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Saturday, November 7, 2015

News & Updates

I forgot to mention last time another piece of bad news.  Martin Villareal (DHS '66) passed away recently.  Here is an obituary.  Thank you Scotty Hightower Bass (DHS '66) and Marsha Bauman Shaw (DHS '68) for relaying the information.

I don't recall who brought this to my attention, but another resident of old Sugar Land, Bertha Presas Cantu died recently.   

My best to the Villareal and Cantus families.

I got help from Marsha Krause Smith (DHS '68), Peggy Norman, and Debbie Duggan Gamble herself with an identification of her sister Pam Duggan Gray, who is pictured in this photo.  Thanks to you all.  Debbie said Pam was the Vikette mascot that year.

I want to give a big thank you to Sadie Williams, Jimmy Williams, and Charles Court for identifying members of the Missouri City boys basketball team, which I got from Lee Elkins LeGrand and posted last time.  Here's the photo again.
Here are the ids:

Lawrence Elkins, Coach

17 Glenn Jochec

21 Bobby Williams

20 Bobby Davis

18 Alfred Renfrow

13 Charles Court

19 Andrew George

16 Louis Rychlick

12 Donald Jordy

14 Donald Cothern

15 Eugene Dinges

Sadie also pointed out that the director of the 1941 Mustang Marching Band was Leonard Scarcella's father.  I knew he was the school's band director, but I didn't know which years.  Mother has told me many times that she remembers Leonard was the band's mascot for a few years.  He wore a white suit to football games -- I wish we had photos of that!
Finally, I want to post info on some upcoming events that may interest you.

More People of Old Sugar Land

Organizers of the 50th reunion for Dulles High's Class of '65.  I recognize several of those people.  They were seniors when I was a freshman.

The Otis Enquist family standing on the west side of Brooks St. before Guenther St. was extended west.  As you can see they are standing in a field where cabbages were grown.

Mrs. Burke's 1995 kindergarten class at Lakeview Elementary.  Thank you, Kevin Lampson, the little fella in the red shirt.

The children of Frances & Herbert Schumann with friends.  (Thank you Mark Schumann who is the baby being held by his sister Margaret.  This looks to be about 1959.)

My mother, Sally Rachuig Kelly on the left, with her sister, Mayme Rachuig Haus, in 1935.

My aunt, Mayme Rachuig Haus, with my mother, Sally Rachuig Kelly on the right, at a piano recital in 1937.

Images of Old Sugar Land

The first two photos came from Jackie James (thanks).  The first is a blow up of the deep background of the second.  It's a little hard to see, but the first shows a little traffic jam on Brooks St.  I'm guessing a train has just passed behind the camera, and cars are now crossing the tracks.  Some things never change.  The second photo gives you a good panoramic view of 'down town' Sugar Land in the early 1920s.

I want to thank Tommy Laird for reassembling the panoramic photo I posted last time.  This version gives you a good, continuous perspective of Sugar Land's original commercial district.  Panoramic photos were fairly rare, so we're fortunate to have so many of old Sugar Land.

I'll go out on a limb and say the next photo shows Cleveland Lake before it was dredged in the early 1920s.  (I'm reasonably certain I've posted this one before.)  You can see the far bank is elevated (indicating The Hill), and I can make out structures (I think they are houses) in the far background.  First St. was not developed until dredging was completed; in fact, silt was pumped out of Cleveland Lake to build up the land that became First St.  We have aerial photos showing that work in progress.
The next photo is another early one of the old Mercantile Store, which I like to think of old Sugar Land's Walmart.  The Drug Store in on the right.  I like those early cars and trucks.  I presume those are Model T Ford trucks, but I'm could be wrong.  Maybe someone will know.

The next photo shows the old Thatcher Plantation home which originally stood in the Grand Central area, roughly where Home Depot is today.  This photo shows the home after it was moved in 1908 to a location near the current site of the Shell service station at Highway 90A and Bayview.  The Thatcher home was reborn as The Imperial Inn, a restaurant, boarding house, and community center in old Sugar Land.

The perspective of this photo has always bothered me.  The woman in the lower right is standing on the west bank of Oyster Creek, just a few yards south of where the Highway 90A bridge is located.  (The creek looks to be filled with vegetation.  This is well before it was dredged.)  The woman looks much too small, but I think it's because the banana tree on the left is in the extreme foreground.  It creates an optical illusion.

The next photo shows the interior of the Sealy Mattress Factory at the corner of Main and Kempner Streets.  Note there is a very young boy working in the shop.  The last photo shows the exterior of the factory.  It is the building on the right.  Both photos probably date between 1915 and 1920.

Missouri City High School

I wanted to post another round of Missouri City High School photos I got from Lee Elkins LeGrand (DHS '71) and daughter of Lawrence Elkins (MCHS '42), long-time administrator in Fort Bend ISD.

The first photo shows Lawrence at the Missouri City garage in 1941.  Obviously, that's Highway 90A in the background.
The next photo shows the Missouri City Mustang football team of 1940.  They look pretty fierce to me.  There are annotations on the back, which you can see immediately below.

The next photo of a MCHS boys basketball team is undated, but my best guess is that it shows the '53 squad.  Bobby Williams (Class of '53) is number 21 in the second row.  Coach Elkins is on the left.  I'm hoping my Missouri City friends can identify more players and determine the year.

World War II

I've just finished reading a book I highly recommend.  It's title is Voices of the Pacific, by Adam Makos.  Here's a link to Amazon, where you can read more about it.  Of course, I'm prejudiced because I know one of the men whose oral history was included in the book, Wayburn Hall.
Makos interviewed 15 men, still living in 2012, who served in the 1st Marine Division during WWII.  The author said he didn't want to interfere with each man's story.  He wanted to present them as if they were sitting around a kitchen table talking about their experiences, and the reader was merely eavesdropping in a dark corner.  I think he achieved his goal.

Wayburn talks about being wounded in the invasion of Pelelieu and participating in the battle for Okinawa.  I'm very grateful that he's left a record of that chapter in his life's story.
I had a chance recently to see a few WWII-vintage planes that had stopped at the Sugar Land Airport the day before the recent air show at Ellington Field.  The centerpiece was a B-17, which was open to the public.  I took a camera and made a short video of crawl through the plane.

Last but not least is a photo of Lawrence Elkins, graduate of Missouri City High School, Class of '42, and WWII veteran of the Army Air Corps.  Thanks to his daughter Lee for letting me scan this photo.

Cotton Part 2: Hauling it to the Gin

Several weeks ago I posted an entry about harvesting cotton.  A college friend of mine grew up on a cotton farm just east of Lubbock, and he explained to me the differences in growing and harvesting cotton up in the South Plains versus here on the Gulf Coast.  He said harvested cotton up there is much dirtier than down here.  This picture from the 1950s shows why.  The lack of water means lots of bolls grow very low to the ground and become contaminated with soil.    Down here the plants grow taller with plenty of rain, so the bolls aren't nearly as close to the ground.
He also explained the 'evolution' of cotton hauling.  The photos I've shown in the past showed old-style wagons with sides made of wooden slats or chicken wire.  Here are two types of wagons; first, the old style with slats and then a more modern version with sturdy wire grating.  (The donkeys are my fiend's wife's pets.  I understand they live a life of luxury.)

Sometime in the late 1960s or early '70s gins and farmers began using 'rickers,' which produced ricks or compressed piles of cotton which were left in the fields.  These ricks were not tightly compressed or wrapped with a covering, so they were subject to damage by wind and rain. The gins sent mobile units that collected the ricked cotton and hauled it to the gin for processing.  I'm sure there are farms and gins who still use this technology.  Here are two photos of rickers.

Here are two photos I've posted in the past, showing cotton 'modules,' the newest technological advance.  The harvester compresses the cotton and puts a covering around it.  Notice they are rectangular cuboids, large rectangular blocks.  Gins have tilting flatbed trailers that can pick up these blocks and haul them to the gin. 

Indianola, A 19th Century Gateway to Texas

I know one, possibly more, of my ancestors immigrated to Texas through Indianola on Matagorda Bay.  August Wilhelm Rachuig sailed from Bremen, Germany in 1868 and soon after landing headed for Washington County, where he had friends and, we think, relatives.  As a consequence, I'm interested in the history of the 'ghost' port.

The Lake Jackson Plantation: Growing & Milling Sugar

I found the following online article about the Lake Jackson Plantation.  It gives a brief description of the plantation's history.  Note that it once included the Retrieve and Darrington estates, which eventually became prison farms.  It also summarizes the way sugar plantations operated.

The article is five pages long.  If you're interested in the history of the Texas sugar industry, the process of making sugar, and archeology, be sure to follow the additional links at the bottom of each page.