Monday, January 16, 2017

The Kerr County collection

As many of you know, I collect items from Kerrville and Kerr County's history. The collection is housed at our printing company on Water Street, and I hope to donate the collection to a local history museum someday.
l new items came into the collection over the past few weeks, and I'd like to tell you about them.
There are a few of you who might remember Henke's butcher shop in the 800 block of Water Street. It was gone before I came along, but I've heard many stories about the shop. Many remember the barbecue sandwiches they sold there, with tables set up behind the shop.
The cash register from Henke's Meat Market
A long-time friend arranged for me to pick up the old cash register that Henke's used. It's a giant brass National Cash Register machine. As I was cleaning it I found two items: a red penny ration coin, from World War II, made of what looks to be red rubber; and an old Ford key. Both items were lodged in the back of the machine, behind the cash drawer, and in the springs and posts in the back of the machine.
As for the Ford key, I can just imagine one of the Henkes asking the rest of the crew in the butcher shop "has anyone seen the key to the delivery van?" I cannot guess how long it's been lost in the workings of the machine, but I'm happy it's now found. If only we could find the old Ford to which it once belonged.
A model of the Charles Schreiner Mansion
Another item came into the shop, and I'll admit I'm not sure from whence it came. I received word a model of the Charles Schreiner mansion was available at a local resale shop, and I dropped everything, went over there, and bought it. It's about 18" high, and about 24" wide, and is made of fired clay. It's signed by Ruth McNay, and I'm glad to have it here. I remember Ms. McNay; we printed many items for her. I've teased I'm planning on putting a teeny-tiny little museum inside the teeny-tiny little mansion.
My friends Jon and Sandy Wolfmueller, of Wolfmueller's Books, gave me several things over the past few weeks, including the minutes of the "City Council of Parents and Teachers of Kerrville, Texas," which I think meant the Parent Teachers Associations of the elementary, middle and high schools in Kerrville. The minutes are from the 1930s, and feature many recognizable names from that era.
Those minutes also clear up a mystery. During the 1930s, Kate Franklin, a teacher in the middle school, together with her students organized a Kerr County Museum. For a time the items they collected were on display at the Arcadia Theater, back when that theater was still quite new.
The rumor had been that after being displayed at the Arcadia, many of the items were discarded. However, one of the entries in the minutes tells what happened to the items after they left the Arcadia, and I hope other entries in those minutes will help explain where the missing items might be today.
A few months ago a kind reader brought in a scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings from a divisive time in our community, when the schools here were finally desegregated. It's been interesting reading those clippings, learning what was being said on both sides of the issue at the time. Like many communities, it took Kerrville a long time to get to the right answer: public schools were for all children, regardless of race.
The variety of the items coming into the collection is amazing, ranging from old newspapers, a fine sample of stained glass, and quite a few historic photographs of our area I'd never seen before.
I'm grateful to everyone who's brought items in. I hope together we can find a good home for them.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who likes learning about local history. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times January 14, 2017.

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