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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dorothy Schultz Gandy

Many of you have heard that Dorothy Schultz Gandy died recently. She was a long-time Sugar Land resident & a member of Sugar Land High School's Class of 1940.

I had some video of her from 2002. As you'll see, several women who'd lived in Sugar Land for many years got together to talk about old times. Mrs. Gandy was one of them.

The video & audio is a little rough, but I hope you can follow the discussion. Note that Mrs. Gandy was a veteran. (I'd wanted to post this Monday - Memorial Day - but I had some technical glitches with YouTube. I gather from what she said that she was a lieutenant & Sweat Pea, her husband, was a sergeant.)

I didn't know until I attended her funeral that she was an Elvis fan.

I heard some real good stories that day.

(Note: YouTube & Sony are brutal about digital rights. I had to take out the music to get this to work. Just hum an Elvis tune at the beginning & the end where there's no sound track. I suggest 'It's Now Or Never,' or 'If I Can Dream.' Those are the songs I tried to use.)

Link to Part 1 of Video (10-1/2 mins)

Link to Part 2 of Video (8 mins)

First Eldridge Home in front of Imperial Refinery

Many of you may have seen this photo before. I got it from the Rozelle family archive. It shows the first Eldridge home in front of the Imperial Refinery. It was demolished in 1962. Bob Armstrong said he really regretted that decision.

Anyway, I wanted to post it because Miss Lima Johnson mentioned the home in her letter that I posted last week. She said workmen had the screens off the windows, so the house suffered significant damage in the August, 1923 hail storm she described in her letter.

I'm a little shaky on the details, but I've heard this house was constructed in the 1870s without nails. Construction used wooden pegs. It was built on the Sartaria Plantation, which sat roughly south of the Central Prison Farm. Eldridge moved the house near the present site of the Char House in two stages. It's intermediate location was near Dam No. 1, or Cook's Dam, I think. It's final location was just east of the front of the Char House. I don't know the exact date of these moves, but the house was situated at the refinery entrance before the Char House was built in 1925.

In later years (after Eldridge moved to his home near the intersection of Lakeview Drive & Eldridge Boulevard in 1928) the building was a boarding house & tea room run by Annie Albritton. I wish I had some interior photos of this house.

Ella Jenkins Patterson, Imperial Scholar in 1965

Ella Jenkins Patterson was valedictorian of the final class of M. R. Wood High School. She was also the last recipient of the Imperial Sugar Company Scholarship Award from the school.

The first article below appeared in the June, 1965 issue of The Crown (Imperial's monthly employee newspaper).

The second & third articles appeared in The Fort Bend Mirror (I think) & The Houston Post.

Notice the reports on previous winners. M. R. Wood ceased operation as an elementary-high school in the fall of 1965 when former students began attending Dulles High, Sugar Land Junior High, Sugar Land Elementary & Missouri City Elementary. M. R. Wood became a special-needs school a few years later. Believe it or not, there we just 5 schools in Fort Bend ISD at that time.

Old Time Telephone Operators Had Connections

Many of you probably read Leon Hale's column in The Chronicle. He's written for Houston newspapers for years. He celebrated his 90th birthday recently, so The Chronicle has rerun some of his best columns. Here's one about old-time telephone operators in small-town Texas.

Hale's story is true of Sugar Land's operators. I remember Margaret Albritton Hill telling me that Etna Schindler could find anybody in town. In fact, she once tracked down Robert Hill as he drove to Austin for a family funeral. Her reach went well beyond Sugar Land!

I remember talking with Buddy & Billie Blair and Buddy's sister Bertha a few months ago. Buddy told me about an incident when he was stationed in Korea in the early 50s during the war. He had a chance to call home & talk with his family. It was all very spontaneous, so he couldn't tell them when to expect the call.

The day finally came when it was his turn to use the trans-Pacific line, so he put in his call to Sugar Land. I can't recall who the operator was, but I think it was Etna Schindler. She tried his parents' house but they weren't at home. She said they were probably at the Lions Club Carnival which was underway that evening in 'downtown' Sugar Land.

I don't recall the exact date, so the carnival may have been north of the railroad tracks, or south of the tracks in the parking lot of the 'new' shopping center. Anyway, Etna got someone to track Buddy's parents down and get them to a nearby phone. Nothing was going to stop them from taking Buddy's call from Korea!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Miss Lima Johnson. First Grade Teacher

Miss Lima Johnson taught Sugar Land's old timers first grade. She started in 1923 & retired in 1949. T. C. Rozelle, Jr. saved these items, & I'm certainly glad he did. You'll see her first contract, PTA membership card, poll tax receipt, & a letter to her mother written in 1926. Unfortunately, I'm missing page 3, but it's still an interesting read. Note her comments about the heavy hail storm that occurred the previous day.

Link to album of images

Imperial Bank & Trust, January, 1952

My thanks to the Helmcamp family for these items. They date from the new bank offices in the shopping center which opened in January, 1952. Notice the name is Imperial Bank & Trust. The name, Sugar Land State Bank, would come a few years later. Also note the check to Cordes Cleaners.

Link to album of images

Borowski Brothers Retirement

Here are two interesting articles about Walter & Stanley Borowski from 1979. They have interesting things to say about living in Sugar Land & working for Imperial. Note the stories about interviewing with B.H. Varnau as a 13-year old, boiling sugar, & getting the nickname 'Soapy.'

Link to articles

Norman Harrington Article from The Herald Coaster, 2003

The Laird family provided me a chance to scan this article from The Herald Coaster. I'd never seen it before. Norman Harrington describes life in Sugar Land & working for Imperial. He talks about the sugar mill - not the refinery - that ceased operation in the late 1920s when the last sugar cane crop was harvested.

Sorry the print is small, but there's little I can do about it. Be sure to use the magnifier to get an optimal view.

Link to article

Employment Letters from the Old Days

I want to thank the Edwards & Laird families for providing me with scans of these notes. The first shows the note Bob Armstrong wrote to Ken Laird when Imperial hired Ken in 1947. I like his comment about dictating letters in a small town.

Bruce Edwards, Sr. received this letter when Mr. Weth hired him in 1947.

I asked my mother about my father's starting salary in June of 1950 after graduating from A&M with a BA in Business. She said his probationary salary was $175 per month with a raise of $25 per month after 3 months.

M. R. Wood Special Needs Classes, '68 & '71

I want to thank James Boatwright & his wife Pat Helmcamp Boatwright for letting me scan these pictures. Many of you know that Mrs. Boatwright (mother of James) taught 2nd grade at Sugar Land Elementary for many years. She also taught at M. R. Wood when it became a school for special needs children.

This is a picture of her class in 1968.

This shows her 1971 class.

Fort Bend Mirror, June 1, 1961

My thanks to the Helmcamp family for letting me scan a few pages from this 1961 edition of The Fort Bend Mirror. Notice the new construction photos of Dulles High School on what was then called Lester Road. There's an article about the proposed Holy Family Church building in Stafford.

The second scanned page has a promotional article about the Western Auto Store in Sugar Land, which we always referred to as "Jimmy's."

The last page has a promotion for an appearance by Don Mahoney & Jeanna Clair at the Shopping Center. (They got her name wrong.) I recall seeing them at the super market.

Link to album of images

Imperial Press Release Regarding Oyster Creek Dredging in June, 1972

My thanks go to the Rozelle family for letting me scan this item from T. C.'s archive. I've referred to this as a press release, but it may have been a direct mailing to residents of Sugar Land, explaining the redredging of Oyster Creek. It provides a good explanation of what work would be done.

The 3rd paragraph says experimental dredging was done north of Highway 59. I assume this is a mistaken reference to Highway 90A, which means it occurred in the creek bed between Mayfair Park & The Hill.