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Monday, September 19, 2016

News & Updates

Unfortunately, the first item is sad news that skipped my notice until Brenda Albers Miles notified me a couple of weeks ago. Duane Phillips (SLHS '52) and his wife Sarah died in a car accident in West Texas late last month.  Click here to read an obituary.  I didn't know him and was intrigued by their interesting experiences - for example sailing their boat from Chesapeake Bay to Corpus Christi after he retired from IBM.

Duane Phillips, 1952.

My high school classmate Marsha Krause Smith is a good friend of Duane's sister-in-law Margaret Dierks Phillips.  (She was married to Duane's older brother Rufus.)  Margaret told Marsha the story about Duane climbing the old water tower and painting "Srs. '52" on it.  It was there for years -- I clearly remember it. As Margaret said, everyone knew he was the culprit because he was the only kid crazy enough to do it.

Old timer B. I. Webb (SLHS '51) told me the story a few years ago. He corroborated what Margaret said, but added another detail. Duane told B. I. that he found dozens of duck bills scatter on the walkway around the tower. Hawks nested up there, and apparently, ducklings were their regular cuisine. If you've seen Randy Koslovsky's 2014 video of the water tower (taken with his drone), you'll see a hawk perched on the tower's railing.

I extend my sincerest condolences to the Phillips family, which includes Carole Phillips Bossley (SLHS '56) as well as Margaret.

David Wickersham (DHS '63) related another incident in which Sugar Landers serving in the military met by chance far away from home. When he was outbound to Vietnam back in the '60s he had a layover at a California airport. He walked into a snack bar and met Dulles classmate, Billy Ernest, who had just returned from Vietnam!

Tracey Matlage Calvert pointed out that her mother Virginia (Mrs. W. T. Matlage, Jr.) is the teacher on the far right of this photo.  I didn't realize she taught at one of the elementary schools for Hispanic children.

Grand Central School 1st grade, 1939/40.
And last but not least, I wanted to mention that all friends of DHS Class of '66 can buy tickets to their reunion set for October 22nd. (There are 20 or so tickets left.)  Click here to see an earlier post with all the details

While helping the Class of  '66 with their upcoming reunion, I found a few amusing items from the 2003 multi-class reunion.
A short video of Dulles Cheerleaders & Twirlers entertaining classmates & leading the Dulles Fight Song.

A few photos from the 2003 Dulles Multi-Class Reunion.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Captain Brooks

Several people remembered the Brooks home on Dam Road along the east bank of Brooks Lake. I posted a 1980 photo last time. (Of course, Dam Road is gone, and it's now Lake Pointe Parkway.)

Bettye Anhaiser met Marjery Brooks Ashford, younger daughter of Captain Brooks, many years ago. She interviewed Marjery and collected some of her photos. Her recollections of old Sugar Land are fascinating. I've posted a few of her photos, which you can see by clicking the image below.

Here is a brief summary of Captain Brooks's life.  You can also click this link to read a a newspaper article on one of two attempts on his life. (Apparently, the Brooks family lived in Victoria before moving to Sugar Land.)

Captain Brooks
Captain Brooks (in white shirt) showing potato crop in Sugar Land. Date is uncertain. Location is probably the rail loading dock behind the old Mercantile Store.

More People of Old Sugar Land

My brother Bruce and I had an opportunity to attend a Smith family reunion for the first time last weekend.  We had a great time and enjoyed a chance to meet some distant relatives.

The extended Smith family includes the Jenkins, Rozelle, and McCord families -- quite a few people in old Sugar Land. The matriarchs of those families (Minnie Jenkins, Monnye Rozelle, and Hattie McCord) were Smith sisters. They had more than one brother, but one (Walter) is where the Kelly family enters the picture. Our grandfather's sister Letha Mae Kelly married Walter. Mae and my grandfather (Charles or Chuck) were orphaned at a very young age and were estranged, so Bruce and I weren't really aware of our connection to the Smith family for many years.

Click on the image below to view a few photos from the reunion.  (Mae Kelly Smith was grandmother to the Stowells and Irvans, so that's why we're grouped together in one of the photos.) 

We're looking forward to the next one.
Betty Ann Williams, Claudia Rozelle Thornhill, & Ray Babineaux at the Smith family reunion on September 10, 2016.  (They are all DHS Class of '71.)

Alvin Kadlecek

I want to thank Gloria Farrugia and Brenda Albers Miles (DHS '66) for providing me the details for this item.

Fort Bend ISD has asked the public to propose names for four new schools now under construction. Click here for details on submitting names. (Note: submissions must be made by September 30th.)

I think the public has submitted H. L. 'Chuzzy' Jenkins and Jack Neal as possible names for a school and the agricultural barn. Anyway, Gloria submitted the name of her great uncle, Alvin Kadlecek (SLHS '40), and Brenda forwarded some of the supporting documentation, which I found remarkable.
Alvin Kadlecek is just beneath the class photo's label.
I believe it was Gloria's brother Charles who found official records on how their great uncle was killed in action during WWII.  I have never seen an official report like this and thought it should be passed along.

As you'll see, Alvin was the radio operator on a B-24 Liberator bomber sent on a raid from Torreto, Italy on April 2, 1944.  The target was Bihac, Yugoslavia.  His plane collided with another B-24 and broke in two.  He was not wearing a parachute when he was flung out of the forward half of the divided plane.  Apparently, his body was never recovered. Click here to read the official reportYou can read accounts from crewmen on other bombers, plus an account from the sole survivor of Alvin's plane (Antonio Lerma, flight engineer from Laredo, Texas).

Thompsons Depot

The Fort Bend County Historical Commission recently launched a major project to create a database of historic structures in the county. It will take considerable time and effort, but it will be well worth the effort.

The general idea is to collect detailed information on each structure, relating to its architecture, history, and physical condition. This info will be critical to preserving our county's historic legacy, but it will also become a public resource available to anyone interested in local history.

The Thompsons Railroad Station is a prime example of what's being done. If you click the image below, you'll see a photo and accompanying information on The Portal to Texas History.
Thompsons Railroad Station in Thompsons, Texas c. 1965. (Portal to Texas History)

Historical Commission member Bruce Grethen photographed the station recently in it's current location on FM 359 between Highway 90A and the 'curve' at Pecan Grove.

Old Thompsons Railroad Station in new location on FM 359.
Local railroad historian, Ken Stavinoha, has told me this station is the oldest surviving railroad structure in the county.  I believe it was constructed on its original location (Thompsons) in 1888. This old station is a good example of why it is important to curate information for future generations.
Another view c. 1965. (Portal to Texas History)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

News & Updates

Many of you have probably heard that Mary Norton Shelton (SLHS '39) passed away last week. Click here to view an obituary. I'll have more to say about Mrs. Shelton in future posts, but for now I want to tell Steve (DHS '63), Valerie (DHS '66), Nancy (DHS '69), and Lee (DHS '71) how sorry I am to hear of their mother's death. I know they'll miss her very much, as will many locals.

I want to thank Darlene Menges for identifying the man between Curtis Hall and Mac Parker in the photo below. He is her grandfather Alvin T. Landin, and the scene is the Lions Club anniversary celebration in 1956.

I have a few more updates, but will save them for the next round.

A Little More Dulles News

The organizing committee for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Class of '66 has extended the deadline for classmates who have not bought tickets.  You have until September 17th, when ticket sales are open to friends of the class who want to attend. (No tickets will be sold at the event.) Contact Scotty Hightower Bass for ticket info, or go to the Facebook group, 'JFD 50 Year Reunion.'

Once again, here are the relevant details:

Date:  Saturday, October 22, 2016 @ 6:00 pm
Location: The Redneck Country Club at 11110 West Airport Blvd. in Stafford
Price: $60 per person (cash bar & no tickets sold at the door)
Attire: Casual

Click on the image below to view an memorial album for deceased members of the Class of '66. Please comment on this blog, if you have further information on classmates who have passed away.  Thank you.
Josephine Cortez

The 1900 Storm

Tomorrow, September 8th, is the 116th anniversary of the Galveston hurricane disaster. My niece and nephew alerted me to two videos of contemporaneous film taken by the Thomas A. Edison Co. They are both rather short. Just click the images to access them.
           A panoramic shot not far from East Beach.

                 A 5-minute collection of various locations.     

Fort Bend County suffered considerable damage and loss of life after the storm swept inland. Newspaper accounts say the Cunningham Sugar Refinery was severely damaged, but I don't know off-hand if any lives were lost in Sugar Land.

Click this link to view an image of the El Paso Daily Herald published on September 10, 1900. The front page is devoted to news of the storm, but if you'll pan and scroll down to the bottom of the right-most column, you'll see brief reports from Sugar Land and neighboring localities.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Imperial Sugar Company Cookbooks

I was looking at videos on the Web site for the Texas Archive of the Moving Image, recently. Click here to access its main page. I watched the television ad for Imperial's My First Cookbook.  There's no hint of the date, but I think it may have run in 1963. (They ran multiple campaigns for MFC over the years.) Click the image below to view the 1-minute ad.

As you can see, Imperial's ad agency, TracyLocke of Dallas created the ad and managed the cookbook campaigns, which were a real winner for Imperial. (Richard Brown was Imperial's account exec.)

While reviewing the Heritage Foundation's photo archive, I found these which were taken in 1963. With some effort I could identify the women because I'm certain these photos appeared in The Imperial Crown. I included the second photo even though the quality isn't great because I liked their pose.  This photo was taken in the mail room in Imperial's General Office on the 2nd floor of the shopping center.

My First Cookbooks ready for mailing c. 1963.

My First Cookbooks ready for mailing c. 1963.

I have a lot of sympathy for those two women because I know exactly what they were doing.  I'm not certain of the exact dates, but my mother handled Imperial's cookbook requests from about 1958 to 1962. 

A few would dribble in during slack times, but when a campaign was running she'd be inundated with letters and postcards. During the peak period of a campaign, we could easily process the number of boxes you see in those photos in just one or two days. I don't know how long a campaign would run, but I'm guessing maybe three weeks to a month, and it would run in media all over Texas and neighboring states. Naturally, the flow of requests peaked a couple of weeks before the end, so it wasn't peak volume the whole time.  

Still, Mother got help, as you can see from these photos taken at our house on Oyster Creek Dr. in May of 1961. I can't identify the cookbooks in those photos, but I think it was the 'modern version' of Aunt Cora's Cookbook.

My brother Bruce & I in the den, sacking cookbooks (i.e. putting them in the addressed envelopes).  We didn't have to seal the envelopes; just fold the flap so they wouldn't fall out.

Me with our dog Herman.

My grandmother, my great aunt, my father, and my mother at the kitchen table addressing envelopes for the cookbooks.

Those were good times. 

Excavating an 1850s Cistern

For the past several months, members of the Fort Bend County Historical Commission have excavated the cistern on Mirabeau Lamar's home site in south Richmond. I made a very, very rough 9-minute video of the project just as we started. 

We've now dug a 4-ft. test hole in the silt at the bottom, and we're just about finished. I'll post more video and a summary of the results in the future.  But for now, here's a quick look at what the inside looks like.  Click the image to access the clip.


A colleague recently directed me to a superb collection of photos taken in 1979 & '80 by Sandra Batey for the Texas Historical Commission.  I thought I'd post four.

The first shows the 1927 Sugar Land Depot in 1980. Click the image to view a larger version. Many of you know it was located on the north side of the tracks where they cross Ulrich St. The depot was moved to Commerce Green Blvd. in 1985 and extensively remodeled. It now houses the Fort Bend County Chamber of Commerce.
Sugar Land's 1927 Railroad Depot in 1980. (The Portal to Texas History)
The second shows Captain Brooks's home, which was located on what was called Dam Rd. in 1980. In today's topography, it's roughly where Sugar Lakes Dr. crosses Kingfisher Dr. The house was demolished in the 1980s. Click the image to view a larger version.
Captain Brooks Home in 1980.
(The Portal to Texas History)
The third photo shows the old Schulze Store on FM 359 north of Richmond. It is now home to the Foster Creek Vet Hospital. Click here for a current view. Click the image below for a full view taken in 1980.
Old Schulze Store in 1980.
(The Portal to Texas History)
The final image shows the Scanlan House near Arcola.  It has a fascinating history, which you can read by clicking this link.  Click the image below for a view from 1980.
Scanlan House in 1980.
(The Portal to Texas History)