My kids have a store!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dedicated To Their Memory

Dedication Ceremony, WWI Memorial Park,
Kerrville, 1938
Did you know we have a park in Kerrville dedicated to the memory of Kerr County soldiers who gave their lives for our country in World War I?
Neither did I until a friend brought by some old photographs by the print shop last week, although I've passed by the little park several thousand times. It's likely you have passed it, too.
The park is located at what was once the gateway to the city, at the intersection of Broadway and Water streets. The joined streets become Memorial Boulevard. It's the little triangle of land opposite the Union Church, which is on the western tip of the campus of Schreiner University, and also opposite the Raphael Community Free Clinic.  Recent utility work has left a unsightly slab of concrete and various utility boxes marring the site.
Before IH10 sliced through our county, all traffic between San Antonio and El Paso passed this little triangle of land; that route was called the Old Spanish Trail, and it stretched from Florida to California, just like IH10.
So, in 1938, when the park was dedicated, it was the entrance to our community, and the park was chosen for its prominent location.
The photograph shows a group of women standing behind a carved stone on which a bronze plaque is mounted. On either side of the women are two men with U. S. flags. Behind them a group has gathered, and you can see a tent (similar to funeral home tents) in the background.
Looking at the photograph, I thought I recognized some of the women, and so I had to research the photograph. I found it featured on the front page of the July 7, 1938 edition of the Kerrville Mountain Sun.
"Gold Star Mothers Attend Dedication of War Memorial," the headline read. At the time of the dedication, almost 20 years had passed since World War I ended. (That anniversary would come in November, 1938.)
According to the story, "the site of the park was purchased by the Civic League from the county commissioners, and the marker was given by Mr. and Mrs. Garland Lang. The city of Kerrville will care for the spot...."
There was a "massing of colors," while the "'Call to Colors' was sounded by the buglers from the Boy Scouts.
"Col. L. H. Webb, medical officer in charge of the U. S. Veterans facility at Legion, served as master of ceremonies, and called the names of Kerrville's glorious dead, telling something of their lives, and introduced the Gold Star Mothers."
The past commander of the State Department of the American Legion attended, and a man named Dean Martin gave a speech.
He said "people were gathered for a memorial day, for a day of dedication, to pay tribute of respect to the memory of those men from our county, our homes, who, answering the call of duty went down to the Valley of the Shadow and there answered the last roll call. In giving freely they gave their all and now sleep where the poppies bloom, 'between the crosses, row on row.'
"We are gathered," Dean Martin said, "to link the present with the past, and to face the future unafraid. 'Optimism without frivolity, seriousness without despair.'
"War means mothers who look for letters they will never see, wives who wait for voices they will never hear, and children who listen for footsteps that will never come."
The Gold Star Mothers pictured at the dedication were (on the front row) Mrs. Faust Merritt, Mrs. W. G. Garrett, Mrs. W. P. Cowden, Mrs. Eddie Kaiser, and Mrs. E. W. Baker. On the back row were Mrs. Mark Mosty (representing her brother, Robert Spicer), Mrs. Della Sommers (representing her brother, Grover Hollimon), and Mrs. Knox (representing her brother, Randolph Davis). The color bearers in the photograph are George Hauer and E. E. Kelsey, V. F. W. members.
This Memorial Day weekend, as you pass by the little park, remember the men for whom it was built, and the mothers' tears with which it was dedicated. It is a quiet little memorial and we often pass it by without notice.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who will certainly miss his father-in-law, Irv Gregory, who passed away Tuesday. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times May 27, 2017.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

An Autumn Kerrville Afternoon in 1956

Tivy High School pep rally
Tivy High School Pep Rally, 1956
Downtown Kerrville, intersection of Water and Earl Garrett streets
Click on any image to enlarge
In the autumn of 1956, students of Tivy High School staged a pep rally in downtown Kerrville, as they had for decades, and as they would continue to do for decades. As with most of these events, there was a photographer on hand, taking photographs, most likely for the yearbook. The photographer carefully labeled most of the photographs.
These photographs were taken with film used to make color slides, which is a little unusual, but fortunate. While the colors have shifted a little to red and orange over the past 60+ years, a shift which can be easily corrected using modern computer software, the important thing is this: these images are in color. Many of the images in my collection from that era are in black and white, so having color images from 1956 is a real treat.
No one is completely sure who took these photographs, but there are several theories, including the yearbook photographer theory. The leading candidate, if this theory is correct, would be Barbara Matthews Eddy. (If these photos were taken for the yearbook, these images would appear in the 1957 Antler, as the yearbook is published at the end of the school year.)  Many clues suggest Ms. Eddy was the photographer: the handwritten labels on the slides, plus the fact that many of the found photographs were taken later, when Ms. Eddy was in college in Minnesota.
Kerrville Tivy pep rally
Tivy High School Pep Rally, 1956
How these photographs returned to Kerrville is a story that would not have been believed in 1956.
As many of you know, I publish a history blog online. (A 'blog' is kind of an Internet newsletter.) Most Mondays and Saturdays I post photographs or stories about the history of our community. There is no charge to read the blog, and pages from the blog have been viewed over 500,000 times. The website address is simple: www.joeherring.com
People come across the blog all over the world. I've had readers from all fifty states, plus 141 foreign countries. Honestly, though, some of the countries on the list are ones I would not be able to find on a map, and most of the visitors from outside of the U.S. don't spend a lot of time on my website. Go figure.
Monday I was contacted by a person in Minnesota who told me he'd found a box of color slides at an estate sale in Hastings, Minnesota. I suppose he searched the internet for Tivy, or for some of the names written on the sleeves of the color slides. That led him to my blog, and to my email address, which he used to contact me.
Kerrville Tivy High School
Tivy High School Pep Rally, 1956
He's never been to Kerrville, but has some family in New Braunfels. And he was very generous with the photographs, scanning some and emailing them to me.
Imagine, then, how this story would have read in 1956: "Local man publishes blog, which is read over the Internet by a man in Minnesota; the man in Minnesota scans 60 year old color slides and sends them to local man by email."
I've asked for permission to publish the photographs on my blog, and the man in Minnesota has graciously agreed. Over the next few days I'll post the photographs. I think you'll agree they're pretty cool!
1956 was an important year in Kerr County: it was the year the community celebrated the 100th anniversary of the creation of Kerr County. It was also a year when thousands of photographs were taken of events which marked that celebration: parades, contests, store displays. Most of those photographs, however, were in black and white.
Tivy High School pep rally
Tivy High School Pep Rally, 1956
The photographs of the pep rally made me realize some of the traditions which were popular when I was a student at Tivy in the late 1970s were started many years earlier.
In a few of the photographs, the students have their right arms pressed against their chests. Their right hand and arm are parallel to the ground; their right elbow is straight, too, and away from their bodies. Their extended right hands are just covering their hearts, palms facing down, parallel to the ground.
I knew exactly what they were doing as some of these photographs were taken, at the exact moment the shutter clicked. They were singing the Tivy alma mater while the Tivy marching band played. "We are from Tivy," they were singing, "from Tivy are we...."
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who played the Tivy alma mater many times on his dented cornet, more or less in time and tune with the rest of the Tivy marching band.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times May 20, 2017

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pampell's: The Sweetest Corner in Town

Pampell's after a big July 4th parade, 1952
I believe the man with the cane and hat, along the back counters, is J. L. Pampell
Click on image to enlarge
It's hard to walk by Pampell's these days and see it vacant. It was such a vibrant part of downtown when I was a boy -- and even later, when my children were young. Today there are few folks under 30 who remember Pampell's as it once was, busy and full of life.
The name, "Pampell's," was a family's name. J. L. Pampell, of Brenham, Texas, arrived in Kerrville on Independence Day, 1890. That means he arrived in Kerrville about the time many of the oldest buildings in downtown Kerrville were erected, including the Masonic Building (now home to Sheftall's Jewelers), and the Weston Building (now home to Francisco's Restaurant).
In 1931 a small history of Kerr County was published to help celebrate the 75th anniversary of the creation of Kerr County. It was written by middle school students under the careful guidance of their history teacher, Mrs. Kate Franklin.
The sketch about J. L. Pampell paints a picture of what Kerrville looked like in the 1890s; he arrived in Kerrville on Independence Day, 1890.
"I was impressed at first by the sight of the beautiful hills, the fine Guadalupe River and the splendid class of people who were found, not carrying 'six-shooters' nor lacking in their welcome to a stranger. Captain Schreiner's store, his residence, the St. Charles Hotel, and Dr. Parsons' livery stable, with the dance hall above, were the chief buildings except the court house and the Union Church, where all denominations worshipped."
The streets looked a lot different then, too.
"There were no sidewalks worth speaking of and where we walk on pavements now on Water Street's business section, we had to cling to upright cedar picket fencing in rainy weather to keep from bogging up in the mud.
"Water was hauled in barrels and delivered to consumers at 10 cents a barrel...It was not uncommon to see hauling done by oxen, daily trudging along. Cows from private homes were driven to the pastures to graze around the town, night and morning, in substantial herds through the streets.
"My first small business place was an 'Ice Cream Parlor and Confectionery,' where the present wool warehouse now stands," the report reads.
That means Pampell's first store was about where the porch of Cartewheels Catering now stands, almost directly across the street from the Arcadia Theater and Baublit's Jewelers.
He opened the store "six months after my arrival, with the small amount of $600 of my own earnings." That would mean the first Pampell's store opened in early 1891.
"The cows would leisurely pass my establishment, and help themselves to a cabbage or a bunch of bananas, and continue on their way."
"The town was literally filled with tourists and health-seekers who had already learned of this splendid health resort. There were people from all parts of the globe. When the new wool warehouse was erected, I was moved to a building where the post office is now located."
I think, given the timeframe, Pampell's second location was near where Sheftall's Jewelers is today, in the middle of the 200 block of Earl Garrett.
"In 1899 I purchased and removed to my third and present location where the property was then known as the Gregory Hotel."
Pampell tells a bit of what folks did for fun.
"One of the most popular diversions was horseracing, for which the public would come miles to witness. Large sums of money would be bet by the owners. These races were held in what is known as the Tivy Flats, where a number of modern homes now stand."
I think 'Tivy Flats' was probably around where today's Broadway Street now runs.
"The river was alive with fish and the woods full of deer and turkey and it was not unusual to hear a coyote yelp around the little city. Pecans were yours for the picking and I have seen wagon loads of brought in by farmers and ranchmen. The best offer [for pecans] would be perhaps two cents per pound.
"Cord wood sold for $1.50 a cord and chickens were two for 25 cents, and nice frying-size chickens could be bought for 10 cents each. Wild honey and venison were peddled on the streets."
Kerrville was quite a different place back then.
I'm old enough to remember Milton Pampell, son of J. L. Pampell. And I have many happy memories of the soda fountain at Pampell's from when I was a boy, in the 1960s.
Pampell's was a drug store and soda fountain in my youth. Mr. and Mrs. Bob Hood ran the store then, followed later by Steve Ackman. When my children were young, Sandy and Jon Wolfmueller ran an antiques store in the building, but the soda fountain remained; Beth Johnson ran the fountain during that time.
Later Ken Wilson purchased the property and spent a fortune renovating and shoring up the structure. Afterwards a successful bar and grill was in the building.
Since then many different restaurants have come and gone in the space, and today it is vacant. I last walked through the building in late 2016, when a group was considering the building as the site for a Kerr County history museum.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who enjoyed many malted milkshakes at Pampell's. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times May 13, 2017.





Thursday, May 11, 2017

Kerr county women who changed our community

Margaret Thatcher famously suggested if you wanted someone to speak, ask a man; if you wanted to get something done, ask a woman. In my study of local history I’ve found that many of the successful efforts to make our community a better place have been achieved by women. This has been true from the earliest days of our community.
It would be an exaggeration to suggest the communities of Kerr County would lack paved streets, that we would not have public schools or churches, and that bathing would be infrequent if it were not for women, but it’s not that far from the truth, either.
The following stories are about a varied group of local women. Most were well educated. Some were wealthy but most were not. Many of them overcame tragedies; several lost a child. Most knew hardship.
What unites them is their concern for others. Well, that and hard work.
Rosalie Dietert
Rosalie Dietert came to Kerrville with her husband Christian in 1857 when there were only five shacks in the whole town, all scattered near the banks of the Guadalupe. They were immigrants from Germany. Christian was a millwright who built several water-powered mills in surrounding communities. He built several in Kerrville, too.
Christian was appointed postmaster in 1868, though, in reality, he was postmaster in name only. Rosalie ran the local post office from her home on Spring Street. (That street still exists, but you have to know where to look. It’s opposite the front doors of Notre Dame Catholic Church on Water Street.)
The first post office fixture was a frame made by Christian Dietert out of cypress wood. Four feet high, three wide, and seven inches deep, it contained 12 pigeon holes six inches high, along with three compartments 14 inches wide by 6 high for newspapers and packages. A lower section 17 inches high comprised the entire width of the frame and was used for the general "paraphernalia pertaining to the office."  That little piece of furniture handled the entire volume of mail in Kerrville the twenty years, until 1888.
There were many firsts in the Dietert home. Because of the saw mill, theirs was the first house that used milled cypress lumber. They had the first stove, and the first Christmas tree in Kerrville.
Years later she was asked by her great-granddaughter “What ever made you leave your home, brave the sea, and throw your lot in an unknown land?”
“With me it was the spirit of adventure,” Rosalie Dietert replied, “All of the papers were full of the new world and of Texas.”
What did she find here? “There were no roads, or dry camping places, and danger of Indian raids was ever present.” In Kerrville, there was “nothing but a cluster of five small log huts, of one or two rooms, a wilderness of trees, and grass as high as a man, with Indians skulking through.”
About her life in Kerrville, she wrote “Hardly a day passed without its visitor or overnight guest, or a meal partaken that was not shared by some chance traveler.” Mrs. Dietert ran a very social home. She also taught many of the young people in the community how to dance.
That kindness and hospitality made Kerrville a community.
Florence Butt in her store
Click any image to enlarge
Many know the story of Florence Butt, the woman who started what is now H-E-B. She arrived in Kerrville in 1905 with her husband, Charles, their three sons, and two stepsons. Charles was ill, suffering from tuberculosis; it would kill him eventually, and take their adult son Charles as well.
Looking today at the company she started you’d assume life was easy for Florence Butt. It was not. She started her grocery store out of necessity: she needed to provide for her family. Her husband, a pharmacist, was too ill to work.
Kerrville was not particularly kind to families who brought tuberculosis with them to our community. The family lived in a tent on the outskirts of town for some time. Eventually Florence attempted to sell groceries door to door. At one house she was greeted with disdain: “We do not buy from paddlers,” she was told, as the door slammed in her face.
At a time when few women attended college, Florence Butt had a college degree. In fact, she graduated at the very top of her class. At a time when few women started businesses, she started a grocery store. At a time when women were not allowed to preach, she was generous to the poor, taught Sunday School, and helped establish a congregation on the east edge of town. And this was at a time when she could not vote.
The thing about Florence Butt is this: she did not give up. And she was unfailingly generous, especially to those in need.
Mary Holdsworth Butt
Florence Butt had a son named Howard who married extremely well, somehow persuading Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth to be his bride. Mary Butt was a Tivy graduate from a good Kerrville family. She graduated from college, trained to be a teacher. She was a teacher all of her life, though she spent very few of her years in a classroom.
In the late 1960s she took on a special project in Kerrville: she and her husband built a library.
Kerrville had a library, a little library in the building at the corner of Rodriguez and Water streets; previously the library was in the first floor of the old Charles Schreiner mansion on Earl Garrett Street.
Those old libraries were probably about right for a community the size of Kerrville in the 1960s. Small. Volunteer driven. Strapped for cash.
Mary Butt and her husband dreamed bigger and could afford to help make that dream possible. In 1967 the oddly-named Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library opened with an impressive amount of small-town fanfare. Lady Bird Johnson attended the dedication ceremonies. Looking through the photographs of the event one can feel the excitement of the occasion. It was a really, really big deal.
And yet it was completely in line with Mary Butt’s life as a teacher. With that one project she opened a million doors for our community.
Annie Walker Doyle
Fewer know the story of Annie Doyle. Like Florence Butt, she had a college education, and was one of the best-educated women in Kerrville. She was married to a well-educated minister, Henry Doyle, who suffered from tuberculosis.
Annie Doyle dedicated her life to teaching children, and the children she educated had been overlooked by our community. Her students, like Annie, were African-Americans. There was no school for them because of the color of their skin.
After Henry died, Annie stayed in Kerrville and taught elementary school in a building she helped obtain from the Kerrville school district and had moved to land she bought.
For many years she was not only the principal of the school, she was its only teacher. And she was paid less than other teachers in the school district.
When B. T. Wilson and his wife Itasco came to Kerrville, they asked that the school be renamed in Annie Doyle’s honor.
And what of her students? They changed the world.
Clarabelle Snodgrass
I think Clarabelle Snodgrass and Josephine “Dodo” Parker might be surprised to find themselves bound together in the same story. They were two very different women.
Clarabelle grew up in the Turtle Creek community, and later she and her husband Ross ranched on the Divide. After moving to town she became active in the Kerr County Historical Commission.
Dodo grew up in town; she was the great-granddaughter of Captain Charles Schreiner. Her husband, Clyde, was active in local businesses, including the Schreiner store downtown. Later in life she and others formed the Hill Country Preservation Society.
What did these two accomplish?
They helped preserve the history of our community.
Clarabelle Snodgrass was tireless in working within the historical commission to tell the history of our community. She obtained historical markers throughout the county, and her leadership helped save the original Tivy School building from demolition. That building now serves as the administrative offices of the Kerrville Independent School District. And she was instrumental in the publication of the Kerr County Album, in which hundreds of local families told their story.
Josephine "Dodo" 
Parker
Dodo Parker was just as tireless in preserving history. She and others worked hard to build a museum in the former home of her great-grandfather, the Schreiner mansion on Earl Garrett Street. For decades the old home served as a center for historic preservation.  Her work likely saved the old mansion from being torn down.
Both Clarabelle and Dodo are gone now, but the work they did helped preserve a great amount of our local history, and they helped build a foundation for those who follow.
I picked these stories because the few women mentioned really represent so many others.  To tell all of the good accomplished by Kerr County women would take thousands of pages.

I'm thankful for the hard-working women of our community, and proud of the community they helped build.  The story isn't over: the community continues to benefit from the hard work of its women.

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Texas Hill Country Culture Magazine.






Sunday, April 23, 2017

River trails

Guadalupe River in Kerrville Texas
Fish among the cypress knees, Tranquility Island, near Lemos Street, Kerrville
I walked along the riverbank behind our print shop today, a rough stretch of bluff above me, and the green Guadalupe just below. I wonder how many times my feet have found their way there.
The river has a smell there, across from Louise Hays Park. It is not an unpleasant smell, but it does remind you that the water is filled with many creatures, most of which you cannot see. Looking at the river from beneath the canopy of trees, the water seems to glow. Among the cypress roots below the water, where the light shines through the roots, you can often see the outline of small fish. Perch, mainly.
The trail beside the river also has a smell, because it is heavily traveled by an assortment of animals. People occasionally wander down there, but mostly it's other animals who pass by. Most mornings when I look over the bluff I see deer parading in line along their time-worn trails. I've seen other animals, there, too: skunks, rabbits, armadillos, opossums, squirrels and, just once, a porcupine. A friend tells me she often sees foxes around our building at night.
Today I saw a little snake, much less than a foot long. It was black with a yellow ring around its neck, a harmless snake. I've seen many snakes down there, though I'm sure more have seen me than I have seen.
It's important to remember as you tromp alongside the river the snakes live there; we're just passing through their home. Some of the snakes I've seen down there include moccasins and coral snakes, either of which could ruin your day.
Several feral cats live in the neighborhood, and I often see them down there, too. I suppose they help keep the snakes in check, and plenty of the songbirds, too. One of the feral cats born behind the shop was tamed by my son and now lives inside the print shop -- a lanky black and white tom named Safety Officer. We've paid to have several generations of this cat's family neutered and spayed and SO is the last survivor of that clan.
Our section of the riverbank has few history stories to tell. Our family is only the sixth family to own these lots.
One of the earliest families to own our little stretch of riverbank was the founding family of Kerrville: Joshua and Sarah Brown. In fact, they lived on or near our print shop property, somewhere between our press room and the library. The giant oaks between the print shop and the old A. C. Schreiner mansion were standing when the Brown family lived here. I like to call those oaks "Founders' Oaks," and I hope they can be preserved as the property is developed. Those trees have survived since before there was a Kerrville.
Another of the families who lived on this lot was the Parsons family. They bought the lots in 1878 and owned them for the next 80 years. (In comparison, our family has only owned portions of the property for about 52 years.)
Dr. G. R. Parsons was an interesting guy. Despite fighting with the Union Army during the civil war, he was quickly accepted into our community. In fact, he was elected Kerrville's fifth mayor.
He was also responsible for hundreds of other families making Kerrville their home. He arrived in Kerrville very sick -- dying from tuberculosis. Somehow he recovered. He spent decades writing to national medical journals, telling others about the health benefits our climate offered those suffering from tuberculosis. He built the area's first tuberculosis sanatorium, which stood where Peterson Plaza is today (at the intersection of Water and Sidney Baker streets).
Many local families can trace their arrival in Kerr County to an ancestor who was afflicted with consumption, who came here seeking health. Most came because of the efforts of Dr. G. R. Parsons.
My parents bought the lots in three separate transactions over a period of decades, the first in 1965, then another in 1970, and then the last from the remnants of the old Charles Schreiner Bank, after it failed, around 1990. During these years we put ink on a lot of paper, and we still do.
It's different below the shop on the riverbank, though. It's not busy. While that stretch has seen some changes, it's still mostly wild. The foxes who come out at night are hardly concerned which family currently owns the property, and the snakes are concerned even less.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who was born one block away from the print shop. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times April 22, 2017.






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