serving in the military met by chance far away from home. When he was outbound to Vietnam back in the '60s he had a layover at a California airport. He walked into a snack bar and met Dulles classmate, Billy Ernest, who had just returned from Vietnam!

Tracey Matlage Calvert pointed out that her mother Virginia (Mrs. W. T. Matlage, Jr.) is the teacher on the far right of this photo.  I didn't realize she taught at one of the elementary schools for Hispanic children.

Grand Central School 1st grade, 1939/40.
And last but not least, I wanted to mention that all friends of DHS Class of '66 can buy tickets to their reunion set for October 22nd. (There are 20 or so tickets left.)  Click here to see an earlier post with all the details

While helping the Class of  '66 with their upcoming reunion, I found a few amusing items from the 2003 multi-class reunion.
A short video of Dulles Cheerleaders & Twirlers entertaining classmates & leading the Dulles Fight Song.

A few photos from the 2003 Dulles Multi-Class Reunion.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Captain Brooks

Several people remembered the Brooks home on Dam Road along the east bank of Brooks Lake. I posted a 1980 photo last time. (Of course, Dam Road is gone, and it's now Lake Pointe Parkway.)

Bettye Anhaiser met Marjery Brooks Ashford, younger daughter of Captain Brooks, many years ago. She interviewed Marjery and collected some of her photos. Her recollections of old Sugar Land are fascinating. I've posted a few of her photos, which you can see by clicking the image below.

Here is a brief summary of Captain Brooks's life.  You can also click this link to read a a newspaper article on one of two attempts on his life. (Apparently, the Brooks family lived in Victoria before moving to Sugar Land.)

Captain Brooks
Captain Brooks (in white shirt) showing potato crop in Sugar Land. Date is uncertain. Location is probably the rail loading dock behind the old Mercantile Store.

More People of Old Sugar Land

My brother Bruce and I had an opportunity to attend a Smith family reunion for the first time last weekend.  We had a great time and enjoyed a chance to meet some distant relatives.

The extended Smith family includes the Jenkins, Rozelle, and McCord families -- quite a few people in old Sugar Land. The matriarchs of those families (Minnie Jenkins, Monnye Rozelle, and Hattie McCord) were Smith sisters. They had more than one brother, but one (Walter) is where the Kelly family enters the picture. Our grandfather's sister Letha Mae Kelly married Walter. Mae and my grandfather (Charles or Chuck) were orphaned at a very young age and were estranged, so Bruce and I weren't really aware of our connection to the Smith family for many years.

Click on the image below to view a few photos from the reunion.  (Mae Kelly Smith was grandmother to the Stowells and Irvans, so that's why we're grouped together in one of the photos.) 

We're looking forward to the next one.
Betty Ann Williams, Claudia Rozelle Thornhill, & Ray Babineaux at the Smith family reunion on September 10, 2016.  (They are all DHS Class of '71.)

Alvin Kadlecek

I want to thank Gloria Farrugia and Brenda Albers Miles (DHS '66) for providing me the details for this item.

Fort Bend ISD has asked the public to propose names for four new schools now under construction. Click here for details on submitting names. (Note: submissions must be made by September 30th.)

I think the public has submitted H. L. 'Chuzzy' Jenkins and Jack Neal as possible names for a school and the agricultural barn. Anyway, Gloria submitted the name of her great uncle, Alvin Kadlecek (SLHS '40), and Brenda forwarded some of the supporting documentation, which I found remarkable.
Alvin Kadlecek is just beneath the class photo's label.
I believe it was Gloria's brother Charles who found official records on how their great uncle was killed in action during WWII.  I have never seen an official report like this and thought it should be passed along.

As you'll see, Alvin was the radio operator on a B-24 Liberator bomber sent on a raid from Torreto, Italy on April 2, 1944.  The target was Bihac, Yugoslavia.  His plane collided with another B-24 and broke in two.  He was not wearing a parachute when he was flung out of the forward half of the divided plane.  Apparently, his body was never recovered. Click here to read the official reportYou can read accounts from crewmen on other bombers, plus an account from the sole survivor of Alvin's plane (Antonio Lerma, flight engineer from Laredo, Texas).

Thompsons Depot

The Fort Bend County Historical Commission recently launched a major project to create a database of historic structures in the county. It will take considerable time and effort, but it will be well worth the effort.

The general idea is to collect detailed information on each structure, relating to its architecture, history, and physical condition. This info will be critical to preserving our county's historic legacy, but it will also become a public resource available to anyone interested in local history.

The Thompsons Railroad Station is a prime example of what's being done. If you click the image below, you'll see a photo and accompanying information on The Portal to Texas History.
Thompsons Railroad Station in Thompsons, Texas c. 1965. (Portal to Texas History)

Historical Commission member Bruce Grethen photographed the station recently in it's current location on FM 359 between Highway 90A and the 'curve' at Pecan Grove.

Old Thompsons Railroad Station in new location on FM 359.
Local railroad historian, Ken Stavinoha, has told me this station is the oldest surviving railroad structure in the county.  I believe it was constructed on its original location (Thompsons) in 1888. This old station is a good example of why it is important to curate information for future generations.
Another view c. 1965. (Portal to Texas History)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

News & Updates

Many of you have probably heard that Mary Norton Shelton (SLHS '39) passed away last week. Click here to view an obituary. I'll have more to say about Mrs. Shelton in future posts, but for now I want to tell Steve (DHS '63), Valerie (DHS '66), Nancy (DHS '69), and Lee (DHS '71) how sorry I am to hear of their mother's death. I know they'll miss her very much, as will many locals.

I want to thank Darlene Menges for identifying the man between Curtis Hall and Mac Parker in the photo below. He is her grandfather Alvin T. Landin, and the scene is the Lions Club anniversary celebration in 1956.

I have a few more updates, but will save them for the next round.

A Little More Dulles News

The organizing committee for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Class of '66 has extended the deadline for classmates who have not bought tickets.  You have until September 17th, when ticket sales are open to friends of the class who want to attend. (No tickets will be sold at the event.) Contact Scotty Hightower Bass for ticket info, or go to the Facebook group, 'JFD 50 Year Reunion.'

Once again, here are the relevant details:

Date:  Saturday, October 22, 2016 @ 6:00 pm
Location: The Redneck Country Club at 11110 West Airport Blvd. in Stafford
Price: $60 per person (cash bar & no tickets sold at the door)
Attire: Casual

Click on the image below to view an memorial album for deceased members of the Class of '66. Please comment on this blog, if you have further information on classmates who have passed away.  Thank you.
Josephine Cortez

The 1900 Storm

Tomorrow, September 8th, is the 116th anniversary of the Galveston hurricane disaster. My niece and nephew alerted me to two videos of contemporaneous film taken by the Thomas A. Edison Co. They are both rather short. Just click the images to access them.
           A panoramic shot not far from East Beach.

                 A 5-minute collection of various locations.     

Fort Bend County suffered considerable damage and loss of life after the storm swept inland. Newspaper accounts say the Cunningham Sugar Refinery was severely damaged, but I don't know off-hand if any lives were lost in Sugar Land.

Click this link to view an image of the El Paso Daily Herald published on September 10, 1900. The front page is devoted to news of the storm, but if you'll pan and scroll down to the bottom of the right-most column, you'll see brief reports from Sugar Land and neighboring localities.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Imperial Sugar Company Cookbooks

I was looking at videos on the Web site for the Texas Archive of the Moving Image, recently. Click here to access its main page. I watched the television ad for Imperial's My First Cookbook.  There's no hint of the date, but I think it may have run in 1963. (They ran multiple campaigns for MFC over the years.) Click the image below to view the 1-minute ad.

As you can see, Imperial's ad agency, TracyLocke of Dallas created the ad and managed the cookbook campaigns, which were a real winner for Imperial. (Richard Brown was Imperial's account exec.)

While reviewing the Heritage Foundation's photo archive, I found these which were taken in 1963. With some effort I could identify the women because I'm certain these photos appeared in The Imperial Crown. I included the second photo even though the quality isn't great because I liked their pose.  This photo was taken in the mail room in Imperial's General Office on the 2nd floor of the shopping center.

My First Cookbooks ready for mailing c. 1963.

My First Cookbooks ready for mailing c. 1963.

I have a lot of sympathy for those two women because I know exactly what they were doing.  I'm not certain of the exact dates, but my mother handled Imperial's cookbook requests from about 1958 to 1962. 

A few would dribble in during slack times, but when a campaign was running she'd be inundated with letters and postcards. During the peak period of a campaign, we could easily process the number of boxes you see in those photos in just one or two days. I don't know how long a campaign would run, but I'm guessing maybe three weeks to a month, and it would run in media all over Texas and neighboring states. Naturally, the flow of requests peaked a couple of weeks before the end, so it wasn't peak volume the whole time.  

Still, Mother got help, as you can see from these photos taken at our house on Oyster Creek Dr. in May of 1961. I can't identify the cookbooks in those photos, but I think it was the 'modern version' of Aunt Cora's Cookbook.

My brother Bruce & I in the den, sacking cookbooks (i.e. putting them in the addressed envelopes).  We didn't have to seal the envelopes; just fold the flap so they wouldn't fall out.

Me with our dog Herman.

My grandmother, my great aunt, my father, and my mother at the kitchen table addressing envelopes for the cookbooks.

Those were good times. 

Excavating an 1850s Cistern

For the past several months, members of the Fort Bend County Historical Commission have excavated the cistern on Mirabeau Lamar's home site in south Richmond. I made a very, very rough 9-minute video of the project just as we started. 

We've now dug a 4-ft. test hole in the silt at the bottom, and we're just about finished. I'll post more video and a summary of the results in the future.  But for now, here's a quick look at what the inside looks like.  Click the image to access the clip.