Monday, November 30, 2015


It is easy to overlook the generosity and kindness of our community, especially for those of us who've been here a long time and have seen both good and bad times.
Recently, though, I was reminded of our community's generosity. It was something I should have known from personal experience, of course, since the community has been unfailingly generous to my family and me. I remember the many acts of kindness towards us when my father passed away, and, earlier, when our print shop suffered a fire. But even in small things the community has supported us with kindness and cheer since we arrived here in 1961.
The most recent reminder, though, came after the accident suffered by a member of our print shop crew, Clayton Gartman.
Mr. Gartman, for those who do not know the story, was riding his bicycle here September 17th when he was struck by an automobile. He was actually on the sidewalk of the Water Street bridge near Gibson's and Mosty's Garage, and the driver drove up on the sidewalk and hit Mr. Gartman.
It's a miracle he survived the accident. His injuries ranged from a fractured skull to a broken pelvis, with broken bones most places in between. Worse, his vision was damaged, and may never fully return.
Clayton Gartman, before accident,
at the print shop, with injured bird.
After 42 days in two different hospitals, Mr. Gartman was able to go home.
Modifications were needed for the home: he was now in a wheelchair, and he could not see. Hundreds of people responded with offers to help and with donations. The work on the home continues, mostly with volunteer labor and donated materials.
Transportation, too, was an issue. Mr. Gartman has frequent medical appointments in San Antonio. A kind family here donated a car to the Gartmans, and others have provided funds to pay for gas and insurance for the vehicle, so his family can drive him to the doctors' offices. Mr. Gartman's brother, in particular, has been a great help driving him to his many appointments.
Donations have come from hundreds of people and from around the state. Every donation really helps. His entire family has told me many times how thankful they are for this community.
The Kerrville Daily Times has done an excellent job of telling the story of the accident and also of Mr. Gartman's journey after the accident. People come up to me whenever I'm in public and ask how "that young bicyclist" is doing, largely from reading the stories which have run in this newspaper.
Here's an update: he's doing better. He still has vision impairment, and he still uses his wheelchair, though he's spending more time on a walker when he can. One thing that's been consistent, though, even in the darkest days when he was in the ICU at San Antonio Military Medical Center: his optimistic outlook. During our many visits it was obvious Mr. Gartman was looking on the positive side of things.
Despite his many injuries one thing was not hurt at all: his sense of humor.
Before the accident Mr. Gartman spent much of his free time playing music with friends. With the cast off of his arm, he's beginning to play his guitar, again. Other pursuits, such as art and woodworking, are still on hold until his vision improves.
Fundraising continues for Mr. Gartman and his family; donations can be sent to the Clayton Gartman Fund, in care of our print shop, 615 Water Street, Kerrville.  You can also donate online, by clicking HERE.
I'm thankful for our community -- and to those who've helped in this situation, and in so many others.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who is thankful.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 28, 2015.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Kerrville 99 years ago today

I've been interested in local maps for a long time, and recently I ran across a map in my files which was created by Aaron Yates a few years ago.
Mr. Yates, whose family has a long history with local maps and surveys, took two separate images and combined them: an aerial photograph of downtown Kerrville and the November, 1916 Sanborn map of the same area. It was, in effect, a "mashup" of two technologies: a nearly 100-year-old hand-drawn map, and a photograph taken from an airplane, probably around 2011.
What you have when combining the two is quite interesting.
First, it's remarkable how closely the hand-drawn map lines up with the photograph. Buildings that are in both images line up fairly well. The Charles Schreiner Mansion, on Earl Garrett Street, for example, fits almost perfectly. Either the 1916 map makers or Aaron (or both) did a good job lining things up.
It's also interesting noticing the changes in the city's downtown area over the last century. Gone are most of the private homes, replaced with commercial structures. Blocks that held many homes now hold none.
Some places which were vital to our community in 1916 have been gone for several generations, now. Some examples:
Near the intersection of Water and Washington streets, on the river side, once stood a water-powered mill. Originally built by Christian Dietert, the complex, by 1916, was owned by Charles Schreiner. The map shows buildings labeled "cotton gin," "flour mill," and "grain elevator," along with a building labeled "old light plant, not used." Two separate grain elevators were listed, with a combined capacity of 42,000 bushels. By 1916, some of the mills were powered by sources other than the river; a coal bin is also shown.
On Earl Garrett street, between the river and Water street, is a building marked "windmill warehouse and shop." This was a wooden structure, and stood about where the Cascade Pool would later be located.
There were also two separate "camp yards" on the map -- a place where ranching families could camp when they came to town to trade or shop. One was in the 700 block of Water, behind today's Arcadia Theater and extending behind the old Favorite Saloon building, which holds Hill Country Living today. The other camp yard was in the 800 block of Water, behind what is now the Rivers Edge Gallery, at the intersection of Water and Washington streets.
Along Schreiner street, west of Sidney Baker, there were many warehouses and lumber yards. These were located in that area because the rail line ran along that street. In 1916, Kerrville was still served by rail service, both freight and passenger. Most of the homes constructed in those years, as well as the goods bought and sold in local stores, arrived by rail, and was distributed from that street.
Along McFarland and Hays street, where the City of Kerrville has several buildings today, once stood the Kerrville Electric Light, Heat, and Power Company building. In 1916 many (but not all) homes in the downtown area had electricity. Power was available during the day until just past sunset -- unless one of the Schreiner families had a party, in which case the power was available to the entire community until the party ended.
Near the power plant was the "Charles Schreiner Water Works Pump House," which supplied water to many residents and businesses in the first water system in the community.
In 1916, all but one of the churches were frame structures; the exception was the Baptist church, which then was located on the corner of Jefferson and Washington streets. None of the old churches remain, save for a remnant found in a present-day home on Jefferson street.
The past century has seen many changes. I'll post a copy of the map on the front window of our printing company if you'd like to see a copy.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who is old enough to remember freight trains rumbling into town. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times September 14, 2015.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Fewer Cowboys, More Deer

A kind reader forwarded an old article from "Texas Wildlife: Newsmagazine of the Texas Wildlife Association," written by Charly McTee, and published in 1992. The article was titled "Where have all the cowboys gone?" I found its argument compelling, and since it has a tie to Kerrville's history, I thought I'd share parts of it here with you.
I'm old enough to remember when there were a lot more folks employed in ranching. While we have ranchers today, and a lot of young people who wear western wear, it seems to me there was a time, when I was very young, when many of the folks you'd encounter around town wore boots (and even spurs) -- not as a fashion choice, but as a practical choice. 
In those days more people had jobs which kept them on horseback, working livestock. They weren't trail drivers, as the old-time cowboys were, but they worked from horseback most every day, especially during certain seasons of the year.
Likewise, when I was younger, it seems like we didn't have nearly as many deer in our neighborhoods as we do today. Even as recently as the early 1990s, when one of our nephews visited from Houston and wanted to see deer, we had to drive to a big field on the outskirts of town. It took some searching to find the boy a deer at which to look.
Today one bumps into at least three deer taking the trash to the curb -- and five more when checking the mailbox.
What's changed?
According to McTee's article, the change happened because of work done right here in Kerrville at the USDA's Knipling-Bushland U.S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory: the program that led to the eradication of the screwworm.
A screwworm is something you'd find in a horror movie, "the most horrible thing imaginable," McTee writes. "The process is simple enough: a fly lays its eggs on an open wound in an animal -- a wire scratch, antler gouge, navel sore, or even a tick bite. The eggs hatch into larvae, which then sustain themselves by feeding on the flesh around the wound -- in effect, consuming their host while it is still alive. Since the wound stays open, more flies can lay their eggs, and the process goes on. As the larvae mature, they pupate, fall to the ground, and hatch out into still more flies, and the process continues until eventually the animal dies and is consumed."
I told you it was horrible.
"Any animal larger than a cottontail rabbit could support screwworms long enough for the larvae to mature," meaning pets, livestock, and deer were targets of the pest. Humans, too, were occasional victims.
Because of the danger of the screwworm, ranchers had to visually inspect every animal "at least twice a week during fly season," or face catastrophic losses.
Such labor-intensive inspections meant a lot of people working on horseback in this part of the world.
The early work to eradicate the flies was done in Menard, in 1937-39. Dr. R. C. Bushland had developed a technique for artificially raising screwworm flies -- initially to test medications to fight the pests. Another scientist there, Dr. E. F. Knipling, noticed there were "relatively few screwworm flies in nature. Another curious observation was that the female screwworm fly, the egg-layer, seemed to breed only once."
An idea was formed: if the female screwworm flies bred with a sterile male, "then the eggs would not hatch, and there would be no larval infestation."
After World War II, the lab was moved to Kerrville. Another scientist, Dr. A. W. Lindquist, "happened across a scientific paper which described radiation producing sterility in flies."
Knipling and Bushland began experiments to see if sterile male screwworm flies could exterminate a wild population of screwworm flies.
And the idea worked, though getting funding and acceptance of the idea took many years.
Sterile flies in boxes were dropped from airplanes, systematically blanketing areas. And the screwworm menace eventually came under control.
With less need to inspect livestock twice a week, fewer were employed in that occupation. With fewer screwworm flies, more deer survived, multiplying and moving into town with us.
Meaning: fewer cowboys, more deer. Happy hunting!
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who remembers a lot of the folks who worked at the USDA Laboratory over the years.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 7, 2015, just in time for hunting season.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Kerrville bicyclist hit by van

Clayton Gartman, before the accident, at his printing press at our print shop.
Photograph by James Partain
Just over a month ago, on September 17, Clayton Gartman suffered a horrible traffic accident. Many of you have asked how you can help.

For those who don't know about the accident, Clayton was on his lunch break from his work at our printing company, riding his bicycle on the sidewalk of the bridge between Gibson's and Mosty's Garage, in the 100 block of  Water Street in downtown Kerrville.  The driver of a van drove up on the sidewalk and hit him.   (News reports here: )

The impact left Clayton with four broken ribs, fractures in his spine and pelvis, a broken arm, and a skull fracture.  His vision was damaged, and may never fully return. He was in the hospital for 42 days, first at San Antonio Military Medical Center in San Antonio, and then at Peterson Regional Medical Center.  He has months of challenges ahead.  He is lucky to be alive.

We hope he will make a full recovery some day, though that is uncertain.  In the short term, however, he has critical needs.  Modifications must be made to his mother's house to accommodate his wheelchair, and later his walker.  He will need other modifications because of his impaired vision.  There will be numerous expenses over the coming months.

We are asking for your help today.   Our company has contributed to an account set up to benefit Clayton; members of our family have made personal donations to the fund.  We are asking you to join us in donating money to help Clayton through these next few weeks.  Thanks in advance for considering this request, and for your generosity.  Thanks, too, to all of you who have prayed for Clayton.


Thanks for your help, 
Joe Herring Jr.

Please feel free to share this email with your friends.

If you'd prefer to write a check, please make the check payable to 
Clayton Gartman Fund
c/o Herring Printing Company 
615 Water Street 
Kerrville, TX 78028

Monday, November 2, 2015

Ghost Stories of Kerr County

The home of Charles Schreiner on Earl Garrett Street in downtown Kerrville.
Note the balcony on the left side of the building.
Click to enlarge image.
Since Saturday was Halloween, I thought I'd share some ghost stories from my files:
Over the years I have heard numerous Kerr County tales of haunted mansions, scary cellars, and walking spirits. And once, when I was in middle school, a friend and I thought we saw a ghost downtown.
Here a few of the most repeated ghosts stories of our community:
Schreiner University: for many years residents of Delaney Hall have reported seeing a young cadet, in military uniform, who appears, salutes, and then disappears. He's been known to open doors for students, as well.
Nearby, between Delaney Hall and the creek, are the seven gravestones of the Harris family who once lived on a farm there. The stones are flush to the ground, they're hard to find, but stories are told about the air being unusually cooler near that part of the campus.
Several sites in downtown Kerrville have ghost stories attached to them.
The old Arcadia Theater building once housed offices and shops on its second floor, including a jeweler who died in his little shop there. Some have claimed to hear the tapping of a small jeweler's hammer near the spot his workbench stood.
The Kerr County courthouse is the spot of two separate stories:
The first involves a young couple who argued on the courthouse square, back in the late 1800s. Their disagreement turned deadly when the jealous young man shot and killed the woman, then later turned the gun on himself, right there in front of the old courthouse. Some people say, on moonless nights, you can see the pair in the shadows, and hear them yelling at each other, their fight never ending.
The second story involves what was, for a while, the county jail. Looking at the front of the courthouse, you'll notice a basement, two stories, and then a smaller third story at the top of the older part of the building. That third story was the county jail at one time. I've been up there -- it's creepy even in the daylight. County employees felt the old jail was haunted by an inmate who died in custody years ago. Some report the room has many strange noises, like keys turning a lock, or metal banging against the old steel bars.
Camp Verde, to the south of Kerrville, is also a spot with many ghost stories. Some have seen a ghostly line of camels, walking in line, passing through the trees and shrubs near the old fort. Others have seen troops running across the bridge there.
Workers at the Camp Verde Store used to have stories of a ghost in the basement, an apparition they called Ruthie. She was a Civil War-era spirit who was a regular customer of the store when she was alive; the old stories say, when she's agitated, Ruthie moves pictures on the wall, rearranges cash drawers, throws merchandise across the room. I read about Ruthie in an article published here ten years ago -- I'm not sure if she's still active there.
And now for two stories a little "closer to home" for me.
It's not that I believe in ghosts - it's just that I've worked with some people that do. In fact, two of my former co-workers at our printing company reported seeing a ghost in the back room of our front office.
One of the ladies even took the time to draw what she had seen: a woman in a long dress - a dress like you'd see in a western movie. The ghost had long hair that was put up in a bun. The other of my co-workers said she saw the exact same "woman" by the back door leading into the same room, and together they discussed the drawing, refining their mutual memories on the paper.
"What was the ghost doing?" we asked.
"Oh, she was working on something and she looked up at me," replied the person who'd just seen her. "I just saw her out of the corner of my eye, and when I turned to look at her, she disappeared."
I looked back toward the area she mentioned, and noticed a shaft of light coming through the transom of the room's back door, where the evening sun was beaming brightly through and bouncing warmly off of the red floor. I was doubtful.
"Could it have been the sunlight?" I asked.
"She was in the sunlight," she said as she worked on her drawing. There was emerging on paper a very clear picture of a turn-of-the-century woman. She looked kindly.
Of course, word of the sighting carried quickly through the print shop and it was the subject of much discussion, most of it very doubtful, until a presswoman saw the picture.
"Oh, I've seen her several times," she said. It was very plainly spoken. This particular presswoman was known for her bluntness and her matter-of-fact demeanor. She was talented and didn't mind telling you what she thought.
"I never told any of you because I didn't want you to think I'd flipped."
Together the two continued discussing the drawing, each adding details to the other's memory, until a fairly complete picture emerged, even down to the color of the dress and the color of the hair of the kindly ghost.
I have never seen the ghost at the print shop, though I am reluctant to work there alone after dark. The old building makes lots of strange noises at night.
I have, however, seen what I thought was a ghost at the old Charles Schreiner mansion on Earl Garrett Street in downtown Kerrville.
I remember as a boy being convinced that the Charles Schreiner Mansion on Earl Garrett Street was haunted.
In those days it wasn't a museum. It was just a big vacant mystery, filled with cobwebs and the stale smell of emptiness.
I remember one October night, many years ago, seeing the flickering light of a candle moving from the second story windows of the turret room and heading slowly, creepily toward the store; the light moving steadily, stiffly through the big ballroom on the upper floor. As it approached the last window, half-hidden by the bent pinion pine, it stopped and moved closer to the window pane. The oval of a face was faintly illuminated, a small man with a silver mustache. It peered through the window, out toward the street, and looked at us, two boys scared to death.
Our faces must have been white with fear. The eyes looked calmly at us. The lips moved slightly, forming a hint of a smile. And then suddenly the candle went out, and the window was black. My friend and I understood instinctively that we needed to be moving along, and right then, so I don't know what became of the old kind face in the window. Maybe it's there tonight, looking out across Mountain Street, wondering where the Tomlinson Building came from, waiting for the two boys to come back.
Ghosts -- do you believe in them? I know some folks who do, who've seen and heard some strange things. One thing is for sure: ghosts sure make a good story.
Happy Halloween to everyone.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 31, 2015.



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