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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cowboy Spring Break, March 10 - 17, 2012

If you have children or grandchildren and want a diversion for spring break, check out the events at the George Ranch Historical Park.  

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Recordings of the 1957 Sugar Land High School Band

I want to thank Dave Lambert, Sheryl Gary Lambert and the folks at Dulles High School who uncovered these gems.  They are two acetate recordings of the Sugar Land High School Band performing in 1957. I'm not sure if these are contest recordings, but I think they probably are.  I haven't identified the songs, the date of the performance or the location.

Naturally, the are scratchy, but the quality of their playing comes through.

I sent a note to Jackie James ('57), asking if she had a program or any memorabilia to contribute.  She told me she dropped out of band her senior year to concentrate on her grades.  She had this funny story about her days in the band.

Actually, I was not in the band my senior year which was '57.  I started high school band in 7th grade on clarinet, played it thru my sophomore year, and then changed to bassoon my junior year because orthodontist didn't want me playing clarinet after braces were removed.  I decided to leave the band and concentrate completely on my studies my senior year as I really wanted to get in a good school.  And that I did as I was accepted at Trinity University which is still one of Texas' highest regarded schools academically.

Have to tell you one funny story about playing the bassoon in a marching band!  Mr. Gary did this only to keep me in the band as I started to quit after I couldn't play clarinet anymore.  He told me, "You can't quit the band as you are the only real musician I have besides H.G. (Bossley)"!  I didn't believe that then and I still don't but I guess he liked me as much as I  liked him.
So, we used to practice for parades marching up and down Lakeview Dr.  The first time I and my bassoon hit the street (elementary school kids were already out playing in their yards) I had a following!!!  They all started walking beside me (I was on the outside near the sidewalk) and before long there were probably 12 or 15 kids!  They had never seen a bassoon before and couldn't believe what they were seeing! Mr. Gary started calling me " The Pied Piper"!

Alligator Splash, February 10, 1948

I want to thank Dorothy Topolanek Humphrey (SLHS '48) for letting me scan this issue of the SLHS student newspaper, Alligator Splash.  (It was the successor to Campus Chatter published earlier in the school's history.)

You'll see they had a severe ice storm, and the band couldn't march in the Houston Rodeo Parade due to inclement weather.  Illnesses hit the elementary grades, and Ellen Pausewang won the D.A.R. citizenship award. I almost forgot -- Governor Buford Jester visited the prison farm that week.


Rounding Up Longhorns At The George Ranch Historical Park

I was out at the George Ranch Historical Park last week filming a round up of Longhorn cattle they keep there.  It was part of their Tales of Texas event where they recreate local history.  Friday was a special day reserved for school children.  They appeared to have a great time.  Here's a 10-minute video I made from the footage I shot.

Early Photos of the KPRC TV Studios near Post Oak & Westheimer

I think the early history of Houston television is fascinating.  Jack Harris was KPRC's first station manager.  I can recommend his book,"The Fault Does Not Lie With Your Set."  Its only drawback is that it doesn't include Kitirik since she was on rival station KTRK.

Open House at KPRC Studios in 1953.
J. R. Gonzales runs a good blog on Bayou City History.  He's posted some good photos from the Chronicle archive showing the old KPRC studios that stood just south of present-day Galleria.  You may remember seeing the Quonset hut and antenna.  I'd forgotten that the Post Oak Drive In was so close by.  You'll see how close in the aerial photos.

Spike Jones & His City Slickers Perform in 1942 Command Performance

I often listen to Internet radio stations that play old time radio programs.  A few days ago, I heard the program, Command Performance, broadcast on August 18, 1942.

Command Performance was created for the US Armed Services.  They took requests (as you'll hear) and booked acts that appealed to service men.  Cary Grant was the guest host.  Don Wilson (Jack Benny's protege) was the announcer.  The first musical guest was Spike Jones & His City Slickers.  I remember seeing them on television in the '50s.  I've always thought they were hilarious.

A Little More Campus Chatter from February, 1929

We have a little more Campus Chatter from February 15th, 1929.  The big noise at Sugar Land High was the boys basketball team, which was about to play in the county championship tournament in Richmond.  The winner would go to another tournament in Houston.  (I'm not sure how the play off system worked in those days.)  The Gators didn't have a particularly good record, but their home-town fans thought they might overcome the mighty Richmond Tigers.  There were just 4 teams in the county: Sugar Land, Richmond, Rosenberg & Beasley.

We also have news from the colored school. Their recent PTA meeting was lively, and their piano club was busy collecting funds to pay for their piano. 

Furthermore, the Sugar Land High Foods I Class served a dinner to the school board and guests.  I wonder where they held it.  The home economics room wasn't built until 1932.

Richmond High showed some hospitality by throwing a dance for Sugar Land students.

As always, we close with the specials at the Mercantile Store. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Billy Vic 'Bill' Krehmeier

Many of you probably know Bill Krehmeier died recently.  The Krehmeiers were/are close friends of the Kelly family.  Billy Vic was a close friend of my father's from their earliest days growing up in Sugar Land.  My mother is a close friend of Tuggie Krehmeier.  It was a very sad day for the Kelly family when Bill died.  

Here are a few pictures I found in a family scrapbook. I think they were taken the summer my father graduated from Sugar Land High School.  Bill would be heading for his senior year at SLHS.  This first picture shows Bill and Arthur 'Skeet' Guenther at the Krehmeier home on The Hill, I think.  (My mother thinks that's the Krehmeiers' car.)

This next picture was taken at the old school.

There's an amusing story that goes with this next picture.  I took a printed copy to my mother to help identify the boy in the middle.  She said, "That's Bill on the left, Skeet in the middle, but I don't know who that is on the right."  I said, "Mother!  That's Dad!"  She laughed and said, "Well, I'd never seen him with his hair slicked back like that."


Gambling in Sugar Land, 1923

I found this letter in T. C. Rozelle's archives.  An anonymous resident of Sugar Land wrote Gus Ulrich, General Manager of Sugarland Industries, complaining about gamblers coming out to Sugar Land and fleecing men of their families' Christmas money.  Essentially, Ulrich ran the day-to-day activities in the town, so he could take care of something like this.  I've included his memo to the labor boss, Jim Guyer, requesting a discussion of the matter.  I'm willing to bet they took care of the problem. 

What you're seeing is the good & (potentially) bad aspects of life in a small company town.  Employers felt no hesitation in taking care of problems like this.  Of course, there were probably times they went a little too far.  Who knows.  People today would resent any type of corporate paternalism.

Here's the text of her letter as I read it:

Sugarland Dec 20/24

Capt. W. T. Eldridge
Dear Sir

I'm  appealing to you, to give some of us ladies here in your little city some relief.  We don't wish no one to loose their positions.  But if you will close some of this gambling here, we would have a few dollars at home for Xmas. At Mr. Moores and the Depot and other places where all of our husbands and others are gambling, the gamblers who do nothing else come here Saturday and Sunday from Houston in crowds and take the money from those who work and we wives suffer.  Please look in to it for some who hold responsible jobs are going to get in serious trouble.  I don't no one to loose out here as they all have to work.  Respectfully, a Wife to Employe here.


SLHS Campus Chatter, February 8th, 1929

Here are a few articles from the SL ISD's student newspaper, Campus Chatter, dated February 8th, 1929.  I've finally got an answer to a nagging question.  Sugar Land High School didn't have an indoor basketball court.  They must have practiced on the tennis courts behind the first circle of class rooms.  Apparently, they played few (if any) of their games in Sugar Land.

I have the impression that Superintendent Caryn Foreman wasn't big on sports.  She didn't want to provide any school funds for football or basketball.  The players, their families & local supporters apparently collected funds for these programs.

I noticed in a later article they played Richmond High in their new gym.  I presume it was on the school grounds where Jane Long Elementary now stands.  However, even another article says they played a game in the old court house, which is pretty wild.  I'll have to check when they demolished that building.  It stood where the old Richmond swimming pool was located.  It's the same block where the water tower now stands.


"Sugar ... Pure Cane Sugar," an Imperial Brochure from 1975

My thanks go to Terry Bates for sending me this scan of the Imperial Sugar Company's promotional brochure, "Sugar ... Pure Cane Sugar," which was published in 1975.  Terry's mother, Mrs. Kenneth Johnson, worked in the Packing Department for many years.  She appears in the bottom photo on page 17 of the brochure.

Notice the photo on page 3 of the brochure of the sugar mill in Santa Rosa, Texas.  The text says when it opened in 1973, it marked the return of sugar growing in Texas after an absence of nearly 50 years.  I can't be sure, but I think it was about 45 years, but I guess the writer wanted a nice round figure.

Two comments:  First, I like the design of this brochure.  It's neat, clean, attractive & direct.  Second, I drank a Coke a couple days ago.  I hadn't downed one in several years since I'm not a big soft-drink drinker.  It tasted pretty bad.  Corn syrup just doesn't cut it.

Sugar ... Pure Cane Sugar

Hot Rod Goat Cart, 1951

I want to thank Cherryl Hughes Fikes for sending me this photo of the hot-rod goat car that probably tore up and down Brooks Street in 1951.  I think Darryl had just the right hat for the job.


Local Lion's Club Letter To Graduating Seniors in May, 1942

I recently went through a scrapbook my grandmother kept for my father when he was young.  One item I found was this letter the Lions Club sent him on his graduation from Sugar Land High School in 1942.  I didn't receive a letter when I graduated from Dulles in 1968, but I know the Lions Club sent these letters for many years.  (Maybe they stopped when Sugar Land High ceased to exist.)

I'm surpised there are names I don't recognize: Ashmore, Wehrman & Buhler.  

I almost forgot -- they misspelled our family name.


Sugar Land Railroad Round House

The Sugar Land Railroad was one of several subsidiaries under the Sugarland Industries holding company.  It has a convoluted history, which I'll save for a later date.  The railroad owned several engines and at least one private car for William T. Eldridge's personal use.  I hope to have more on those items, too.  What I've got now is a picture of the round house where they moved/rotated engines on various tracks. 

Here's a photo of an engine near near the round house. Notice its antique configuration; for example, its smoke stack is fairly high for the size of the engine, which is relatively small.  As far as I know, these engines never ran on the Southern Pacific tracks that parallel Highway-90A. 

David Chernosky has pointed out the location of the round house.  I was surprised to learn it sat between the old John Deere building and Cleveland Lake.  I've marked an aerial photo below.  Eldridge kept his rail car in a  shed by the round house.  It may be the same building where the arrow points in the aerial photo.  I'll have to talk with David about this.


Weldon's Cafeteria

I have fond recollections of Weldon's cafeteria on Main Street in Houston.  Until Sharpstown Center opened in 1961, my family drove to downtown Houston to shop.  (We continued occasional trips downtown even after Sharpstown opened.)  Weldon's was a frequent stop, although we sometimes stopped at Alfred's in Rice Village or Felix's (either Kirby or Westheimer locations).  Here's a photo of the interior.  You see the upstairs and downstairs dining rooms.  The serving lines & cashier's stand are just visible beyond the stairs & balcony.

I found this blog which gives more info on Weldon's and the recent history of the building.  I'm glad to know the building is still standing.