My kids have a store!

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Kerr County collection

As many of you know, I collect items from Kerrville and Kerr County's history. The collection is housed at our printing company on Water Street, and I hope to donate the collection to a local history museum someday.
Severa
l new items came into the collection over the past few weeks, and I'd like to tell you about them.
There are a few of you who might remember Henke's butcher shop in the 800 block of Water Street. It was gone before I came along, but I've heard many stories about the shop. Many remember the barbecue sandwiches they sold there, with tables set up behind the shop.
The cash register from Henke's Meat Market
A long-time friend arranged for me to pick up the old cash register that Henke's used. It's a giant brass National Cash Register machine. As I was cleaning it I found two items: a red penny ration coin, from World War II, made of what looks to be red rubber; and an old Ford key. Both items were lodged in the back of the machine, behind the cash drawer, and in the springs and posts in the back of the machine.
As for the Ford key, I can just imagine one of the Henkes asking the rest of the crew in the butcher shop "has anyone seen the key to the delivery van?" I cannot guess how long it's been lost in the workings of the machine, but I'm happy it's now found. If only we could find the old Ford to which it once belonged.
A model of the Charles Schreiner Mansion
Another item came into the shop, and I'll admit I'm not sure from whence it came. I received word a model of the Charles Schreiner mansion was available at a local resale shop, and I dropped everything, went over there, and bought it. It's about 18" high, and about 24" wide, and is made of fired clay. It's signed by Ruth McNay, and I'm glad to have it here. I remember Ms. McNay; we printed many items for her. I've teased I'm planning on putting a teeny-tiny little museum inside the teeny-tiny little mansion.
My friends Jon and Sandy Wolfmueller, of Wolfmueller's Books, gave me several things over the past few weeks, including the minutes of the "City Council of Parents and Teachers of Kerrville, Texas," which I think meant the Parent Teachers Associations of the elementary, middle and high schools in Kerrville. The minutes are from the 1930s, and feature many recognizable names from that era.
Those minutes also clear up a mystery. During the 1930s, Kate Franklin, a teacher in the middle school, together with her students organized a Kerr County Museum. For a time the items they collected were on display at the Arcadia Theater, back when that theater was still quite new.
The rumor had been that after being displayed at the Arcadia, many of the items were discarded. However, one of the entries in the minutes tells what happened to the items after they left the Arcadia, and I hope other entries in those minutes will help explain where the missing items might be today.
A few months ago a kind reader brought in a scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings from a divisive time in our community, when the schools here were finally desegregated. It's been interesting reading those clippings, learning what was being said on both sides of the issue at the time. Like many communities, it took Kerrville a long time to get to the right answer: public schools were for all children, regardless of race.
The variety of the items coming into the collection is amazing, ranging from old newspapers, a fine sample of stained glass, and quite a few historic photographs of our area I'd never seen before.
I'm grateful to everyone who's brought items in. I hope together we can find a good home for them.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who likes learning about local history. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times January 14, 2017.





Sunday, January 8, 2017

A New Year

Once again, Gentle Reader, we begin a new year together.
This column began in November, 1995. Together we've seen a lot of Januarys on these pages.
I reviewed some of my columns published on the first weekend of a new year -- and the theme was often the same.
First, I am thankful for the opportunity to visit with you on this page each week. I know it's a privilege, and I'm appreciative of your support, patience, and encouragement for these many years. It is true: I like writing these letters to you each week.
And I'm thankful for the opportunity given me by the many publishers and editors for whom I've written. I'm certain I often exasperate them, but they've been kind and tolerant.
Secondly, in the first column of many of those years I express a concern over the 52 weeks ahead. It often feels like a big stack of blank paper waiting for me, and I've often expressed concern about filling those 52 weeks with something that might interest you.
I expressed this in 1999: " It is that time of year in a columnist's life when a long, blank 52 slotted slate rests ahead, needing to be filled up with words, words approaching style and correctness, and the first column of the year is always a toughy."
That concern still exists today.
In 2001, I shared this: "writing a weekly column is a lot like carrying a canary with you into the mine, and hoping it will sing. In the last year, I’ll admit, the bird sometimes sang flat. Other times, though, she sang true and sweet. As all miners and columnists know, it’s most important that the bird sing. When the bird stops singing, well, that’s when the problems start. For miners, it means the air’s not fit to breathe; for columnists it can mean lots of things, none of them very encouraging."
Likewise, in 2009, I tried to explain it like this: " At the first of the year the contracted-for series of columns looks like a very tall mountain. On the morning I write the first column of the year I feel like my climbing shoes are worn, my rope is frayed, and my supplies are low."
In many of those years, the first column outlined a plan of attack. One year, 2001, I offered a "Chautauqua," telling the story of our community's history, which was a series that ran for several months. The first in the series suggested "the story of Kerr County begins with the land. People have come to live here for thousands of years, and most of them have had one common motivation – the land itself."
In 2010, I offered a history class, to be taught in a series of columns. It began:
"Now class, please take your seats.
"It’s a new year, and I’m glad you’ve signed up for our course in local history. You will find, over the next few months, the story of our area is very remarkable.
"And you’ll find our area was the home to some very interesting characters. Some were scoundrels, some were heroes. One or two have names you might recognize. Some did great, showy things you can’t miss; others did small, quiet things that changed our community."
So what's in store for 2017?
Over the last few weeks, I've been working on a plan for this coming year. I hope you'll find it useful. One of my editors years ago told me my job was to "inform and entertain," a task that isn't as easy as it might seem. That's part of the 2017 plan.
So, then. See you here next week, and we'll get started.
Until then, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who daydreams way too much. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times January 7, 2017.





Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Six-Letter Mystery

The Six Letters were "CALLCO"
Click to enlarge
A few weeks ago my son and I decided to see the changes made at the old Hasting's store after its transformation into Entertainmart (or Vintage Stock). As we entered the door, one of the folks working there said they'd found something painted on one of the interior walls of the building, and asked if I knew anything about it.
That building has been many things in my lifetime, and it started out as several separate buildings which were joined into the present-day conglomeration.
My earliest memory of the building is when it housed the H. E. Butt Grocery Company. In those days the grocery store faced Quinlan Street, and there were other businesses on that block, along with many other buildings, including a building torn down long ago which had once been the home of one of Captain Schreiner's daughters, Caroline Marie. During the 1970s, the grocery store was remodeled and expanded into the structure we recognize today, with its entrance facing Main Street. Later, when the grocery store moved to the 300 block of Main Street, the old building became a clothing store, and later still, Hastings Entertainment. This past autumn Vintage Stock opened a store there called Entertainmart.
Today all of those other buildings on that block are either gone, or have been consumed into the building housing Entertainmart -- except for the Voelkel's building on the corner of Clay and Water, which still stands as I remember it as a child, though in those days it was a dry cleaning business, Sweatt Cleaners.
On our recent visit, my son and I were guided through several doors and hallways until we arrived at a darkened part of the building, somewhere near its southernmost corner. There, high above us, was a remnant of an old sign. The sign suggested what is now an interior wall was once an exterior wall.
There, in fading black letters on a white wall, was a fragment of an old sign. It read "CALLCO," and was painted in tall, bold letters. Partition walls inside the building, which were added later, cut off any letters before or after these six, and so I guessed there was once more to the sign. I took a photo with my phone, and Joe and I retraced our confusing route back to the public areas of the store. I told the lady who'd shown us the sign I'd see what I could find.
I like a history mystery, and when I had a few minutes later that week I began to see what I could find.
I often use a website to read old newspapers, newspaperarchive.com. On a hunch, I put in Callcote and Water Street to see what the website might find.
It found nothing.
Years ago we had a printing customer at our shop named Hazelle Calcote, a local realtor who volunteered with the stock show and youth programs. My first search misspelled her last name, adding an extra "L."
The 500 block of Water Street, late 1960s
Click to enlarge
So I tried Callcott and Water Street, and found there was once a George H. Callcott auto parts store in that block, and that it faced Water Street. My next step was to see if I had a photograph of the auto parts store in my collection.
I started with a photo of the Voelkel building, the triangular building at the intersection of Water and Clay streets. That photo did not show enough of the Callcott building to show the sign.
Then I remembered an old newspaper photo showing a group of men building a sidewalk in front of the old A. C. Schreiner home on Water Street. If I was lucky, the old Callcott store would be in that photograph.
And it was -- centered in the frame right above the workmen. The letters we saw in the Entertainmart building were visible in the photograph, which was taken in the late 1960s, or early 1970s. And in the photograph, the sign looked worn and weathered, just as the remnant looks today.
I texted the photo to our friend at Entertainmart, having solved the mystery. I love it when a case is quickly solved.
Until next year, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times December 31, 2016.




Saturday, December 31, 2016

Saturday Link Pack (and a photo of Pampell's)

Pampell's soda fountain and drug store, July 4, 1952
Click to enlarge photo
I've been interested in computers as long as I can remember, and recent developments in artificial intelligence are amazing.  This is a long article, but the discussion about recent advances in Google Translate are worth the effort.  (I definitely do NOT understand everything in the article.)

Ms. Carolyn and I need to rent this for our next party.  Stayin' alive.

Speaking of artificial intelligence, here are some AI experiments from Google. Bird sounds, and drawing.  I for one want to be kind to our future neural network overlords, so I can be on their good side when they take over the planet.

Ok, it's the end of the year, and I've been reading long essays. This one about time is good. Not completely sure I understand all of it.

If you've heard of Snopes.com, you know the site attempts to debunk false stories on the Internet. Suppose those annual Christmas letters we all receive from distant friends and families were subjected to the Snopes treatment?

Which word to use use for an evening meal?  Dinner or Supper? This map shows regional word use, and you can plug in words of your own choosing.  Neat.

My creative bride is having a sale on items in her crafting store. Proud of her. Sale ends tonight, December 31st.  Use the coupon code stamps to save 15% on orders of $25 or more.  For more information, check out her blog.







Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Kerrville Christmas Eve -- 1885

The restored Union Church, photo taken in 2003
Something remarkable happened in Kerrville around Christmas Eve, 1885.
Though the community had its beginnings in the late 1840s, when Joshua D. Brown and a group of men built a shingle making camp near the present-day intersection of Water and Washington streets, and though the county had been organized in 1856, Kerrville had no churches.
There were several likely reasons for this: Kerr County was very remote, travel was difficult, attacks from Native American groups were frequent, and the county, while rich in land, was extremely cash poor.
Sometime in 1884 two local women, Mrs. Whitfield Scott and her sister, Miss Laura Gill, decided it was time for the community to have a church. According to a story I found in the March 8, 1928 issue of the Kerrville Times, the two worked tirelessly to get a church for our community.
"Mrs. Scott and Miss Gill drove from house to house, not only in Kerrville, but throughout the county soliciting funds. It was hard work. People were poor, some did not believe in churches. But through the indomitable perseverance of the ladies, the money was finally collected. Not only was every resident of Kerr County asked to give but many letters were written to friends far away for aid."
Mrs. Scott even wrote letters to newspapers and magazines asking for help.
"I wish to make a plain statement of facts concerning religious matters in this country, hoping that this article will arrest the attention and awaken the sympathies and interest of more fortunate persons.... We have no place of worship, excepting an unfinished Episcopalian church, whose doors are only open to pastors of their own faith."
St. Peters Episcopal Church was under construction at the time, at about the same location as the present site of the church. Mrs. Scott and Miss Gill wanted to have a place of worship for more congregations.
A petition had been presented to the Kerr County commissioners court requesting permission to hold religious services in the county courthouse, and permission was given for six months. "That time has now expired and we are not inclined to repeat the experiment," Mrs. Scott wrote.
"Christians are few in number, most of them poor, unorganized and discouraged.
"Society suffers as a consequence, and our dear Kerrville boys are growing up to be mockers and scoffers of pure religion and desecrators of the holy Sabbath day.
"Times are hard, but few people are able to contribute to anything but the maintenance of their own families.... I appeal to the readers of this paper for help.
"Not from far off China, Japan, Africa, or India but from your own Western Texas comes this cry for help..."
The women did raise the funds to build the church, and Captain Charles Schreiner donated a lot on which it was to be built. That lot was on the corner of Main and Clay streets, and the church faced Clay Street. A gas station, car wash, and convenience store stand on the site today.
Construction was completed "about Christmas, 1885." I can just imagine the happiness those ladies felt as worshippers came to the newly-built church to celebrate Christmas.
The church they built was called the Union Church, and it was the home of four congregations: the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Missionary Baptist Church, and the Christian Church. Each had use of the building one Sunday per month and the week that followed. The building was available for other faiths "by permission."
Other faiths had their local start outside of the Union Church, of course. The Episcopal church was erected in 1884; the first Catholic mass was read here in 1889, in Dr. Parsons' Hall, which once stood next to our print shop.
As each of the Union Church congregations grew, they left the Union Church building and built their own churches, until only the First Christian Church remained in the building. It was to this congregation the building was deeded on September 9, 1925. The building was in poor repair at that time, as no one congregation wanted to spend money on the building.
The old church building was purchased and moved to Lemos Street, where in my youth it was an Army Navy surplus store.
Later the Friends of the Kerr County Historical Commission obtained the old church building and had it moved to a corner of the Schreiner University campus. Many, many hours of hard work went into its restoration, and the building is again available to the public.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who wishes each and every reader a very Merry Christmas. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times December 24, 2016.




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