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Sunday, May 22, 2016

News & Updates

Unfortunately, I have several items of bad news to report.  I learned recently that Roy Lemke's (DHS '75 '74) mother Ida died recently. Click here to view Mrs. Lemke's obituary.  

I also learned from Claire Exley Osbourne (DHS '70) that her classmate and friend, Josie Gonzalez died, too.  Click here for Josie's obituary.  

Josie Gonzales, DHS '70

Mary Buehring, mother of Cindy, Brenda, and Walt passed away after a short illness.  Click here for an obituary.

The Buehring family about the time they moved to Sugar Land.

My sincerest condolences to the Lemkes, Gonzalezes, and Buehrings as they mourn the loss of their loved ones.

I want to thank Julius Baumann for bringing the next item to my attention.  The City of Sugar Land will have a Memorial Day celebration next Monday at Memorial Park off University Blvd.  The time is 10:00. Click here for more info on the City's Web site.

Julius also included an audio of a radio ad for the Steamboat Steak House, located near the Sam Houston Race Track off the Sam Houston Tollway. Owner Charlie Fogarty  is donating 40% of the restaurant's receipts on Memorial Day to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston.  If you're in the area, stop by and help a good cause.

Dulles High School's Class of 1970

Click the image below to see Dulles High School's Class of 1970 as they appeared in the Viking yearbook way back then.

More from the 1947 Gator Yearbook

I've posted a few more images from the 1947 Gator, Sugar Land ISD's student annual.  I received a note recently from John Rhodes, son of Jack Rhodes, who was head coach (all sports) in the 1946/47 school year.  John was very young when the Rhodes family lived in Sugar Land, and he has never seen these images, so I've posted those in which his father appears.  There are some interesting shots of class rooms, the cafeteria, and the grounds - well worth a look if you wonder what the Lakeview campus looked like 70 years ago.

Click the image to view the album.

More People of Old Sugar Land

I want to thank Billie & Buddy Blair for letting me scan these photos from their family archive.   Click on the image below to view the album. Notice the photos of the city park swimming pool on 7th Street. There was nothing out there in those days.

More Images of Old Sugar Land

While researching west Sugar Land, I reviewed 1941 aerial photos we have of that area. It has changed dramatically in recent decades, so I thought I'd show a transition from 1941 to the present day.

Click the image below to view the 30-second video.  (Click the full-screen option to get a better view.)
Here are stills of the 1941 aerial and the Google Earth view, if you want to study them.

I received a couple of questions about Sugar Land Schools, so I've posted the following series of photos to answer them.  The first is an aerial photo taken in 1940.  (Click on the image to magnify it.)  M. R. Wood School is just out of the frame, but the Hispanic school on Ulrich St. is visible, as is the campus on Lakeview Dr.


Here are two photos of the Auditorium.  I think the first one was taken soon after it was completed in 1918.  The second was taken around 1960, I think.

Early 1960s
The next image shows the home economics building, probably just after it was completed in 1932.  The build was still in use into the early 1960s.  Mrs. Robinson taught my 4th or 5th grade class choir in that building, but it didn't last much longer. Apparently it had severe structural problems and stood empty for a couple of years before it was razed.
Early 1930s

I've enlarged the 1940 aerial to show where it stood.  I've also provided a current Google Earth view to orient it to today's campus.

Magnification of 1940 aerial photo

Google Earth view today

Railroad Jack's Old Photos on Flickr

I want to thank Richard Bunting (DHS '67) for sending me a link to Railroad Jack's Flickr site.  I'm not a car buff, but his site has some spectacular images of autos from the '50s.

Click on the image of the 1955 Buick below to go to the site.

A 1955 Buick Riviera

Friday, May 6, 2016

News & Updates

Unfortunately, I have some sad news to pass along. Hugh Rouse, well-known proprietor of Sugar Land's drug store, died a few weeks ago.  He had very interesting stories to tell. I don't know how many people knew he was a Navy pilot in the Korean War. My sincerest condolences to his extended family. Here is an obituary.

I was unaware until very recently that Dorothy Vavrecka (Bartosh) Raska (SLHS '46) passed away last month.  My best to Theresa (DHS '68), Marion (DHS '69) and the other members of Mrs. Raska's family. Here is an obituary.

On Sunday afternoon, May 15th, the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation will have a Scavenger Hunt fundraiser.  Last year's event was a big success.  I was on Bill Little's team, and WE WON!  The photo below shows sponsors.  Click on the image to see details about joining the fun, or call the SLHF at 281-494-0261.

Historic Scavenger Hunt 2016
L to R:  Trever Nehls, Fort Bend Constable Pct. 4, Chris Anderson, Gen. Mgr. Sterling McCall, Dennis Parmer, Ex. Dir. SLHF, J. Michael Schaupp, Ex. Asst. Fort Bend Toyota, Marvin Marcell, Nat. Public Affairs Dir. for Group 1 Auto., and Troy Nehls, Fort Bend County Sheriff.

I received a note from Jim Poe, who identified his father, Lonnie Poe in the photo below.  His father died in 1978.  Thank you, Jim, for the identification.

People of Old Sugar Land

Thank you Tommy Laird for posting the following clipping from 1970 on Facebook.  

The next photo comes from John Pirtle, who was in the same class as my mother (SLHS '49).  I don't recognize him in this photo, but I see my mother, Marjorie Hauerland Polasek, Marilyn Bourg Cheaney, Betty Sue Douglas Lubajosky, and Harry McBride.  I think they are in the 2nd grade.  You can see the old classrooms in the background.

The next photo also comes from the Pirtle family and shows John's sister Betty Pirtle McClure near the goldfish pond in front of the Char House.  I don't know the date, but my guess is the late 1940s.

Once again we have a photo from the Pirtle family.  I assume this is a photo of Rennie Pirtle's (John's older brother) first grade class.  I can't identify anyone except Miss Lima Johnson, the teacher.  I especially liked the barefoot boys.  You have a closeup of their feet and clothes in the very last image. The girls look nice, but the boys seem a little dusty and ragged.

Jack Rhodes, SLHS Football Coach 1945/46

I received a kind letter from John Rhodes, whose father was head coach of the Sugar Land Gator football team in the 1945/46 school year.  I'll have more to say about Coach Rhodes and his son in later postings, but I thought I'd post a few excerpts from the April and May 1946 issues of The Alligator Splash, the school's monthly newspaper.  

The first clipping deals with the administration's consideration of organizing a student council.  The April issue included student opinions, and this one was from Blanche Cruse.  (Linda Cruse Wilson asked me recently about her older sister who was a student at Sugar Land High, and I coincidentally came across this clipping.)
The next item concerned prospect form next fall's football season.  I knew the '45 team was good, but I didn't know they finished second in the district race.  I'll have to check to see which school came out on top. (Maybe Boling or Richmond.)  
As some of you read in a post above, Dorothy Vavrecka Raska (SLHS '46) died recently.  The May issue of the Splash had short profiles of graduating seniors.  Here is Dorothy's, which included a funny story.
This final clipping was also in the May issue and comes from Coach Rhodes.  It's his parting congratulations to graduating seniors.

"As each year goes passing by ..."

My thanks go to Tommy Laird (DHS '67) for posting this relic on Facebook recently. Who knew there were so many smarties in school back then?

To honor the 50th anniversary of Dulles High's Class of '66 I thought I'd post this selection of photos from the 1966 Viking yearbook.

Imperial Mill

Last month, some members of the Fort Bend County Historical Commission and their friends took a field trip to Galveston and visited the Rosenberg Library & Museum, the Bryan Museum, and the Galveston Historical Foundation's Architectural Salvage Warehouse.  We had a fantastic trip; I recommend it to everyone.

One of the commissioners found a book in the Rosenberg Libraries research room, which reproduced an old map of Sugar Land.  It showed the precise location of the old Imperial Mill, a sugar mill that stood on the banks of Oyster Creek across from today's Constellation Park.

Once I had a chance to look at the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation's collection of maps, I found what may be an original of the map we found in Galveston.  At some point in the future, we'd like to do an archeological dig on that site.

Note the small flag on the left with a '1' on it.  The flag designates the 1 mile mark on the old Sugar Land Railroad as measured from the refinery.  The tracks go by the old mill, allowing rail delivery of raw sugar to the refinery less than a mile away.

A full view of the 1912 map.

A magnification of the area where the old sugar mill was located.

Friends of Old Sugar Land

On the afternoon of Sunday, April 17th, the Friends of Old Sugar Land celebrated their 25th anniversary at the Live Oak Grill.  Unfortunately, a plumbing problem at home meant I couldn't spend as much time with them as I'd hoped, but I enjoyed what I had at the celebration.  Here are a few photos from the event.  (Thanks Darren Acosta.)

I got one of these nifty t-shirts.

"That's Uncle Bubba!?"

Two old timers reminiscing.

Checking the old record book.

Somebody has a lot of miles on him, or her.

All the modern conveniences.

"Let's look it up."

Memories of an earlier celebration.

Just a few old photos to ponder.

Main St. bridge in the 1920s. Note the buildings in the background.  (From the Dierks family collection.)

A very early photo of 2nd St. - before 1st St. was developed.

2nd St. from the top of the auditorium.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Flood Control & Water Management

We've had a lot of rain recently.  Houston and areas north of Sugar Land suffered serious flooding.  We're thankful Sugar Land did not.  I found some photos showing a major flood in 1935 in the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation's archive.

The disastrous 1899 and 1913 floods are better known, but the '35 flood must have been pretty bad because it happened after flood control measures (levees) had been built in the 1920s.

I'm not positive about the date of the first image, but I think it was taken in the 1920s when the levees were built.  It shows a crew and a drag line at an unknown location, but the cab has a sign saying "Sugarland Insustries, Sugar Land, Texas" painted on it.
The next photo was taken after the '35 flood and shows Highway 90A west of Sugar Land.  I don't know the exact location, but my best guess is near the old Sartartia Plantation.   Here's a Google Street View of the possible location today - the 1935 photo is immediately below it.


Highway 90A bridge near Sartartia during 1935 flood

Highway 90A bridge during 1935 flood
Flooded field along Highway 90A during 1935 flood
This last photo shows downtown Sugar Land flooded during the 1913 flood.  The area in the foreground is roughly where the Farmer's Market is held every Saturday.
Downtown Sugar Land in the 1913 flood


My brother Bruce found a reference to the 'weather eye' that sat at atop the Texas National Bank Building in downtown Houston.  I assume the building had a Main St. address, but it was located next to the First Methodist Church.  Info says the weather eye began operation in 1957.  I found two photos to refresh your memories.

The weather eye (ball at the top of the sign) provided a simple, highly visible forecast of Houston's weather, as explained in the lyrics of an ad the bank ran on local radio stations:
Red light warmer weather
Blue light cooler weather
Green light no change in view
Blinking light, rain is due.

I may be dreaming, but I think they may have run a television ad with the same jingle.  Regardless, I remember seeing it when we drove up Main St. to shop at Foleys.

I found the following map showing the empresario land grants authorized by the Mexican government when Texas was still part of Mexico.  We tend to focus on Austin's colony, but you'll see that many other empresarios colonized Texas.  Click on the image to view other maps.

I want to thank my aunt (Mayme Rachuig Hause) for sending a link to this short film from the 1920s, entitled "Oil Field Dodge." It shows a Dodge automobile plowing through rough terrain to reach an drilling site out in the boondocks.  

Of course, the purpose of the film was to show the robust nature of Dodge vehicles, but it's important to note that roads were pretty bad back in the 1920s.  Prior to 1927 when it was paved and renamed Highway 90A, the road from Houston to Rosenberg and points west could become so muddy that teams of mules were needed to get cars out of boggy areas.

Sugar Land Imperials

I want to thank Roland Rodriguez for letting me scan these photos from his family scrapbook.  They show him when he played for the Sugar Land Imperials, a Hispanic team sponsored by the Imperial Sugar Company in the 1950s.  
I've explained this before, but they played in the old West End Ball Park at the end of old Imperial Boulevard.

The relevance of these photos is that the Sugar Land Skeeters have scheduled a 'Turn Back The Clock Night' for June 10th.  The team will wear replicas of the jersey and cap Roland is wearing in the first two images. The Skeeters will auction the game-worn replicas and allow winning fans an opportunity to meet players on the field for autographs of their replica souvenirs. Proceeds will go to the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation.  I'll have much more on this event in late May.

Roland Rodriguez in his Imperials uniform c. 1950

Roland Rodriguez in his Imperials uniform c. 1950

Imperials team photo in the mid 1950s

Photo of the St. Theresa Knights in mid-1960s with anager Roland Rodriguez in the back row