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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Tivy High School Football in 1920 -- 100 years ago

Kerrville Tivy High School football 1920
Tivy High School football team -- 1920
Click on any image to enlarge

I enjoyed reading through “KDT Varsity” special section in Thursday’s edition of this newspaper, and I know many folks are happy to see high school football start up again.

Mike Keith’s photo of the 2020 Tivy Antler football team, trainers, and coaching staff was particularly impressive. What a fine-looking group of young men and women – guided by a dedicated group of coaches and educators.

One thing that impressed me by the photograph was the sheer number of folks involved, each playing a part to make the football season successful.

It reminded me of photographs I have of another Tivy football team – from 100 years ago: The 1920 Tivy football squad.

The 1920 Tivy High School football team

In 1920, public schools were on Tivy Street between 3rd and North streets, the site today of B. T. Wilson 6th Grade Campus and the Kerrville Independent School District offices. Across Barnett Street was also part of the 1920s schools; today some of those buildings house the Alamo Colleges campus.

(Although there is a school campus on the site today named for a local African-American educator, B. T. Wilson, in 1920 Kerrville schools were segregated, and remained so until the mid-1960s.)

Looking at the photographs of the 1920 Tivy football team, there are lots of things that have changed in the last 100 years.

First off, there are very few folks in the 1920 photograph – just 15 young men. They are wearing an assortment of uniforms. Protective padding is minimal, if present at all, and not all of the players have helmets. The uniforms look torn and ragged, and none of the players is sporting a player number on their sweaters.

In the shot where the players are in position on the line, you can see the homemade goalpost behind the players. Beyond that, a line of scraggly oak trees. Two folks can be seen leaning against the goalpost, and the shadow of the photographer can be seen.

Tivy High School, 1918

The Tivy High School building in 1920 was quite different from today’s large Tivy campus, three stories plus what looks like rooms in the attic. Much of that cut-stone building was still in use until the early 1980s as the Hal Peterson Junior High School. When I was a student there in the mid-1970s, portions of the building were closed off to students. You could feel the floors shake slightly when someone walked across a room.

In 1920, enrollment at Tivy High School was 151 students; 20 of those were seniors that year. From elementary to high school, there were 420 students enrolled, which was a record for the school district. Six teachers, including the district’s superintendent, R. A. Franklin, taught in the high school that year.

While I’ve found news stories about the 1920 Tivy team, the information is very limited. I know they played 10 games, though 2 of those games were against Junction. (Junction won the first one; Tivy, the second.) They also played St. Mary’s Academy of San Antonio, the West Texas Military Academy of San Antonio, and Llano. I do not know the other teams they played that year.

The games were played in the afternoon – there were no stadium lights to illuminate the football field.

The news story about the Llano game was published on November 5, 1920, and tells the last names of a few of the players: Flach, Wilson, Remschel, Horn, and two players named Rees, ‘G.’ and Casper. It appears Remschel was the quarterback. The story tells about unfair calls by a referee, and called them “prejudiced and poorly informed.”

One thing is certainly missing from every news story about the 1920 Tivy football team. Never once, in any of the stories, was the team called the ‘Antlers.’ I’m not sure when the team adopted that mascot – but it seems it was after 1920.

Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who has enjoyed watching many a Tivy football game. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times September 26, 2020.

Thanks for reading. This newsletter is free, but not cheap to send. To show your support, forward it to someone who’d like it, or buy one of my Kerr County history and photograph books.  Thanks so much. (And thanks to all of you who bought books this week!)

Sunday, September 20, 2020

A new sign for the Arcadia Theater

The Arcadia Theater, downtown Kerrville, 1948 --
a $100,000 renovation project.
This week ‘Arcadia Live,’ the group renovating the Arcadia Theater in downtown Kerrville, watched as crewmembers of the JK Bernhard Construction Company fitted a new “blade” to the front of the old theater. (I learned this year the illuminated sign in front of a theater is called a “blade.” I had no idea.)
I posted a snapshot of the new sign on my personal Facebook page, and immediately the comments began to stream in, most of them positive.
Several of the negative comments said, in so many words, that the commenter preferred “the original” sign. 
The Arcadia Theater's original blade

I get it – I also have trouble with change, and am prone to more bouts of nostalgia than the average bear – but the old Arcadia sign recently renovated and moved to the rear of the building is not actually the ‘original’ sign which graced the Arcadia. The sign most of us remember was installed in 1948, when the Arcadia underwent extensive remodeling, including a complete replacement of the original 1926 façade and ‘blade.’
The November 18, 1948 edition of the Kerrville Mountain Sun, in a front-page story, reported “Arcadia Theatre to hold formal opening tonight.”
The story told of the many improvements made that year, at a reported cost of $100,000:
“The Arcadia Theatre, after having been closed seven months for remodeling, will open this evening at six o’clock, when the people of the Hill Country will be permitted to see one of the finest and most modern places of entertainment to be found. The Hall Industries, of which Henry Hall of Beeville is president, have made every possible effort to provide the utmost in comfort and convenience in this new home of motion picture entertainment for their patrons.”
The projection screen was enlarged, from 12x16 feet to 15x20; the number of seats was increased from 900 to 1,050; new projection equipment was installed; a new sound system ‘made by RCA’ was installed; the entire building was fireproofed; new carpet was installed; new steel seating was installed, ‘upholstered with mohair and leatherette.’
The Arcadia Theater's new blade, 2020

One of the 1948 improvements – which people of a certain age will certainly remember – was the ‘Cry Room,’ which could seat 16 people, and intended for use by families with small children. It was “sound proofed and air-conditioned, and has two regular rows of theater seats as well as two divans. The individual volume control will be a delight to the occupants of that room, who are probably used to listening with children crying.”
(I’ll admit this: When I was a child, I thought the Cry Room was for people who became overly emotional during the sad portions of a movie; a space where they could cry without being ridiculed for their tears. I have no memory of anyone ever using the Cry Room, though I’m sure it found use for reasons other than tearful small children.)
The new ‘blade’ installed this week is an attempt to bring back a representation of the original 1926 Arcadia ‘blade.’ It is not an exact duplicate, for several reasons.
First, there are not clear images – taken in color – of that original Arcadia sign. Or at least I have not seen them.
Click to enlarge and compare signs
Second, reading the description of that original 1926 sign makes it sound a bit like a fire hazard prone to mechanical failure. 
Here’s what I’ve written elsewhere about that sign: “The first sign was about 15 feet high and extended six feet above the building, with 16” letters. The lighting flashed on and off at intervals, but was not neon; the coloring of the letters was done by placing ‘glass color hoods’ over the lamps, and red and green and amber were the predominate colors. There was a twinkling torch and a ‘flowing’ border driven by an electric motor.”
Like that original 1926 sign, the new sign is smaller than the 1948 sign (which was restored and placed at the rear of the Arcadia building, overlooking a deck with a view of the Guadalupe River below.) The 1948 sign was described as a “modernistic green, towers 42 feet [above the sidewalk], and is of green discs, with alternating red and green neon lights. The sodium vapor light at the top of the staff is an iridescent blue, and can be seen for four miles.”
The Arcadia Live group is renovating the old theater as a performance space for music and other entertainments; the space will also be available for private events. Like you, I look forward to seeing all the changes which have been carefully made over the last months.
I’m very thankful the Arcadia Theater is getting a new chance to be a place where people gather – especially after the building being vacant and dark for so long.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who was a frequent customer of the Arcadia Theater, starting in the late 1960s. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times September 19, 2020. 

Thanks for reading. This newsletter is free, but not cheap to send. To show your support, forward it to someone who’d like it, or buy one of my Kerr County history and photograph books.  Thanks so much. (And thanks to all of you who bought books this week!)

Sunday, September 13, 2020

In the heart of downtown Kerrville: The Cascade Pool

The Cascade Pool, downtown Kerrville, probably 1950s.
Click on any image to enlarge.
The double blessing of cooler temperatures and several nice rain showers has improved my mood considerably, and I’m thankful for the respite from the blistering summer of 2020. I’m sure you are, too.
Even though we’ve got more than a week of summer to go, and even though the Harvest Moon is still almost three weeks away – I can already imagine life outside of the bubble of air-conditioning.
Trying to stay comfortable in the heat of summer is not a new puzzle, and folks here have been working on solutions for a very long time.
Kerrville's Cascade Pool
Cascade Pool, taken from
the Blue Bonnet Hotel
I’m not old enough to remember the Cascade Pool, which was in the 700 block of Water Street, on the bluff overlooking the river. The pool complex started near the theater section of the Arcadia Theater building, and extended to Earl Garrett Street, which in those days continued to the bluff above the river.
When the pool was under construction, in 1929, a startling discovery was made.
According to the March 21, 1929 issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun, a fossilized dinosaur thigh bone and several of the dinosaur's vertebrae were found as workmen were digging the Cascade Pool.
Kerrville's Cascade Pool(Long-time readers of this column may remember my 2005 April Fool’s column, where I suggested a huge fossilized dinosaur was found under Sidney Baker Street, near the police station. That story was a prank. This dinosaur fossil was real.)
Excavation of the fossils was led by two instructors from Schreiner Institute, Hal Norman and W. P. Killingsworth.
"The thigh bone was 42 inches in length, 14 inches wide at the large socket end and weighed approximately 100 pounds. The portion of the vertebrae recovered was six feet long and about seven inches in width. The bones were found at a depth of 12 feet in a strata of gravel," according to the Kerrville Mountain Sun report.
Several theories about the type of dinosaur were given. "Some thought it was part of a blood-sweating dinosaur of the Paleozoic era, while others were of the opinion that it might be the goggle-eyed plesiosaurus of the Miocene period."
Kerrville's Cascade PoolI’m not sure what happened to the fossils – but I’d love to see them. Some say they’re still at Schreiner University.
The Cascade Pool celebrated its grand opening on Saturday, June 22, 1929. It was owned by the Kerrville Amusement Company, which also owned the Arcadia Theater. The pool was built by McCreary & Schott, a popular local contractor, at a cost of $25,000. An exhibition by “Famous Swimming Stars” was a highlight of the grand opening celebration.
One feature of the old swimming pool was remembered by many: “A spinning top in the center of the pool promises to be one of the most popular features,” the Mountain Sun reported. “It spins, spills, and thrills its load of human freight.”
Most people remember it was also likely to break your arm if you weren’t careful. The spinning top can be seen in early photographs of the pool.
Kerrville's Cascade PoolThe pool was in operation from 1929 until the summer of 1959, when the Charles Schreiner Bank, which by then owned the pool and leased it to the City of Kerrville in the summer months, planned to expand their bank to include a drive-through bank. The bank announced in early October that the pool would not open for the summer of 1960.
Although it was never openly reported, the Cascade Pool was likely closed, in part, because it had always been a segregated pool, meaning it was only available for white swimmers. By the summer of 1959, such segregation was finally changing around the country, though not here, yet.
A hint of this can be found in the June 2, 1960 edition of the Kerrville Mountain Sun, where building a new municipal pool was being considered: Building a new pool to replace the Cascade Pool “would be a great outlay of money, with very meager returns on the investment. We would be for it, and so would many other people, but we should stop to consider that a municipal pool is open to ALL people and no segregation lines could be drawn.”
While many people have happy memories of the pool in the heart of downtown, its full story must include the fact that it was not open to the entire community.
Some such barriers still exist, I’m afraid, and I hope we work together to eliminate them.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who learned to swim many summers ago in the Guadalupe River at Camp Stewart for Boys in Hunt, Texas. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times September 12, 2020.

Thanks for reading. This newsletter is free, but not cheap to send. To show your support, forward it to someone who’d like it, or buy one of my books.  Thanks so much. (And thanks to all of you who bought books this week!)

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Kerrville’s Kerr-View Farm

Kerr-View Farm's "Farm Maid Ice Cream" metal advertising sign.
Click on any image to enlarge.

I am always grateful for the generosity of folks who share their Kerr County historical items with me. An acquaintance in Boerne sent over a collection of items from Kerrville’s Kerr-View Farms, a working dairy, poultry and truck farm which could once be found “five or six miles south of Kerrville.” One source suggests the farm later became part of the Shelton Ranch, though I’m not sure where the farm stood.
Some Kerr-View Farms
product packaging
The farm was owned by Benno and Clarice Wiedenfeld, and it was quite an operation.
The first mention of the farm in local newspapers was in the September 9, 1926 issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun in a front-page story: “Wiedenfeld sees great future for poultrymen.” The story tells about the farm’s chick hatchery, with newly-installed modern equipment, “the first plant of its kind to be installed in this section of the state.”
“Weidenfeld’s mechanical hen,” the story reported, “is no longer an experiment. Skeptics who didn’t believe there ‘was any such animal’ last season came, saw the hatchery in operation and were convinced. As a result, it is believed that the 12,000-egg capacity plant will be inadequate to supply demands and Wiedenfeld, a scientifically trained man, never believes in looking back after being convinced he is on the right track.”
Detail of marketing designs
Kerr-View Farms produced eggs and raised poultry according to the story, but it also had a fine dairy herd. Most people remember Kerr-View Farms for one of its products: ice cream.
Over the years I’ve come across a few things from the Kerr-View Farms, starting with a large metal advertising sign which offered “Farm Maid Ice Cream” at 10 cents a pint.
The Kerrville Mountain Sun, in another front-page story in its March 24, 1932 edition, reported “Modern Ice Cream Plant in Operation at Kerr-View Farms.”
“The plant, recently completed at an expenditure of $7,000 is the last word in efficiency,” capable of “freeze 10 gallons of ice cream a minute.”
“Kerr-View’s ice cream plant will wholesale its output. Cream already is being supplied dealers in Kerrville and is being shipped to neighboring towns. Only pure dairy products from Kerr-View’s own registered Jersey herd are used in the manufacture of the ice cream, according to Wiedenfeld. There are no adulterations and the cream is to be known as ‘Kerr-View’s Jersey Ice Cream,’ with the slogan ‘Milked Today – Frozen Tonight.’”
Milk bottle paper caps
The company also provided milk and cream to local markets and customers. A Kerrville friend gave me some of the milk bottle paper tops last year – my favorite one says the coffee cream was ‘produced by a tubercular free herd.’ Another friend gave me a Kerr-View Farm fryer-hen carton.
Among the product packaging I notice a nice consistency in the logo – a hand-drawn script K, followed by legible serif letters. In the flowing ribbon underline you can often find “Kerrville, Texas.”
Benno and Clarice had two children, a son who died as a toddler, and a daughter, Anna Jean Wiedenfeld MacDonald. Benno passed away in 1977, Clarice in 1980, and Jean in 2011. (Jean’s late son, Granger MacDonald, was a successful builder, who passed away in June.)
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who appreciates the kind generosity so many people show him – and on a daily basis. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times September 5, 2020.

Thanks for reading. This newsletter is free, but not cheap to send. To show your support, forward it to someone who’d like it, or buy one of my books.  Thanks so much. (And thanks to all of you who bought books this week!)

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Kerrville's first public library, AND a book's homecoming

Here's a surprise: this enterprise was Kerrville's first public library.
Click on any image to enlarge.
The wandering book
This week a kind person in California sent a book back to its home: Kerrville.
The book is “The Last of the Knickerbockers,” by Herman K. Vielé, and it was published in 1901 by the Herbert S. Stone & Company of Chicago. The title page calls the book a ‘comedy romance,’ whatever that is. It’s 5 x 7 ¾ inches in size and has 354 pages.
Don’t be embarrassed if you’ve never heard of the author, or the book. I’d never heard of them, either. Herman K. Vielé was popular in his day, but that ‘day’ was over 100 years ago. He was both a novelist and poet. He died in 1908, only a few days shy of his 54th birthday.
Here’s why the book is important to Kerrville history: it has a bookplate indicating it was in the circulating collection of Kerrville’s very first public library.
Kerville Sunshine Library bookplate
Book No 527
That library was unique: it wasn’t part of local government, and it wasn’t built by a non-profit corporation. It was built by a married couple, George and Geraldena Walther, who ran the library as part of their business, and who advocated for a public library for our community for many decades. I wrote about them several years ago.
George William Walther was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1862; his mother was French and his father, German, and so young George grew up speaking those two languages in addition to English. As a youth George Walther was an apprentice to a silversmith in Boston, and continued in that career in Paris. In 1886 he returned to New England, and in 1888 he married Geraldena Sanstedt in Massachusetts. They had four children together, though two passed away in early childhood, and another, Gerald Walther, passed away as a young man in Kerrville. The surviving child, Norma, married W. C. Fawcett.
They arrived in Kerrville around 1900. Like many who found their way to Kerrville, George Walther came here for his health. While the news accounts don't specify the illness Walther suffered, it was most likely tuberculosis or something similar. The climate here was said to help with that disease, and many Kerrville families can trace their arrival here to an ancestor who was ill, seeking health.
Not long after arriving here, the Walthers purchased a small fruit store and confectionery from C. S. Hough. The couple worked in the business together, and it prospered. They added a restaurant and catering business. Things were looking good for them.
In 1902, George's father died, and with the inheritance George received, he invested in Kerrville real estate.
The Walther Building, 800 block of Water
The Walthers made Kerrville history in 1908. That's the year they opened the Kerrville Sunshine Library, as a part of the International Sunshine Society. It was the first public library in Kerrville, and it was housed in a "recreation hall" for young people, which included "box ball," which is game similar to "four square," dominoes and pool.
During its peak, the Kerrville Sunshine Library had 1800 volumes and 15 bookcases. Walther spent $50 per year on periodicals, including three humor weeklies from Europe: Punch, from England; Le Rire from France; and Fliegende Blatter from Germany. Those titles were meant, I'm sure, to appeal to young people.
For decades George Walther was a passionate advocate for a community library for our community. In 1927, at the urging of Walther, a committee of local leaders met to plan for a library. Unfortunately, with the arrival of the Great Depression, those plans never got off the ground.
"We want a real library," Walther told his community, in a 1927 talk, "a distinctive type of building of an attractive and substantial appearance; a large reading room with reference books for school children, as well as novels."
Forty years later, Howard and Mary Butt built such a library for our community. That gift may have had its beginnings when they were young people in Kerrville, visited the Walther's establishment, and read a book from his Sunshine Library.
George Walther died in 1931, before his dream of a community library could be accomplished. Geraldena Walther passed away in 1940.
The Kerrville Library Association was formed in 1941, and by 1954 a free library was formed, the Kerr County Public Library, housed in the ground floor of the Charles Schreiner home. In 1958 the Memorial Library opened on Water Street, and in 1967 the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library was dedicated.
And so a little book from Kerrville’s Sunshine Library found its way home, thanks to a kind person in California.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who spent many hours at the library as a child, since it was so close to my parents’ print shop.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times August 29, 2020.

Thanks for reading. This newsletter is free, but not cheap to send. To show your support, forward it to someone who’d like it, or buy one of my books.  Thanks so much. (And thanks to all of you who bought books this week!)



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