My kids have a store!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Climate Cooling, Wiretapping and Unrealistic Postcards

Postcard I received this week: the Cascade Pool, in downtown Kerrville.
It was along the river bluff at the end of Earl Garrett Street.
Click to enlarge image.  Yes, someone is performing a swan dive.
Several interesting things came into the print shop this week, thanks to kind readers and friends.
A letter arrived in the mail from a kind reader, full of antique postcards showing Kerrville as it might have looked in the late 1940s or early 1950s. I say "might have looked" because the postcards are based upon photographs, but have been retouched to such an extent they no longer look real. They are the "Natural Color Card" product of the E. C. Kropp Company in Milwakee, which apparently took black and white photographs and tried to make them look like color photographs.
One of the cards says "Published by Commercial Office Supply," and another says "Published by Lehmann's." Commercial Office Supply was open for many years, and the most recent owner was the family of the late Nell Hutzler. I don't remember Lehmann's, but I do remember the store that followed it in the same building: Winn's. It was in the 700 block of Water in what had originally been the Schreiner Wool Warehouse. That old building is gone now, except for one curved limestone wall.
The postcards brought back lots of memories, and I am thankful for them.
Another kind person brought by a different postcard which featured a Conoco service station at the corner of Junction Highway and Spence Street. It's a structure I should remember, but I do not. The Wells-Fargo Bank at Five Points has their ATM building at the same location today.
She also brought me a Special Bicentennial Edition of the Kerrville Daily Times, which was published May 2, 1976.
The top story in that edition, above the fold on page 1, had the headline "Report Indicates Change in Earth's Climate...." A closer reading of the story cited a CIA report that said "based upon the climatic change study by Reid A. Bryson of the University of Wisconsin... the world's climate is cooling and will revert to conditions that prevailed between 1600 and 1850."
The report further predicted famines because of the cooler temperatures, and political unrest because of the famines. Because of the Earth's cooling temperatures.  [How quaint.]
The second story on page 1 was titled "Innocent talks heard by federal and state investigators." That story said the government used listening devices and telephone taps to eavesdrop on nearly 50,000 people in 1975.
Aside from the fact that the climate change story is 180 degrees opposite from the stories published lately, those headlines would be at home in almost any daily newspaper today.
A "Special 60-page Bicentennial Edition Inside" banner graced the top of page one. A 60-page extra edition takes a ton of work even today, and in 1976 it took several tons of work because almost everything was done by hand. While computers helped set the type, the pages were still pasted up by hand, and the photographs were processed separately and "stripped in" to the page.
Wally Jacobs, who was the newspaper's managing editor when this 1976 edition was published, wrote, in a page 1 column, "This special issue represents amounts of work that is impossible to measure. Everyone in this office, and everyone associated with this newspaper outside of the office, had a hand in preparing and delivering this colorful edition." I believe him.
I know I'll enjoy studying each page of this special edition.
Other items that came in this week -- a local map of Kerrville and Kerr County published by the Charles Schreiner Bank back in the 1970s, a complete 1956 Kerr County Centennial edition of both the Kerrville Daily Times and the Kerrville Mountain Sun, plus other local newspapers from the 1940s.
I'm like a kid in a candy store.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerrville and Kerr County historical items. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times March 25, 2017.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday Link Pack

Postcard I received this week, showing a newly-built Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital
Click image to enlarge

If you want to learn to make better decisions, it wouldn't hurt to read this essay about baseball's Ted Williams and his efforts to become a better hitter.  With commentary by Warren Buffett.

Here's a lovely story about an unlikely friendship.

What's a Saturday without a handy Cognitive Bias Cheat Sheet?  An interesting read about how we fool ourselves when making decisions.

Here's a columnist's essay on resisting the Internet.  (Yes, I realize I'm sharing this with you via the Internet.)

We have a black cat, and we have a Roomba, but we don't have this.

Congratulations to our friends at Pint & Plow on their first year of business.

My sweet Carolyn made a video showing how she makes a greeting card using mixed media techniques.  (She's put up several videos teaching card-making techniques.) It's neat being married to an artist who is also a teacher.  Here's a link to the complete blog post.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 20, 2017

It doesn't look a day over 79

Kerrville History Photo
The Mystery Photo of Kerrville
Click to enlarge
As you know, I really enjoy a good mystery, especially one which involves an historic photograph of Kerrville or Kerr County.
This a kind reader brought by a nice panoramic image of Kerrville, taken from south of the river, looking northeast.
Like most of the panoramic images of Kerrville, this one was taken from one of the hills opposite Kerrville, and roughly in a line with Earl Garrett Street. The earliest shot from this vantage point I have in my collection is dated 1903; the latest was taken in the late 1970s.
I believe there is a special type of camera that took panoramic photos in those days; this was before our cell phones could take panoramic images easily and quickly. Two of the panoramic photos of Kerrville in my collection also have the name of the photography company in the lower right hand corner. I think they may have been taken and sold to members of the community; I've seen several exact matches to the late-1970s one I have on display behind my desk at work.
The panoramic photograph brought by this week, however, is different. It was taken decades before the one I have on display, but it contains a mystery.
In the center is a title "Kerrville, Texas," and underneath "Approx. 1930-1933." That date was added later.
It's definitely Kerrville, but the date doesn't seem right.
First off, the Sidney Baker Street bridge with the three arched steel supports is in the center of the photograph. I thought that bridge was built in the mid-1930s, so I started to look for clues which might narrow down a more exact date when the photograph was taken.
I know it's before 1941, because Antler Stadium is not shown in the photograph. And I know it's after 1938, because both the Rialto Theater on Water Street and the Schreiner Wool and Commission building is seen on McFarland Drive.
However, all of the other clues are not within that range: 1938-1941. The Saint Charles Hotel is missing from the photograph; it was torn down in 1936. Notre Dame Catholic Church is shown, when it was a stucco structure facing Main Street; it was built in 1935. Jimmie Rodgers house is visible, but it dates from 1929. First Baptist Church is shown in its old location, at the intersection of Washington and Jefferson streets; the current church building won't be built until 1953. There is no Louise Hays Park in the photo; that comes in 1950.
I wish I could find something that would narrow that range; 1938-1941 is a pretty big gap for me.
Otherwise, the photo is quite interesting. It shows the eight-story Blue Bonnet Hotel, at the intersection of Earl Garrett and Water Streets; the old Ice Plant at the river bluff at the end of Washington Street; the steel bridge I remember from my boyhood; the Kellogg Building is pictured; it was the community's hospital before Sid Peterson Memorial was built in 1949. Louis Schreiner's home, Tulahteka, is shown; it dates from 1921.
South of the river, that home is about the only thing shown. All else is plowed farmland, though it looks like the river has filled many of the fields with stones.
I've stitched together a copy of the photo using my computer, and I've enjoyed studying it closely. I'm thankful to the kind reader who brought it by the print shop.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerrville and Kerr County historical items. This column appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times March 18, 2017.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Blue Bonnet Hotel in downtown Kerrville

The Blue Bonnet Hotel, in downtown Kerrville,
from a 1950s-era tourist postcard
My long-time friend Jan Cannon stopped by our family's print shop for a visit recently, and we shared our memories of Kerrville's Blue Bonnet Hotel. The Blue Bonnet was an eight-story hotel in downtown Kerrville, at the intersection of Water and Earl Garrett streets; a parking lot is there today.
There are fewer and fewer of us in Kerrville who remember the Blue Bonnet Hotel. During my childhood, the old hotel was around forty years old, and had obviously seen better days.
My earliest memories of the hotel are of joining Dad as he went to his weekly Kiwanis meetings -- and of those memories, the strongest is of the food served during those meetings. I thought the food was great, and going with Dad to his meeting was very special.
I also remember two ladies who lived, for a time, at the hotel: Miss Thurma Dean Miller, who was in charge of children's ministries at First Baptist Church, and Margaret Beirschwale, who wrote a history of Mason which my father printed. It was a great treat to go to the Blue Bonnet, ride the elevator, and visit them.
The March 31, 1927 issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun sports this bold headline: "Blue Bonnet Opening Marks New Era in City's Growth."
Indeed, the late 1920s were a period of growth for Kerrville; a year earlier the Arcadia Theater opened, to much fanfare, in the middle of the 700 block of Water Street, and Kerr County had recently built a new courthouse -- the one still in use today.
"The new hostelry, a triumph of architectural design and mechanical construction, lends a distinct metropolitan atmosphere to the city. The facilities and service offered undoubtedly will attract increased numbers of tourists to Texas' greatest playground," the Mountain Sun reported.
"The present unit of the hotel contains 80 rooms, each equipped with private bath, telephone, fan and circulating ice water. All corner rooms have a shower as well as a tub bath. The guest rooms are of commodious size and papered in pleasing harmonious colors with wood work in natural oak. Furnishings and carpeting are of quality in keeping with the high character of the hotel. On each floor are two-room suites, a living room and a bed room with connecting door. Each room throughout the building has outside exposure.”
The Blue Bonnet Hotel Company had high hopes: it planned to build "six or seven" hotels in Texas, including a Blue Bonnet Hotel in San Antonio, at the corner of Pecan and St. Mary's streets. Other towns identified in the story were Laredo, Corpus Christi, Brownsville and Abilene. Of these, only the San Antonio hotel is listed as under construction.
When the hotel opened, it was only five stories tall; a short while later the building grew to eight stories, going from 80 rooms to 140.
Along its ground floor several shops rented space: a drug store, complete with soda fountain; a barber; a beauty parlor; a coffee shop, and a magazine stand. There was an "enclosed ballroom," and plans for a garden terrace overlooking the Guadalupe below.
How the company's plans were altered by the stock market crash a few years later, along with the Great Depression which followed, is probably a story in itself. I don't know how many hotels the company actually built.
The formerly grand hotel was torn down in the early 1970s and was replaced by a drive-through bank for Charles Schreiner Bank. That bank building has since been torn down, too.
I do remember Kerrville's Blue Bonnet Hotel, though, and I enjoyed hearing Ms. Cannon's memories of the place. It was a wonderful hotel.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who has a few relics from the old Blue Bonnet Hotel in his collection of Kerrville and Kerr County historical items. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times March 11, 2017.


Monday, March 6, 2017

A young Charles Schreiner

Charles Schreiner, sometime in the 1880s.
This past February 22nd was the birthday of the man who has been called the Father of the Texas Hill Country, Charles Armand Schreiner; he was born 179 years ago. Passing by his residence this week, I thought about Schreiner and his family. It's hard to remember the old structure was once a family's home.  Theirs was a large family: Schreiner and his wife Lena had eight children.
Years ago I researched Schreiner's life, focusing on his early adult years here in Kerr County, and I'm happy to share that with you again. Here's the story, from my files:
There are few in our community's history who rose to such prominence, wealth, and power, and so you'd think finding (and reporting) the facts about Capt. Schreiner would be elementary.
But the veil of years, even for the most prominent member of a community, can be thick and coarse. There are so many things lost since even the short interval separating us and the early pioneers: those that lived during the time have passed; those who remember the ones who lived in those days are few. And though the research tools available today are the most powerful ever granted to us (we curious few), there are whole continents of information simply...missing.
The images we have of Charles Schreiner almost always show him as an older man. But what about the time when Schreiner was a young man?
In the past few weeks I've learned some new things about Captain Schreiner, from the period when he was a young man.
For instance, he was elected district clerk in 1865, some 4 years before opening his Kerrville store, showing he was already held in high esteem in our community before his commercial success. In fact, in 1868, a year before he opened his store here, he was elected treasurer of Kerr County, a post he held for thirty consecutive years.
It was during this time, as District Clerk, Schreiner began dropping the "s" from Kerrsville. His editing stuck, thankfully.
I learned where his first store stood, too, and it wasn't where I thought it was.
In an interview with J. E. Grinstead, Schreiner is quoted as saying, "Yes, it was a small beginning: just a little cypress shack that stood where my residence now stands."
That little store was only 16x18 feet, made of cypress, and stood in the middle of the block, facing Earl Garrett street (then called Mountain Street). I'd always assumed it stood on the corner of Water and Earl Garrett. I was wrong.
And what of Schreiner -- what did he look like?
"Captain Schreiner was not so large a man as his photographs make him appear," Gene Hollon wrote in 1944 for the Southwestern Historical Quarterly. "His height was only around five feet and eight inches, and his weight never reached more than 17 0 pounds."
Meaning he was about my height and my weight -- by modern standards short, but back in those days Schreiner was probably about average in height among his neighbors.
"In his prime he was trim and fleet of foot," Hollon wrote. "It was said he could outrun any man in town in a foot race, and he often proved it...he did participate in foot racing down Main Street, a stunt not exactly considered dignified for a middle-aged man today, but quite proper then."
Well, that was a surprise: Captain Schreiner was a sprinter.
Schreiner's 179th birthday was February 22nd. I wonder what type of cake he liked.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who prefers dark chocolate birthday cakes, if anyone asks. With vanilla ice cream, please.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times March 4, 2017.

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