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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Tivy yearbooks: time capsules of ink and paper

Tivy Cheerleaders, from the 1963 "Antler,"
the yearbook of Tivy High School.
Click on any image to enlarge.
This week a kind reader brought by six different editions of the "Antler," Tivy High School's yearbook, adding 1945-48, 1961, and 1963 to my collection.
It was timely having these arrive at the beginning of 2019, when I've busy building budgets and plans for the new year, the part of the year when I'm most focused on time, especially the year just completed and the new one unfolding.
Tivy downtown Pep Rally,
1947 yearbook.
This thinking about time continued as I read through the yearbooks, seeing familiar faces from the 1940s and 1960s involved in activities I remember from my own time as a Tivy student in the late 1970s, activities which continue at the school today. It reminded me much of small-town life repeats each year.
The yearbooks show young people engaged in high school traditions: academics, sports, clubs, music and socializing. The tone of the book from 1945 is not that much different from the 1963 edition. The students and most of the faculty are different folks, of course, but the books show young people who look happy and bright, busy at school.
Spikettes, marching on Main Street,
 1946 yearbook
There were senior class plays and dances in the gym; roller skating at the "Point Inn;" football and basketball; homemaking classes and future farmers. As always, a few students were put in the spotlight: most beautiful, most popular, best all-around.
Some of the clubs from 1945 reflect the war still raging all over the world. There was a U. S. O. club, which helped with Red Cross projects, and waste paper drives. The war didn't end until the summer of 1945. The yearbook also featured hundreds of hand-drawn illustrations, and had the words to the Tivy Fight Song and Alma Mater printed in its pages.
Tivy Band, on Clay Street,
1948 yearbook.
The senior class of 1946 had a page dedicated to their baby photos, which are wonderful. The 1946 book has more pages and photos, too, than the previous year. I'm guessing supplies were available after the war.
Tivy yell leaders, at new
Antler Stadium, 1945 yearbook
The 1947 book introduced some color to its pages -- not in full-color photographs, but in accent colors announcing the different sections. The book has quite a few photographs of downtown Kerrville, too.
Tivy Antler staff,
1961 yearbook.
In 1948, many of the students' photos included nicknames, and I wondered if these were names the students picked themselves. Other students had a career listed after their name, such as restaurant owner, or nurse, or coach. A few of the girls listed housewife; a few of the boys listed rancher.
The two books from the 1960s show a lot of technical innovations. The photos are better, and the typesetting is also better. I guess only a printer would notice these things. I was surprised to find several familiar faces among the students, having never realized they were raised here and were Tivy graduates.
Some people think time runs in a straight line, and some think time is like a pendulum. Others believe it is like a circle, with the seasons going round and round. Reading through these yearbooks made me think time was a straight line for individuals, but more like a circle for communities.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who graduated from Tivy many, many years ago. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times January 12, 2019.

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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Kerrville folks remember good places to eat

Lehmanns Luncheonette Kerrville, 1960s
Customers at Lehmann's Luncheonette, Kerrville, 1960s.
Click on any image to enlarge.
Over 20 years ago I asked readers to share their stories about Kerrville restaurants, describing eateries of old, food palaces now gone, cafes of yesterday.
I enjoyed this one from Barbara Moose, of Kerrville:
"There wasn't a Saturday morning that was missed when my girls and I went to Lehman's counter for breakfast."
Lehman's was a variety store that was once on Water Street, in the 700 block. The two-story stone building was originally the Schreiner Wool Warehouse; in its last use, it was a Winn’s store. It was torn down in the 1990s, and stood about where the outside dining area of Cartewheels is today.
Ms. Moose continues about those breakfasts with her girls, enjoying a "breakfast of a toasted chicken or tuna fish sandwich of all things on a Saturday morning.
"It was grocery day, but we had to eat and drink first. The marquee was listed at the top in red letters, there was no menu. You kind of told the girl behind the counter what you wanted. You got a ticket, and paid for it up front as you left the store.
"When Lehman's was torn down to make way for bigger things, the wood flooring is in my house today, believe it or not."
Karen Landrum Samford sent me a story about a restaurant that fits into that category:
"One place I remember my mother and aunt liked was called 'The Grove.' It was a neat place, located about where the River Oaks Shopping Center is today, on Junction Highway.
"I remember," Ms. Samford continues, "we would drive under lots of big old shade trees. That's probably why they called it The Grove. The carhop would come take our order. The only food I can remember were the corndogs. I loved the golden buttery tasting cornbread on those corndogs.
Blue Bonnet Hotel Kerrville 1950s
Blue Bonnet Hotel, Kerrville, 1950s
"Another place I remember was the diner in the Bluebonnet Hotel. The R. B. McKinnons had the restaurant at the time I remember it. They were friends of my grandparents and parents."
The Bluebonnet Hotel was an eight-story hotel at the intersection of Water and Earl Garrett streets, across Water Street from today’s Francisco’s Restaurant. It was torn down in the 1970's to make room for a parking lot and drive-through bank; then the drive-through bank was torn down to make more parking. It was once an elegant hotel that overlooked the Guadalupe River.
Ms. Samford tells about the Bluebonnet Hotel: "we would go there on Sunday after church for dinner. It always smelled so good. Hot roast beef sandwich (open) with mashed potatoes and green beans. Of course, brown gravy on everything. It was so good. The adults would sit at a table near the bar (counter) and my two brothers and I would sit at the bar. Of course, we always had plenty of iced tea!
My favorite letter was sent in by Pauline Mosty, and is entitled "Smells of Kerrville -- 1945 -- and Rat Cheese."
I have fond memories of the Mostys, and I miss them.
"Long ago smells of Kerrville are very special to me. My memory takes me back when I, a very timid seventeen year old, was newly hired by the Lower Colorado River Authority located at 211 Earl Garrett Street.
Henke's Meat Market, Kerrville
Henke's Meat Market, Kerrville
"Our chief clerk was Leon Miller. He was still a bachelor, with a very healthy appetite. He pulled some money out of his pocket and told me to pick up the food for 'a feed.' I was instructed to go for Bar-B-Que, bread and Rat Cheese. I was born in Kerrville, so I knew where those good smells came from, but how would I explain what Rat cheese is?
“With delicious smells guiding my way, I turned the corner and went down Water Street. The smell from Henke's Meat Market was tantalizing as Chester Henke sliced the meat. The bread baked by Robert Wolfmueller was still warm."
Henke's Meat Market and Wolfmueller's bakery were in the 800 block of Water Street that is opposite the One Schreiner Center building today. The H. E. Butt Grocery store stood where the driveway to the One Schreiner Center building is now; when I was young, I believe that the same building housed the C. R. Anthony Company store, next to the Vogue dress shop.
Mrs. Mosty continues: "I really dreaded to go into H. E. B. because I had to ask for that Rat Cheese. Dusty Sanders wrapped the cheese without blinking an eye. I came to know that our Mr. Miller had his own name for things and the merchants understood.
"The meal I shared that noon, with co-workers who would become my lifelong friends, tasted as good as it smelled. I was a very lucky girl!"
History is more than dry memorization of dates and facts, trying to remember which general led which charge. Sometimes history is the story of a well-remembered meal, of toasted tuna sandwiches, or hot roast beef with gravy, or even Rat Cheese.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who likes to eat. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times January 5, 2019.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The five most popular Kerr history columns of 2018

As 2018 ends, it's time to look back over the last 12 months to learn what readers enjoyed most.
While each column takes about the same amount of research and effort, some are more popular than others, as measured by page views on my blog,
This year's top five most-viewed columns were viewed over 30,000 times, with the highest having almost 8,600 page views. I'm always surprised by these numbers, considering the column is about the history of one small town in the Texas hill country.
Here are the top five columns of 2018:
Bandera Pass photographed in 1905
Bandera Pass, 1905
Number Five: The fifth most popular column in 2018 was "A newly discovered photograph of Bandera Pass," published in February, 2018.
A kind reader brought by a box of old family photographs, and tucked in the box was a small photograph of the pass which was labeled 1905. While the photograph shows a gap in the hills which is familiar to travelers today, it lacks a paved highway. A pair of dusty wagon wheel tracks can be seen, jogging among the trees and shrubs.
Automobiles were not very common in our area until around 1908, and so the photograph shows the pass as it appeared for several hundred years, when the only vehicles rolling that way were wagons drawn by animals.
I have another very old photograph of Bandera Pass in my collection, but it's not dated, so I cannot tell which was taken first.
Charles Schreiner Bridge Kerrville Texas 1971
Charles Schreiner Bridge, Kerrville, 1971
Number Four: "A well-remembered bridge in Kerrville," which was published in March.
The bridge crossing the Guadalupe River in downtown Kerrville has several names. Most call it the Sidney Baker Street Bridge, but a small plaque at the southwest end of the bridge says it was "Dedicated to Captain Charles Schreiner: a pioneer in citizenship, philanthropy and highway building in the hill country." That plaque was placed on the bridge in 1935, back when the bridge was originally constructed as a steel truss bridge, with three large spans supported from above by steel.
That old bridge was distinctive and many locals remember it fondly. It was featured in many photographs from the era.
In the 1970s the bridge was widened from two to five lanes plus a pedestrian sidewalk, the steel structure was removed and replaced by pre-stressed concrete girders. In the process, the bridge went from 22 feet wide to 60 feet, and the improvements cost around $1.1 million. When construction was complete, the plaque from the old bridge was moved from the northeast end of the bridge to its present location on the opposite end.
Ice Plant Tunnel, Kerrville, 2018
Number Three: "At least one of the tunnels in downtown Kerrville," published in April.
There are persistent stories of tunnels in the downtown area of Kerrville. In at least one case, the stories are true.
At one time there was an Ice Plant in the 800 block of Water Street, on the river side of the intersection of Water and Washington Streets. Parts of the old plant still exist, and beneath the driveway of One Schreiner Center a tunnel and subterranean room can be found.
Ed Hamilton was kind enough to share photographs taken during an engineering survey of the tunnel.
Woolls Building, Center Point, around 1902
Woolls Building, Center Point, around 1902
Number Two: "Where was Zanzenburg, Texas? (Hint: Kerr County.)," which was published in August.
Zanzenburg was the original name of Center Point, Texas. The original name was given by a landowner there, Charles de Ganahl, who named it for his ancestral home in the Austrian Tyrol. The name was changed to Center Point in 1872 by Dr. G. W. Harwell, who was postmaster at the time. There are several stories about how Center Point got its current name, but the one that seems to make the most sense was it was a trading center roughly in the halfway between Kerrville and Comfort, and halfway between Fredericksburg and Bandera.
Freight wagons, west of Kerrville,
around 1900, from the collection
of Jeff Blakely Sr.
Number One: The most popular column in 2018 was "From Kerrville to Junction by Wagon," which appeared in January.
This story, about freighters carrying goods between Kerrville and Junction was a surprise hit, carried mainly by the wonderful photographs loaned to me by Jeff Blakely Sr.
Travel between Junction and Kerrville was slow and occasionally dangerous. There were 13 creek crossings between Mountain Home and Ingram alone. There were many very steep inclines between here and Junction, and occasionally a robber or two.
Stage travel between Kerrville and Junction took most of a day, and hauling freight between the two towns took even longer. Travel today, in our air-conditioned automobiles, is comfortable and fast, taking about an hour.
Thanks so much for your kind words about my column this year. I appreciate your support and encouragement.
Until next year, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who wishes you a healthy and happy 2019. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times December 29, 2018.

My new book about Kerrville and Kerr County is available online, at Herring Printing Company and at Wolfmueller's Books.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Christmas Edition, 1899: The very first issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun

Kerrville Tivy High School in 1899
Tivy High School, as it appeared in 1899.
Today the building houses the central office of the Kerrville Independent School District.
Click on any photo to enlarge.
119 years ago yesterday, on December 22, 1899, a remarkable news magazine was published in Kerrville by J. E. Grinstead. The Neunhoffer family kindly let me make a copy of the magazine years ago.
Kerrville Masonic Building in 1899
Kerrville's Masonic Building in 1899
To celebrate his purchase of the Kerrville Paper, and to announce its new name, Grinstead produced a twenty page booklet with the masthead Kerrville Mountain Sun, Vol. 1, No. 1; it was proudly printed by "Grinstead & Boyd, General Printers." Its glossy pages measure about 14 by 10.5 inches, which is quite large, and it has a sturdy ivory-colored cover. It is illustrated with many photographs of Kerrville and Kerr County
Such a publication would have required an enormous amount of work, especially when printed on a letterpress. There were no modern typesetting machines; the type was set by hand. The photographs had to be converted to metal "cuts," an expensive and time-consuming process. Folding and stitching the signatures into a booklet would have been done by hand, as well.
In the midst of this work, J. E. Grinstead was facing tragedy. He'd moved here with his wife, Sarah Frances Grinstead, and their two sons, Grady and Doyle. Sarah was ill with tuberculosis, and in those days Kerrville's climate was thought to help those afflicted with that illness.
Kerr County Courthouse, 1899
Kerr County Courthouse, 1899
Sadly, Sarah died just 5 days after the publication of the first issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun, on December 27, 1899.
The news magazine is remarkable because it offers a time-capsule glimpse of what Kerrville and Kerr County were like at the end of the nineteenth century.
Though Grinstead's writing is relentlessly positive about Kerr County in 1899, the picture he paints offers clues about life here then.
"The resources of Kerr County are varied and extensive. The chief agricultural products are corn, wheat, oats, rye, sorghum, sweet potatoes and Irish potatoes. The black soil of the Guadalupe valley is especially adapted to the production of wheat and rye. Oats and corn also grow well here, and a failure of Kerr County's cereal crop is almost unknown. Sorghum cane is raised here for forage for stock, and often yields ten to twelve tons per acre; it is also grown for syrup, and the product is of the highest quality, and the yield enormous."
Kerrville's Tivy Hotel, in 1899
Kerrville's Tivy Hotel, in 1899
Ranching here is also described:
"The entire country is a vast pasture for stock. There is not an acre of land in the county that cannot be utilized either for agricultural or grazing purposes. Even the tops of the highest mountains are valuable pastures for thousands of sheep and goats."
Both the Live Oak and Stoneleigh ranches are singled out as "the head of their class as producers of fine cattle and horses. For speed and endurance, the horses bred in this medium high altitude, where the climate is such that colts may be allowed to run in open pastureland the entire year, far excel stock of the same strain bred in low, cold climates."
Surprisingly, even though the front cover says "Christmas Edition," there is no mention of the holiday in the booklet.
Charles Schreiner Mansion, Kerrville, 1899
Home of Charles and Magdalena Schreiner, 1899
"Kerrville's first claim to the attention of the outside world," Grinstead writes, "is based on its reputation as a resort for those seeking health and pleasure at all seasons of the year."
Many families came to Kerrville seeking health, starting soon after the Civil War, and this continued for many decades into the 20th century. Many had at least one member of the family who suffered from tuberculosis.
Perhaps Kerr County's first claim 'to the attention of the outside world' was actually hope. Hope for health, hope for a family to be restored. Given this magazine's publication at Christmastime, perhaps that's its most important theme: hope.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who wishes all of you a Christmas that is holy, and a New Year that is healthy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times December 22, 2018.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A Kerr County Christmas Story from around 1912

Students at Kerr County's Sunset School, between Ingram and Mountain Home, around 1912.
Herbert Oehler is the boy on the far left, third row.
Click on either photo to enlarge.
Schools have been an important part of our county since its earliest days, and schools used to dot our hills in places where no schools stand today.
There were schools named for creeks, such as Turtle Creek School and Cypress Creek School; there were schools which served farming and ranching communities, like the Reservation School, or the Divide School. Hunt, Ingram, and Center Point all had schools, of course, as well as Kerrville.
But schools also provided a place to gather, and with Christmas just around the corner, I thought I’d share a story from my files about the Sunset community coming together during the Christmas season early in the last century, around 1912.
My father printed a book for Mr. Herbert E. Oehler in 1981 called “Hill Country Boy,” a “compilation of articles” Oehler had written for “Hill Country, the magazine supplement of the Kerrville Daily Times, during the period from November 1972 to July 1974.” I like the book because it offers a clear view of what life was like here at the turn of the last century. The Oehlers had a nice place in the “Sunset” community, between Ingram and Mountain Home, in the Johnson Creek valley.
“Christmas,” Oehler writes, “was an important community event. Its celebration was not too much different from what it is today, with a Christmas tree, Santa Claus, gift giving, and a big meal. However, the one thing that was conspicuously different was that the whole celebration revolved around the commonly accepted belief that it was a religious observance.”
Sunset School, around 1912.
That was why, he continues, the last day of school before the Christmas holiday was given over to a community Christmas tree and program.
“For this event, the teacher’s desk was moved to one side and a big cedar tree was set up, filling the space between the blackboard and the recitation bench. The trimmings were mostly homemade – strings of popcorn, colored paper chains, and glittering strands of tin foil. A tinsel star twinkled at the very top, reflecting the sputtering flame of the many-colored wax candles in their clip-on metal holders. About the base of the tree, which was swathed in red crepe paper, were cheesecloth bags filled with fruit, nuts and candy, one for each boy and girl.
“But before Santa Claus came out to distribute these to the children, the program had to be presented. This varied little from year to year. There was a manger scene, there were shepherds and wise men, and angels, too. Competition between the older girls for the role of the Virgin Mary was especially keen. Just how the teacher made the appointment without causing some hair pulling will always remain her secret. If the girl had a chosen “beau,” or if she liked a certain boy, he usually rather reluctantly donned the robes of Joseph. The roles of shepherds, wise men, innkeeper and angels were assigned to those who did not give a recitation. These recitations were usually Christmas poems or readings given by badly frightened, stuttering boys and girls between the singing of the old familiar Christmas songs.
“At home, Christmas did not lose its religious character just because there was a distribution of gifts. Christmas Day was a religious holiday, just like Sunday, and we did only the chores that were absolutely necessary on that day. The gifts were given out after breakfast from beneath a tree (which was a small replica of the one at school)… The tree was almost perfect in shape because all during the year Papa would spot small suitable cedar trees and keep them trimmed for the purpose.”
There were eight children in the Oehler house, and though most of the gifts under the tree were for the entire family – fruit and nuts, a bushel of apples – each child had an individual gift, “something we could call our very own.”
After each child had had a chance to try out their gifts – to play with them out in the yard – Oehler’s father would call them all back to the house and read from a book of sermons.
They were “in German, and while we did not always understand all of it, we knew we had to stay quiet and pay attention anyway. When the reading was over it was usually time for Mama to put dinner on the table. Then it was back to play or a visit with the neighbors or whatever it was we wanted to do.”
I’m hoping your Christmas season is holy – and merry, too.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who is particularly fond of a certain school teacher. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times December 15, 2018.

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