New Kerr County History Book Available!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Gray skies are going to clear up

Community gathered together: dedication of the 
Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, Kerrville, 1967.
 To hear Joe read a portion of this column and see a slide show, click here.
Click on any image below to enlarge.
Over the past week, as continual news updates about the COVID-19 pandemic flooded into my brain, I got nostalgic for something I generally avoid: crowds.
Community Picnic,
Louise Hays Park, 1960s.
We won’t see crowds here for some time. Gathering together is being discouraged not only by our government, but also in the glances of folks met in the aisles of grocery stores, along sidewalks, in our neighborhoods. I understand the science behind this “social distancing” – an attempt to slow the transmission of the virus, in hopes the number of new cases doesn’t overwhelm our health care system – but in the days ahead, standing strong together means shutting ourselves away in isolation. Being apart seems the opposite of being united.
Kerrville Chalk Festival, 2015
The steady announcements of emergencies from our city, state, and nation are like a flood warning, where heavy rains have fallen on the Divide above Hunt and Mountain Home. We’ve been warned: we can see the dark clouds in the distance, even though it’s not raining in town, yet.
Nimitz Day in Kerrville, 1945
The difference is this flood warning came weeks and weeks ago. We know the flood is coming, but we don’t know how high the water might be, or who among us might be stuck on a low-water crossing at the wrong time.
Kerrville Urban Trail System
dinner, November 2018
This week, for solace, I turned to my collection of historic Kerrville and Kerr County photographs, asking to see “crowds.” It helped to see our community gathered together in days past, because it reminded me we will gather together again in days to come.
One thing our town loves is a good parade, and taking photographs of that parade. I have almost 100 photos of the big 1956 Kerr County centennial parade, a bright event in the history of our community.
Saengerfest, 1896, Kerrville
The earliest downtown Kerrville parade for which I have photographs happened in 1896, when three groups of singers slowly marched toward the intersection of Water and Earl Garrett streets, in a regional event called a Saengerfest. Only a few of the buildings in the photographs are still here.
Louise Hays Park
dedication, 1950
I’m lucky enough to have in my collection photographs of downtown pep rallies held by Tivy students – many different rallies from many different decades. They show young people, marching in the band, or part of the Golden Girls, Antlerettes, cheerleaders and twirlers, gathered together at that same intersection of Earl Garrett and Water Streets. I was a part of this during my time at Tivy, as were thousands before and after me. Sometimes history is like a circle that follows itself around the days of the year, repeating events with new faces each year.
Pep Rally, downtown Kerrville
When World War II ended, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz visited Kerrville, the town where he was raised and went through public school. Huge crowds came out to greet him, some remembering him as a boy whose nickname was “Cotton,” because of his light-colored hair.
Then there are photographs of community events, like the dedication of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library in 1967 – that was a big day in Kerrville’s story. Hundreds of folks showed up for the celebration, even though it was a blisteringly hot day. Lady Bird Johnson, who was First Lady then, spoke at the dedication, and a big reception was held inside after the speeches. I noticed a common element in the faces of those in the photographs – they are so excited, so happy to be part of the event.
Fish Rodeo, Kerrville, 1970s
Other community events are represented by photographs in my collection. I have several of the dedication of Louise Hays Park. I have a few photographs of a charming dinner held under the night sky among the plants of the Plant Haus II, a fundraising dinner for the Kerrville Urban Trail System. I have photographs of sports events, of fishing rodeos, of school classes, of graduations.
Looking through these helped me. I know our community has faced hardships and pandemics in the past. We will again in the future.
After the current crisis, there will come a day when we can join together again, to be in community together again, and when we do, I want someone there to take a lot of photographs.
Until next week, all the best.

Filled with photos.
Click here to learn more.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects historic photographs of the Texas Hill Country. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times March 21, 2020.

Two Kerr County history books available, filled with historic photographs of Kerr County.  Both books are available at Wolfmueller's BooksHerring Printing Company, and online by clicking HERE.

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