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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Then and Now: the Kerrville Roller Mills

Recently I gave a presentation at the Schreiner Mansion, where I paired historic photographs with snaps I'd taken that day with my phone.  I did this because I realized most people haven't studied area photographs as I have, and so it's sometimes confusing to know where an historic photo was taken.  So I took a copy of each historic photograph with me, and tried to find the exact spot where the old photograph was taken -- and then I took a photo with my cellphone.   Over the next few Wednesdays, I'll publish the results here.  Please feel free to share these with your friends.
Click on any image to enlarge
Kerrville Roller Mills, at the turn of the last century.
This complex on the river side of Water Street, between
Earl Garrett and Washington streets.
The site as it appears today.

I often post historic photographs on my Facebook page.  If you'd like to visit that page, please visit www.facebook.com/joe.herring

Monday, June 29, 2015

She changed Kerrville

Margaret Van Landingham
I was saddened to read this week of the passing of Margaret Van Landingham, whose grace and thoughtfulness was a blessing to my family, and to the city of Kerrville.
I became acquainted with Ms. Landingham in 1992, when we served together on the Kerrville City Council.
There have been very few members of the council who approached their duties with as much preparation and seriousness as did she. If a thousand-page agenda had been delivered by city staff to Ms. Van Landingham on a Friday evening, you could be assured she would have read each page before the council meeting on Tuesday evening. Her agenda book would usually be filled with notes and questions, and she made sure she understood each item before voting. I learned a lot from her -- and from her questions.
Not only did she ask important questions, but she asked them with such a wonderful accent -- an echo of her childhood in South Carolina.
She brought experience from her career in government to her time on the council. She worked in several levels of government, and became a personnel management specialist. Part of her working years were spent in Frankfurt, Germany. After a long career in government, she retired to Kerr County in 1986.
While she was involved in every issue before the city council in those days, her lasting contribution to our community was in her work on establishing a curbside recycling program.
While she had strong views about conservation and the health of our planet, that was not the main reason for her work to help establish the program.
In the early 1990s many of us were concerned about the life of our landfill: it was filling up faster than expected, and expansion of the landfill, with all of the federal regulations and red tape such an expansion would require, was going to be fantastically expensive.
The council spent meeting after meeting reviewing options for the community's landfill. We explored options to stretch the useful life of the facility; we asked for variances from some of the federal regulations since our geology here is different than other places; we listened to experts, we sat through presentations by engineers, suppliers, and landfill operators. We explored joining Fredericksburg and Gillespie county in building a regional landfill to serve both communities. After what felt like years of study, each member of the Kerrville city council had earned what felt like a doctorate in garbage.
Through all of those long meetings, Margaret Van Landingham championed the idea of recycling. By limiting what was placed into the landfill, we could extend its useful life. She chaired a task force to investigate the viability of such a program.
It turned out she was right: the numbers suggested our landfill would be open decades longer if the community recycled. The problem was designing a program that would encourage citizen participation and generate enough recyclable materials to help fund at least part of the program.
Ms. Van Landingham and her committee worked hard and long on the issue, and when the details were finally worked out, blue recycling bins were distributed -- by volunteers -- to every home in Kerrville. A recycling center was opened up for those who lived outside of the city limits, and for businesses.
The program was effective, and there was widespread participation by households, both inside the city limits, and outside of the city.
In the years since then, whenever I saw Ms. Van Landingham, she was unfailingly kind to my family and me. It was always a bright spot of the day to visit with her.
We had war stories to tell from our time in the trenches of city government, and we enjoyed visiting about those hectic days from long ago.
Kerrville was made a better place by Margaret Van Landingham, and I'll certainly miss her.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who remembers distributing recycle bins in the Singing Wind neighborhood, along with other volunteers, several decades ago.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times June 27, 2015.

I often post historic photographs on my Facebook page.  If you'd like to visit that page, here's the link:  www.facebook.com/joe.herring

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Then and Now: the Charles Schreiner Company building

Recently I gave a presentation at the Schreiner Mansion, where I paired historic photographs with snaps I'd taken that day with my phone.  I did this because I realized most people haven't studied area photographs as I have, and so it's sometimes confusing to know where an historic photo was taken.  So I took a copy of each historic photograph with me, and tried to find the exact spot where the old photograph was taken -- and then I took a photo with my cellphone.   Over the next few Wednesdays, I'll publish the results here.  Please feel free to share these with your friends.
Click on any image to enlarge
The Charles Schreiner Company, probably in 1890s.
Note large awnings in middle section.
This photo was found by Lanza Teague.
The building as it appears today.
Some of the features of the building can be seen in the photo above.

I often post historic photographs on my Facebook page.  If you'd like to visit that page, please visit www.facebook.com/joe.herring

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cows roamed the streets of Kerrville

J L Pampell's first store, in the 700 block of Water Street, about where the dining porch for
Cartewheels Caterers is today, opposite the Arcadia Theater.
Several year ago, Steve Meeker brought by an interesting booklet, and in going through my files, I ran across this story:
The booklet was written by junior high students, under the careful guidance of Mrs. Kate Franklin, their Texas history teacher. The Kerrville Mountain Sun published the students' essays as a booklet commemorating the 75th birthday of Kerr County, back in 1931. The typesetting was done by F. F. Nyc.
I was intrigued by the story of J. L. Pampell: it's written in first person, as if the student writing the story was taking down every word Pampell spoke.
For those who don't know, Pampell's, on the corner of Water and Sidney Baker, has been there a very long time. When I was a boy, in the late 1960s, it was a pharmacy and soda fountain. But prior to that it had been a soft drink bottling factory, a confectionery, a movie theater, an 'opera hall,' and a place for community events, such as high school graduations, school plays, and even square dances.
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 new porch on the Sidney Baker side of the renovated Schreiner Building 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 horse racing, 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.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who is about 1/3 as old as Kerr County.  Man, that's old.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times June 20, 2015.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Then and Now: Kerrville's Weston Building

Recently I gave a presentation at the Schreiner Mansion, where I paired historic photographs with snaps I'd taken that day with my phone.  I did this because I realized most people haven't studied area photographs as I have, and so it's sometimes confusing to know where an historic photo was taken.  So I took a copy of each historic photograph with me, and tried to find the exact spot where the old photograph was taken -- and then I took a photo with my cellphone.   Over the next few Wednesdays, I'll publish the results here.  Please feel free to share these with your friends.
The Weston Building, shown here, was built in 1890, and originally housed a saloon.  Note the fancy metal cornice atop the building.
Click on image to enlarge

The intersection of Water and Mountain Streets,
turn of the last century.  Mountain Street is now called
Earl Garrett Street, after a Kerr County soldier
who died in World War I.
The intersection as it appears today.
The Weston Building, in the background, now houses
Francisco's Restaurant.

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