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Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Old Sugar Land Meat Market Revisited

I've posted a couple of pictures of the old Sugar Land meat market over the past weeks.  My aunt, Mayme Rachuig Hause, sent me a note about her memories of Mose Norvick, who sold produce in the back of the building.  (The meat market occupied the front.  Other non-produce grocery items, like flour, sugar, cooking oil, etc. were sold at the Mercantile Store.)

"My memory of Mose Norvick: Before World War II, Mose in his faithful old truck with roll- up canvas sides made a weekly trip out to the Humble Camp. The half circle drive way in front of our house was where the school bus stopped each morning, honking the horn for the school children come. It was there about 20 minutes allowing plenty of time to get there, and not miss your ride. Also, this was where Mose parked his truck on his regularly scheduled visits to the camp.

"The truck had a bell attached to the rear and it would ring out  to the ladies to come and buy their fresh vegetables and fruit for the week's menu. Always gracious and appreciative of the purchases which were very reasonable that were made. It escapes me if he quit making the trip because of the gas rationing, or if he had retired during the war years, as someone else took over and it eventually closed. Not certain about this. The meat market and the vegetable stand were completely separate entitities, and not tied together. Customers entered his shop by the little parking area to the east side of the building, not through the meat market."

Here's a picture I found in my archive.  It appears in the book of historical pictures, Images of America: Sugar Land.  My brother Bruce says Charles, Hans & Willie Dierks appear in the picture.  (Hans & Willie worked for their brother Charles, who ran the grocery department of the Mercantile Store.  I assume Mose actually worked for Charles Dierks, but I'm unclear on that.)  I haven't been able to identify any of the people in the photo, but maybe someone can help.

I've tried to identify the building in the background.  I think it may be the Prikryl Hotel, although I'm not absolutely sure. If I'm right, they are standing at the rear of the building that housed the meat market & produce store.  It's out of view on the left.
This next photo is dated in the early 1950s.  It shows the Reyes children in front of the meat market, as the sign indicates. 

One last note.  I asked Judy Sciba about Fred Sciba, who ran the meat market shown in these pictures as well as the meat section of the 'new' supermarket on the other side of Highway 90A.  She said Fred Sciba was her father's uncle.

Sugar Cane

The picture below may be familiar to many of you.  It also appears in the book of historical pictures, Images of America: Sugar Land, published by Arcadia Books & available from the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation. 

I'm not certain of the date or exact location, but its date must be sometime around 1908 & its location (as noted in the book) near the Imperial Farm.  My guess is it's probably north of Oyster Creek, somewhere near the present-day airport.

The two men in striped clothing are obviously convicts.  The one on the left is probably a convict, too.  Note the railcars loaded with sugar cane and pulled by 4 mules.  The train of cars extend pretty far into the background, so the caption ("A Long Train of Cane Cars, 4 Mule Power") is accurate.  The cars ran on small-gauge, moveable track.   David Chernosky has told me he's found some of these rails when he's done earth work in & around Sugar Land.

Gators Win Their First Class B Regional Championship in 1951

 Sugar Land defeated a highly touted Corrigan team in their bi-district match.  They faced a more formidable foe in their regional championship game against A&M Consolidated.  You can see from the following article that both teams had impressive credentials.  (Note that Chuzzy Jenkins, Sugar Land's head coach, played on Sugar Land's first team to reach the UIL playoffs.)

In October of 2009, several former Gator players recollected this memorable game.  (If you glance at the A&M roster, notice that John Manthei, long-time Dulles teacher, played on the Consolidated team.)

Click this link to hear their comments.

Here are a couple of Houston newspaper clippings recounting the game.

The following article comes from The Texas Coaster, a local newspaper.


The same paper included a column covering society news in Sugar Land.  Ida Krachala wrote it.  The latter paragraphs cover the big game.

The following iconic photo appeared in The Houston Chronicle.  Several players were not in the locker room when this picture was taken.  I want to thank Danny Hoke for letting me scan a print that had autographs on the reverse side of the picture.    His parents were Donald Hoke ('56) & Mildred Jordy Hoke ('55).  His mother saved this autographed copy of the photo.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wrap Up of '56 Gator Football Season

With their victory over the Barbers Hill Eagles the Sugar Land Gators were crowned champions of Region 5 in the UIL Class B playoffs.  It was Sugar Land High's 4th regional championship since 1951.  The strength of the '56 team is evident in their victories over Hempstead & Barbers Hill, two perennial football powers in the 1950s.

The victory over Hempstead brought an end to the Bobcats' 19-game winning streak that extended over a 2-year period.  That streak included a victory over Barbers Hill in their '55 regional championship match.  (The game ended with a 32-32 score, but Hempstead was declared the winner on tie breakers.  Tied games didn't go into overtime in those days.)

That regional championship loss was the only blot on Barbers Hill's record over their last 34 games.  Excluding the Hempstead loss, they hadn't been defeated since 1953.  Sugar Land inflicted a decisive defeat on a potent Barbers Hill team.

Sugar Land & Barbers Hill collided once again in a regional championship game in the '57 season.   Sugar Land defeated the Eagles 14 - 0 on a bitterly cold Friday night in Baytown to claim their 5th & final Class B regional championship.

The golden age of Sugar Land High football, which began with a sudden turn-around in 1950, had reached its end. 


Friday, December 2, 2011

Sugar Land's Original Meat Market

I got a call from an old timer this week about last week's photo of the old commercial district.  He said the building I identified as the produce store was a bit misleading.  He said it was actually the first meat market.  Mose Norvick had his produce stand in the back.

I knew he was right because I'd always heard the building identified as both the produce store (fresh fruits & vegetables) & the meat market.  I was unaware of the arrangements inside the building.  (If anyone has pictures of the interiors of any of these old commercial establishments, I'd love to have scans of them.)

Here's another angle of the same area in the '20s.  Notice the cars, so the photo is a few years later than last week's.  I think the photographer's interest was the train approaching from the west.  (It may be pulling out of the Sugar Land depot.)

Here's one more photo of the same vicinity.  I posted it a few weeks back.  It is shows 'down town' during the 1913 flood, so it's more contemporary with last week's photo.  You can see the meat market/produce store from another angle.  (It's on the far right of the scene.)

The old timer told me about home deliveries in old Sugar Land.  I knew various vendors provided this service.  The tamale man was long-remembered in my family.

The old timer moved to Sugar Land in 1939.  He remembers Mose Norvick delivering vegetables.  He remembers the Hispanic clerk at the meat market making home delivieries, too.  He had a horse-drawn chariot.  It had an icebox to keep the wrapped bundles of meat cool.   The clerk stood on the open deck over the single axle as he drove the horse, which he never tied up when he knocked at a customer's door.

The old timer said the clerk tore around Sugar Land in his chariot.  He'd often give kids rides, which was a real treat as the old timer remembers it.  The old timer said people in cars would rarely give rides, but people on horse drawn vehicles, like cotton trailers, would often take on hitch hikers.
(Update) Notice the 3 comments Bruce has added to this post. Click the word 'Comments' just below this paragraph to view them.

Sugar Land Wins Regional Title in 1956

The Sugar Land Gators claimed their 4th regional championship with a blow-out win over a highly tauted Barbers Hill team.  In fact, Barbers Hill hadn't lost a game since the '53 season.  

The Eagles were a perennial foe for the Alligators.  They'd soundly beaten the Gators in their '55 bi-district match, so this was a grudge game for the Gators.  Here's a pregame article that appeared in a Houston newspaper.  (I've just noticed that The Chronicle got the headline wrong over this article.  It was a regional championship, not bi-district.)

The final score was 45-13.  I've posted several newspaper accounts because each is a little different.  One may mention players not covered in other articles.  I figure granddad may want to show his grandchildren what he did when he was a callow youth.

This first one appeared in The Texas Coaster, (I think) about a week after the game.  Note the reporter is Billy Cason, a SLHS grad ('54).

I can tell from the type face that this next article appeared in a local paper.  I don't have a date, but I believe it was soon after the game.

Two more similar articles, but notice in the first one that a Barbers Hill player, Donnie Myers, was ejected from the game. (See the 8th paragraph.) Actually, the reporter says he was 'asked to leave the game.'  No other account mentions this incident.  Maybe some can fill us in on what happened.

(Update) I got a note from Leon Anhaiser ('57) who played in this game.  He watched the film and noticed a Barbers Hill player give a violent & unnecessary twist to Butch Boyd's head & shoulders as he tackled Butch.  The film shows a ref escorting the Barbers Hill player (Donnie Myers) off the field.  My thanks to Leon for finding this in the film.  I had noticed Myers was a guard, so I wondered if he objected to H. G. Bossley (the Gator center) leg-whipping him when Sugar Land had the ball!  I'll have to ask H. G. about this when I see him.

You may have noticed that the game was played in Rosenberg even though Sugar Land was the home team.  Sugar Land began using Lamar Consolidated's larger stadium for play off games in the 1952 season.  The Gators had attracted many fans from a wide area.  For example, George Salmon has said his father-in-law used to drive from Beaumont to see the Gators play.

I have a complete film of this game.  The link below gets you to a 10-minute clip of the film.  It doesn't have a sound track because I've wanted to interview former players about this game & use their recollections in the video.  (Maybe we can do it next spring.) 

Link to game film

My thanks to Leon Anhaiser ('57) for providing most of these newspaper clippings.

Sugar Land vs Corrigan, '51 Bi-District Championship

Sixty years ago last week the Gators defeated a highly touted Deer Park team 21-14 to claim the 22-B District Championship.  You may have noticed the caption under last week's touchdown photo which said the Gators would play Corrigan in Sugar Land the following Friday.

The build up to the game was pretty big.  Sugar Land hadn't played in a bi-district play-off game since 1944.  The following newspaper article indicates an equally high level of enthusiasm in Corrigan, a small town (much like Sugar Land) in East Texas on Highway 59 between Livingston & Lufkin.

Notice a couple of things in the article.  First, Corrigan had a very good team.  They defeated a Class A school (Groveton) & tied a Class AA school (Livingston).  They weren't slouches; both schools eventually won their districts' championships.  Also notice that the town intended to 'shut down' & caravan to the Sugar Land where the game was played.  Finally, notice that Corrigan's coach was Jasper Cockrell.  He's Rita Cockrell Drabek's brother.  Many of you may know Mrs. Drabek (she taught me in the 4th grade) as a well-known figure in FBISD for years.  I heard her tell a funny story about this game.  It involved her first recollection of Sugar Land.

Click here for a link to the 1-minute video of Rita Drabek's story.

As you can see from the following article, the Gators rolled over Corrigan 34 - 0.  Unfortunately, my copy of the article is cut off, & I can't get a complete copy on short notice.  Anyway, the article points out the game stats were fairly even, but Corrigan was no match to "the explosive running, expert blocking and heads-up football played by the Alligators."  The writer even says, "the crazy-leg running of Hall wouldn't have been possible without the holes battered by Harold Collier and Paul Martin and the downfield blocking of halfback Juan de los Santos."  When some former Gator players read these excerpts in 2009, they laughed & said, "Exactly right!"

Next week: Sugar Land High's first Regional Championship Game.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stu Clarkson Revisited

Clarkson in Chicago Bears uniform.

I've noticed a lot of interest in my old posting on Stu Clarkson, the Sugar Land High assistant football coach who died while the Gators played Hitchcock in October, 1957.

I want to thank Dot Hightower & her daughter Scotty for letting me scan these newspaper articles in their archive.  There's some good info about his background, but they don't mention that Clarkson was in the Normandy landing during WWII at Utah Beach.  His Wikipedia entry mentions it.

This first article comes from The Texas Coaster, I think.  Note that players & students from Sugar Land attended his funeral in Corpus Christi.

The final paragraphs of this article are missing, plus most of its info is repeated in other articles in this posting.  I've included it here because of Jess Neely's comment at the bottom of the second column.

I'm not certain which paper published this next article.  It elaborates on Clarkson's career at Texas A&I, particularly the game against A&M in 1940.

This next article appeard in The Corpus Christi Times on November 4th, 1957.  It discusses Clarkson's high school, college & pro  football careers.  There's also some quotes from Dugan Hightower, head coach, about their teams at Sugar Land High.

This final item is a letter George Halas sent in response to Dugan Hightower's letter informing the Chicago Bears owner & coach that one of his former players had died suddenly.


Raw Sugar for the Imperial Sugar Refinery

I've tried to determine the approximate date at which cultivation of sugar cane stopped on the upper Texas coast, & Imperial began importing cane or raw sugar for refining.  I've read that local cultivation stopped because of weather (drought, storms & flooding), loss of cheap labor (from the local prison farm) & agricultural pests/diseases.  These causes suggest the last crop was harvested a few years before WWI began.

An issue of The Fort Bend Mirror published in 1956 included a photo taken in 1928 of the last sugar cane processed in Imperial's mill in 1928.  When I first saw that picture, I assumed the last local cane crop was grown in 1928, but that's not necessarily true.  They may have imported the cane in the picture from outside the area, probably Louisiana.

Imperial began importing raw sugar from Cuba, Louisiana, & Mexico (I think) about the time the local harvests began declining.  (As I said above, this must have been a few years before WWI.)  I talked with an old timer yesterday, & he said when he moved to Sugar Land as a boy in 1939, Imperial refined raw sugar (the output of a sugar mill) shipped by rail from Galveston in 200-lb. burlap sacks.  He said the stuff looked like damp dirt.  I remember the same train loads of raw sugar arriving from Galveston all through my youth.

Here's a photo of the Galveston docks around the time of WWI.  Notice the sack on the lower-left foreground.  (You can see some men a little further down the dock heaving sacks from the ship onto a handcart sitting on the dock.)  Those are the type of sacks delivered by railroad to Sugar Land for processing at Imperial's refinery.