Monday, July 29, 2013

A Dinosaur Story, Honest.

Note the story in the second column from the left. Click to enlarge.
Years ago, writing one of my April Fools' columns, I suggested Sidney Baker Street would be closed for several months because the fossilized bones of a dinosaur had been discovered beneath the roadway.
At the time, I wrote: “'What we found at the Jefferson street corner looked like the tail bones of a plesiosaur called Liopleurodon ferox, the largest carnivore that ever existed,' a friend from the state’s survey team told me. He asked that I not publish his name."
The art of such a column is to give enough detail the reader begins to think the subject is plausible. One does not need to completely convince the reader; plausibility is enough.
Even my editor got in on the act, giving the column the clever title "What lies beneath."
Well, it turns out the joke was on me: while researching old newspapers for a recent column on Howard Lacey, a noted pioneer here with expertise in natural history, I discovered my April Fools' column was almost correct, though off by a few blocks.
Although I doubt anyone will believe me, it's true: dinosaur fossils were once found in the downtown area. I know, I know: the boy who cried wolf wasn't believed, either.
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.
The Cascade Pool was in the downtown area of Kerrville, near the intersection of Water and Earl Garrett streets. Looking at the old bank building there, which until recently housed the Bank of America offices, focus on the long two-story part of the back of the building, parallel to the river bluff. That's where the Cascade Pool was.
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 news 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."
Funny thing: my 2005 April Fool's column suggested the dinosaur found beneath Sidney Baker was also a plesiosaur, which was, of course, a complete figment of my imagination. There was no dinosaur under Sidney Baker street.
There was, however, one about 2 blocks away.
What became of the fossilized bones? That's a mystery I'm hoping to solve in the near future. At least one report suggests the bones were taken to Schreiner Institute (now Schreiner University). "Texas A. & M. College sent a wire asking for the bones, and the University of Texas also would like have the fossil for the Austin collection; but Schreiner Institute has the prize and professors Norman and Killingsworth vow that the remains of the old-timer will remain here in Kerrville to form the nucleus of a prehistoric exhibit. They believe that in future excavations for skyscrapers the balance of the prehistoric monsters framework may be uncovered."
So, there you have it. My old April Fools' column was pretty accurate, although completely by accident. I think I'll review the other April Fools' columns, just to see what other unintended predictions they might contain.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who wonders if anyone noticed dinosaur bones when the currently vacant bank building was being constructed. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 27, 2013.
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  1. I enjoyed this article; thank you.

    While reading the 1929 newspaper section that you posted, I began to wonder if you have any old photos that show the construction of one or more of the Guadalupe River dams (Kerrville area).

    It would be wonderful to see the old wooden dams being constructed.

    Plus, I would love to see photos of the current dam (Louise Hays Park) while it was being constructed.

    Joe, any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.

  2. I well remember Joe's April Fool's story of the bones being found in the construction along Sidney Baker. I could hardly wait until I got home to tell Cathy. It all sounded so plausible and certainly Joe Herring, Jr. would never mislead me. Hmmmm. I chuckled when I learned that I had been sucked in by such a plausible story. Another emotion, however, was that I was really disappointed that the story wasn't true.

    Oh, well. It just shows to go you.

    Jim Leak

  3. I remember my parents saying that the thigh bone was on display in the lobby of the Arcadia Theater during the 30s.

    Steve Meeker


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