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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Aerial Photos of Sugar Land from 1940 & 1953

I've posted many aerial photos of Sugar Land in the past, but I don't think I've ever posted these.  They show much of the town as it was in 1940 and 1953.

The first aerial below shows a northeastward view of the town.  You can see that Mayfield Park is hardly developed.  In fact, the north end of the subdivision stayed undeveloped until 1953 when Sugarland Industries sold lots for home sites.  Charlie White's first restaurant appears on the south side of Highway-90A across from the commercial districtResidents of my mother's generation still refer to it as 'the root beer stand.'

Notice that the wooden stands on the east side of Kempner Field appear in the photo.  I always thought they were constructed in 1947 but that is incorrect.  Those stands (plus lights) were completed just before the 1939 football season.  (I've often used the stadium configuration to date photos.)

The eastern end of Imperial Boulevard appears in this picture, too.

The next photo shows the Humble service station across Highway-90A from the train depot.  The first station I remember (located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Highway-90A and Brooks Street) was built in 1942.  You can see that location is vacant in this picture.  

The old Sealy Mattress building - later the initial location of the Marshall Canning Company - appears on the northwest corner of Sugar Land Street (now Kempner) and Main Street.  The old Imperial Inn, which burned down in 1947, is across Highway-90A on the east bank of Oyster Creek.  Also, notice what appears to be vegetable crops in the area that became Brookside.  Cotton grew in that field when I was growing up.

The next aerial, also taken in 1940, shows an eastward view from the west side of town.  You can see more of Imperial Blvd. in the foreground with the town dairy on the banks of Oyster Creek on the left side of the picture.  Highway-90A is a two-lane road; it would expand to 4 lanes in 1947.

The building on the north boundary of the refinery next to Oyster Creek is the site of the sugar mill built in 1843 by the Williams brothers and later taken over by the Kyle and Terry families.  Edward Cunningham completely remodeled the mill in the late 1880s - I presume the building in this picture is the same structure.  It ceased operation as a sugar mill in 1928 when local growers stopped cultivating sugar cane.  Imperial repurposed the building for other uses in the refining process.  It was taken down in the early 1960s.  I hope to learn more about that in the future.

The final aerial below was taken in the summer of 1953.  The view is above the east side of town looking westward.  Note the new shopping center (completed the year before), the Humble station and Sugar Land Motor Company on the corner of Brooks and Highway-90A, and the Palms Theater (completed in 1949).  You can see that the highway is now 4 lanes wide.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Old Chrome

I think Richard Bunting (DHS '67) sent me the message containing these pictures.  [Correction: Lou Payton (SLHS '46) sent me these pictures.] I know there are some motoring enthusiasts in the crowd, so I thought I'd post the photos and explanatory text.  

Let me introduce two people that restored every one of these cars and still retain ownership to everyone. Ted and Sharon (Sunflower) Forbes live in Sooke B.C. which is on the southern tip of Vancouver Island . This collection is without a doubt the absolute finest collection of fifties cars in the World. I will endeavor through mere photographs to display this incredible collection of beauty on this webpage.

Below: 1956 Ford Skyliner (Glasstop) We restored this car in 1988 from an original car that came from the India n reservation here on Vancouver Island . It is full power with all options.

1956 Meteor Crown Victoria We restored this car in 1990 and drove it to Ocean Shores Washington for its first drive. It is full power with all accessories except "air".

1955 Meteor Convertible This car is mostly original and it has taken me 28 years to buy it from the original owner. This car spent a good part of its life in Winnipeg . There is probably only about 8 of these cars surviving out of the total production of 201 cars. We have driven this car more last summer than any of our other cars. I rebuilt all the mechanics and added all the accessories and options and it has everything except "air". There is an article on this car in FoMoCo Times.

1956 Meteor Convertible Meteors used some Mercury colors in 1956. This 56 Meteor is painted Grove Green and Saffron Yellow with a black lightning bolt and the production numbers are only 479. It is full power with all accessories except "air". She has taken us to Rockin Red Deer in Alberta , Hot August Nights in Reno and many other trips. Because of the colour, we call her "Juicy Fruit" and many people have seen this car.

1956 Mercury M-100 Pickup We have driven this truck all over the place form Calif to Manitoba to Sturgis many times since we bought it in 1978. About 12 years ago I put an Aspen suspension , 302 and AOD in the truck to make it drive better It has never missed a beat. The next time I rebuild the truck I have a 5 L. for it.

55 Merc Sun Valley . I bought this car from an old ladies estate sale in 1983. It was rust free but pretty banged up with only 26000 miles on it. I added all the options and accessories and restored only as needed keeping the car as original as possible.

56 Mercury Montclair Convertible. This car is one of our favorites. I found what was left of it in the Spokane area and restored and drove it to Hot August Nights in Reno in 1996. It is London Grey and Persimmon with full power and all accessories.

1955 Mercury Convertible I tow barred this car from Southern Calif in 1989 behind my little Ford short box 302. The 55 was so ugly, not once did anyone give me the "thumbs up". It is now restored Canadian colors, Sunset Coral with matching Tapestry weave interior and Metric speedo, full power and accessory steering wheel. It has only 530 miles on it because we mostly drive the 56 Mercury convertible.

1958 Pontiac Parisienne Convertible. I built this car out of a super basket case. I welded 6 months on this car alone. It is a 348 tri-power, bucket seats and with practically every factory and dealer option available in 1958. We drove this car to Hot August Nights in 2004.

1966 Park Lane convertible. I bought this car at Don Wheaton's in Edmonton when I was a kid working in the oilfields in 1968. My wife and I honey mooned in this car in 1969 and then went overseas to work in the oilfield for 25 years. I had the car in my barn in Manitoba until May 2005. It is now at home on Vancouver Island with 30,000 miles showing on the speedometer. This is a Canadian built, bucket seat car in which only a handful were made.

The 64 Park Lane convertible is a good old 78,000 mile car, with all good parts to restore it. It is a full power, bucket seat car with super marauder engine and rare 15" wheels. I have cast iron headers and tri-power for it.

1958 Mercury Convertible I looked for one of these cars for about 10 years and finally got this one from John Fowlie in Calif. We restored it with a 430, full power with memory seat and everything and it is big. I was able to find a lot of NOS parts for this car probably because not many of these cars are being restored. Mostly 57's.

When I found the 59 Impala it was a rust bucket folded up on a 8 ft pallat. The car had no interior or powertrain. It was originally a black Canadian built car. I have installed a 1995 LT-1 fuel injected engine with 700R4 trans but when finished this car will look like it was built this way from the factory(I hope) It is going to be the usual cruiser with fenderskirts, full continental kit, spotlights and so on. It is presently 70% finished but will probably be finished for next spring.

This 1959 Edsel Convertible is the latest addition to the Mountaintop Collection. Of course it goes without saying, this machine has full power options and has been meticulously restored under the skilled hands of Ted Forbes. Another beautiful contribution to an already stunning collection. Congrats Guys!

It is hard to imagine for me how all the cars that I had always admired all my life and just dreamed about how they used to look..........can actually be located in and indeed be the property of one couple right here in Canada . They couldn't possibly belong to finer people. Without their vision fortitude and desire, these cars would very probably be nothing but a mere memory processed in a scrap yard somewhere. Our hat goes off to Ted and Sharon..........their efforts have ensured that these treasures of our past will be enjoyed by many generations to come. Thanks Guys!

One More Picture from Walter Buehring's Archive

I downloaded this picture and brightened it a little.  With a little help from the Viking yearbook I think I've identified everyone but the boy and the girl on the far right: Linda Vaccaro, Donna Tarver, mystery man, Bunnye Buehring, and mystery girl.  This must be a prom picture, but that's a guess.

(Update) As you can see by Walt's comment, the girl on the left is Leslie Weber, not Linda Vaccaro.  He says it's a photo from a piano recital.  Many thanks for the update, Walt. 

(Update) Walt's big sister says that's Brenda Weber, not her sister Leslie. (See Cindy's comment below.)


"Sugar High," an article in a recent issue of Houston magazine

Sugar Land is a happenin' placeThanks to my classmate, Dorothy Syblik (DHS '68), for telling me about this article.

More Photos of DHS's Class of '73

Here are their freshmen class pictures as they appeared in the '70 Viking yearbook.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Few Updates On Previous Posts

Carol Goehring Terral (DHS '67) made the following comment about The Salvage: 

"Just wanted to let you know a little something about the KC hall in the old salvage building.  My husband and I married on Oct 8, 1967 and we used that hall for our wedding reception.  It had the stairs at that time and I threw my bouquet to the girls from the top of those stairs.  My mom said that she remembers my uncles using the BBQ pits outside the building to BBQ the chickens for my reception. The room had really nice hardwood floors.  I remember one of my brothers, who was about 9 years old then, ruining his brand new dress slacks by sliding on his knees on the floor during my wedding reception.  In the hall there was a large stage.  

My parents had a few of my birthday parties there when I was little.  And I had dance classes there when I was about 5 years old where Mrs. Baker was the teacher.  I also remember going to some teen dances there when I was in my teens.  So my family used that hall quite a bit when I was younger."

Marsha Krause Smith (DHS '68) talked with Margaret Dierks Phillips (SLHS '53) who cleared up a few of my questions about the Dierks homes on Highway-90A.  

Margaret's family lived in a house where the old Frost Bank building is located.  There were two houses separated by a 'vacant lot.' The other house was situated about where the parking lot for Windstream is located.  Her uncle, Charles 'Charlie' Dierks, and aunt lived in the second house for a short while. 

Margaret's father was Hans 'Fritz' Dierks.  They moved into that house during WWII - she remembers they had a victory garden in the back.  She said Mr. Max Schumann who lived on 4th Street had a big victory garden near their house.   He didn't have room for a garden at his house on 4th Street because of the chickens and the cow he raised in his backyard.

One more thing: I said in an earlier post that the Imperial Valley Railway ran on a narrow-gauge track.  Here's a link to the post.  I was wrong.  Notice the news article says Eldridge also owned the Asherton & Gulf Railroad.  I've found a photo of the gasoline-powered Brill car Eldridge purchased for that railroadClick here to view it.  As you can see, it was a standard-gauge car.  An identical car ran on the Sugar Land Railway.

Dulles Class of '73 Reunion

The Class of '73 will celebrate its 40th anniversary on October 12th at Regal Ranch from 7pm to Midnight. You can contact Belinda Spear Makins, Janet Davis Blake, Glen A. Nordt, Terri Weeks Weinman, Dawn Proctor Pugh, Beth Brookshire Mitchell, Sharon Marshall Rush, Susan Fox Morrison, Tom Cook Bigbee, or Cindi Cooper Cornelius on Facebook.

Here are a few pictures from the '70 Viking yearbook (when they were freshmen). 


More From The Houston Guide and Handbook, 1968

Here is a list of Houston media in 1968.  I recognize most items on the list, except KVVV-TV Channel 16.  I vaguely recall the station, but I don't remember watching it.  KFMK-FM is on the list - I listened to it quite a bit.  Until recently I'd forgotten KLOL-FM began broadcasting in the early '70s.  It's not on the list.


Once again, thank you Terry Bates for letting me scan this booklet.

The Old Machine Shop

The following sign used to hang on a wall in the bathroom of the old refinery machine shop.  My father collected it when Imperial Sugar was 'cleaning out its closets.'  It now hangs in the garage bathroom at my mother's home.  Someone in the refinery's paint shop made this sign.  I wish I knew when it was made.

Here is an undated (pre-1932) photo showing the old machine shop.


More From The Dierks Family Scrapbook

I've borrowed more photos from the Dierks family scrapbook.  Thank you, Margaret Phillips.  

When I first saw the following picture, I noticed a couple of things that led me to think it showed construction of a home on Imperial Blvd.  

After a closer look, I think it shows the construction of a Dierks home on the south side of Highway-90A near the present location of the Windstream and old Frost Bank buildings.  I've learned there were two Dierks family homes in that area; I can't be sure which one this is, but if I'm correct, that's Highway-90A behind the barbed wire fence.  The Salvage Buildings are in the background.  It's hard to see, but there's a billboard promoting Imperial Sugar in front of the buildings.

Here are three pictures of the dredging operations south of Highway-90A.  I don't have an exact date, but it's sometime in the early 1920s.  Although it's not a good picture, you can see in the last one (which was probably taken in or around Alkire Lake), they had to dredge some very marshy areas with primitive equipment.


More Photos from the Buehring Family Scrapbook

I think this picture must have been taken at the 1968 Dulles prom at the Warwick Hotel.  That's Matthew Hall (Class of '68) and Cindy Buehring Gustin (Class of '70).


I don't know whose birthday they are celebrating, but the location is the Buehring family home on Oyster Creek Drive.  The date must be 1969 or '70 because exchange student, Nilginn Serdaroglu, appears in the photo.  (She is third from the right.)  That's Claudia Rozelle and Cindy Buehring on the right.  Bunnye Buehring is wearing the red sleeveless sweater on the left.  I'm not certain who the others are.

I found this newspaper clipping very interesting.  I never knew the Neals hosted Brian Bourne, the second DHS exchange student.  I thought Nilginn was the second.  I didn't know Gary Buis (DHS '70) was an exchange student in Spain.


San Felipe de Austin Golf Tournament

Some of you may know that the Texas Historical Commission manages a historical park on the northern boundary of today's community of San Felipe.  It is the original location of San Felipe de Austin, the town Stephen F. Austin founded in colonial Texas.  

This park shouldn't be confused with Stephen F. Austin State Park which lies a few hundred yards upstream of the Brazos River.  The State Park is managed by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.  It offers a variety of recreational activities, like hiking, biking, and camping.  A visit to both parks offers a good opportunity to combine education with recreation.

The San Felipe de Austin Park is launching a considerable expansion project which includes a modern museum and  exhibitions of artifacts relating to Austin and the colonial period of Texas.  (I've posted a previous entry on this blog that includes a video presentation on this topic by Bryan McAuley, park manager.)

The Historical Commission organizes an annual "Links To The Past" golf tournament to raise funds for the San Felipe de Austin Park. Proceeds from this year's event will fund historical panels to be placed on the San Felipe Golf Course.  The panels will highlight the area's historical significance and, hopefully, spur an interest as golfers play the course.

The following image is a sample of a panel on the community of San Felipe de Austin.

The next image is a sample of a panel on William B. Travis, resident of San Felipe de Austin.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Salvage

I don't know if it was a common term, but most everyone I knew called the large building near the corner of Main Street and Sugar Land Street (now Kempner Street) 'The Salvage.'  It was an old building that served various purposes over the years.

I checked a 1940 Sanborn map, and it says the building contained a storage warehouse, printing plant, and a meeting hall among other things.  It doesn't show the large upstairs room I knew as the KC Hall.  That must have come later.

I have two aerial photos that show that area of town.  One was taken in 1956; the other in 1970.  I'm a little puzzled by the latter picture.  It doesn't show the stairs to the KC Hall on the east side of the building.  Maybe they had taken it down by that time?

The 1956 photo is a black & white version of the color picture used on large postcards many people have in their scrapbooks.  A large version of the color photo (maybe 5' x 3') hangs in the Sugar Land Museum.  You can see it any Saturday morning if you drop by for a visit.

More From The Buehring Family Scrapbook

I've linked to a few more family photos Walt Buehring has posted on Flickr.  The Buehrings lived at 418 Oyster Creek Drive.  You see what the area looked like before Sugar Lakes was built.

I told a fellow recently that George Lane, the local crop duster, used the open field along the east side of Oyster Creek Drive as a refueling spot when he dusted Industries crops.  The fellow seemed skeptical, but I can verify it as an eyewitness. 

Here's a view of the Buehring children in their backyard on the east bank of Oyster Creek.


Here's another view of Oyster Creek behind their home.  The houses on the opposite bank face Venice Street.

Here is my classmate, Mitchell Hall (DHS '68) in the Buehring's drivewayThis was taken in the fall of '67 because he's wearing his drum major's uniform.  You get a view of the open field George Lane used as a landing strip.


I'm not sure who this young fellow is, but you get a good view north toward Highway-90A.  The city park and Shell station are in that vicinity now.