Drop Down MenusCSS Drop Down MenuPure CSS Dropdown Menu

Monday, May 20, 2013

Palms Theater and Dairy Queen

I've been working at the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation for several months, reviewing their collection of artifacts.  I think their collection is fantastic; all kinds of things turn up.

Here are two photos I hoped to find, but wondered if I ever would.  The first is the only picture of the Palms Theater auditorium I have seen.  (Of course, I hope we find more.)  It was taken on September 11, 1957 and shows the stage prepared for an Imperial safety awards program. 

I've posted aerial photos showing the Dairy Queen, but here's a ground photo showing the old haunt in all its glory.  It was taken in July 1957.

The Museum is in temporary quarters for the foreseeable future, so display space will be limited for an extended period of time.  We are, however, rearranging our current layout to allow exhibition of more items from the collection.

I hope the photos in today's post will pique your interest enough to visit the Museum on a Saturday morning between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm.  It's located in the old Imperial Engineering-Personnel building next to the Char House.

I'll alert you when new items go on exhibition. 

Teas Nursery

Thanks to my aunt, Mayme Rachuig Hause (SLHS '48), for sending me the following note about Teas Nursery.  I'd forgotten they had a 'small farm' (as opposed to a retail center) in Sugar Land.  The accompanying aerial from 1940 shows what she's describing:

Many of the resident of Sugar Land after World War II are not aware of Sugar Land's connection to the famous Teas Nursery of Bellaire, Texas. Before the war, the area bounded by Brooks St. Eastside and Guenther St. Southside was the area of Belknap Subdivision started sometime in 1950s and a few years before. This area was filled with the gorgeous roses of all species that Teas was famous for. My memory of the roses glistening in the sun as if nature had dusted them with millions of diamonds after their daily sprinkling. The mist swirling around from the tall sprinkling system and the aroma filling the air for blocks around is still as vivid to me today as when I grew up. This area with roses remained until after the war, and then at that time was platted for residences in the newly developing subdivision.

My mother built her home in 1950 in the new development and resided there until her death in 1979. Mother had a love of roses and flowers and it occurs to me if it could have been fostered as she passed by the nursery as she went to work in the Post Office and later bank.

The nursery in Sugar Land was not for retail, but was a place to develop and grow their stock; the retail store was in Bellaire on Bellaire Blvd. Research does not give information if any other area around Bellaire and Houston had another growing area for the nursery.

Teas Nursery was established in 1843 in Raysville, Indiana, and later moved to Missouri, and then in 1910 moved to Bellaire, Texas established just 2 years earlier in the southwest area of Houston. John C. Teas was the founder, and then later to his son, Edward, who ran the Bellaire establishment. After 100 years of operation in 2010, the nursery was sold to the Rubenstein family foundation and is now known as Evelyn’s Park. The old red brick home still stands as well as the Japanese Tea Room.  Both are still visible from Bellaire Blvd behind the fenced area as of spring 2013.

Teas Nursery was responsible for the landscaping of early Houston areas, such as River Oaks, Rice University and other beautiful old homes of the early years .
Many beautiful memories of the nursery in Sugar Land for us “old timers”, and certainly for me for “The Roses of Yesterdays.”


Hispanic School House and American Legion Hall in Mayfield Park

Earlier posts have included aerial photos showing this building, but I recently found the following ground-level photo that shows it well.  It was taken in 1965 when the current American Legion Hall was constructed in Mayfield Park.  An annotation on the reverse says the building was demolished soon after this picture was taken.

It stood on the west side of Ulrich Street just as you entered Mayfield Park driving north.


Laura Eldridge Hospital Construction, 1956

As I've mentioned before, the first hospital in Sugar Land was built in 1923 on the northeast corner of Wood and Lakeview Streets.  In 1956 construction began on a more modern hospital located further east, where Lakeview intersects Eldridge Road.  The Parc is located on that corner today, as you can see on this Google satellite photo.

The following photos show how that location appeared in February 1956 when the site was proposed as the new location and in August of the same year when construction began.

I have more good photos of this hospital's early days, which I'll post in the future.  They show the staff and the interior including the surgery and patients' rooms.

Employee Credit Union in 1956

I had forgotten that the employees' credit union was originally located in a small building next to the Char House.  These pictures were taken in April 1957.

These next two photos show Wayburn Hall talking with Relma Watson, Assistant Treasurer of the credit union.  Since Wayburn appears in the picture, I assume membership included Industries as well as Imperial employees.


West End Ball Park Update

Several weeks ago I saw a map that showed the old West End Ball Park much closer to Highway-90A than I remembered.  I thought it was a mistake, but I've found an aerial photograph taken in 1952 which confirms the park in that location.

I don't have a date yet, but a few years later the park moved a little over one hundred yards due north on the other side of old Imperial Boulevard.   [I presume Visco (Nalco) expanded westward causing the relocation.]  The move included the stands and 'dug outs,' but there were no outfield fences.  I guess there never were any because they don't appear in the photo.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Alligator Splash from May 17, 1946

Old Sugar Land High School's student newspaper was called 'The Alligator Splash.'  I thought the page I posted last week, highlighting Clara Ruth Sembere Dierks, was interesting, so I decided to post the complete issue.  Many of the senior profiles are amusing, especially if you know the person spotlighted.  

The profiles begin on page 5.

SLHS Alligator Splash, May 17, 1946

A Short Video On The Brazos River Pumping Station & The Imperial Valley Railway

I visited the Foster Community area (south of Fulshear) a week ago and had a chance to shoot some video of forgotten relics of the past: the Brazos River Pumping Station and the Imperial Valley Railway.  The video is just 3-minutes long, but I think it's fairly self-explanatory.

The Pumping Station and the railway played significant roles in Sugar Land's early prosperity.  Edward Cunningham (and eventually I. H. Kempner and W. T. Eldridge) needed water for the sugar refinery.  (Steam and water were necessary at various steps in the refining process.)  Sugarland Industries and its partners (like Marshall Canning) needed water for farming and ranching enterprises.

As you can tell in the video, the pumping station is still in operation.  The Gulf Coast Water Authority uses it to manage the water supply in Oyster Creek.

The Imperial Valley Railway was eventually merged into the Sugar Land Railroad.  When local growers abandoned sugar cane as a major crop the railroad went into decline.  It ceased operation in 1952.

Updated Prison Farm Photo

I want to thank Jon & B.J. Pitts (both DHS '61) for helping me identify people in the prison farm photo I posted last week.  They said it's a picture of the agriculture staff at Central Unit.

Dulles Class of '63 Celebrates Their 50th Anniversary

Congratulations to the Class of '63 on reaching a major miles stone.  Some of us are right behind you.

My thanks go to Donna Christopher Baker ('63) and Joanne Douglas (wife of Mike Douglas '63) for providing these pictures.
DHS Class of '63 50th Anniversary

Early Photos of Venetian Estates

A friend who lives in Venetian Estates (but didn't grow up in old Sugar Land) asked if I had any early photographs of Venetian Estates.  I'm happy to say that I do.  In fact, the Sugar Land Heritage Society has numerous pictures, maps, and drawings of the subdivision's early years.

Here are a few photos from my personal collection.  The first was taken between 1949 and 1952.  (The Palms Theater appears in the picture, but the shopping center does not.)  The area that would become Venetian Estates is at the top.  It was swampy pasture land at the time and a favorite bird-hunting spot for local sportsmen (and women).

The photo below was taken in 1957 from the top of the Char House.  Not much has changed.  Standing water indicates the low, swampy nature of the land.
This next photo was taken in 1959.  You can see the man-made lakes and streets in the front section near Highway-90A.
My best guess is the following aerial was taken in 1960.  I can see two houses; one is on Piedmont near the middle of the subdivision (middle right of the photo).  You can see another house near the exact center of the photo.  It was Virgil Mott's home.  He was a home builder who constructed many of the early homes in Venetian Estates.
The final photo was taken sometime between 1961 and '63, I think.  Houses are going up fast.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Old Sugar Land Residents

Some of you may know that three residents of old Sugar Land have died recently.  Here is an obituary for Clara Ruth Sembere Dierks (SLHS '46).   Dorothy Topolanek Humphrey (SLHS '48) gave me an Alligator Splash that included senior profiles for the Class of '46.  You can read Clara Ruth's profile with a story about giving a shot as a student intern at the old Laura Eldridge Hospital.
Ray Barton (SLHS '57) also died last week.  Here is an obituary.  I regret that I never talked with him about the stories mentioned in his obituary.  Here's a photo of Ray in the first grade; I've circled him standing next to Miss Lima Johnson.
Finally, Ray Anhaiser died just yesterday.  Here is an obituaryThe photo below shows him in 1952 as a young teller at Sugar Land State Bank.
My sincerest condolences to the Dierks, Barton, and Anhaiser families.

Updates on Last Week's Posts

I posted some photos and an article on White's Cafe last week.  Here is the only photo I have of him.  (I don't have one of his wife Mildred, who was also closely involved with their cafe.)  The annotation indicates it was taken in October 1953.
I also posted a video of a dummy hand grenade George 'B. I.' Webb donated to the Sugar Land Museum.  During our conversation about the grenade he told me about Sugar Land's air observation shack staffed by volunteers during WW II.  (My mother has told me there was a similar group out at the Humble Camp.)  I always thought it was in roughly the same location as the small city park behind the Shell service station on Bayview, but I was wrong.  It was on the west bank of Oyster Creek along Venice Street, as indicated in the photo below.

The Matlage family has provided me with a scan of the patch worn by volunteer observers, like Mrs. Matlage, my grandmother (Vic Kelly), B. I. Webb, and many others.

And finally, the newspaper article that quoted J. B. Fowler about old times in Sugar Land mentioned an acid plant.  It was located on the east side of Main Street roughly opposite the old Power Plant (the beige, two-story building that's still standing).  Here's a photo of the plant, which was torn down sometime in the '20s or early '30s.
I've learned that the plant was a joint venture that Sugarland Industries launched with Jones Brothers & Company, an Arkansas-based manufacturer.  The venture ended in an acrimonious law suit.   I hope to learn more about it in the future.

Prison Farm Cartoons (Continued)

Here are the remaining cartoons a Central Unit drawn by a prisoner named Faske in the mid 1970s.  Thanks to Mike Bunting for letting me scan them before he donated them to the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation.  

I never found any details about the prisoner.  As I mentioned in the last post, he must have had a good relationship with the management and staff to poke subtle fun at them.  I couldn't identify every person in the cartoons or in the staff photo, but Mike helped me with a few.  I found other relevant photos that may help jog some memories.

Central Unit Management & Staff in the 1970s
Byron Frierson at Lion's Club meeting in 1968

Justa (Mrs. Tom) Drew, 4th grade teacher in 1960

Bob Storm & Sugar Land Baseball

The photo below was published a couple of years ago in Freeport Facts, a Brazoria County newspaper. I'd heard a few things about Bob Storm, but his involvement with the electric chair and the Houston Buffs was news to me. 

 He's on my list of topics to research, so I hope to post more info about him in the future. 


Dulles High School's Class of 1968 Graduation

My thanks to classmate, Linda Hagler Mosk (DHS '68), for letting me scan these items.  (I think I saved my copies, but I'd have to dig through a lot of stuff to find them.)  The Class of '68 is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, so I thought I'd post this ancient relic.

The program lists Dr. Robert B. Howsam as the principal speaker, but I can't remember anything about him.  In fact, I remember few details about that night except we had torrential rainstorms through the day, so the ceremony was in the Dulles Junior High gym.  I also remember that my mother was sick and couldn't attend.

Anyway, Dr. Howsam was Dean of U of H's College of Education.  Here's the best reference I could find on the Internet. 

"Dulles High we pledge to you/ We'll be loyal, we'll be true ...."