Monday, September 2, 2013

Birthdays and history

Joe Herring Jr. pretending to be a cowboy.
I celebrated another march around the Sun last week and realized as the trips add up, I'm becoming a member of a group whose experiences younger folk never had for themselves.
For many years I was always the youngest person in the room on civic boards and commissions; that began to change, slowly, and now I find I'm often the most senior. For that I'm thankful. I've earned each of these [remaining] gray hairs, and the sum of my many mistakes might benefit others.
Here are some things I've experienced my younger colleagues can only read about:
I remember watching Neil Armstrong take his first step onto the Moon's surface. The televised image was grainy, and it seemed to take forever for the astronaut to emerge from the spacecraft, but, like most of the planet with access to a television, I watched him carefully descend that  spindly ladder and utter his famous line, flub and all. That summer evening I was between 2nd and 3rd grades, and, like most of the boys at Starkey Elementary, I followed the space program with fascination and fluency.
I remember, too, the awful summer of 1968, when both Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were murdered.
I remember the nightly news reports of the casualties in the war in Vietnam, and I remember a young marine from Kerrville who went to fight in that war and didn't make it back home alive.
There are other things that "show my age."
I owned (and used) a typewriter. At college, my papers were required to be typed, and you could lose points if there were typos, which meant typing the last few lines on a page very carefully so you wouldn't have to type the whole page over.
I remember when you actually dialed a telephone, using a dial. I remember when telephones were only used to talk with others, and when telephones were attached by a wire to the wall.
I remember listening to records on a phonograph. I also remember thinking 8-track tapes were a major innovation, allowing for your own music in your car.
I remember using cameras which required one to buy film, then take the film to be processed. Often weeks would pass between the taking of a photograph and seeing the finished image, meaning if the snapshot was out of focus or poorly shot in some way, there was no way to take another one to make up for the mistake.
I remember using paper maps when I was lost on a road trip.
Locally, I have some memories which place me in a small group -- a group which is growing smaller in number over time.
I am old enough to remember Louis Schreiner, the son of Captain Charles Schreiner, sitting at his desk at the Charles Schreiner Bank.
I can remember the freight trains that visited Kerrville when I was a boy; the tracks went down North Street (and Schreiner Street) in the downtown area. Kind engineers would often blow the train's horn if you ran alongside the engine.
I remember parking meters downtown -- and an officer who walked the beat checking them.
I remember a Western Union telegraph office on Water Street.
I remember the Blue Bonnet Hotel, on the corner of Water and Earl Garrett Streets. I remember its 8 stories and the elevator operator who guided the passengers up and down the flights.
I can remember the old steel bridge that crossed the Guadalupe River at Sidney Baker Street, with its curved arches.
I can remember when most things you might need -- from groceries, hardware, women's shoes, animal feed, a windmill, or a man's suit -- could be bought in the downtown area.
These memories don't exactly make me ancient, at least not yet, but a majority of the citizens of Kerrville don't remember them, mostly because they're too young.
I suppose, as I write these weekly missives about the history of the area, often on topics that occurred well before my time, it would behoove me to remember I've lived in Kerr County for about 1/3 of its entire existence.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who learned to surf this summer. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times August 31, 2013
You can subscribe for FREE to Kerr History updates by clicking HERE.


  1. This article made me feel down right nostalgic.

    I can remember a bit farther back, such as with telephones.

    I remember picking up the receiver, waiting for the Kerrville operator to answer, and then telling the operator the phone number to which I wished to be connected.

    I've heard people say that those days were so much simpler, and they were to some degree.

    But, those days had complications, too, so very many complications.

  2. Happy Birthday, Joe.


Please remember this is a rated "family" blog. Anything worse than a "PG" rated comment will not be posted. Grandmas and their grandkids read this, so please, be considerate.



Related Posts with Thumbnails