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Sunday, July 31, 2016

News & Updates

As is too often the case, I have bad news to report. Many of you probably know that Betty Norman, long-time resident Sugar Land passed away recently. Like many of us, Mrs. Norman X-rayed me multiple times at the old Sugar Land clinic. Click here to view an obituary.  My best to Richard, Peggy, and the extended Norman family.

I also saw that Cindy Anderson (DHS Class of '73) passed away.  Click here to view an obituary.  My best to her family for their loss.

Sugar Land High School's Class of 1940

I had a very enjoyable visit with Mr. Tom B. McDade, Jr. (SLHS Class of 1940) and his wife last week.  The object of his visit was to give me some records his father kept of cotton harvests in Sugar Land from 1928 to 1942. After I've scanned them, I will put them in the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation's document collection.  (I'll have more on them in the future.)

As I said, we had a very pleasant visit and talked about all kinds of things.  Here are a few other items he's donated to the SLHF. These relate to his high school graduation class.

 SLHS 1940 Commencement Program.

SLHS 1940 Commencement Program. 

SLHS 1940 Baccalaureate Program. 

 SLHS 1940 Baccalaureate Program. 

SLHS 1940 Class Photo. 

Cherryl Hughes Fikes has generously given me a scan of the class photo, which I posted earlier.  You see her father, Joe Bob Hughes, among the members of the Class of '40. I wanted to post it again due to an astounding story Mr. McDade told me.

He was in the US Navy during WWII.  He served as an officer on an LCI (landing craft infantry) in the Pacific theater of war.  He was on leave in the Philippines and went to an air base where he met his classmate, Joe Bob Hughes, by chance.  Hughes was a B-29 pilot and suggested Tom join him on a trip to Okinawa. Tom thought about it, but decided it was probably better that he decline.  As it turned out, he made the right decision.  A day or two later a monster typhoon hit Okinawa.  He would have had some 'splanin' to do regarding how he was stranded in Okinawa!

What astounds me is this is the 5th story I've heard about Sugar Land men/boys meeting up with each other in the Pacific theater during WWII.  (I know at least one occurred in Europe.)  Like my mother has said, the population of Sugar Land was about 2,500 people, yet in all but one, the meetings happened by chance.  

Kempner Memorial Stadium & Athletic Field

I received a request recently from the City of Sugar Land about the history of Kempner Stadium.  I thought I'd post some of the research I've assembled.  

Sugar Land had an athletic field beginning in the very early part of the 20th century. Baseball was the principal sport until 1927, when Sugar Land High School started a football team.  They played in an open field roughly where the outfield of the baseball diamond was located.  Fans roamed the sidelines - there were no stands or amenities of any kind.  All games were played during the day - there were no lights.

The Sugar Land Gators won their first district championship in 1938, which earned them an upgrade to their home ground.  They got lights, wooden stands (on the east side of the field), concession stands, and restrooms. The new stadium debuted in September 1939 when the Gators played Eagle Lake.  You'll see below, the home team downed the visitors 21-0.

In 1958, the stadium was upgraded with cement stands (on the west side of the field) and an electric scoreboard.  The stadium has changed further over the years, but it's still used today.

Here are images of two plaques dedicating the stadium and the scoreboard.  I've posted info on Stu Clarkson in the past.  Click here and here to view those entries.

 I. H. Kempner, Jr. plaque.

 Stuart Clarkson plaque.

I want to thank Ralph McCord's family for letting me scan the following items, which chronicle the opening game of the 1939 season.

Ralph McCord in 1939. 

Newspaper article about new stadium.  

Photo from the Eagle Lake game in 1939.  

Gator record of the 1939 season.  

Gator line up from the 1939 season.

The stadium also served as a venue for school graduations.  Here are items from the 1941 graduation ceremony on Kempner Field.  (My thanks go to the Kadlecek family for these images.)

1941 SLHS Commencement.

1941 SLHS Commencement Program.

1941 SLHS Commencement Program.

The following photo shows construction of the west-side stands in 1958.

Construction at Kempner Stadium in 1958.

W. H. Louviere, Sr. (President of Imperial Sugar Company) and Dr. Leslie Wheeler, Jr. (school board member) on the night of October 3, 1958 when the new stadium was dedicated and renamed in honor of I. H. Kempner, Jr.

Mr. Louviere (left) and Dr. Wheeler at Kempner Stadium on
October 3, 1958.

Rosenberg etc

I've found a terrific site on Facebook called Rosenberg etc.  The old photos are superb. Click here to view the site.  I've taken the liberty of selecting a few that may pique your interest.  Click on the image below to view them.

Rosenberg etc images.

1919 African-American Flour Mill in Houston Texas

While reading issues of the Texas Commercial News (Sugar Land's local newspaper) published in 1919, I ran across this item in a June issue.  It mentioned a flour mill owned by African-Americans, which  opened in Independence Heights, Texas.

I had never heard of Independence Heights, much less "Flavo" and the American Milling Company.  I searched for more information, but found very little. Independence Heights was an incorporated community inhabited by minority citizens.  It was located an area north of today's 610 loop and west of I-45. The community chose to dissolve and be incorporated into Houston in the late 1920s. I guess the mill didn't have a long life because there is no record of it that I can find.

I've posted an image of the article, but I've included a transcript below if you don't want to strain your eyes.

Houston's First Flour Mill Began Operation Monday

The only flour mill in the vicinity of Houston, owned and operated by negro citizens of Independence Heights, started production Monday afternoon, following formal opening exercises. The mill is owned by the American Milling Company, of which H. J. Ford is president.
A large crowd of negro citizens gathered for the exercises and were given samples of the "Flavo" flour that the mill will put on the market.  O. L. Hubbard, mayor of Independence Heights, made an address of welcome, expressing the pleasure of the community at having the mill opened in the vicinity.  Its opening is evidence of the industrial progress of the colored race, he said. 
H. J. Ford responded on the part of the milling company, and other Negroes made short talks.
The Flour produced at the mill will be sold direct to the consumer for the present.  It will be of the very highest grade, but will retail at prices usually charged for the medium grade flour in Houston, it was announced.  It will be put up in 12, 24, and 1 pound bags, but also will be sold in four, six, and ten pound packages.  As soon as possible, every negro grocery store will be supplied with the flour.
At the present time the mill has a capacity of 15 barrels of flour a day and 10 barrels of meal.
A number of white citizens visited the mill Monday, including several millers from neighboring towns.

Toubin Park, Brenham, Texas

I want to thank Brenda Albers Miles (DHS '66) for telling me about this park and a network of historic cisterns in Brenham, Texas.  I told her about an archeological project the Fort Bend County Historical Commission is doing in Richmond.  We're excavating an 1850s cistern in Lamar Homestead Park.  We're hoping to find artifacts from Lamar's residence.

Anyway, Brenda told me about this network of cisterns in Brenham, which was completely new to me.  I want to take a look one of these days.  Click here to read a short article on Toubin Park and the story of the cisterns.  Click here to read another article on the history of the cisterns.  Note that the 1879 pumper was designed to pump water from these underground tanks when putting out fires.


Here are some odds & ends I found since my last posting.  The first is a video clip from a 1956 episode of the old I've Got A Secret game show.  I think it's amazing.  I've read that the man died just a couple of months after appearing on the show.

A fellow named Jim Lange posted this photo of Foley's department store his father took in 1938.  This store preceded the one most of us remember, which was built in 1947 on the corner of Main and Lamar.  This store was 400 Main Street several blocks north of Main and Lamar.

Foley's at 400 Main in 1938.