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Sunday, May 5, 2019

Hershey Bars and Washed-Out Bridges

A tasty cake made by my sweet bride,
from a 1950s-era Kerrville recipe

What if you could taste history?
This past Easter, as Ms. Carolyn was planning our family's celebration, she noticed something in one of her cookbooks. The book, "American Cake," by Anne Byrn, features recipes from colonial times to the present day, each for something I love: cake.
While going through the cookbook she noticed a chocolate cake recipe called "Hershey Bar Cake." Its name alone recommends it for a try -- both in the oven and on the plate.
But that's not why she selected that particular cake for our family gathering. The recipe was first published by Ruth Harrison, of Kerrville, Texas, in 1958.
Of course, I did a little research about the recipe and its author.
Ruth Allen Harrison was married to Tom Harrison. They lived on the corner of West Main and Jackson, diagonally across from the Jimmie Rodgers house. Ruth was active in bridge clubs, while Tom loved to go to the coast with friends to fish. They were members of Saint Peter's Episcopal Church.
Her recipe for "Hershey Bar Cake" appears in the June 26, 1958 issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun. How that recipe (in modified form) ended up in the "American Cake" book, I have no idea.
But I'm glad it did, because Ms. Carolyn made it, and it was delicious!
Here's the old original recipe, as originally published in Kerrville:

Hershey Bar Cake
Cream 1 stick of oleo and 1 stick of butter. Add gradually 2 cups of sugar. Melt six (eight makes a better flavor 5¢ Hershey bars over hot (not boiling) water. Add to mixture.
Add one at a time -- 4 eggs, beating well after each. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt.
Sift 2 ½ cups flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder together. Alternate with 1 cup of buttermilk to which ½ teaspoon of soda has been added. Add 1 cup chopped nuts.
Bake at 320 degrees about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Let set 5 minutes longer after turning off heat. Bake in well-greased tube pan. Put wax paper in bottom and grease.

The recipe has been changed, of course, in Anne Byrne's book. Carolyn did not use oleo, and, sadly, the grocery store no longer sells 5¢ Hershey bars. The modernized recipe was quite tasty, though!

* * *

Detail, 1934 Kerrville Street Number Map
Many of you have noticed something while walking on Kerrville's river trail: the remnants of a bridge over the Guadalupe River, roughly between Schreiner University and the Riverhill Country Club mansion. (It's below the little shelter structure beside the trail, between G Street and the Kerrville-Schreiner Park.)
I was pretty sure I knew what the old bridge once was, but a recent discovery confirmed my hunch.
A kind friend shared a 1934 Kerrville House Number Map with me which shows all of the neighborhoods of Kerrville at that time, along with the house numbers for each lot. This is very useful, especially since house numbers sometimes change.
The rest of the map
That map has a little road and bridge drawn in the lower right hand corner: "Guss Schreiner Private Road." The mapmaker misspelled Gus Schreiner's name, but it shows this road crossing the Guadalupe and heading up toward Gus Schreiner's house, which is now the Riverhill Country Club mansion.
Gus Schreiner's bridge was probably destroyed by the big flood in 1935, a year after the map was drawn.  Not long after that flood the Sidney Baker Street bridge over the Guadalupe was completed, so there was no need to rebuild Mr. Schreiner's bridge.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who likes it when little history mysteries get solved. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times May 4, 2019.
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If you enjoyed this column, you'll enjoy my two books, which are collections of my columns from 1994 to 2018.  Both books are available at Wolfmueller's Books, Herring Printing Company, and online by clicking HERE.

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