Monday, September 16, 2013

75 years ago in Kerrville

There were two newspapers publishing weeklies in Kerrville 75 years ago: the Kerrville Times and the Kerrville Mountain Sun.  For fun I pulled up the front pages of each -- they both published issues every Thursday -- to see what was going on here 75 years ago.
The Mountain Sun featured a photograph of the newly renovated "Tivy Junior High School and Tivy High School" buildings.  I smiled on seeing the photograph; the renovations to the old school building on Tivy Street, between North and Barnett streets, showed the building as I remember it as a student at the Hal Peterson Junior High School in the mid-1970s. Evidently the renovations made in 1938 were good enough to last.  Indeed, the building carried the 1938 facade until it was demolished in the 1980s.
"Kerrville's new high school and junior school will open Thursday morning after a three-day delay, caused by the late arrival of some of the equipment, and also due to the fact that the contractor did not have building quite completed for the scheduled opening September 12.  The addition and the remodeling of the old structure cost approximately $80,000 and the new equipment nearly $4,000," according to the Sun.
I imagine young Kerrville scholars were not upset by the three-day extension of their summer holiday.  They earned another holiday several years later when a portion of the high school caught on fired.
Both newspapers had stories about a bond election, though, understandably, they each approached the story from a different "angle."  The Times' headline read "City Will Void Bonds Unless PWA Aid Given," while the Sun's headline read "Voters Urged to Study Three Bond Election Projects."
At stake were three projects: a low-water dam at the Schreiner State Park ($26,000); extension of the city's water system ($72,500); and street repairs and paving ($160,350).
The Times' story reported city officials would void any bonds approved by voters at the upcoming September 29 election if matching grants were not received from the Public Works Administration.  I suppose the city government wanted to reassure the public they wouldn't be on the hook for bonds which couldn't accomplish the projects for which they were created.
The pavement projects were interesting; property owners along the streets would be expected to pay a share of the paving expense.  Forty-four blocks of city streets were scheduled to be repaved and repaired; an additional forty-four blocks were to be paved for the first time.
Kerrville's city manager in 1938 was A. P. Hancock, who described the proposed dam at the state park as "seven feet high and 786 feet long, which would create a lake "one-half mile long."
I was curious whether the bond election passed, especially since, to my knowledge, the dam was never built.  I looked ahead, to the October 6, 1938 issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun and learned voters approved all three bond proposals.
There were a few names I recognized in the 1938 newspapers.
Harvey Mosty, both newspapers reported, was reelected secretary of the Texas Association of Nurserymen.  My father had a printing customer with the same name who was a nurseryman out near Center Point, and I think it was likely the same man.
And the Times reported services for the First Presbyterian Church would be canceled the following Sunday, due to the illness of the pastor, the Rev. Paul S. Van Dyke. 
Rev. Van Dyke spent his final years at the Town House retirement home next to the print shop, and once a day would walk to Pampell's for an afternoon refreshment.  When he passed the print shop windows I would often call Sandy Wolfmueller to let her know the pastor was headed her way; the intersection of Sidney Baker and Water Street was as dangerous for pedestrians then as it is today.  The Pampell's crew would often meet the pastor on our side of the intersection, "accidentally," and walk with him across the busy intersection.
You might remember Rev. Van Dyke's daughter, Maud Van Dyke Jennings, who graduated from Tivy High School, spent a career with the Kerrville Independent School District, teaching junior high school students English, and later was named Kerrville's Citizen of the Year for her work in starting the Habitat for Humanity program here.  Ms. Jennings was one of my heroes, and I miss her.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerrville and Kerr County historical items, especially photographs.  If you have something you'd like to share with him, please visit him at his printing office on Water Street.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times September 14, 2013.
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