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Monday, August 30, 2010

Margaret Albritton Hill

Most of you know Margaret Albritton Hill, long-time resident of Sugar Land, died a few weeks ago. About 10 years ago I talked with Margaret about old Sugar Land and really enjoyed our chats. (She still lived in Sugar Land at that time.) I wish we could have talked more. (My brother traveled to Seattle to do a formal interview for The Sugar Land Historical Society. I'm sure he heard some good tales about Sugar Land history.)

Here is an abbreviated transcript of one of my conversations with her.

I should add that Margaret's sister Thelma participated in this interview. They refer to their mother, Annie Albritton, who for many years ran the tea shop & boarding house in the old Eldridge home in front of the Char House.

Transcript of Interview

Sugar Land Scouts, '50s & '60s

Many thanks to Mary Norton Shelton and her daughter, Nancy Shelton Pruitt, for giving me this clip from their home movies. It shows Steve Shelton (DHS '63) as a Cub Scout in the mid-1950s. You'll also see sisters, Valerie & Nancy, helping Steve with his Cub Scout duties.

The clip also shows Sugar Land's Boy Scout troop sometime in the mid-1960s. They bicycle to the intersection of Oyster Creek Drive & Highway 90A to pick up litter. I think I recognize a few of the scouts & scout masters, but I'd appreciate any help in identifying them.

Play Video

Video Album for Dulles Class of 1960

B.J. Binford Pitts (DHS '61) made the following video album for Dulles High School's 1960 senior class. You'll notice photos from their 50-Year Reunion. They were kind enough to invite me. I had a great time and heard some good stories, but I promised not to tell.

Video Album for Dulles High School Class of 1960

Walton E. White, Superintendent Sugar Land ISD

I've been doing some research on Sugar Land High School football in the 1950s, and I've learned quite a lot about W.E. White, Superintended of SLISD back then. He was a take-charge type of guy, so he stepped on people's toes fairly often. Nonetheless, he had a beneficial influence on SLISD.

As you'll see, the Earnests came to Sugar Land because of their association with Mr. White back in Pearsall.


(grave site in Cleveland, Texas)

Mr. Walton E. White

Superintendent, Sugar Land I.S. D.
(1950 - 1956)
Collective memories from the four (4) Earnest kids
Jo Grace (Jo), Judy, Billy, & Carolyn

Walton E. White loved sports, having an innate knowledge of all different sports. He was a wonderful football coach and was instrumental in the success of the Sugar Land Gator football team. He had an ability to watch a game, size up the problems, and know what to do. He also recognized talent and was able to nurture it.

Mr. White encouraged Kenneth Hall, who played in the band, to try out for football. Kenneth would play ball; at half-time he would perform with the band, then finish playing the 2nd half.

Mr. White was raised, we think, in East Texas. After high school he entered the Navy during World War II and was assigned to a battleship. By the time he left the service his dark hair had turned snow white. It made him appear older than he was.

In the late 40’s, Edward and Mildred Earnest worked at Caterina I.S.D. (Dimmet County), which had a small student enrollment. There were only three employees in the high school. Mr. Earnest was superintendent, principal, teacher, coach, janitor, football, basketball and track coach. Mrs. Earnest, in addition to teaching, was the girl’s coach. Miss Pierce, a teacher who lived at Pierce Ranch near the edge of town, was the school's third employee. All eleven boys, who comprised the entire high school, were on the football team. In 1948 Caterina High won the 6-Man District Championship. Mr. White must have worked in an adjoining school district because he met Mr. Earnest at a tract meet where their team’s competed against each other. Both men loved sports and became good and fast friends.

Later, Mr. White became superintendent of Pearsall I.S.D (Frio County) and Mr. Earnest joined him as principal. They made a great team. Even though they lived on different streets, their houses backed up to each other’s back door. Mr. Earnest and Blondie, the owner of the local theater, would referee the football and basketball games. Once the entire town watched the Harlem Globetrotters play the Pearsall basketball team.

Around 1950 Mr. White accepted the position as superintendent of Sugar Land I.S.D. In 1952 the position of high school principal became available. He called Mr. Earnest, who made the long trip, much to the surprise of his wife. One of the incentives was the salary: $500.00 a month, which was the most money he had made in his life. After the Earnest family moved into their company home on 6th street, Mr. White encouraged Mrs. Earnest to accept a teaching position which was vacant. She had four children, ages 11 – 4, and she wanted time off. Mr. White persuaded her to take the position, and she agreed “as a favor.” Once she started working, she never stopped until she retired.

The White’s lived in the first brick house next to the old hospital on 3rd street, now called Lakeview, across from the old Sugar Land gym. His wife, Clifford, was a 4th grade teacher. She and Mrs. Earnest became good friends. The White’s were never able to have children.

In the summer of 1956 the Board of Education was having a meeting in the library. Mr. White started feeling sick and just as he stood up, he passed out. Before he could hit the floor, Mr. Earnest caught him. He had a massive heart attack. Dr. DeBakey was a young cardiologist in Houston, just starting his practice. He operated on Mr. White, but the operation, unfortunately, was unsuccessful. Mr. Earnest took it very, very hard.

The Board of Education offered Mr. Earnest the position of superintendent, but he turned it down. He remembered Mr. Edward Mercer from his college days at San Marcos State Teacher’s College. Mr. Mercer accepted the position as superintendent.

Mrs. White began working at Deer Park I.S. D. She met a wealthy rancher, married and moved to northwest Texas. She later died in a nursing home.

1957-58 Sugar Land Girls Basketball Team

Louise (Short) Grace, girls basketball coach at SLHS, sent me a note recently asking if I had any pictures of the girls basketball team that went to the state tournament in 1958. The Binford sisters (Joyce & B.J.) have sent me some snapshots from that era - my thanks to them for providing these pictures. They show the team playing in a tournament in Eagle Lake. (Sugar Land is wearing white uniforms. We're not sure who the opponent is.)

Athletic success at Sugar Land High School wasn't confined to men's sports. SLHS's girls basketball teams of the late '50s were a raging success, going to the State Tournament in '58. Georgia Binford and Melva Kelton were All-State selections in 1958. Georgia Binford won the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Award as an outstanding female amateur athlete in 1958.

I'm sure I have more pictures. These were the easiest to find.

I recognize Joan Bourg, and I think that's Georgia Binford. (Joyce will have to forgive me, but she and Georgia looked so much alike back then that I can't always tell them apart. She and B.J. can help me here.) Oops, I almost forgot. That's Sue Loper wearing a scarf (on the right).

Dulles Band Concert, Spring of 1970

Monday, August 23, 2010

Chronicle Article on Sugar Land, March 29, 1950

The Houston Chronicle published a two-page spread on Sugar Land in its edition for March 29, 1950. I couldn't stitch it together, so you'll have to read each section separately. I've used some of these photos in earlier entries, but I thought you may enjoy seeing the complete article. (Once you've clicked on an image to select it, click a second time to magnify it further.)

Newspaper Photo of Winning Touchdown in Deer Park Game, 1951 Football Season

The following photo comes from The Houston Chronicle. It shows Kenneth Hall scoring the winning touchdown in the closing minute of the big game against Deer Park in the fall of 1951. This was a pivotal game because it established the Gators as a football power.

Although Deer Park was in Sugar Land's UIL district (22-B), it had surpassed Class B enrollment and was a recognized football power. The Gators were a definite underdog, but Deer Park departed Sugar Land with a 21-14 loss.

Sugar Land went on to win its first regional championship against another recognized power, A&M Consolidated. The '51 season was the beginning of the golden age of Gator football.

A Photo from the '52 State Track Meet

Here's a photo from the '52 State Track Meet. I'm not sure if everyone knows that Sugar Land was the Class B Champion at the '52 & '53 State Meets. (They would probably have won the '54 Meet if Kenneth Hall hadn't pulled a hamstring muscle.) Shown in this photo are (kneeling) Ernest Trevino, (standing from left to right) Kenneth Hall, Chuzzy Jenkins & George Salmon. They are standing on the field at Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.

KPRC Radio Transmission Station in Sugar Land

Some of you may know that KPRC placed its first radio transmission station (and tower) on the northeast corner of Highway 90A & Eldridge Boulevard. In fact, the old road that became Eldridge Boulevard was originally known as KPRC Road.

KPRC eventually moved their tower to another location in the 1930s. (I think they may have put a tower on top of The Rice Hotel.) The site of the station became the Weth home. I'm a little confused about this 'transition.' I don't know whether the Weths adapted the station into a home or tore down the original structure to build a new house. Maybe an old-timer will know.

(Update) I got the following note from Barbara Joyce Jones Klahn (SLHS '57) about the Weth house: "
I meant to e-mail you when you wondered if Mr. Weth tore down the old KPRC Radio Station or if he lived in it. He lived in the old original building. My husband worked for him in the Engineering Department of Imperial. We went to see him and Mrs. Weth often. Even swam in the swimming pool every summer. I was at the game when we lost Coach Clarkson. If I remember correctly, our class gave a large donation toward the electric score board. H. G. or Leon Anhaiser could properly tell you more on this."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

John Foster Dulles High School Alumni Web Site

A couple of people have asked me about deceased classmates recently. One instance was the death of Robert Cooke, an alum from the Class of '63. Virtually none of his classmates heard of his death until 2 years after it occurred. I thought I'd remind everyone there's a Web site for Dulles alumni to report this kind of information. Robert Brandon ('68) maintains it.
I've put it in the list of Other Interesting Web Sites in the left-hand column of this blog. Here's a link to the main page. Robert has individual pages for every class that's graduated from DHS. Click here for the list of classes. He also has pages devoted to alumni memories, tall tales, reunions, & recent news. Check it out.

Dulles Football Sweetheart, Fall of '61

The picture below shows the Dulles football sweetheart of the '61 football season, Sherry Blackburn ('62). Ray Miller ('62) is her escort. You see in the background Bill Broughton ('62) escorting Linda Fay Barnes ('62), I think.
My thanks to Donna Christopher Baker ('63) for this image.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dulles Homecoming Dance, Fall of 1962

Donna Christopher Baker (DHS '63) sent me this picture of the '62 homecoming dance. She said they had a 'prison band' (inmates at the farm west of Sugar Land) who received cigarettes as payment. It looks to me as if the Knights of Columbus Hall in Sugar Land (on the 2nd floor of the old Salvage Building) was the venue.
From left-to-right: Bill Broughton ('62), Donna Christopher ('63), Ray Miller ('62), Pat Schiller ('65), Norman Wood ('63), B.J. Binford ('61), C.T. Renfrow ('62), & Sherry Blackburn ('62).

(Update) I knew I'd heard someone else mention a prison band at a homecoming dance. Here's a comment Larry Gilbert ('61) made on the Dulles Alum Site. "Some may recall that I designed and coordinated the first Jr./Sr. prom at Dulles HS. Some may also remember the Prison Farm Band (Clemens Unit) my dad helped me round up to perform at "intermission." They sounded like 'The Coasters.' Guards brought them in a cattle truck, and I remember well that people weren't happy when they had to leave."

Viking Relay Princesses, 1963

Here is a photo of the Royalty at The Viking Relays in the spring of 1963. I'm guessing the princesses are standing in alphabetical order, so I'll list them that way. From left-to-right: Vera Villareal, Peggy Thompson, Helen Sevier, Carrie Shuman, Pat Schiller, Patsy Santarelli, Carolyn Renfrow, Patsy Kellar Marceline Miles, Beth Clute, Donna Christopher, Mary Brodecky, Sharon Briney, & Lucy Agnello.
Thanks to Donna Christopher Baker (DHS '63) for giving me this scanned image.

Dulles Graduation Invitation, 1963

Thanks to Donna Christopher Baker (DHS '63) for giving me these scanned images.

Dulles High School Graduation Program, May 29, 1963

Thanks to Donna Christopher Baker (DHS '63) for giving me these scanned images.

Newsreel Footage of Japanese Surrender on September 2, 1945

I've seen shorter clips of the surrender ceremony, which aren't as complete as this one. I thought it was interesting.

Newsreel footage

Monday, August 9, 2010

Interior of The Mercantile Store during Christmas in the 1940s

I really like this picture. Jackie James & the Laperouse-Krehmeier Family have given me scans of it. It shows the front of the General Mercantile Store at Christmas time during WWII. It's jammed with people, so they must have had something to buy. The girl on the left side of the frame looking at the camera is Wynell Laperouse Wappler, I think. (I believe that's what her sister told me.)

View of Sugar Land's Commerical District, 1940s

This is a view of 'downtown' Sugar Land in the late '30s or early '40s. The camera is pointed westward from a floor of the Char House. The building at the bottom (with just its tin roof showing) are the Offices of Imperial Sugar & Sugarland Industries. Across the parking lot is the building which housed the drug store, barber shop & other establishments. Further west is the Mercantile Store (you see only its roof) and then the bakery & cafe. The next (large, white) building is the meat market & produce store. At the top in the far background is the cotton gin.

(I hope I've got this right. Any corrections/comments/amplifications are welcome. I was a very small baby when most of this was razed in the early 1950s. All I remember is the Farm & Home Center and The Red Barn Cafe.)

My thanks to Jackie James for this picture.

Sugar Land Creamery, Date Unknown

Sugar Land had it's own dairy and home-delivery service. You see the delivery wagon in front of the creamery building at the dairy.

Barnyard of Sugar Land Dairy

This is a photograph of the barnyard of the Sugar Land dairy, which was part of Sugarland Industries. The dairy complex was on the west side of town further down Ulrich Street from the cotton gin. Ron Miller (SLHS '51) has told me his grandfather Scarborough ran the dairy, so I think he may be the boy in the picture. Maybe he can verify that.

(Update) I got a note from Ron Miller confirming that he's the little guy in this picture. I thought it was him.

Sugar Land Dairy, Date Unknown

This is a photo of the Sugar Land dairy barn. I understand that the cows grazed on the north side of Oyster Creek opposite of what is now Mayfield Park. A wooden bridge allowed the cattle to amble back to the dairy barn for milking.

Humble Service Station, Late 1940s

I'm not exactly sure, but this may be a photo of opening day of the Humble Service station that sat on the southwest corner of Highway 90A & Brooks Street. This is the first station I remember on that corner. William 'Sweet Pea' Gandy managed it. Wayburn Hall succeeded him. Eventually, the station was remodeled and changed to the Enco & Exxon brand names. Wayburn eventually became the owner-proprietor, but prior to that date the station was part of Sugar Land Motor Company, managed by Gus Stabler.

Shown in the picture from left-to-right: Unknown, Tom James, Unknown, Gus Stabler(?), E.O. Guenther(?), Unknown. The unknown men wearing suits are probably representatives of Humble Oil Company.

My thanks to Jackie James for this picture.

I.H. Kempner, Jr., President of Imperial Sugar Company

Thanks to Jackie James for this is a picture of I.H. Kempner, Jr., Presidnet of Imperial Sugar Company. Kempner Field is named for him. He died in 1953, and William H. Louviere, Sr. succeeded him.

He had significant influence on Sugar Land. He proposed consolidating SLISD with Missouri City ISD in 1947, but few people were prepared to take that step at that time. When doctors diagnosed his terminal cancer, he spent his remaining months writing a detailed, expansive plan for Imperial Sugar, Sugarland Industries, and Sugar Land. He planned the conversion of Sugar Land from a company town to an incorporated municipality. He seems to have been a very farsighted & principled man.

Early Undated Picture of Cotton Gin

Thanks to Jackie James for providing this picture. It shows the Sugar Land cotton gin that sat on the west end of town on Ulrich Street across from the clinic. I don't see the clinic or Char House in the background, and judging by the wagons, I'd say this was taken well before 1925.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Digital Scrapbook for 50th Anniversary of DHS Class of '61

B.J. Binford Pitts put together this photo album in anticipation of her class's 50th Anniversary Reunion. Those of you on Facebook may have seen it. I thought others would like to see it. (I think she's making a similar scrapbook for the Class of '60 who celebrated their 50th anniversary last month.)

Digital Scrapbook for DHS Class of '61

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Picture of Gator Track Team After A Meet in the Spring of 1952

I've corresponded with the Texas Sports Hall of Fame about Gator memorabilia. They kindly lent me this photo, which probably came from the Chuzzy Jenkins family scrapbook which his daughters, Janice & Nancy, donated to the museum. I can identify several boys, but I could use some help.

(Update from B.I. Webb) The boy in the back with his hand raised is Leo Gomez, Class of '52. He was the team's high jumper and won several meets. Many thanks to B.I. for this info.

(Updates from Carlos Tarver & Judy Harrington Diamond) Carlos & Judy say the two boys I identified as Boyds are not them. They are not sure who they are. Carlos has told me Bo Vogelsang is the boy in the letterman's jacket third from the right. He also said John Boyd is standing behind Tommy Fatheree - you can see his nose and part of his face.

(I think Leo is holding up his high jump ribbon for the camera.)

Front kneeling from left: J.B. Kachinski, Ernest Trevino, Pete Coburn.
Standing from left: Kenneth Hall, Tommy Fatheree, unknown boy in back with hand raised, William 'Butch' Boyd (?), John Boyd (?), Mickey Kachinski, Carlos Tarver, George Salmon.

Shelton Home Movies of Sugar Land Gator Track Meets, Spring of 1954

Many thanks to Mary Shelton & her daughter Nancy for sharing these home movies with me. They are a transfer from a VCR, so they aren't as sharp as they could be. (Maybe we can get the original film digitized.) Anyway, I thought they were interesting enough to post to this blog. It is very hard to identify boys running in the races, so I've posted a newspaper article that details who was on the track team. I doubt these movies show the district meet, but I could be wrong. Maybe some of the participants or eye witnesses can give me relevant details.

Here's the newspaper article covering the 1954 district meet. (This clipping comes from Bennie Rychlik's scrap book.)

(Update) Jackie James has told me she and Jerry Nichols appear at the 2:00 and 2:12 marks. I thought that was her, but I didn't recognize Jerry.

Video of track meets.

Lamar Consolidated Football Team, 1951

The Texas Sports Hall of Fame lent me this picture. I think they got it from the Chuzzy Jenkins family. Anyway, I wanted to 'tip my cap' to a neighboring school on it's football prowess. I don't think I know any one of these men.

Sugar Land Church Picnic & Valerie's Birthday Party

Once again, thanks to Mary Shelton and her daughter Nancy for letting me use this video. The first half shows a combined Presbyterian & Methodist church picnic, some time in the mid-1950s. I think the location is the old First Methodist Church on the corner of 4th & Main Streets. Herbert took more home movies of this event, which I'll post later. You may have to play it a few times to pick out people because things go by pretty quick.

The last half shows a birthday party for Valerie Shelton in the mid-1950s. Sugar Land members of the '66 graduating class of Dulles High School should recognize themselves in the video. I can't be certain of the year, but the location is the Shelton home on Venice Street.

I just noticed that the old Sugar Land garbage truck appears in this video. (At about 27 seconds.) It's the orange truck in the background of a quick shot toward the street. I wish I could identify the garbage man. Does anyone else remember the story that Johnny Armstrong would ride on the garbage truck as it made the rounds on The Hill? His mother put a football helmet on him so he could ride on the back bumper with the crew. I guess if he fell off the helmet would protect him. Maybe this story is untrue. I can't remember who told it.

Video of Church Picnic & Valerie's Birthday Party

Seniors '67 Swim Party at The Laird Home during The Summer of Love!

Here's a video Tommy Laird has posted on YouTube. Members of the Class of '67 at DHS may find it interesting. Tommy posted this caption with it:

"I had a senior class swim party for the class of 1967. There are quite a few from our class here, as well as as a cameo appearance of Carolyn Renfro (with sunglasses and scarf). Have a better quality of video but it has other issues. A number of people in the video are no longer living."

Video of Swim Party

Christmas Party at The Laird Home in Early 1950s

Here's another short video Tommy Laird posted on YouTube. (Some of you may have already seen it.) Tommy posted this caption with it:

"This was my parent's Christmas Party in the house on Brooks Street at the same time of the firetruck ride probably. The Wheelers, Armstrongs, Krugers, Hills, and Louvieres are the Sugar Land crowd. Others are business friends from Dallas. Things were hoppin' that night as evidenced by big smiles and energetic singing!"

Video of Christmas Party