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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

News & Updates

I'll catch up on more updates in the next round.  For now, I'll mention the recent death of Evelyn Stock. Those of you who attended Sugar Land Elementary School may remember Mrs. Stock and her husband Willie. You could say they were fixtures at the old school. Click here to view her obituary

Thank you to Mark Schumann for notifying me, and all the best to the Stock family for the loss of their mother and grandmother.

Leon Anhaiser confirmed this is Hal Ruck in the Lions Club photo I posted last week. Thanks, Leon. Congratulations to the Lions Club for their years of service to Sugar Land.

Hal Rucker at the 1953 Lions Club Carnival.

Wayne Boehm Interview from 2011

Pat Pollicoff interviewed several old timers in June 2011 to talk about playing football with Ken Hall. Wayne Boehm was one among several men who talked as they stood on Kempner Field.  I thought Wayne's interview was very good.

Click on the image to view the 7-minute video.

More People of Old Sugar Land

SLHS Class of '56 as 3rd graders in 1947.

SL contingent of DHS Class of '66 as 1st graders in 1955.

DHS Class of '74 as freshmen in 1971.

More of the Sugar Land Lions Club

I've reposted more old items highlighting the Sugar Land Lions Club since they are celebrating their 75th anniversary this month.

The first photo is from a pancake supper held on March 29, 1956 at the Salvage Hall. My thanks to to Linda Hagler Mosk (DHS '68) whose father is in the group.

1956 Fundraiser
Here is a letter the club sent to graduating boys back in the 1940s.  In this case, the graduate was my father, Charles E. Kelly, Jr. Note the men listed in the letterhead.

I'm not certain of the date for this next photo, but it shows Bill Chadwick, Director of Laura Eldridge Hospital, Esther Kirkpatrick, and Leon Anhaiser.  The Lions Club had just donated money to buy wheelchairs for the hospital.  (The date must be 1966 or '67.)

I don't have a date for the next photo either, but it must come from the mid 1960s.  It shows James Kee presenting a Lions Club donation to the Freeman Post of the American Legion.  Sterling Thomas and Heywood Davis were then leaders of the post.

These clippings from the Fort Bend Mirror come from the June 28, 1968 issue.

The Lions hosted a Christmas party for children in Sugar Land's Head Start Program. This photo and article appeared in the January 1968 issue of The Imperial Crown.

We end with a photo from the April 30, 1975 issue of the Fort Bend Mirror.  It shows Leon Anhaiser and Fred Baker at the unveiling of a plaque at Fred Baker Little League Field.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Flooding & Water Control - Part 1

Most of you have probably seen newscasts covering the recent flooding.  I've collected a few photos for the blog.  

I will post an item about the history of water management and flood control in the next update. It's something we take for granted, but appreciate in times like these.  

Click on the images to view the albums of flood photos.
Aerials of 2016 Flood.

Images of Richmond during 2016 Flood.

Images of Morton Cemetery during 2016 Flood.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Sugar Land Lions Club

The Sugar Land Lions Club is celebrating its 75th anniversary on June 18th. Congratulations to them! I've posted items about the Lions Club in the past, but in honor of their anniversary, I'll repost some of them.

The first item is an article that appears on the City of Sugar Land Web page.  It gives you a quick history of the club.  Click here to view the article.

These photos show the club celebrating their 25th anniversary in 1956.  You see some of the charter members.

Founding members at 25th anniversary. (Curtis Hall, 2nd from left & Mac Parker, 2nd from right.)

Founding members at 25th anniversary. (Fred Baker giving award to Don Williams.)

Founding members at 25th anniversary. (L-to-R: Don Williams, Leslie Wheeler, Carlos Slaughter, Vern Blair (?), C. E. McFadden, & Tom James in back.)

Club meeting in Salvage Hall sometime in the early '60s.

Club meeting in Salvage Hall sometime in the early '60s.

The next series of photos show the 1953 Lions Club Carnival.

Fred Baker on the left.

Cliff Nygren (?)

Bingo (?)

Bingo (?)

Bingo (?)

Bingo (?)

Hal Rucker.

I'll repost a few more items next time.

A Profile of M. R. Wood

While researching Sugar Land's history of water management and flood control, my brother Bruce sent me some info on Milton. R. Wood.  I've posted items about Wood before, but as Bruce pointed out, he was quite a renaissance man.

Here is Bruce's extended comment:

Milton R. Wood

Somebody should write a book about him. He was not only a competent irrigation engineer but also a sugar chemist, architect, and educator. Notice the desk in the photo below: Jess Pirtle rescued it, left it to (his son) John, and now John’s son is supposed to have it.

A photo of M. R. Wood at his office desk in the mid 1920s.

In 1916, he went with W. T. Eldridge to visit the latest in school designs in California.  He came back and designed and built this school which opened in 1917-18. He also served as president of the school board until the early 1940s. For those who aren’t familiar with the school, it is a cottage-style school with 10 individual buildings, each serving as a classroom—kind of like a crescent of one-room schoolhouses tethered by a columned, covered, pergola. The larger building at the apex of the crescent was the auditorium. There was a movment at the time called the School Center Movement, where the school served as the social center of the community, too. He designed the auditorium to accommodate silent movies, traveling shows, and the roof was a tiled terrace where dances were held.

I have a theory why Wood created and Eldridge approved this design. Sugar Land had to overcome its image. Prior to Eldridge and Kempner taking over the refinery and town, the area was known as the hellhole of the Brazos. As we know, many company towns bad reputations then, exploiting families and using children as fodder for their factories. In the midst of this, they needed to attract a permanent workforce for their expanding enterprises. 

At the time, many schools were one monolithic structure looking not unlike a factory, where children went in one end and came out the other. They were often hot, unsafe, and poorly lit. This cottage-design was safer, cooler and unlikely to catch fire from the cement used in construction. If a fire did occur, it would more likely be contained to one building and not spreading through one large building that would take longer to evacuate and stood the chance of killing children from fire. You’ll also notice that this design allows for more windows per classroom, allowing for better natural light. 

The hospital is the building sitting on the street behind the school. Sugar Land was segregated; the large building on the left was for whites and the one right of it for blacks. The smaller, third structure to the right of the hospital was built to be the residence for teachers (a 'teacherage'), but the teachers felt they were too close to their work, so many opted to rent rooms from families.  It was later turned into a residence for the nurses working in the neighboring hospital.  At times it was rented out to families, too.  And M. R. Wood’s house is the one nearest the school on the left side of the picture. The Presbyterian Church is also in this photo.

More Miscellaneous Items

Some of you may have seen that the City of Sugar Land recently completed its purchase of Central Unit No. 1 of the old prison farm. Click here to view a newspaper article summarizing the sale.  (My thanks to Patsy Sims for sending the link to me.)

Those of you who watch Channel 8 (Houston PBS) may have seen The DayTripper, a Texas travel program from KLRU in Austin.  The host, Chet Garner, paid a visit to Richmond (before the floods) and recorded a 30-minute segment.  Click here to view the video - it's in the lower video box on the right side of the page.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

More News & Updates

I regret that I have more deaths to report. I want to thank Jon and BJ Pitts (DHS '61) and Jackie James (SLHS '57) from notifying me that Alfred Nulisch (DHS '61) died recently. Click here for an obituary. I didn't know Al was an avid fisherman.

As I checked for other obituaries recently, I noticed that Melvin Mayhood (DHS '64) had died.  His brother Wayne was one of my classmates at Dulles. Click here for an obituary.

I also learned that Flora Surguy, mother of my classmate, Diann Surguy Valenta, passed away recently. Click here for her obituary.

Finally and most recently, Wayne Boehm (SLHS '55) passed away earlier this week. His funeral is this Friday, June 10th, as you'll see in this obituary.  Wayne was an avid reader of this blog and gave me good information when I needed it.  We'll miss him.


My sincerest condolences go to the Nulisch, Mayhood, Surguy, and Boehm families for the loss of their loved ones.


The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation's historical scavenger hunt, which was postponed will happen this Sunday, June 12th.  Click here and scroll down for more details - but note the date change.

Last but not least, I want to post this save-the-date notice for my friends at the Old Foster Community Museum.  Their annual fundraiser is coming up in August.  Click here for more information.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

News & Updates

Unfortunately, I have several items of bad news to report.  I learned recently that Roy Lemke's (DHS '75 '74) mother Ida died recently. Click here to view Mrs. Lemke's obituary.  

I also learned from Claire Exley Osbourne (DHS '70) that her classmate and friend, Josie Gonzalez died, too.  Click here for Josie's obituary.  

Josie Gonzales, DHS '70

Mary Buehring, mother of Cindy, Brenda, and Walt passed away after a short illness.  Click here for an obituary.

The Buehring family about the time they moved to Sugar Land.

My sincerest condolences to the Lemkes, Gonzalezes, and Buehrings as they mourn the loss of their loved ones.

I want to thank Julius Baumann for bringing the next item to my attention.  The City of Sugar Land will have a Memorial Day celebration next Monday at Memorial Park off University Blvd.  The time is 10:00. Click here for more info on the City's Web site.

Julius also included an audio of a radio ad for the Steamboat Steak House, located near the Sam Houston Race Track off the Sam Houston Tollway. Owner Charlie Fogarty  is donating 40% of the restaurant's receipts on Memorial Day to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston.  If you're in the area, stop by and help a good cause.

Dulles High School's Class of 1970

Click the image below to see Dulles High School's Class of 1970 as they appeared in the Viking yearbook way back then.

More from the 1947 Gator Yearbook

I've posted a few more images from the 1947 Gator, Sugar Land ISD's student annual.  I received a note recently from John Rhodes, son of Jack Rhodes, who was head coach (all sports) in the 1946/47 school year.  John was very young when the Rhodes family lived in Sugar Land, and he has never seen these images, so I've posted those in which his father appears.  There are some interesting shots of class rooms, the cafeteria, and the grounds - well worth a look if you wonder what the Lakeview campus looked like 70 years ago.

Click the image to view the album.

More People of Old Sugar Land

I want to thank Billie & Buddy Blair for letting me scan these photos from their family archive.   Click on the image below to view the album. Notice the photos of the city park swimming pool on 7th Street. There was nothing out there in those days.

More Images of Old Sugar Land

While researching west Sugar Land, I reviewed 1941 aerial photos we have of that area. It has changed dramatically in recent decades, so I thought I'd show a transition from 1941 to the present day.

Click the image below to view the 30-second video.  (Click the full-screen option to get a better view.)
Here are stills of the 1941 aerial and the Google Earth view, if you want to study them.

I received a couple of questions about Sugar Land Schools, so I've posted the following series of photos to answer them.  The first is an aerial photo taken in 1940.  (Click on the image to magnify it.)  M. R. Wood School is just out of the frame, but the Hispanic school on Ulrich St. is visible, as is the campus on Lakeview Dr.


Here are two photos of the Auditorium.  I think the first one was taken soon after it was completed in 1918.  The second was taken around 1960, I think.

Early 1960s
The next image shows the home economics building, probably just after it was completed in 1932.  The build was still in use into the early 1960s.  Mrs. Robinson taught my 4th or 5th grade class choir in that building, but it didn't last much longer. Apparently it had severe structural problems and stood empty for a couple of years before it was razed.
Early 1930s

I've enlarged the 1940 aerial to show where it stood.  I've also provided a current Google Earth view to orient it to today's campus.

Magnification of 1940 aerial photo

Google Earth view today

Railroad Jack's Old Photos on Flickr

I want to thank Richard Bunting (DHS '67) for sending me a link to Railroad Jack's Flickr site.  I'm not a car buff, but his site has some spectacular images of autos from the '50s.

Click on the image of the 1955 Buick below to go to the site.

A 1955 Buick Riviera

Friday, May 6, 2016

News & Updates

Unfortunately, I have some sad news to pass along. Hugh Rouse, well-known proprietor of Sugar Land's drug store, died a few weeks ago.  He had very interesting stories to tell. I don't know how many people knew he was a Navy pilot in the Korean War. My sincerest condolences to his extended family. Here is an obituary.

I was unaware until very recently that Dorothy Vavrecka (Bartosh) Raska (SLHS '46) passed away last month.  My best to Theresa (DHS '68), Marion (DHS '69) and the other members of Mrs. Raska's family. Here is an obituary.

On Sunday afternoon, May 15th, the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation will have a Scavenger Hunt fundraiser.  Last year's event was a big success.  I was on Bill Little's team, and WE WON!  The photo below shows sponsors.  Click on the image to see details about joining the fun, or call the SLHF at 281-494-0261.

Historic Scavenger Hunt 2016
L to R:  Trever Nehls, Fort Bend Constable Pct. 4, Chris Anderson, Gen. Mgr. Sterling McCall, Dennis Parmer, Ex. Dir. SLHF, J. Michael Schaupp, Ex. Asst. Fort Bend Toyota, Marvin Marcell, Nat. Public Affairs Dir. for Group 1 Auto., and Troy Nehls, Fort Bend County Sheriff.

I received a note from Jim Poe, who identified his father, Lonnie Poe in the photo below.  His father died in 1978.  Thank you, Jim, for the identification.

People of Old Sugar Land

Thank you Tommy Laird for posting the following clipping from 1970 on Facebook.  

The next photo comes from John Pirtle, who was in the same class as my mother (SLHS '49).  I don't recognize him in this photo, but I see my mother, Marjorie Hauerland Polasek, Marilyn Bourg Cheaney, Betty Sue Douglas Lubajosky, and Harry McBride.  I think they are in the 2nd grade.  You can see the old classrooms in the background.

The next photo also comes from the Pirtle family and shows John's sister Betty Pirtle McClure near the goldfish pond in front of the Char House.  I don't know the date, but my guess is the late 1940s.

Once again we have a photo from the Pirtle family.  I assume this is a photo of Rennie Pirtle's (John's older brother) first grade class.  I can't identify anyone except Miss Lima Johnson, the teacher.  I especially liked the barefoot boys.  You have a closeup of their feet and clothes in the very last image. The girls look nice, but the boys seem a little dusty and ragged.

Jack Rhodes, SLHS Football Coach 1945/46

I received a kind letter from John Rhodes, whose father was head coach of the Sugar Land Gator football team in the 1945/46 school year.  I'll have more to say about Coach Rhodes and his son in later postings, but I thought I'd post a few excerpts from the April and May 1946 issues of The Alligator Splash, the school's monthly newspaper.  

The first clipping deals with the administration's consideration of organizing a student council.  The April issue included student opinions, and this one was from Blanche Cruse.  (Linda Cruse Wilson asked me recently about her older sister who was a student at Sugar Land High, and I coincidentally came across this clipping.)
The next item concerned prospect form next fall's football season.  I knew the '45 team was good, but I didn't know they finished second in the district race.  I'll have to check to see which school came out on top. (Maybe Boling or Richmond.)  
As some of you read in a post above, Dorothy Vavrecka Raska (SLHS '46) died recently.  The May issue of the Splash had short profiles of graduating seniors.  Here is Dorothy's, which included a funny story.
This final clipping was also in the May issue and comes from Coach Rhodes.  It's his parting congratulations to graduating seniors.

"As each year goes passing by ..."

My thanks go to Tommy Laird (DHS '67) for posting this relic on Facebook recently. Who knew there were so many smarties in school back then?

To honor the 50th anniversary of Dulles High's Class of '66 I thought I'd post this selection of photos from the 1966 Viking yearbook.