Sunday, April 15, 2018

Newspapers have certainly changed

Kerrville Times paperboy with dog
A paperboy for the Kerrville Times, mid-1950s.
My notes say "Robert Warren and Mickey."
Click on any image to enlarge
When I was a boy, the Kerrville Daily Times office was on Earl Garrett Street; the first owner and publisher I remember was Bill Dozier.
Kerrville Times offices on Earl Garrett Street
Office on Earl Garrett Street
I ran across some photographs of the Kerrville Daily Times printing plant in my collection this week, and I was amazed at the changes in the technology used to bring you the news.
Today's newspaper is very different from those produced in the mid-1960s, when most of these old photographs were taken. While ink is still put on paper today, much of the work before the press is very different.
This column, for instance, arrives at the newspaper office by email. I type it from my desk at work and send it in, usually quite late on Thursdays. I also send a link to the photographs accompanying the column, which I've stored 'in the cloud' for the editors of the paper to easily retrieve.
From there the column is placed on a page using a computer, and photographs are dropped into place using a mouse. Once a page has been prepared, it's sent to a machine which makes a printing plate. That plate is used on the printing press.
Linotype machines at the Kerrville Daily Times
Linotypes in a row
Not so in the photos from the 1960s. A long line of four Linotype machines prepared matrices of letters used to form type with molten lead. These columns of type were locked into a chase, along with 'cuts' of photographs, ads, and graphics, like maps.
Those Linotype machines were loud, hot, noisy beasts. The noise made in that row of typesetting machines would have been deafening.
Merely running the Linotype would not have been enough to prepare a newspaper, though.
Bill Dozier at work at the Kerrville Daily Times
Bill Dozier assembling
a page of type
I was happy to see a photo of a very young Bill Dozier assembling a page of type, readying it for the press. Each page would have been assembled by hand, and locked into position. In our shop, we have one of the old composition tables from the Kerrville Mountain Sun, a worthy competitor of the Kerrville Daily Times. Thousands of pages were assembled on that stand up desk.
Photographs were converted into an engraved piece of metal, the exact same height as a piece of type. I have a few of these old photograph cuts, and I still can't believe they worked.
Printing Press at the Kerrville Times
The dangerous press
Before 1967, the Kerrville Daily Times was printed on a press that, frankly, looks extremely dangerous. I could not help but notice what looks like an electric cord snaking its way across the floor, along with wrenches dropped beside the running press; both are tripping hazards. The machine itself has exposed gears and belts. One of the pressmen is smoking, even though some of the chemicals in a pressroom are flammable; in fact you can see three cans of solvent in the photograph. To the side you can see an open barrel of ink, and along the wall (and on a pane of the window), are handprints that look like the cave art of an ancient tribe.
Just looking at the photo scares me, and I've been around running printing presses a very long time.
Dozier family with Goss Community press Kerrville Daily Times 1967
The Dozier family with the new
Goss Community press, 1967
Later photos show the new Goss Community printing press being installed in 1967. It was safer and capable of printing in full color, a great improvement. Seeing the photograph of the Dozier family reading freshly-printed editions of the newspaper made me miss them.
Goss Community press Kerrville Daily Times 1967
KDT Goss Community
Compare with press above.
That press was a huge improvement, and allowed the newspaper to grow and thrive. No longer were pages composed of metal. Using a darkroom, the press used printing plates, something called, at the time, photo offset printing.
The noisy Linotypes were no longer needed, and composition was done using paste-ups and Rubylith. Photos were converted to a series of dots, or halftones, and placed into position.
Today computers have eliminated paste up and darkrooms. Photographs are scanned and sent as digital files. The pages go directly from the computer to the plate.
The thing that hasn't changed from these old photographs of the Kerrville Daily Times is this: it takes a lot of very talented people to bring you the news each week. Editorial, advertising, accounting, composition and pressroom staff work together to make the newspaper you're holding today, which is brought to you by hard-working carriers. Each issue is a kind of miracle.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who enjoys being a small part of your weekend newspaper.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times April 14, 2018.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The forgotten treasures of Louise Hays Park

Louise Hays Park Kerrville Texas
Louise Hays Park, not long after its single-day construction, on April 26, 1950.
Note the pontoon bridge in the background.
Click on any image to enlarge
My son Joe and I walk through Louise Hays Park several times a week, and this week I was reminded how much it's changed since it was built in a single day, back on April 26, 1950.
Louise Hays Park Kerrville Texas
Louise Hays,
Robert Hays,
and Mayor Bullard
Robert S. Hayes, an oilman from San Antonio took possession of a 2800 acre ranch south of the city on October 1, 1949. He offered to donate 35 acres to the city on a public (and a private) condition. The public condition: the park would be named for his young wife, Louise. The private condition: the park had to be built in a day. A family member told me that he wanted the park built in a day because he was worried the sleepy little town napping in the bend of the Guadalupe River would put off finishing the park, and it would never get done.
The community took the challenge.
Louise Hays Park Kerrville Texas
The big day
Jack Peterson chaired the committee that built the park. J. O. McKnight was the landscape architect that designed the park, which featured drives, a grand arched entryway, picnic tables, a pontoon bridge, playground equipment, and a big, big slab -- for dances. The committee labored under the constant constraint: it had to be built in a day. The roadways would be a challenge. The archway, another. The big slab, yet another. The plan brought in estimates of $20,000. Subcommittees raised donations from businesses and individuals, and area stockmen were asked to contribute livestock for a big auction. The grocery stores sent food for the lunches. Bakeries sent doughnuts and bread. Schreiner College sent some engineering students under the careful supervision of Harry Crate. The principal at Tivy High School came with some young volunteers. Contributions came from the entire county -- not just the city residents.
Louise Hays Park Kerrville Texas
The pontoon bridge
After months of planning, April 26, 1950, the Big Day, dawned slowly over Tivy Mountain. At 7 o'clock that morning work began, to the sounds of horns, whistles, bells, and sirens. The Rev. Walter Kerr, pastor of the First Methodist Church, and chair of the ministerial alliance, asked a blessing on the crew. The lovely Ms. Louise Hays turned the first spade of dirt. Then an estimated 2,000 workers began their history-making project.
When the sun set over the western hills beyond Ingram and Hunt, Kerrville had built a park.
Kerrville had also made news. "New Park? It's All in a Day's Work." reported the Dallas News. "$1,000,000 Kerr Park Built in Day," said the Star-Telegram. The San Angelo Standard told its readers "Just Like They Said, 'We'll Build a Park in a Day.'"
Millstone Louise Hays Park Kerrville Texas
The missing millstone
In its first few years, the park had many features which might surprise visitors today.
On the hillside below the metal pavilion and above the current covered stage there was once a miniature golf course. I'm old enough to remember the course, set into the steep hillside.
I do not remember the pontoon bridge, but I have several photographs of the structure. I imagine it did not last long after the first flood. From the photos, I think the pontoon bridge was about where today's river dam now stands.
Also missing from the park: a table made from the millstone from Kerrville's Dietert Mill. The old mill site is still here, though in horrible shape. The millstone was reported missing in 1971, and a reward was offered for its return.
Navy Jet Louise Hays Park Kerrville Texas
Navy F9F-5 Panther at park
Apparently the park once had a Navy jet on display, also near the playground area. It was a F9F-5 Panther, and it was placed at the park in 1959. I'm not sure when it left.
Ave-Cot Thrill Show Louise Hays Park Kerrville Texas
The Ave-Cot Thrill Show
Elsewhere I have written about the water ski shows produced by Cotton and Ava Eldridge, the Ave-Cot Water Thrill Show, which were extremely popular in the late 1950s. The shows included stunt water skiing, jumps, and even a water skiing dog, and were produced in that little body of water at the park.
Swimming pool Louise Hays Park Kerrville Texas
Deep swimming pool at park
And there was once a deep swimming hole, just upstream from the Sidney Baker Street bridge, complete with a diving board. That, too, was a victim of a flood, and filled with rocks and debris from upstream.
Community picnic Louise Hays Park Kerrville Texas
Community picnics
There were once long picnic tables and a barbecue pit at the park, up on the high ground. I remember attending many events there, mostly fundraisers produced by local service clubs. The food was good, and it was fun eating with so many folks from the community.
BBQ Cooks Louise Hays Park Kerrville Texas
Cooks at park BBQ pit
Today's improvements are nice, too, and I enjoy visiting the park. It's a real asset for downtown Kerrville. No one knows what the park might look like in fifty years, but I bet it will continue to be a great draw for visitors to Kerrville.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who has spent many happy hours at Louise Hays Park, both as a child, and with his own children.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times April 7, 2018

Kerrville Mountain Sun Louise Hays Park Kerrville TexasKerrville Mountain Sun Louise Hays Park Kerrville Texas

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Baseball has a long history in Kerr County

Tivy High School baseball team 1967-68, fifty years ago.
Click on any image below to enlarge.
There have been baseball teams representing Kerrville since the late 1800s, well before the first Tivy football team was organized here in 1911.
Kerrville Athletics, around 1910
The earliest local news accounts of Kerrville baseball are from 1891, when the team was simply called the Kerrville team or the Kerrville boys. My history-sleuth friend Deborah Gaudier found a mention of a Kerrville baseball team in the San Antonio Daily Light, on July 11, 1894.
The first mention of a team name comes in 1909, with the Kerrville Cardinals, a team name used again later.
Kerrville All-Stars, around 1949
Before the 1960s, baseball in Kerrville was segregated, unfortunately, and there were teams made up of African-American players, notably the Kerrville All-Stars, and a local Hispanic-American team, also called the Kerrville Cardinals, which played as early as the mid-1940s. Despite segregated teams, baseball helped create community as people gathered to watch their favorite team play, as people of all races could be found in the audience.
Kerrville Cardinals, 1947
Other local teams were the Kerrville Athletics, which played in the mid-1910s, the Kerrville Eagles, from the early 1960s, and the Kerrville Indians which began around 1960.
Jimmie Peschel, pitching
for the Kerrville Indians
In fact, in the early 1960s, the Kerrville Indians moved an entire baseball stadium from Comfort to Kerrville, piece by piece, after buying it from the owner of the defunct Comfort Broncos team. That baseball field stood on about four acres of county land, on Highway 27 next to what is now the Hill Country Youth Event Center.
The earliest mention of Little League Baseball in Kerrville is on October 6, 1953, when a front-page story reported on a talk to the Kerrville Rotary Club to be given by Marvin Bradford, the head of Little League Baseball in San Antonio. The Rotarians agreed to support Little League Baseball in Kerrville as a project for the upcoming year.
Kerrville Eagles, 1960s
Little League practice started in May, 1954, at the "Little League Baseball Field located on Fredericksburg Road north of Antler Stadium. All boys between the ages of 8 and 12 years are eligible for the Little League." Boys were asked to bring their own glove, and "wear any kind of shoes except those which have metal cleats."
More than 100 boys showed up.
Kerrville Little League, 1970s
Dr. F. M. Mares, Kerrville's first Little League director, met with the boys that first Saturday and explained "that Little League is being sponsored in the community by the Rotary Club for the youngsters and their pleasure. It is up to [the boys] to learn the game, to conduct themselves mannerly on the field of play, and to foster better sportsmanship."
Kerrville Little League, 1960s
As a child, I participated in Kerrville Little League in the early 1970s, and played at that ball field, though not very well. Thousands of young baseball players have played in the Kerrville Little League.
With the opening of the new soccer and baseball fields on Holdsworth Drive, a new chapter is starting in Kerrville baseball, one I know will follow the guidance Dr. Mares offered young players over 60 years ago.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who still enjoys watching a good baseball game. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times March 31, 2018

Sunday, March 25, 2018

A well-remembered bridge in Kerrville

The Sidney Baker Street Bridge in 1971 --
dedicated to Charles Schreiner in 1935.
Click on any image to enlarge.
Is it possible to love a bridge?
Every time I show photos of the old Highway 16 bridge in downtown Kerrville, folks say "I loved that bridge."
That bridge, a camel-backed steel truss bridge was constructed in 1935, and extended Sidney Baker Street across the Guadalupe River. It was a two-lane bridge with a pedestrian walkway.
In the mid-1970s the bridge was widened from two to five lanes, with a pedestrian sidewalk, and transformed from a truss bridge to a pre-stressed concrete girder bridge. The bridge went from 22 feet wide to 60 feet and the improvements cost around $1.1 million.
While the new improved bridge was needed and more efficient, it isn't as attractive as the old bridge. I think that's why people say they loved the old bridge.
When the original bridge was built in 1935, it was a major improvement for our community.
Before then there were crossings at Francisco Lemos Street and G Street, as well as a private crossing near the confluence of Quinlan Creek and the Guadalupe River.
The problem with all of these other bridges was that they were low water crossings, and every time the river rose they became impassable. The Highway 16 bridge extending Sidney Baker Street solved this problem for all except the most severe floods.
There is a small plaque on the current Sidney Baker Street bridge which reads "Dedicated to Captain Charles Schreiner: a pioneer in citizenship, philanthropy and highway building in the hill country." That plaque was transferred from the old 1935 bridge to the current bridge.
I suppose, with this dedicatory plaque, the real name of the bridge is the Charles Schreiner Bridge.
The current bridge still has some of the bones of the old bridge; several of the original piers were widened to support the bridge. You can tell which ones are original because the 1970s piers are shaped like a "T," with arms extending on both sides, and the old piers are not. When the steel trusses were removed, the span between piers had to be shortened, requiring new piers to be built.  The pier in the middle of the river, for example, is a new pier.
Some of the features of the old 1935 bridge were nice. The original bridge sported fancy lighting, and a more protected walkway for pedestrians. Today's sidewalk is not separated from the traffic except by a curb; the old bridge had a barrier between the two.
It also had three distinctive steel trusses through which all traffic passed. Unless my memory is wrong, the steel structure was painted silver.
There were tales of young people jumping from the old bridge into the Guadalupe River below, a risky sport considering the height of the bridge and the random arrangement of boulders below the surface of the water.
While I never jumped from the bridge, I did climb across the top of its camel-back once, after it was closed to traffic. The renovation project occurred when I was in middle school, a time in most young men's lives when common sense is not well-formed. Several of my friends and I knew the old structure was going to be dismantled and figured if we were ever going to climb across it, this would be our last chance.
Of course, we didn't tell our parents about our adventure until years later.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who thinks the new Spur 98 Bridge (Thompson Drive) at Highway 27, next to the Lakehouse Restaurant, is a much more attractive bridge. It needs a name.  This column appeared originally in the Kerrville Daily Times March 24, 2018.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Kerrville, 127 years ago this month

Kerrville Paper March 28 1891
Front page, Kerrville Paper, March 28, 1891
Click to enlarge 
This week a kind friend brought by a copy of the Kerrville Paper dated Saturday March 28, 1891, almost exactly 127 years ago. The newspaper is in remarkably good shape.
It's a four-page newspaper, with pages measuring 17 by 24 inches, which is a huge sheet when compared to today's newspapers. It offered its readers a range of local and state news, a poem, a serialized work of fiction, a few jokes, and advertisements from national and local firms.
The variety of stories and advertisements would have been quite entertaining, especially in a world which lacked radio, television, or the Internet.
The biggest local story was on the front page: that week Masonic Lodge 697 was organized here in Kerrville, and the editor of the newspaper, Ed Smallwood, was installed as W. Master. Other officers included W. E. Stewart, a prominent pharmacist; John Vann, who would serve as Kerr County sheriff; Nathan Herzog, who worked in Charles Schreiner's store; Richard Laird; Dr. J. D. Everett; William Robinson; P. Smith; and Henry Candlin.
That last name, Henry Candlin, might be familiar. I wrote about Henry Candlin a few weeks ago, a man of whom I had never heard until some of his descendents stopped by the shop with a photograph of his house at the intersection of Main and Washington streets.
Henry Candlin Family Kerrville 1892
Henry Candlin and family
around 1892
Henry Candlin was born in England and lived in Kerrville for almost 20 years, from 1880 to 1899. He had a scientific mind; he sent specimens of local blotched water snakes (Nerodia erythrogaster transversa) to the Smithsonian, and was also Kerrville's official weather observer.
This issue of the Kerrville Paper mentions Henry Candlin three times. First, as the newly installed Tiler at the newly constituted Masonic Lodge.
Second, he gives an account as corresponding secretary of the Bible Society, which aimed to "place a Bible in every home and one for every child who can read." These Bibles were sold at cost, but should a family not have enough money to purchase a copy, one was given to the "free of any charge whatever."
Lastly, Henry Candlin is mentioned in a large advertisement on page 4. "Hy. Candlin, House Painter and Decorater; Kerrville Paint Shop, South of Post Office." The advertisement promised Candlin would do first-class work, and painted not only houses, but also carriages and signs. "My work," the advertisement states, "can be seen on some of the principal buildings in Kerrville."
So with this one copy of the Kerrville Paper we learn a lot about our mystery man Henry Candlin.
The other big story on the front page was of a robbery of the stage between Comfort and Fredericksburg, which was "held up [Wednesday] by a lone highwayman. There was but one passenger in the stage. No resistance was offered by either the passenger or the driver."
Although the robber searched through the mail sack carried by the stage, nothing was taken from it, "as there were no money packages found among it."
The entire haul for the robber was four dollars, taken from Mr. J. D. Price of Jackson, Michigan, who was quoted as saying he "threw up his hands because he had nothing to throw down on the robber."
Many of the local advertisements were for firms unknown to me. Crooks Bros., dealers in General Merchandise, had a store near the depot.
The Globe Grocery Store had just opened in the Masonic Building, which still stands in the 200 block of Earl Garrett Street. The Globe offered "Staple and Fancy Groceries at prices that will astonish the natives."
The New York Store, which can be seen in one of the photographs in my collection, was advertising its Spring 1891 goods. Suits, shoes, dress goods, and novelties at the store which was the "leader in low prices."
A new Spanish-language newspaper for Kerrville was mentioned: "E Promotor." I wonder if any copies still exist.
I'm thankful to the kind friend who sent me this copy of the Kerrville Paper. I've certainly enjoyed reading it and I'm thankful she shared it with all of us.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who relies on the kindness of others to add to his collection of Kerrville and Kerr County historical items. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times March 17, 2018.



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