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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Char House Construction Photos, 1925

I worked with a team of Sugar Land Historical Society volunteers this past weekend at the Imperial Refinery site. Johnson Developers were kind enough to let us look through the rubble for 'souvenirs.' We got to look in the Char House, which reminded me of these pictures which Mark Schumann had posted on Facebook. He kindly let me download & post them here.

I don't know much about the Char House construction project in 1925. Mr. A. H. Weth was chief engineer at Imperial. I presume Imperial hired a construction firm to build the Char House, and Mr. Weth worked with them very closely. I don't know if these were his personal pictures or not; regardless, they are fascinating to me.

The link below is to a Picassa Slide Show. Put your mouse button over the pictures to display a control panel that will let you pause the automatic page change. Mark has provided good captions for many of the photos.

Link to Slide Show

Ceramic Coasters with Historic Photos of Sugar Land on them

My niece, Lauren Kelly Arnold, made a Christmas gift for me that may interest 'history-minded' Sugar Land residents & former residents. These are 4"x4" ceramic coasters with cork backing. They depict Sugar Land scenes from postcards made in the mid-1920s. I thought they were terrific. She has other public-domain photos to choose from. She can make custom coasters from your own pictures. (She's making a set for my mother with all her great-grandchildren on them. She's making another set with vacation scenes for some friends of mine.)

A set of 4 is $16.00, not including shipping if you live out of town. Send me an email message or post a comment on this entry if you're interested or want more info. She is booked up with orders into April, but can deliver new orders afterward.

Dulles vs Needville, October, 1960

Jon Pitts (DHS '61) sent me some Dulles football films recently. (Thank you Jon.) I have reels of one half of the '60 Pearland game & one half of the '60 Tomball game. Jon lent me a complete film of the '60 Needville game.
I will get them all digitized.

He happened to have a VCR conversion of the Needville game, which I digitized to DVD. There are problems in spots. I couldn't use the whole film, but since Jon lent me the original film, I can have it digitized by a professional service, who'll do a good job of digitization & clean-up.

Even though I'll get a better version later in the year, I still wanted to post this because I enjoyed watching it. The Fenders & String-A-Longs provide the soundtrack for this 15-minute clip.

Link to Video

Here's a team picture from the yearbook to help you identify players. You'll find players in the film who don't appear in the team picture. A prime example is C. T. Renfrow #71. There are others. Anyway, my thanks to Jon for lending me the film and identifying some of the players.

JFK at Rice Hotel, November 21, 1963

J. R. Gonzales has a blog on The Houston Chronicle Web site. It's called, "Bayou City History." There's lots of good stuff there. This week he had a link to a short home-movie clip Roy Botello took when JFK visited the Rice Hotel to speak at a LULAC function on Thursday evening before the assassination. (Earlier that day he'd flown to San Antonio & then to Houston. He left Houston the evening of the 21st for Fort Worth to spend the night before going to Dallas.)

There is plenty of news film of this event - you may recall Jackie speaking to the audience in Spanish. I can't identify any of the locals, but I'm sure there were some well-know people in the crowd.

Link to Video

Jimmy Fowler

When I posted the photo of the first Laura Eldridge Hospital a few days ago, Jackie James sent me a note about it's opening in 1922 rather than 1923. She remembered Jimmy Fowler was the first child born in a Sugar Land hospital, and his birthday was in 1922. (My dad was born at home on Imperial Boulevard in 1925.)

Anyway, Jackie had these pictures of Jimmy. The James & the Fowler families lived on Guenther Street for many years. Jimmy was always nice to the little girl who lived next door. I don't think I ever met, much less knew, Jimmy Fowler.

I'm really glad to get the first picture because it shows him wearing a SLHS letterman's sweater. My dad had one - I hope we still have it. I've seen pictures of Bennie Varnau & Chuzzy Jenkins wearing jackets from the '38 season rather than sweaters. I don't know the date for the second picture, but I presume it's after WWII.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dulles High Pictures from 1968

Robert Brandon took these pictures in 1968, the year we graduated from Dulles High School. I assume he took them just before the term ended in May. The first picture below shows the old front entrance to the high school. The second shows another shot of the front entry from an angle that shows the second wing. The last photo shows the old Dulles Junior High just north of the high school.

I think the first two photos below show freshmen. I'm sure I can get some help with identifications. (I recognize some, but not all of them.) Barry Eygendaal, FBISD's first exchange student, is in the last picture. He still lives in Holland and is an avid baseball fan.

(Update) Robert identified the people in the photos & posted their names in the comment below. Click on the 'Comments' link below this entry to view it. Many thanks, Robert.

I think Robert said this bus was the one he rode. Mr. Louis Hans was its driver.

View Down 1st Street to East Side of Imperial Refinery

This is an undated picture from sometime in the early 1920s, when Sugarland Industries & Imperial began town improvements. You can see that 1st Street is in place, although it isn't paved. I can magnify the photo enough to see there is a sidewalk.

You can see the old Refinery Power Plant with its smoke stack, although the Sealy Mattress manufacturing plant is out of view to the left. (I've posted pictures of both in recent entries.) Also note that the water towers are painted blue - I assume the same blue that's in the Imperial logo.

(This is a very clear, high-res photo, so be sure to magnify it to full-detail. If your mouse pointer shows a plus while it's over the image, click again to enlarge it further.)

Dredging Oyster Creek

Here are three photos of dredging in Oyster Creek. I'm not sure of the date. (I think all three pictures were taken at the same time, although the last one may have a different date than the first two.) My best guess is sometime around 1930, give or take a few years.

The last photo is obviously south of the Highway 90A bridge, probably not too far from Coburn's Dam (Dam #2) which would be out of view
on the right. (The camera is pointed northward toward the Refinery.)

Since telephone poles are visible in the first two photos (and I can't think of another area where they'd be that close to Oyster Creek, I think all the pictures are roughly the same location, about where Coburn's Dam is.) That means Oyster Creek Drive is on the left in the first two pictures and on the right in the last. The Brookside Subdivision is on the right in the first two, and on the left in the last.

The Prikryl Hotel

I posted a picture a couple of years ago and mistakenly labeled it, 'The Prikryl Hotel.' Some old-timers said they had never heard that term before. My family always referred to the rooming house behind the clinic on Ulrich Street as the Prikryl Hotel. Mr. & Mrs. Prikryl ran it for years before their daughter & son-in-law, the Stavinohas, took it over. Here's a picture of the Prikryl family circa 1936/37. The Stavinohas are standing in the back row on the left. Then comes Mr. & Mrs. Prikryl in the center. I don't know the name of their oldest son (on the right). I recognize Peewee Prikryl on the right in the front row, but I don't know the names of the two younger sons. Maybe Daniel or some old-timers can help me here.

(Update) Bruce sent me some further info on the Prikryl Hotel. (I've been spelling the family name wrong.) The original name was the Attwood Hotel. It was included in the purchase of the Cunningham Sugar Company by Kempner & Eldridge in 1908. It was torn down in 1967. He's determined who operated it over the years:

  • in 1923 it was rented to Vicic & Haverland
  • in 1927 to Joe Lapcick
  • in 1930 to Rudolph Prikryl
  • and finally in 1954 to Mrs. S. J. Stavinoha
(Update) I got a note from Kristin Lytle who interviewed Mrs. Stavinoha before she died. Kristin said she talked about running the Hotel, especially doing laundry for the road crews paving Highway-90A. Now that I see the rental history, she was referring to the second paving in 1947, when the the highway was converted from a 2-lane to 4-lane road.

Here's a photo of the hotel. Ulrich Street runs across the foreground. The clinic is out of view on the right.

An Early View of Downtown Sugar Land

I like this picture because it seems to capture the nature of Sugar Land sometime around WWI. (My guess about the date is based on the cars.) The photographer is C. M. Thompson; I don't recognize the name.

You see Highway 90A running from the lower-left to the middle right. Brooks Street intersects the highway and crosses the railroad tracks. This is a fairly high-resolution picture, so click on it first to get the picture and then click again to see the full-res version. Note the configuration of the old refinery. Also note the Machine Shop & Garage with all the cars parked in front. This part of Sugar Land doesn't appear in many old photos, which focus on the offices & stores in the commercial district out of view to the left of this picture.

At some point, the garage (Sugar Land Motor Company) moved on the south side of the highway further west - right about where the Ulrich Street intersection is located. (Roughly where The Palms Theater stood.) The later location included a Humble service station & auto show room, as well as a garage. I presume Sugar Landers bought gas at the garage in this picture, although I can't see any pumps.

Of course, the Eldridge House is on the left edge of this picture.

(Update) Bruce has suggested the picture probably dates from 1927, when Highway-90A was paved. Thompson may have taken the photo to show the new road. I didn't think the road looked paved when I first saw it. I noticed the gutters, but thought they were a local improvement made before State paved the road. I guess they wouldn't have gutters without a paved road.

Original Laura Eldridge Hospital, Early 1920s

A few weeks ago I talked with a friend who is relatively new to Sugar Land. He thought the hospital on Eldridge Blvd. (now an annex of the Methodist Church) was the first hospital in Sugar Land. I said, "Au contraire, mon ami!" (We Sugar Landers are very cosmopolitan nowadays.) I told him about the first hospital on the northeast corner of Wood & Lakeview. It was built in 1923, I think. Anyway, here's a picture. (There's another good one from a different angle in "Images of America: Sugar Land.")

(Update) Jackie James sent me a note about the opening date of the old hospital. I'd always heard Jimmy Fowler was the first baby born in the hospital. (I'm pretty sure there's a picture of Miss Nema holding him up in front of the hospital to document the event.) Anyway, Jackie told me he was born in 1922, so the original Laura Eldridge Hospital must have been opened in that year.

Lakeview runs in front of the hospital. Wood Street runs on the left of the picture behind the hospital sign.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Memoir of Sugar Land Gator Football by Ron Miller (SLHS '51)

(Update) Ron will be at the SLHS Reunion on June 24th with copies of his book. They are available for $20 if you want one.

Ron Miller (SLHS '51) has written a memoir of playing & watching Sugar Land Gator football in the early 1950s. Its title is "Halling The Ball." I've read an advanced copy and thought it was terrific. If you are interested in Sugar Land High sports & life in that era, you should get a copy.

Ron will have copies printed for those who want one. His intention is to write a memoir for old players & long-time Sugar Landers who remember that era. Price per copy is $20.

The book is a proper-bound paperback book with 101 pictures, including 13 in color. You'll see the Table of Contents and an excerpt below. I've recently found a copy of the film for the '52 Regional Championship mentioned in the excerpt. It all happened as described!

Chapter 1 - Setting The Stage
Chapter 2 - In The Beginning
Chapter 3 - Pre-Hall Times
Chapter 4 - School Year 1950 - 1951
Chapter 5 - School Year 1951 - 1952
Chapter 6 - School Year 1952 - 1953
Chapter 7 - School Year 1953 - 1954
Chapter 8 - The Ken Hall Era
Chapter 9 - H. L. "Chuzzy" Jenkins (Coach)
Chapter 10 - Walton E. White
Chapter 11 - Life After High School
Chapter 12 - Afterward

Click on the image below to see the excerpt. Click on the image again to magnify it further. (Old eyes need help.)

Petition to Dedicate Sugar Land's Main Street Bridge to Annette Williamson Wise

Many of you know that Annette Williamson Wise died recently.
Several people have suggested that the City of Sugar Land dedicate the Main Street bridge in her honor. Annette was instrumental in decorating the bridge for the town's Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1986 and preserving it in later years. She was also dedicated to serving Sugar Land's Hill community in many unsung ways.

If you'd like to add your voice to this effort by signing an online petition, send a brief message of support to this email address: name.bridge.after.annette@gmail.com.

All your messages will be collected at this one address and presented to the City. Thanks.

Houston Arts & Media Videos

J. R. Gonzales writes a terrific blog in the online Houston Chronicle. Click here to view it. He recently posted links to some short videos of Houston history posted by Houston Arts & Media.
Click here to go to the videos on YouTube - you'll see a list of videos on the right side of the screen.

I really liked two of them. The first was a short clip of home movies covering Kiddie Wonderland on South Main near Kirby. It was a favorite for Chuck & Bruce Kelly. We LOVED riding the ponies. The video even shows the cart pulled by the donkey. Great stuff - click here to view it.

(Update) I got the following note from Lynn Hanley (DHS '68). I thought it was a hoot. "
Chuck, The video about Kiddie Wonderland brought back memories. My grandparents took me there quite often. My grandfather actually bought me my first horse from there. A black and white shetland pony. I think as the story goes we brought it home in the back seat of their car. Thanks Lynn."

There's a video with a connection to Sugar Land. It's about Marcario Garcia. Click here to view it.

Some Sugar Land Kids At Play in the 1950s

I created this short video from home movies (Kellys, Lairds & Sheltons). You'll see some Sugar Land kids enjoying life in their home town.

Link to YouTube video.

Shelton Home Movies of a Combined Church Vacation Bible School & Picnic

This video comes from the Herb & Mary Shelton family, long time-residents of Sugar Land. It shows a combined Methodist & Presbyterian Church vacation Bible school & church picnic held sometime in the mid-1950s. I've posted pieces of the video of the church picnic, but I've included more footage. The VBS footage is all new.

The digitization comes from a VCR copy, so the resolution isn't as good as it could be. At some point, the Sheltons will have a digitization made directly from the original film. We may be able to pick out more people then, but if you think you recognize anyone now, feel free to send me a note.

Many thanks to the Shelton family for letting post this.

Link to video on YouTube

A History of M. R. Wood School

Ella Jenkins Patterson sent me this brief history of M. R. Wood School. Ella was a member of the last class to graduate from M. R. Wood in 1965. Later that fall Fort Bend ISD schools integrated & all high school students in the district went to Dulles.

The author of this history is Mrs. Jean Sampson Johnson. I don't have an exact date, but I think she must have written it in the 1980s or sometime after. My thanks go to Ella for sending this to me.

The Marshall Canning Company of Texas, Sugar Land, Texas

This picture shows the Marshall Canning Company of Texas sometime in the 1930s. The building stood on the northwest corner of Main & Sugar Land streets. (Sugar Land Street is now named Kempner Street.) It's called Marshall Canning Company of Texas because headquarters were in Marshalltown, Iowa.

I'm not certain about the business arrangement between Marshall Canning & the Sugarland Industries, but it was a co-operative one. The plant processed vegetables grown by Sugarland Industries.

This building was originally the Sealy Mattress Company site. When the Sealy franchise in Sugar Land ended, Marshall Canning moved in. They moved to another building a few hundred feet north on the east side of Main in the mid-1950s.

I can barely remember the building in this picture. I think they'd taken the galleries off the front of the building on the left, and they may have changed the gables on the roof. All I can remember distinctly is the building seemed to be filled with lights when they operated at night. I remember seeing very bright lights through the many windows on the various floors. I recall it was noisy & seemed like a bee-hive of activity.

(Update) I forgot to say this picture plus explanatory text appears in the pictorial history entitled: "Images of America: Sugar Land." (See the info in the left-hand column of the first page of this blog, if you're interested in a copy.)

The Old Power Plant & The Sealy Mattress Factory

The first photo shows what I believe to be the first Power Plant in the Imperial Sugar Refinery. (I'm not certain how the Cunningham Sugar Co. generated power. When Imperial was re-organized from the Cunningham Co., it may have inherited an earlier power plant than this one. ) The building is still standing to the west of Main & just across Oyster Creek from the Imperial Refinery site. I think the developers intend to use this building in their redevelopment plans.

Note the signage painted on the smoke stack. I'm certain the stack was part of the Imperial Power Plant, although it advertised the Sealy Mattress Company, whose building is just out of view behind-and-to-the-right of the Power Plant. (See the blog entry above for a picture of the building.)

Sugar Land had the first Sealy Mattress manufacturing franchise. It's an interesting story. I've included an ad that must date sometime between 1915 & 1925, give or take a few years. I don't know anything about the magazine (The FRA), but note the Sugar Land address for the company.

Cleveland Lake Before WWI

I don't have a date for this photo, but I'm sure it was taken well-before the 1920s when the Kempners & W. T. Eldridge began modernizing Sugar Land. (That modernization included dredging Oyster Creek & other prominent bodies of water in Sugar Land, like Cleveland Lake.) I think the current location of the Wood Street bridge (in front of the Auditorium) is just to the right of this view. The houses (seen faintly on the horizon) are on 2nd Street. They may not be permanent structures -- they may have been elaborate tents or light, wooden shacks with canvas roofs. All this is conjecture on my part.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow Falls In Sugar Land from 1940 to 1973

I thought this was a good time to post an entry about Sugar Land's brushes with snow storms over the years. The first link below lists official snow falls in this area since 1895. You'll see that the first one was a doozy - 20". The first one in my life time was in 1958. I was excited about it because I'd never seen snow, but there wasn't enough to cover the ground. My first big storm was on February 12, 1960. It was a Friday and we had our Valentine's Day party at school. It began snowing in the afternoon and continued through the night.

We had plenty to play in the next day, as you can see from the pictures in the photo album. I'm not real happy with Picassa's approach to photo albums, but it'll have to do for now.
I have a 1-1/2 minute video of a brief snow in the winter of 1963, I think. It may have been 1964, but my best guess is 1963. The banner year was 1973, when we had 3 snow falls. Unfortunately, I have just one picture from those snow storms.

My thanks to the Helmcamp, James & Laperouse families for sharing these photos. Note the detailed annotations Boots Helmcamp put on his photos. Great stuff.

Link to Weather Research Centers List of Houston Snow Falls

Link to Photo Album of Snow Falls in Sugar Land

America's Got Talent, 1950s Style

My aunt sent me this video link to acrobat/comedian Larry Griswold's performance on Frank Sinatra's television show that aired on November 13, 1951. I thought it was amazing. (If the audience screams, it's got to be good.)

I don't think this kind of act still exists.

Imperial Sugar Bake It Forward Project

Imperial Sugar has launched a campaign to send baked goods to people who'd welcome a little sunshine. Here's the link to the Web site. All the info is there. They'll give you a tin which you can fill with cookies, etc. They'll send it to a deserving person(s). You can track it's progress to it's destination, which may be anywhere in the world. (Men & women serving in the armed services are among the recipients.)

Bake It Forward Web Page

Pappy O'Daniel & His Hillbilly Boys Radio Broadcast from 1939

I listen to a lot of old radio programs, but I hadn't found any of Pappy's noon-time programs until recently. This is a recording from 1939. Bob Wills & other prominent members of the Light Crust Doughboys had quit working for O'Daniel well before 1939, so this is another band O'Daniel formed to promote his Fort Worth-based flour company. If I've got my dates correct, Pappy was Governor of Texas while he did this show.

As a national magazine reporter wrote at the time: "At twelve-thirty sharp each day, a fifteen-minute silence reigned in the state of Texas, broken only by mountain music, and the dulcet voice of W. Lee O'Daniel."

One More Video About Imperial Refinery Implosion

I've included this video because it contains interview with the Mayor of Sugar Land, a descendant of I.H. Kempner, the director of the new Sugar Land museum, old timers like Connie Morales Meza (DHS '65) and Carol Goehring Terral (DHS '67), plus others. It's just 4-1/2 minutes long.

Robert Brandon's Photos of Prison Rodeo (1962) & Ship Channel Tower

Some of you who have Facebook accounts may have seen these pictures Robert Brandon posted on his page. The first 4 pictures are slides his father took at the Texas Prison Rodeo in Huntsville in 1962.

I never got a chance to see this rodeo although I attended the Houston Fat Stock Show & Rodeo many times. I've shaken hands with Roy Rodgers, Gene Autry, Chuck Connors and who knows who else.

Here are Robert's comment about these photos: "
Awhile back a barge knocked over a highline tower supporting a line across the Houston Ship Channel. I noticed this tower looked familiar and remembered some pictures a lineman I worked with had given me to scan. I thought I'd share them with all of you." Robert also commented that the lineman took these photos with a disposable camera, and Robert was NOT up on the tower with these guys.