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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Volunteers for Sugar Land Heritage Foundation, September 3rd

I got the following note from the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation.  They want volunteers who can spare a Saturday morning to help whip their site (future Sugar Land Museum) into shape.  It looks like they will work every Saturday morning in September - beginning this Saturday. 

I know they'd appreciate the help if you want to lend a hand.
Dear SLHF Volunteers,

We have a couple of projects that we could use as many volunteers for as possible.

They are:

1) We have an urgent need to collect / preserve bricks that have been recently removed from the Char House.

These bricks have been fully cleaned as part of the abatement process and are piled on the east side of the Char House.

They will be hauled off in the near future.

2) For those who do not want to work outside, we have another project to sort and stack like bricks together. These bricks are already stored in the 3 Bay Warehouse.
We will meet each Saturday from 9 AM – 12 Noon beginning this Saturday, September 3rd.

Water, Gatorade, and light snacks provided.

Please remember to wear comfortable clothes and shoes, please bring your work gloves.

Dennis Parmer
President of SLHF


Farmer's Market at Imperial Refinery, October 2nd

My sister-in-law, Jane Goodsill, sent me the following info.  Sounds like a winner to me.


(Update) The Farmers Market will be on the Imperial refinery site at the intersection of Highway-90A & Brooks Street.  (Head for the Char House & you'll find it.)

(Update) I've sent a note to the City to clarify the location.  I think it's at the Imperial Refinery site (rather than Highway 90 at Highway 6 as noted in some of their info.)  I'll post a confirmation of the location when I get it.

Farmers Market at Imperial

Now residents of Sugar Land and beyond can enjoy the freshest-tasting produce, view one-a-kind arts and crafts and interesting artistic finds at the Farmers Market at Imperial, located at Highway 90 at Highway 6, to be held every Saturday beginning October 1 through December 10. 

Presented by the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, each Farmers Market at Imperial will be held from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. rain or shine.  Visitors can purchase local cheeses, fresh baked goods, jam, honey, fresh-cut flowers and more.  Enchanted Gardens nursery design professionals will be on hand to answer landscaping questions and offer whimsical holiday gifts for the gardener in the family.  Live music, cooking demonstrations by area chefs, children’s activities and appearances by the Sugar Land Skeeters mascot are planned, turning this traditional Farmers Market into a festival of food and fun.

Imperial Sugar Land’s park-like setting, with picnic tables under sprawling oak trees, allows visitors to enjoy their locally grown food purchases while gathering with friends neighbors. Plus, free, on-site parking provides easy access to the market. 

SLHS Class of 1939

A few days ago a neighbor brought my mother some pictures she'd received from a friend who'd died recently.  Unfortunately, I don't have the woman's name, but her parents were Alvin Kadlecek (SLHS '39) & Miriam Buckner (SLHS '41).  I'll try to get her name & update this post.

She had several pictures and pieces of memorabilia.  Here is a picture of her father's class.  I've never seen this before.  Old timers may recognize several faces: Herb Shelton, Chuzzy Jenkins, Mary Stevens Norton, & Velah Rister.  I recognize others by their names: Paul Glasgow, Otto Hrncir, Bennie Varnau, W. D. Boyer, Frank Usrey, & Alfred Tarver.

Volunteers for the 2012 Houston Stock Show & Rodeo

I received a note from Ella Jenkins Paterson saying the Houston Stock Show & Rodeo is looking for volunteers to help sell tickets.  It looks like a good cause & a good excuse to have fun if you don't have a horse or the skills to go on a trail ride.  

They're planning several events.  I've posted a link below, which gives more information (including an email address).

SLHS Class of '41 Graduates 70 Years Ago

Here's another couple of photos from the Kadlecek-Bruckner family archive.  The first one shows the class's collected pictures.  These were the only official school photos before Sugar Land High began publishing the Gator yearbook in 1947.  These class photos hung in the old auditorium for many, many years.

I recognize several people in the group: Muffet Guenther, Betty & Catherine Friend, Robert Schumann, Marie Muehr, Lillian Urban & Jack Ulrich.  I recognize the names of several others: Jane Webb, Rennie Pirtle, & Dorris Fenn.

Notice they've made a typo on Miriam Buckner's name.  Her daughter (now deceased) provided this photo.

This next photo shows their commencement ceremony at Kempner Field on the evening of May 28th, 1941.  I have a very similar photo which I haven't been able to identify until now.  The other photo shows a graduation ceremony, but from a different year, I think.

The stand in the photo below looks like it's located in the south end zone.  The other photo show a similar stand in front of the east stands, I think.  Anyway, here's the photo from the commencement ceremony that occurred 70 years ago.

Here is an invitation to the commencement exercises.

Here's a program.

Sugar Land 101, the City's Course in Civic Government

Sugar Land 101 applications now available for the 2012 course, which starts in January.  Sugar Land 101 is a 10-week course giving participating residents an inside view of Sugar Land's city government.  Places are limited.

Further details & application forms are available on the City's website at the following link:


Applications are due 10/31. 

Dulles Varsity Boys Basketball Team, 1964/'65

Many thanks to Danny Hoke for lending me this picture of the 1964/'65 Dulles Varsity Boys Basketball Team.  Left-to-right back row: Charles Hauerland, Calvin Rozelle, David Shed, Bill Tise, Johnny Marks, Kirby King, Fred Melton, Van Brock.  Left-to-right front row: Manuel Valdez, Mike Saenz, Joe de Leon, Jerry Renfrow, Archie Milam, Lawrence Fuqua, Jesse Vargas. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Go On A Sugar Land Heritage Hike"

I wanted to let everyone know about a Sugar Land Heritage event on October 8th.

If you have any questions, you can contact Eleanor Barton at the email address in the release.  (Unfortunately, the link doesn't work in Google Docs.)

I hope to see you there.

SLHF Staff and Board Members are gearing up for the Sugar Land Heritage Hike scheduled for Saturday, October 8.  From left: Roy Cordes, Shay Shafie, Eleanor Barton, Bruce Kelly, Sharon Ehrenkranz, Bob Brown, Merle Smithers, Don Smithers, John Whitmore, Dennis Parmer  (Photo by Geof Nesossi)

Aerial Photos from Early 1980s

(Update) Terrell Smith sent me this note: "Those photos were taken by Lloyd Koenig, he owned a photography studio in Houston & was originally part owner of the Texas Brisket & Parts store building. Mark Schuman was the person who scanned those photos."

Terrell Smith gave me some high-resolution photos he got from Mark Schumann.  Mark got them from a friend - possibly Mickey Wanjura Dylla's son.  (I'm not sure.)  Regardless, they are great photos.  I was living in San Antonio at that time, so I don't remember the construction underway then.

Terrell walked me through some of the photos, so I could point out locations of the old 7-11, Dairy Queen & Ice House.

Many thanks to Terrell & Mark for sharing these photos.  All the photos except the ones I annotated with overlays are high resolution.  You can zoom in for a better view.

Sugar Land's House Of Pain (Continued)

I was thinking about the prescription medicines Dr. Kuykendall & Dr. Slaughter gave their young patients when they had minor illnesses.   I don't think I ever took prescription medicine in pill or tablet form.

Every medicine I remember taking as a child was a liquid dispensed in a clear glass bottle, which showed the color of the medicine.  I never knew their technical names, even as I grew into my teenage years, so I always referred to them as 'the (pale) green stuff,' 'the (cherry) red stuff' & 'the clear stuff.' 

I think the green stuff was liquid penicillin.  It didn't taste too bad.  The red stuff was cough medicine, which may have had cherry flavoring added to improve its taste.  I never liked it although I swallowed it without too much fuss.  The clear stuff was also a cough medicine, but it was more potent, I think.  Now that I'm an adult, I can identify the taste precisely: it tasted like Cointreau.  It burnt like fire all the way down and left an aftertaste of oranges.  I'd probably like the stuff now, but I hated it back then.  (I seem to recall codeine prescriptions when patients were in really bad shape, but I never took it.)

Now that I think about it, there was one presciption medicine in tablet form that Bruce and I took as very young children: worm medicine.  My family was fanatical about us catching pin worms.  I don't think kids play in dirt nowadays, so people don't worm their kids any more.  They certainly did in my day.  I know Bruce & I weren't the only kids who were wormed regularly.

My grandmother Kelly always kept an eye peeled for evidence of a worm infestation, or firmly steered us away from potential infections.  For example, she often told us we'd get worms if we ate raw cookie dough, but we suspected she was just protecting the dough before she could bake the cookies.  In a similar vein my grandfather Kelly always said little boys who played with fire would wet their beds at night.  I caught on pretty quick to his ulterior motive: he wanted to scare me away from playing with matches.  (I never did.)

If my mother or grandmother saw us squirming in a chair or grabbing at the seat of our pants, we'd get a dose of worm medicine.  Little did they know that we liked worm medicine -- it tasted like candy!  I don't know that we ever resorted to fakery, but I do recall the time I learned where my parents kept it in the medicine cabinet over the bathroom sink.  I was big enough to climb into the sink, pull back the mirror, & reach for the package on the top shelf.  I got it & opened the tube.  (There were no child-proof caps in those days.)  Bruce and I ate most of them.  Toward the end I realized gobbling all of them was a bad idea.  I had absolutely no clue about overdoses, so I wasn't concerned about that.  I thought we'd do best to leave a few tablets & avoiding detection.  Besides, it would be nice to save a few for a future treat.

I recall one more 'medicine incident' in our family history.  Bruce was kind of spindly when he was around 4-years old.  My mother thought it would be a good idea to give him Geritol in case he was a little anemic.  Of course, I had to take the cure, too.  As I recall, Mother stared with a big bottle of liquid Geritol.  I don't think they'd begun selling children's Geritol then, so we took a smaller dose of the adult product.

It tasted terrible.  There was a lot of gagging & complaining, but we managed to swallow the whole bottle one tablespoon at a time with many, many glasses of water to wash it down.

When it came time to replenish her supply, Mother decided to try pills, thinking that was a good way to end our complaints about the nasty taste.  Those pills were probably the size of Red Hots, but that's not the way we saw them.  I recall thinking they resembled the Hartz Mountain worm pills pet owners gave their dogs.  (I must have had a mania about worm pills.)  The Hartz Mountain pills were about the size of Peanut M&Ms exept they were a crimson color.  They had a tacky (mildly sticky) soft coating.  I think the idea was you could sqeeze the contents into your dog's food if it wouldn't swallow the pill.  (We never found a way to get our dog to swallow them.) Anyway, the Geritol pills were a little hard to swallow.

The day finally came when we made the switch to Geritol pills.  My father walked home for lunch & we gathered in the kitchen.  Instead of whipping out the big bottle, Mother handed me a pill, or maybe she put it in my mouth and told me to swallow it, which I did.  Bruce was next.  Mother didn't notice the wild look on his face when he saw my pill.  When he got a real good look at his pill between Mother's fingers, he said, "NO! I DON'T WANT IT!"

This battle of wills went on for a few minutes, but Mother finally gave up because it was time to eat.  After we finished & Mother began clearing the table, my dad decided to give it a try.  Same thing happened. "NO!"  "NO!"  "I DON'T WANT IT!"  "NO!"

My dad began getting irritated because this little battle was eating into his post-lunch relaxation (a short nap) before heading back to the office.  Most bettors would have wagered that a grown man could get his 4-year old son to take a little pill, but the sharp money would probably have backed the kid for a couple of reasons.  First, the man (my dad) was rapidly loosing his patience, which meant he lost the psychological advantages he had as an adult.  Second, he was working against the clock.  He had to start walking back to the office at 5 minutes to 1:00 PM, and the clock was ticking relentlessly.

My dad finally reached the point that he went into the next room (our bedroom) and got a rocking chair which he place in the middle of the floor.  He picked Bruce up and sat him in his lap.  He said, "I'm not leaving this house till you take this pill!" 

"NO!"  "NO!"  "NO!"

In a fit of exasperation my dad said, "You're going to take this pill if I have to put it in a straw and blow it down your throat like they do with horses!"

Well, that did it.  Bruce went off like a Roman candle & the clock ran out.  Dad handed him to Mother, who settled him down.  Dad walked back to work suffering the agony of defeat.

I think Mom & Dad ended up taking those Geritol pills.  They probably needed them worse than we did.


The Palms Theater (Continued)

I thought you might be interested in some background on Monte Hale, the western movie idol posing with Ida Seitz Plokuda & Mickey Wanjura Dylla in the picture shown in last week's post.  (He had a bit part in "Giant.")

After looking closely at the photo from last week, I had to research "The Mask."  I found info at the link below.  It was a 3-D film made in Canada - that country's first horror film!  Sounds like it's pretty horrible.

I wonder if anyone else remembers "The Tingler."  It was another horror movie with a technological gimmick.  Theater operators put buzzers under random seats & set them off at suspenseful moments in the film.  I remember seeing "The Mask" and wearing the disposable 3-D 'glasses' with red & green lenses.  I'm pretty sure I saw "The Tingler," but I don't recall the buzzers.  (Notice that the trailer is available on IMDb, if you need a reminder.)

254 Texas Courthouses

I stumbled on this blog yesterday & enjoyed looking at it.  Leonard Lane, Jr. is on a quest to photograph each county courthouse in Texas.  He's visited 108 & posted his pictures of 8, so far.  It's obviously a work in progress.

You'll see a list of courthouses on the home page.  Also notice he has a blog which documents his adventure. 


Another Video Report On Closing Central Unit

This video has good shots of the interior & exterior of Central Unit.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

1940 Dodge (Mint Condition) Found in Barn

Some of you may have seen these photos, but I thought they were worth posting for those who hadn't.  The explanatory text is very good, so I can't add anymore.

Hidden for Half a Century: The 1940 Barn Dodge!

You have heard stories of barn finds before. Some sound incredible, some unbelievable. But here's one that might top 'em all. It's the true story of one 1940 Dodge Deluxe Sedan.

Back in 1940, life in the Country was running at a different pace. You could leave your house unlocked, and, of course, your car. Television and graffiti were words without meaning. Pearl Harbor was an event of the future. It would take two more years until the United States would enter World War II.  Life was hard but good ...

At about this time VIN *30231403* was built by proud American workers in Detroit, Michigan, one of 84,976 Dodge D-14 DeLuxe four-door sedans manufactured in 1940. A veterinarian from Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, purchased the blue Dodge new at the local Dodge dealer in Boise . He used it to respond to calls all through the war years; his 1944 permit is still affixed to the windshield. Being a very valuable asset during war times, the car was always parked in a dedicated spot in the barn when not in use. In 1948, the good Doctor passed away. The car was put on blocks and covered with bed sheets. No, it was not going to be for sale. Who would have guessed at that time that the Dodge would be asleep for more than 50 years ...

Children became adults, parents, then grandparents. The old Dodge was still slumbering in the barn. In the late 1980s an attempt was made to awaken and sell the car. Finally, early in 2003, the time had come. The bed sheets were taken off, the car was lifted from the blocks, and the tires were filled up with air. A new owner was found. He took the Dodge to Southern California.

63 years old and with only 42,342 original miles showing on its odometer, this Dodge personifies the term "reference car."  More importantly, it represents a rare opportunity to experience how it felt driving a new car in the 1940s.  Time to start our little journey around this amazing Dodge ...

The body, amazingly, is straight and absolutely rust free, thanks to being stored in a dry, well ventilated barn, away from the elements. The blue lacquer paint is original, factory applied. Sure, it's worn thin on the tops of the fenders, shows a myriad of nicks, imperfections, and touch ups from the past. There are a few small dings here and there, but not an ounce of body filler nor a single rust bubble. It's all heavy metal! Repainting this car--ever--would be an unforgivable sin! Its patina is irreplaceable and gives the Dodge its inherent value. 

Another Dodge industry first & for 1940: safety rims! The wheels still feature their factory triple pinstriping, the heavily chromed hubcaps are beautifully preserved. Even the painted red detailing is still intact! Bias ply tires of the dimension 6.00x16 look original as well. I don't think they make "Pennsylvania Rx Supertest Cord S-3" rubber anymore ...

Open the doors and be invited into a cabin that's 100% factory original. Unmolested, unmodified, unrestored. It has the special 1940s aroma and charm that cannot be duplicated. It should never be restored, instead be enjoyed just the way it is.

Dashboard is a masterpiece of Art Deco design. Fabulous painted metal creates the ambiance of lightly stained wood. Nickel plated accents duplicate the look of then-popular costume jewelry. Every single part seems infused with the designer's idea to create a harmonious environment; details such as the retracting ash receiver lid are simultaneously good-looking and functional. There's simply no comparison to present-day throwaway products, sprouting black plastic appendages everywhere. Nevertheless, the Dodge was built with entirely modern creature comforts. It features dual electric windshield wipers, Sealed Beam lamps, floating power, hydraulic brakes, telescopic shock absorbers, a column-shifted, synchronized transmission, tinted glass, a chromed horn ring, and a host of other innovations.

What was found in the felt-lined, locking glove box is nothing short of astonishing in its historical context:
  • Owner's instruction book in its original envelop e
  • "Sentinel" first aid kit, incl. a bottle of "Mercuro-Chrome"
  • Small upholstery brush
  • Promotional lead pencil "Compliments of DeRail Pool Hall, Glenn's Ferry ID"
  • Old bottle opener
  • Parking stub dated 8/16/1941, from the " Glen Valley Rodeo"
  • Small metal box containing "Buss Auto Fuses"
  • "Ideal Split Shot" box containing a tire valve and a fishing hook
  • Pair of celluloid sunglasses
  • "Travel Idaho with CONOCO" road map

    Ample space for three on the comfy front bench, featuring "airfoam" seat cushions. Original mohair still looks good, with the unavoidable stains and moth attacks kept to a minimum.

    Through large, rear-hinged suicide doors, entry to the spacious passenger compartment is easy, even when wearing a top hat. Luxuriously equipped with arm and foot rests, woven grab handles, beveled-glass interior light, and (unused) ash tray, passengers will invariably exclaim: "This feels like Driving Miss Daisy!"

    Roomy trunk sports original jute mats. Original spare wheel and jacking equipment are present, as well as some spares and a small tool tray. Also included is a set of new GOODYEAR tires of the proper size and a set of new inner tubes. We did not feel the need to mount the new tires, however, it might be advisable before embarking on an extended journey. 

     A beautiful classic car, ready to be of service!

    "Let us MARFAK your car!" proclaims TEXACO's old service sticker on the door jamb. Dodge was just lubed and serviced, 2,000 miles ago, in 1948. Note the carmine-colored, bakelite knob, Dodge's early version of power assisted steering.


    Art deco trim
    Cloisonne emblem
    Firewall tags
    Rear vent window
    Above, clockwise, from top left:

    • Art deco headlight bezel with glass parking light lenses
    • Unmarked rubber floor mat and pedal pads, irrefutably confirming the car's low mileage
    • Original heater below dash
    • Rear vent windows open wide
    • Art deco door handles and stainless side trim 
    • Dodge Brothers tags on firewall

      Engine compartment is clean and original as well. Dodge's 217 cu.in, 6-cylinder engine was good for 87 lively horsepower. It starts instantly and runs like the proverbial Swiss watch. Items recently replaced or serviced include the battery, water pump, ignition wires, spark plugs, fuel tank, carburetor, brakes, and shocks. Original honeycomb radiator core looks gorgeous! And, yes, the horn works, just like everything else on this time machine. 

      Amazingly intricate, heart-shaped grille presents itself in outstanding condition, with brilliantly sparkling chrome. Bumpers and over riders are beautiful and functional, too. Car's brightwork appears excellently preserved throughout. Note the wonderfully maintained running boards, which were optional on the 1940 models. So, what's it like driving a 71 year old Dodge?

      Very impressive, thank you very much. Turn on the ignition--with the original "CDPD" key--and press the foot knob for the starter. The engine comes to life instantly, idling almost inaudibly. Pull the gear lever down into first, release the clutch, and you'll pull away smoothly. Everything is smooth about the Dodge. Suspension and brakes transmit a safe and sound feeling. Acceleration is brisk, at least by 1940 standards. All the gauges work. Oil pressure is great and the car runs cool. In a nutshell, it's a delightful cruiser! Even the PHILCO radio still hums when turned on; it seems the speaker cone needs replacing.

      All this car needs is one appreciative caretaker. It's a very rare find and definitely a "keeper" for the right Dodge enthusiast.

      Best of all, it's a true rust free, low-mileage Dodge that could even be used every day, if you so desire. There are not too many 71 year old, original cars in this Country that could make this claim!!

        Tuesday, August 16, 2011

        The Palms Theater

        Here are some images relating to The Palms Theater.  I've posted a couple before, but I thought I'd put them all together in a set.

        I think you'll be able to determine the theater's location from the photos.  If not, it was located on the southeast corner of Highway-90A & Ulrich Street.  (Roughly a few yards west of the parking lot in front of Imperial's current headquarters building.)

        The article says it opened in 1950.  I'm vague on details, but I think it opened briefly in 1949, then suffered a fire.  Mart Cole closed it for repairs & reopened it shortly thereafter.  I may be wrong about this -- maybe the fire occurred before the opening & extended the period of construction.

        I vaguely recall paying less than $.10 admission when I was very young.  I thought it was $.07, but based on these tickets, maybe it was $.09.  They come from the The Cole Theater in Halletsville, which is still in operation.  I've tried to find out where Cole had theaters, but I haven't had much luck tracking down a definitive source.  I know they had movie houses in Richmond, Rosenberg & Halletsville, as well as Sugar Land. 

        As the City's article said, D. P. Morton managed The Palms.  Here he is in a photo from the '60s.

        These next photos show the exterior of the building.  The young woman in the last photo is Mickey Wanjura Dylla (SLHS '50).  She worked at The Palms in its early years.

        Here are some photos depicting that part of town in the early '50s.  The 1st shows E. R. Cooper on a horse in front of the theater.  No one knows why he's there.  The 2nd shows Mickey in the front drive.  Her pictures may have been used in some sort of promotional campaign.

        This next picture shows Ida Seitz Plokuda (SLHS '52') & Mickey with western movie star, Monte Hale.  I assume he was promoting one of his movies at The Palms.  Note the wall paper with the palm-tree theme.

        Here's another photo showing the interior of the theater.  (Sorry it's a poor scan.)  D. P. & Sid Lasher are standing in the lobby in front of the display case to the right of the refreshment stand.  Notice the popcorn bags behind D. P.  The popcorn machine was on the far-right side of the candy counter.  Behind Sid but out of view is a ramp into the theater.  There was a similar display case & ramp on the left-hand side of the candy counter.

        Here are a couple of old movie ads.  The first comes from The Fort Bend Mirror published on October 14, 1965.  The 2nd is a lobby card/schedule for December, 1954.  I'll bet "Killer Leopard" with Johnny Sheffield was a big hit with Sugar Land's cineasts.