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Monday, December 17, 2012

2012 Candlelight Tours of the Moore Home in Richmond

The Fort Bend Museum opens the Moore Home in Richmond for candlelight tours every Christmas season.  The Tours occur over a weekend in early December.  The Moore Home is a well-preserved Victorian mansion that stands on the Museum grounds.  It really sparkles when decorated for the holiday season.

This year's theme was '175 Years of Legacy,' honoring Fort Bend County on its 175th birthday.  Each room on the tour served as a centerpiece for an aspect of the County's rich history.

I made a 4-minute video of the Tours.  They are an annual event on the Museum calendar, so consider a visit as a part of next year's holiday celebration.


Archeological Survey of Old Fort Bend in Richmond

A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to join the Fort Bend Archeological Society in an exploratory dig in the area where old Fort Bend stood back in the 1820s & '30s.  I made a 7-minute video of the work we did that Saturday morning.

The Brazos River's west bank has eroded over time, so the spot where the fort was located in now in the River.  The area we explored was where old Richmond grew up around the fort.  

The Archeological Society has found several artifacts, the most recent being a torpedo bottle made in Ireland around 1820.  A torpedo bottle has a round bottom, which prevents standing it on end.  The idea is to ensure it lies on its side so its cork won't dry out.


Merry Moppet Kindergarten

I'll have to ask my mother for more details about the Merry Moppet Kindergarten, but I know the general history.  I'm not sure when Mrs. Boyer retired from teaching kindergarten, but sometime around 1961 my mother and her sister started a kindergarten in Sugar Land.  My uncle built them a two-room school on Highway-90A roughly where the Frost Bank building now stands.  When Sugar Land State Bank decided to build a new office on that spot two years later (i.e., today's Frost building after considerable remodeling), they had to move the building.

Bob Armstrong sold them the lot at the corner of Wood and Lakeview where the school (under a new name) still stands.  I can't recall exactly when they sold the school, but I think it was around 1972.

Here's a little-known fact.  The head of the Texas Rangers (not the baseball team), Tony Leal, attended Merry Moppet Kindergarten.

I want to thank Haroldetta Robertson for providing me a scan of her son's Merry Moppet diploma.


Old Photos of the Lakeview School Campus

I've collected many pictures of Sugar Land Elementary School children.  The following picture shows a portion of Dulles High School's Class of 1960 when they were in the 1st grade in 1948.  I recognize several of them.

You see them standing in front of a class room on the west side of the 1st circleEveryone called the semi-circles of class rooms 'circles' even though they weren't actually circles.   

The next photo shows the east side of the 1st circle across from the room where the 1st picture was taken.

1st Circle in 1960

Carroll Smith Rome taught me the 2nd grade in the room behind the left side of swing set in the distance.

The following picture is a long shot of the west side of the circle where the Class of '60 is standing in the 1st picture.  The auditorium is on the right.  You get a good view of the covered walkway that linked the school rooms.  It looks like Mr. Wanjura missed a few spots with his lawn mower.

1st Circle in 1960

This last photo shows the 2nd circle sometime before 1952. The gym, which still stands on Lakeview Elementary's campus, is in the center.  In 1953 SLISD added 4 class rooms to the left side of this circle.  Those class rooms still stand.  A band hall and new complex were added on the right side of this circle.  Those buildings still stand, too.  This is not a particularly good picture, but it shows the complete circle of class rooms under a dramatically cloudy sky.


Sugar Land Eagle Scouts, 1967

The following picture shows from left to right Homer Spear, Tommy Laird, David Neal, and Jock Miner at the Minor family home sometime around 1967, I think.  Tommy and David have just become Eagle Scouts.  Homer and Jock were leaders of Boy Scout Troop 148, Sugar Land's oldest Boy Scout Troop.  (My thanks go to Tommy Laird for posting this picture on Facebook.)


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Coach Allen, 1938-2012

I want to thank Steve Shelton (DHS '63) and Roger Howard (DHS '63) for informing me that Coach Johnel Allen died recently.  Click here to view an obituary.

Here are a few photos of Coach Allen from Dulles yearbooks.

Dulles 1963

Dulles 1963
Dulles 1966

Dulles 1966

Sugar Land Junior High 1961 Football Season
Several of us wanted to drive to El Campo and take Coach to lunch, so we could talk over old times.  His 'old boys'  (including myself) have some good stories about Coach Allen.  I regret that we won't be able to recollect them with him.

Rice Beats Baylor 20-0 To Claim The '57 SWC Crown

I've posted a few items in the past about Rice's 1957 SWC Championship football team.  My football coach at Dulles High School, Bobby Williams (Missouri City High '53),  played on that team, so there's a local connection.  

I got these items from the Rice History Corner, a blog about Rice University.  The University's historical collection includes a scrapbook kept by a cheerleader during the '57 season.  A couple of these images obviously come from that scrapbook.

I haven't researched the Houston papers for additional articles, but you'll see one from The Thresher, Rice's student newspaper.  You'll notice that Bobby Williams returned a punt for an 80-yard touchdown.  I may be mistaken, but I think he lead the SWC in punt return yardage that year.

I have a personal memory about this game.  My father got 4 tickets, so our family could see the big game.  I was 7-years old and relished every chance to attend a game.

Well, Saturday morning I woke up with an upset stomach and threw up big time.  My parents said, "There's no way we're taking you," so I stayed with my grandparents while everyone else went.  I was very unhappy. 

Jane Long Historical Marker Dedication

On December 2, 2012 the Fort Bend County Historical Commission relocated a state historical marker commemorating Jane Wilkinson Long.  It was placed on her land in Richmond along the Brazos River in 1936 as part of the state's centennial celebration.  

That part of Richmond, like other parts of Fort Bend County, has changed considerably since the 1930s, so the marker has been relocated to Hutchinson Elementary School on Williams Way Boulevard.  It's not far from the new complex of County buildings in south Richmond along the River.


Sugar Land Junior High Viking Log, 1960

Annette Williamson Wise (DHS '64) donated some of her school memorabilia to me before she died.  Among the items was the 1960/61 yearbook for Sugar Land Junior High.  It was called, The Log.  Annette was an 8th grader that year.  It's filled with good picturesI'll post more from it, but here are some selected items.


Sugar Land Fire Signals

Before becoming a municipality Sugar Land relied on a volunteer fire department.  The Power Plant in the refinery had a steam whistle which blew 'coded signals' to alert the volunteers where a fire was located.  I assume some volunteers gathered at the fire house in front of the refinery to drive the fire trucks to the scene, while others drove directly to the location from their homes.  Maybe an old timer can set me straight on that.

Anyway, here is a list of the signals indicating various districts of the town.  These signals also appeared in the Sugar Land telephone directories.  Virtually everyone had them memorized, so they weren't all that necessary.  

It's not listed here, but there was a signal for prison escapes.  I assume Imperial Blvd. was included in the Gin Group signal.  I also assume Down Town Residences were the houses in what is the north section of present-day Brookside near Highway-90A.


Region Band Auditions, 1968

I don't have a date for this photo from The Fort Bend Mirror, but I'm reasonably sure it was printed in late 1968. You see Gary Buis, Sheryl Gary Lambert, Jamie Larson, and my brother Bruce prior to their try outs for the Region Band in Wharton.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Imperial Crown, December 1970

My thanks to Leon and Bettye Anhaiser for providing these scans.

Riding With Santa On The Sugar Land Fire Truck

There was a discussion on Facebook about riding with Santa (Soapy Borowski) on the antique Sugar Land fire truck.  I'm not sure everyone was aware the Lairds have home movies of this town tradition.

Shirley Laird

Dot and Scotty Hightower let me scan the following photo from their family collection.  It's undated, but it must come from the mid 1950s.  You see Shirley Laird, Gladys. Pierce, and Ida New.  Without looking this up, I think Gladys Pierce was the school librarian while Shirley Laird and Ida New were high school teachers.  They are standing somewhere on the Lakeview campus. 

(Update)  Judy Harrington Diamond (SLHS '59) helped me with the teacher on the right.  It's Miss Eleanor Berry, not Miss Ida New.  Many thanks to Judy for helping me get this right.

I 'borrowed' the following picture from Tommy Laird's Facebook account.  It shows his mother on November 15th, her 91st birthday


Selections from The Fort Bend Mirror, November 19, 1959

Punt Helmcamp and his father Boots made the front page of The Fort Bend Mirror on November 19, 1959.  Notice the deer in the back seat.

Here is the Sugar Land society column from the same edition.  You may recognize some of the people mentioned by the unnamed reporter.

My thanks go to the Helmcamp family for providing me these scans.

Imperial Sugar Memorabilia

I want to thank Cherryl Hughes Fikes for sending me these scans of Imperial Sugar Company memorabilia.  I think this first item is a paperweight.  I have one from the 1950s.  It's made of clear plastic, so you can see the sugar inside.  Air can't get to the sugar, so it will never deteriorate.  This item is much older; it's probably from the '20s or earlier.  It may have sand in it.

This next item is a printing plate for boxes of light brown sugar.  I'm not sure when it was made, but I presume it may be from the '20s or earlier.

I'm not exactly sure what these next items are, or the date they were printedBased on the title, I assume this pamphlet was aimed at retailers.  Regardless, I can remember seeing 1-lb. boxes like these in the Sugar Land store.


Dulles High In The Chuzzy Jenkins Era

I found these pictures in the H. L. 'Chuzzy' Jenkins family photo collection.   (Thank you Janice and Nancy.)  These are random clippings from his term as principal at Dulles Senior High School, which began in 1966.  I think they all come from The Fort Bend Mirror.  Along with Mr. Jenkins you see former students Diane Park Bailey, Nilgun Serdaroglu, and Stephen Farrell.


SLHS Class of '47 as 5th Graders?

My thanks go to Buddy and Billie Blair for providing me this picture.  It's undated, but I'm guessing it shows the Class of '47 when they were in the 5th grade, or thereabouts.  That is Lakeview Drive behind them.  I think you can just make out the tennis courts on the right edge of the picture.  Buddy is on the front row, 5th from the left.

I can't make out anyone else, but here's a list of the class.  Maybe it will help someone identify them: Ray Anhaiser, Jean McCord Babineaux, Buddy Blair, Patsy Rushing Buck, Albert Coburn, Edna Murl Cotham, Jack Curry, Bert Dearing, Richard Dierks, Minnie Jean Roberts Elskes, Verna Kelly Farrall, Walterene Stephenson Farrell, Ophilia Casarez Fuintero, William Gaertner, Colleen Hall Holt, Allen Lemke, Jimmy McFadden, James Miller, Janie Borowski Oberhoff, Jean Renfrow Speck, Agnes Urban Stein, Frank Tallas, Jerry Tallas, Neila Jo Spencer Thomas, Frank Topolanek, James Vavrecka, Jean Watson, Taz Watson, Royce White, and Clementine Malinoski Zdunkewiez.

Sugar Land Heritage Foundation Open House

Sorry about the late notice, but I thought I'd put it up anyway.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

SLHF & SLCAF Revive Chautauqua Talks At The Old Auditorium

The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation and the Sugar Land Cultural Arts Foundation have brought the Chautauqua movement back to Sugar Land. The Chautauqua Institute sponsored adult-education presentations traveling multiple, national circuits beginning in the 19th century and ending about the time of WW II.  

Leon Anhaiser inaugurated the new series of local talks on November 13th with his presentation entitled, "Sugar: The Essential Building Block of Sugar Land."  More talks at the Auditorium are scheduled over the coming months.  They are free to the public and will be presented at the Auditorium.  More about them in the future.

I videoed the session which included presentations on 
  • the Cultural Arts Foundation by its Executive Director, Amanda Rackliff
  • the Chautauqua movement by Bruce Kelly
  • the Heritage Foundation by its Executive Director, Bill Benson
  • and of course, Leon's featured presentation on sugar.

Unfortunately, technical difficulties lowered the color fidelity of the video, but I added still photos to supplement the video and improve 'watchability.'


Tenant Farm House Moved To Old Foster Community Museum

On October 18th the Old Foster Community Museum moved an 85-year old tenant farm house to its museum complex on FM 359 just south of Fulshear.  It was a surprisingly elaborate project that I caught on video.  Yoakum House Moving Inc. of Brenham took several days to prepare the move, which began at 9:00 a.m. and ended around 3:30 p.m. I shot nearly 2 hours of video which I've whittled down to 12 minutes. 

Many people are unaware that Sugar Land has connections to that area of Fort Bend County.  Colonel Cunningham built the Imperial Valley Railway which extended from Sugar Land to the Brazos River just west of Foster.  The railway hauled sugar cane from the area to the mill and refinery in Sugar Land.  It hauled other crops as well, but cane was the principal freight.  When cane crops died out in the late '20s, the railway's fate was sealed.

Sugar Land's second tie to the area is water.  A pumping station on the Brazos moved water from the river into Jones Creek, which fed it to Oyster Creek near what is now Pecan Grove.  Imperial needed the water for the refinery, and Sugarland Industries needed it for its extensive farming and ranching operations.  Without Brazos River water Sugar Land would never have expanded.

The area's third link to Sugar Land is Foster Farms, which was part of Sugarland Industries agricultural operations.  The Kempner family still owns the property.

As you'll see, the farm house is now on museum property.  I'm not certain when its restoration will be complete, but visit the Old Foster Community Museum if you are in the area.  Call 281-239-2178 for information on opening times and events.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lonnie Green, Sugar Land's Lone Combat Death in WW I

My brother Bruce Kelly wrote the following article on Alonzo Richmond 'Lonnie' Green.  He died of combat wounds in World War I making him Sugar Land's only soldier killed in the Great War.  His story is well worth reading.  The small park at Wood and First Streets is named after him.

I have a small bonus to add to Lonnie Green's story.  I found the following postcard in T. C. Rozelle's archive.  It's from Otto Martin to a Sugar Land resident, Mrs. I. G. Wirtz, Sr.  (I'm not sure Otto was a Sugar Land resident.)  He sent it a little over a month after the War was over.  He must have served in the occupational forces stationed in Munich, which saw considerable tumult after the Armistice.

Anyway, it is a good example of mail soldiers sent back home.  Otto was in Battery A of the 344th Regiment in the First Artillery Division, if I'm reading the card correctly.  I presume that's the censor's approval at the bottom center of the front of the card.