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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fort Bend Jaybird Mascot & Bat Boy, Gary Geik

My thanks go to Lou Payton for providing me this picture from his playing days with the Fort Bend Jaybird baseball team back in the early '50s.  It shows manager Don Utt with team mascot and bat boy, Gary Geik.  Some of you may know Gary, long-time justice of the peace in Rosenberg.  An annotation says Gary is 3 years old.

Update on George Andre's Home Movies from 1937 and 1943

I knew I should have asked Jean McCord Babineaux (SLHS '47) for help identifying people in George Andre's home movies.  (I posted clips a few weeks ago.)  Her daughter, Lynell Babineaux Laird (DHS '67) showed Jean the clips and got the right info for me.  I appreciate the help.  Here are the correct identifications.  (Emily, Sammie, Ralph & Jean are the older children of John & Hattie McCord.)


The other clip shows Mrs. McCord with the younger McCord children: John, Monnye Alice and Carolyn.

Eldridge Home on Lakeview

I got a note from Dorothy Topolanek Humphrey (SLHS '48) asking about W. T. Eldridge, Sr.'s home on Lakeview Drive.  I didn't have much information.  All I knew was that Eldridge moved into the home in 1928, and William Ward Watkin, designer of Rice Institute, was the architect.

A little research turned up the following items.  I never knew the home was called 'Casa de Manana.' (Pardon the missing tilde).  Watkin designed several prominent homes.  I'll try to get a copy of The Houston Post article published in 1928; it may provide some interesting details.

The 1st Circle of Sugar Land Elementary

I saw a question on Facebook recently about the number of school buildings in the 1st circle of Sugar Land Elementary's campus on Lakeview Drive.  Some low-level photos make it seem there  were just 8 classrooms in the semi-circle.  Actually, there were 10 rooms from the inception of the school in 1918.

Here's a quote from Bob Armstrong's book, Sugar Land, Texas and The Imperial Sugar Company (1991):

In 1916, it was evident that larger and better school facilities were needed to replace the enlarged combination school and church building on Wood Street.  Kempner and Eldridge instructed their chief engineer, M. R. Wood, to go to California and inspect a school plant which was reported to be one of the finest in the nation at that time and to draw up plans for a similar school plant in Sugar Land.
Wood copied the layout. Construction was started in early 1916 and completed in 1918.  Located on the north bank of Cleveland Lake, the plant consisted of eleven individual buildings arranged in a semi-circle with a large and airy auditorium at the center. All buildings were finished in white stucco on the outside with a flat roof and large windows. The buildings were connected by paved and covered walkways and each contained a classroom and a restroom. In cold weather they were heated from a central system; the large windows provided cooling breezes in warm weather. The auditorium seated 500 people, adequate for civic meetings and gatherings.  It had a raised stage, complete with curtains and backdrops and a moving picture screen, a projector room at the back and a piano. Occasionally, the community was treated to silent movies twice a week at minimum charge.

The 1st photo below is an aerial from a video Judy Harrington Diamond (SLHS '59) gave me.  It shows very clearly all 10 classroom cottages around the school auditorium.  You see Kempner Stadium at the upper right.  There's a fence around the field and a stands on the east side.  The field has no track.  You'll also notice the 1953 additions to the school campus don't appear.  All this suggests the photo dates from 1947 to 1952.  (Also note the baseball/softball field adjacent to the west side of Kempner Stadium.)

This next photo is a postcard made from an aerial photo.  It comes from T. C. Rozelle's archive.  He annotated the photo as taken in 1924.  Note there's no football field although there's a baseball field with stands.  They don't appear in the aerial above.  I think they were moved to the west-end park off Imperial Boulevard sometime in the 1930s.  Also note the 2nd semi-circle of the Sugar Land School has not been built.  It was constructed in 1932.

I also noticed some discussion of M. R. Wood School on Facebook. Mrs. Jean Sampson Johnson wrote a short history, which I posted here.  As she indicates, the M. R. Wood campus was formed in 1927 when three colored schools were consolidated in Mayfield Park.  The school was named after M. R. Wood sometime during his leadership of the Sugar Land school district.  I'll guess it was probably in 1927 when the new campus was constructed.

Here are some relevant aerial photos I have.  This 1st one shows the school house before the consolidation in 1927.  The school house in Mayfield Park (known as The Quarters in those days) was a community center, which also served as a church and civic meeting room.

The next photo was taken sometime between 1950 and 1952.  It shows the campus before new construction in 1953. 

An Aerial View of Sugar Land's South Side

I got a request for photos of the Grand Central area of Sugar Land.  (Grand Central was the Sugarland Industries complex of farm buildings between Oyster Creek and Highway 6, roughly opposite Alkire Lake and Venetian Estates residential areas.)  I think Sugar Land's Home Depot store sits on the approximate spot today.

Unfortunately, I don't have a good photo of the area.  The following aerial is the best I can do.  Grand Central is just outside its top edge, but you can still see some of its northern-most area.  Note San Isidro Cemetery and the railroad track leading to the Galveston docks.  The upper-right corner shows a complex of buildings on the Creek. I believe this is where Mr. C. A. Coburn, Sr. lived.  He was the head of cattle-raising operations for the Industries.  A little east of those buildings you can see a road running straight south to the top edge of the photo.  I think the house on the east side of that road is Captain Brooks's old home.  He was head of farming operations for the Industries from the beginning to the mid-1930s.

Sugar Land's Old Commerical District

Sugar Land's original commercial district has always fascinated me, possibly because I don't remember it at all. It's the same general location as the current-day Farmer's Market in front of the refinery along Kempner Street.

Judy Harrington Diamond (SLHS '59) gave me a copy of a video she and one of her children produced a few years ago.  (More about it in the future.)  I was overjoyed to find several photos I'd never seen before, including a few showing the interior of buildings in the old commercial district.  

Here is a photo to help orient you to the layout of the old commercial district.  I don't have an exact date, but you can see the old char house (the tallest building in the picture) has 'Cunningham Sugar Company' written on it.  The telephone cross-bar partially obscures the lettering, but I can tell that's a 'C' at the start of the name.  If I'm correct, this picture can't be later than 1908.  Whatever the exact date, the general layout of the old commercial district didn't change much until 1952, which the 'new' shopping center was constructed on the south side of Highway-90A.  I've annoted the buildings.  The current Char House (the red brick building) stands in the space between the old Company Office building and W. T. Eldridge, Sr.'s home.

Here's an early front view of the Drug Store.  

This next photo (from Judy's video) is the first I've ever seen of the interior of the Drug Store.  My mother says it shows the front counter on the 1st floor.  She can't identify the men shown in it, so I'd appreciate any help on further details.  (Sorry that I don't have high-resolution version of Judy's photos.)

(Update) Here's a larger version of the photo below - click on it.  The resolution is low, so it will appear blurrier as I blow it up.  However, I think the man in the middle is Dr. Carlos Slaughter. 


The same building housed other enterprises, including the doctors' offices.  Another was the telephone office.  I think the next photo (from Judy's video) shows the telephone office on the 2nd floor of this building.  I can't identify anyone, but the operator next to the man may be Helen Dunkerly Friend.

Here's a quote from Bob Armstrong's book, Sugar Land, Texas and The Imperial Sugar Company (1991): 

The Sugar Land telephone company originated in 1908 when Mr. Eldridge demanded a phone line from his home and his office to the plant superintendent in the sugar refinery.  It soon grew to three, then to ten, phones with one operator seated at a switchboard located in a corner of the corrugated iron building which housed the general offices. Additional lines were added from time to time to offices and to executive homes, but it was a limited system with only one operator on each shift until the early 1920s.  It normally took nearly all day to complete a telephone call to New York City.
In 1922 the telephone offices were relocated to the second floor of the corrugated iron building housing the drug store and soda fountain.  By 1929 there were 221 telephones in service and the company was extending its lines generally throughout eastern Fort Bend County and into parts of Harris County.  In 1931 the company was organized as the Harris-Fort Bend Telephone Company, owned by the Sugarland Industries. G. D. Ulrich was elected president and served in that capacity until his death in 1947, at which time T. L. James ... became president.
Here's a link to Sugar Land's first telephone directory, printed in 1929.  (My thanks go to Margaret Albritton Hill for allowing me to scan her copy.)

Here's a front view of the Company Offices in 1952, just before the new offices opened in the shopping center across the road.

This next photo shows the interior of the building, I think.  It comes from Judy's video; I don't have an exact date.  I think that's E. O. Guenther standing in the back.  (Here's a 1921 photo of the building.)

Here's a bonus photo from Judy's video.  It show Ira Harper in the Drug Store in the 'new' shopping center.  He's standing at the counter in the front corner (on the left as you walked in the front door).   On the left (near the front door) was a small ice cream case.  My dad walked home for lunch when we lived on Guenther St.  He'd stop at this counter and bring us Popsicles as a post-lunch treat.  On the right (out of view) was a pigeon-hole shelf on the wall.  I don't know exactly what Ira put in it, but I know people who subscribed to The Houston Press found their papers in the pigeon holes.  I guess The Press didn't do home delivery in Sugar Land.

(Update) I just got the following note from David [Davenport] Wickersham: "As always, thanks for the memories.  The Houston Press did make home deliveries in Sugar Land because I used to help Jackie Poe and his mother throw them. Especially on Sunday mornings.  It was a real "Tom Sawyer" deal when Jackie would let one of us boys spend the night at his house and help feed the farm animals and then get up at 4 AM to through the papers.  We went to Rouses' Drug Store and the papers were delivered by the paper truck.  We sat there and rolled the papers by hand and tied them with string.  Mrs. Poe had a calous on the edge of her hand that could chop wood from years of breaking that string.  We also did the Houston Post.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Palms Theater & Dairy Queen

I've received a couple of questions asking if I had any pictures of the Palms Theater and the Dairy Queen.  I don't have many, but here are a few.  

(Here's an earlier post with aerial photos showing the location of these social centers of old Sugar Land.)



Ticket booth & front doors, early 1950s

Inside the front doors, early 1950s

Refreshments counter, 1950s (thanks Judy Diamond)
I hope Coach didn't see the cigarettes on the table.