Sunday, July 9, 2017

Downtown Kerrville when I was a boy

700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, mid-1950s
A poster of this image is available HERE
Click on any image to enlarge
Because I've spent most of my working hours in the 600 block of Water Street, downtown from my point of view starts at the print shop and faces toward Pampell's and the spot where the Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital once stood. That means I stand at the print shop and look southeast and view downtown.
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, mid-1950s
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, mid-1950s
A poster of this image is available HERE
Others, of course, would view "downtown" from different areas. If you lived on Earl Garrett Street, downtown is facing along that street looking toward the river. For others, Sidney Baker might be the entry to downtown. A friend suggests the print shop is actually on the "Clay Street trailhead," a point of view that begins at the intersection of Water and Clay streets, and looks northeast, completely ignoring the framework of what I consider 'downtown.'
It all depends upon your point of view.
My point of view frames downtown Kerrville in my mind, and it's probably why I prefer images of downtown taken from the 600 block of Water Street, where our shop stands, facing toward the 700 block, where Pampell's and the Schreiner building stand.
Going through some photographs recently given to me, I saw a number of images showing how much the view from my block toward the 700 block has changed, even in my lifetime. (I was born here in 1961.)
The 700 block of Water Street was a busy place when I was a kid.
700 block of Water Street, Kerrville, mid-1950s
700 block of Water Street, Kerrville, mid-1950s
A poster of this image is available HERE
On the river side of Water Street, the block started with Pampell's and ended with the Charles Schreiner Bank. I'm old enough to remember the sons who ran each: Milton Pampell, who was the son of J. L. Pampell; and Louis Schreiner, who was the son of Charles Schreiner.
Between those two establishments were around a dozen businesses. Next to Pampell's was Brehmer's Jewelers, owned by our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Brehmer. Two of our family friends from church worked there: Irene Arreola and Doris Chenault.
The Wares had a nice shoe store on that block, with a device which would measure your foot. It was a platform that you stood upon, with a small railing. You'd put your sock-covered foot into a rectangle shaped indention in the floor of the device, and the machine would measure the width and length of your foot, with the result showing up on some type of screen. It was very modern, and I thought it was amazing.
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, 1920s
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, 1920s
I have the Victrola sign pictured in the photo.

A poster of this image is available HERE
The Arcadia Theater was in that block, too, and my friends and I spent many a long Saturday there watching matinee screenings of westerns and comedies. The floor was always sticky and made a distinct sound as you shuffled to your seat; the seats had a noteworthy smell, too. I think we have some of those theater seats in one of our warehouses, now. They likely smell the same as they did then.
Along that block you could find the offices of the Kerrville Mountain Sun, with the Salter family hard at work. Mrs. Camilla Salter, the publisher, was so nice. I seldom walked that way without stopping in to say hello. She knew everyone in town and she knew what everyone was talking about, too.
There were a lot of other businesses on that side of the street, too. Dress shops and barber shops and pharmacies.
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, circa 1938
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, circa 1938
At the end of the block was the Charles Schreiner Bank, and I have two clear memories of the place. First, the door had a bronze plaque which read "Charles Schreiner Banker, Unincorporated;" and two, the desk of Louis Schreiner, just to the left of the front door. He saw everyone who came in, which is not a bad thing for the owner to do. I don't remember him ever speaking to me, but I do remember him looking up from his work as I opened the door.
Across Water Street was the Schreiner department store, which was huge and quite fancy. As a child, I always felt a bit out of place there. Perhaps it was a little too fancy for me.
Heading back toward Sidney Baker along Water you passed by Winn's (which in an earlier life was Lehmann's). Winn's had many things a youngster would want: comics, slingshots, toys, and candy. You could by an Icee drink at the little cafe at the back, which was a great treat on a hot summer afternoon. It was a good variety store.
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, 2017
700 Block of Water Street, Kerrville, July 2017,
taken by yours truly
Past Winn's was the J. C. Penney store. Many of us remember that crowded store, and the pneumatic tubes that carried change and orders back and forth overhead. Most of my school clothes came from this store.
Then, on the corner, was the Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital. It was quite a place and we spent a lot of time exploring its seven stories and basement. Fewer doors were locked then than are today and we downtown kids wandered everywhere, quite often to places we should not have visited.
I hope you enjoy the photographs and I hope these few paragraphs will inspire a memory or two of your own.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who has fond memories of downtown Kerrville.

Historic Photos Store Update: A friend pointed out the online store was charging freight for every item ordered, which meant the shipping charges were SUPER EXPENSIVE. This is now fixed, I think. These ship out of California and North Carolina from plants specializing in archival-quality large format printing (they can print BIG posters).   If anyone else has problems with the store, please let me know.

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