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Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas From Old Sugar Land

Rockwall Crushes Dulles In A Heartbreaker 7-6

We've reached the end of the story, but before we finish I want to thank Rick Kirkpatrick for letting me scan his scrapbook and use these images to tell the story of the Dulles Vikings' 1963 football season.

Here are a few pregame articles from the Houston papers.  Note that Rockwall was a 7-1/2 point favorite. Dulles was worried about Rockwall's speed. Dulles played AA football for 4 years (they advanced to AAA in 1964) and had a 30-6-2 record from '61 to '63 when they were consecutive district champs.

If you were there, I don't have to tell you how it happened.  If you weren't there, mere words can't describe it.  All you need to do is look at the last two minutes of the game film.  You'll see Dulles fans filing out of the stands onto the sidelines to swarm the field as Marc Noel grabs a last-minute, desperation pass for a touchdown and scuttles the Viking victory.   It's sort of like watching the Hindenburg disaster: "Oh, the humanity!"

Here are some post-game newspaper articles

Here are links to the game film:

Part 2 of Video of 4th Quarter. (The soundtrack has been muted since I originally posted the video.)

And, here's a link to a blog entry I posted a few years ago.  Note the comments, program, and other memorabilia.

I've found the following articles in The Dallas Morning News archive, which give the same story from the Yellow Jackets' viewpoint.

I'll have one more item about the aftermath next time, so I'll wait and wax philosophical then.

More Images Of Old Sugar Land

Pay Day At Imperial's Personnel Office in the 1950s.

Pay Day at Imperial's Personnel Office in the 1950s.

Construction of a drainage culvert beneath Burney Road & Main Street in the 1950s. (View east toward today's City Park.)

Construction of a drainage culvert beneath Burney Road & Main Street in the 1950s. (View south down Main Street.)

W. H. Louviere (President) & George Andre with visitors in Imperial president's office in the 1950s.

More than a year ago Terrell Smith gave me a DVD filled with photos he'd collected.  After posting a few, I misfiled the disk and couldn't find it.  Well, I've got it now, and it has some terrific photos on it; for example, these aerials from 1983.

A view eastward down Highway-90A.  (Note Sugar Mill development in the upper left.)

A view westward down Highway-90A.  (Note Highway 6 at the top.)

A view of Sugar Land's west side looking north.  (Note the open land were the ball park now sits and new residential construction is now in development.)

A view eastward down Highway 59.  (Note Fluor in the lower middle, the old Kaneb building in the middle right, and Sugar Creek at the top.)

A view of the east end of the Nalco complex.  (Note the Post Office on Matlage Way is under construction in the upper left.)

Gators Get By Magnolia In Hall's Last Game

The first chapter in Sugar Land High's golden age of football ended 60 years ago with a 13-7 win over the Magnolia Bulldogs in Rosenberg.  As the newspaper account indicates, it was a tough game.  Magnolia 'stacked the box' in modern parlance and held record-setting Kenneth Hall to a mere 143 yards rushing.  (He's not mentioned in the game reports, but Buddy Dial, Rice All-American and NFL great, played in the game, too.)

I like the closing paragraph of The Houston Chronicle's article:

The readers from the plains of West Texas to sandy loams of East Texas, from the Gulf Coast to Red River, may in another year forget the story of the fabulous Kenneth Hall, but the town of Sugar Land never will.

In fact, the early 1950s was a golden age due to several factors.  Of course, Ken was the dynamo, but as he would be the first to admit, Sugar Land was home to an unusually large number of talented players for such a small town.  There was a was a lot of team speed, plus an unusual offensive scheme -- the Notre Dame Box.  Mix in a young coach the players genuinely liked and a smart, organized school administrator who instilled fundamentals in the team's preparation, and you had a winning combination.

It's important to realize that except for a couple of down years, the Sugar Land Gators were a renown powerhouse in Class B high school football all through the 1950s, winning additional bi-district and regional championships.  

And we shouldn't forget that M. R. Wood, which began playing football in 1953, became a football power winning 8 straight district championships from 1957 to its last season in 1964, when integration closed the high school.

Sugar Land was quite a football town back in the old days.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sugar Land Railroad

I found the following article on the Sugar Land Railroad in the August 1971 issue of The Imperial Crown.  There are a few mistakes and items needing clarification, which I'll try to pin down in future research.  (Note the author refers to Highway-90A as Highway 59.  I'm not at all sure about the dates and location of track extensions.) 
The Sugar Land Railroad is a fast-fading memory in Sugar Land. 


A Before & After View Of Lake Pointe

My thanks to Tommy Laird (DHS '67) for providing me with two pictures from the east bank of Oyster Creek near his backyard in the Brookside subdivision.  The first picture was taken in the mid 1960s; the second just a few days ago.  They compose a before-and-after tableaux spanning almost 50 years!


More People Of Old Sugar Land

Mary Frierson At A Sugar Land Garden Club Function (Undated).

James Kee (Lions Club) Presents A Check To Sterling Thomas & Heywood Davis Of The Raymond Freeman American Legion Post In Mayfield Park - 1960s.

Billy Jack Parr, SLHS Class of 1950.

Ida Marie Seitz Plakuda, SLHS Class of 1952.

Maxine & Dr. Leslie Wheeler, Jr. with Jonellen & Buddy.

Victor Krehmeier, Sr. At The Sugar Land State Bank (Undated).

Leon Anhaiser & Jackie James, SLHS Class of 1957.

'Boots' Helmcamp at Sugar Land State Bank (Undated).

Bill LIttle, Aline McLemore, Ted Kossa, & Bob Womack in the mid 1960s as Mrs. McClemore purchased her new home in Mayfield Park.

Audio Recordings of Houston & Dallas Radio on November 22, 1963

I thought I'd post one last item on the Kennedy assassination.  I've been surfing through old radio recordings and found the following items.  I'm  not a conspiracy nut, but I'm always interested in seeing or hearing contemporaneous accounts of historic events.  After all, they are the first rough draft of history.

The Houston item is a recording of KILT, Gordon McClendon's radio station in the Bayou City.  As I've said before, I and my classmates were in Mrs. Roger Guinn's 8th grade reading and spelling class when our principal, Dugan Hightower, announced the first news reports.  As I recall, he gave periodic announcements for a few minutes, but soon afterward he decided to play the radio on the classroom intercom system.  If I remember correctly, he told us an important world event had happened and we should follow news reports rather than proceed through our classes as if it were a normal day.  I'm fairly certain he tuned in to either KPRC (950) or KTRH (740) -- not KILT (610), which was a juvenile pop station.

I don't know if our next class was Mrs. Mary Frierson's English class, or if Coach Hightower sent us all to our home rooms prior to dismissing us early, but I remember staring at the intercom speaker in her room as the news unfolded.  The speakers were dark-stained wooden boxes attached above the blackboards on the front walls of our classrooms.  They were about 18" x 18" x 6".  Their front panels were canted downward a little, so sound would project down on the classroom rather than bounce off the back wall.  Circular brown cloths covered the inset speakers.  I'm sure many people remember them.  My class sat in silence staring at the speaker and listening to announcements, which were almost non-stop by 1:00 pm.

Maybe I'm a cold northern European type, or maybe my class was exceptionally reserved, but I don't remember any tears.  The atmosphere was more somber, stunned silence than anything else.  My guess is that we all knew a momentous historic event had occurred, but we didn't really know what it was or how to react to it.

I recall a much more emotional atmosphere during the Cuban Missile Crisis the year before.  We all had some skin in that game, and a low-grade sense of dread haunted classrooms.  I can laugh about it now, but every so often, jet fighters would fly overhead at supersonic speed and produce sonic booms.  They were sudden and unpredictable, and they made the school windows rattle.  I'm sure they heightened the tension -- it's amazing we didn't have any quick trips to the bathrooms!

I haven't listened to these audios completely, but I will soon.  Maybe I'll find something new to prove or disprove all the conspiracy theories.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Past In Sugar Land

If you haven't got your Sugar Land Heritage commemorative Christmas ornament, there's still time.  The Museum is open on Saturday mornings from 9:00 to 1:00.  Or, you can call 281-494-0261 to arrange a visit to buy one.  Click this link for more information.  If you prefer a copy of a historical photograph, they are available on the Web site too.  Scroll down below the images of the ornaments.

Here are a few old photos to get you in the mood.
Lobby of Imperial's General Offices on the 2nd floor of the Shopping Center - Christmas 1958.

Party in Imperial's General Offices - Christmas 1965.

From The Imperial Crown - 1964.

Kids riding the antique fire truck with Santa - late 1950s. (Santa is Soapy Borowski.  His helper is Albert Grohman.)

Kids riding the antique fire truck with Santa - late 1950s.

Interior of Dry Goods store - late 1950s.

David Whips Goliath - Dulles Over Liberty in '63 Semi-Finals

Fifty years ago Dulles faced a daunting opponent, the Liberty Panthers. The following article by Bill Murray, The Chronicle's high school sports writer, sums up the pregame situation.  As I mentioned last week, some experts were picking Liberty as the eventual state champs.  (Notice he picked Dalhart over Rockwall in their semi-final match.)

Here's another article Murray wrote before the game.  I'm not sure Bobby Husbands ever weighed 190 lbs., but I could be wrong.

I remember this one pretty clearly; of course, it helps that we have the game film.  (See the links below.)  It was a night for ducks: cold and very soggy.  Pasadena's stadium was filled nonetheless.  I recollect the Liberty team was gigantic -- not by today's standards, but big for that time.  (Note the Bobby Husbands quote.)

Liberty lost 4 fumbles, and Dulles scored on a trick play, the Viking Special, which seemed to deflate Liberty and pump up the Vikings.  I'm fairly certain they used it once in a regular season game, but it caught Liberty off guard.  It also caught the camera man off guard because he missed it too.  

There are descriptions of it in the articles, but essentially, Dulles waited for a placement of the ball on a hash mark -- as close to a sideline as allowed.  They huddled near mid field, but not so far away that Liberty knew something was up.  Liberty's defense lined up where the ball was placed by the referee, playing little attention to the Dulles huddle.  T.V. Abercrombie walked to the ball before the huddle broke, just like he'd done a thousand times before.  When he reached the ball, he quickly picked it up and tossed it across the field (maybe 10 or 15 yards) to Ralph Senior who dashed to the goal line with his team mates in front of him.  The play was legal because 6 lineman moved quickly to the line of scrimmage (as it extended across the field) just before T.V. tossed the ball.  As I said, it was a key play in the game.

One other item about the game.  Travis Gandy told me the team changed into dry jerseys at half time.  They were old ones the junior varsity used, and some players had to wear different numbers.

Here's a link to an earlier post on this game.  Note Carol Waldrop's (DHS '65) comment about Coach Hightower firing up the pep rally before the game.  You can go directly to the game film by clicking the following links.

Game Video Part 1.

Game Video Part 2.

The Viking Shield contained the following tidbits about events at the school.  (Unfortunately, I don't have the complete newspaper, so I couldn't post the continuation of several articles.)


Up in the far north, Rockwall faced a highly touted Dalhart team in Vernon.  The Yellow Jacket juggernaut continued rolling as they thumped Dalhart 35-7.  Notice the reference to Dick Todd, who's been prominent in posts about Sugar Land's 1953 season as Kenneth Hall broke his scoring records.  I guess Rockwall's football lore stretches pretty far back.  Also note that the weather was cold -- it seems all of Texas was in a deep freeze 60 years ago.

Well, the drama ends next week when the cinderella team (as Willis Webb termed Dulles) meets the Yellow Jacket juggernaut at Baylor Stadium in Waco.