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Sunday, July 4, 2021

July 4, 1936: A busy day in Kerr County, eighty-five years ago

Advertisement, Kerrville Times, July 2, 1936.
Don't judge: typos happen.
Click on any image to enlarge.

For many years Kerr County celebrated July Fourth with a big parade and a rodeo. The rodeo, which was sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce (the Jaycees), was first mentioned in Kerrville newspapers in 1936, and continued for several decades. 
The Charles Schreiner Bridge, Kerrville
That first Jaycees-sponsored rodeo was part of an event-filled weekend. July 4th fell on a Saturday in 1936, and Kerr County had plenty to celebrate. Not only was it Independence Day, but in 1936, Texas was celebrating its centennial.
Here are the events the Jaycees planned for Kerr County residents on July 4, 1936:
At ten that morning, the big parade stepped off from the corner of Clay and Jefferson, today the home of Pint & Plow Brewery, and headed to Water, turned left on Water, continued to Washington, took another left, and then turned left again on Main, making a spiral, ending at Main and Sidney Baker streets. I have no idea how they dispersed the parade floats and all of the rodeo folks on horseback from that point. I was pleased to read the parade chairman’s name: Graydon Mayfield. I have fond memories of him.
U. S. Post Office, Kerrville
Then at 11 o’clock, the Charles Schreiner Bridge was dedicated by the then-speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Coke Stevenson. Stevenson would later serve as governor of Texas. Don’t be confused by the name of the bridge; though you might not recognize the name, we’ve all used it many times, though it’s now much wider than in 1936. It’s the high-water bridge by which Sidney Baker Street connects downtown Kerrville with points south of the river, passing over parts of Louise Hays Park. On the far end of the bridge an old, broken plaque still reminds pedestrians the bridge was dedicated to the memory of Schreiner. He had given more than $100,000 to build local roads and highways during his lifetime. Other speakers at the event were Harry Hines, chairman of the State Highway Commission, and former county judge Lee Wallace. Newspapers noted a unique feature of the bridge, sodium-vapor lights. “Sodium vapor lights, the newest in illumination, are to be used on the Golden Gate bridge at San Francisco. These lamps produce a yellow glow, totally without glare….” The lights brightened the pedestrian walkway, which was bolted to the side of the bridge.
Kerrville State Park, late 1930s
At noon, the entire community was invited to a barbecue at the Kerrville State Park (now Kerrville-Schreiner Municipal Park)
Then, that same afternoon, starting at 1 pm, at the State Park, W. H. Crider, from nearby Hunt, produced a July Fourth rodeo, with goat roping, calf roping, wild cow milking, riding contest and a ‘county contest.’ Johnny Reagan, the “English Cowboy,” would perform a trick-roping act. Prizes would be awarded at 6:15 pm that evening.
At 8 pm, in downtown Kerrville, Congressman Charles L. Smith was the principal speaker at the dedication of the brand-new United States Post Office, at the corner of Earl Garrett and Main streets. Today that building is the home of the excellent Kerr Arts and Cultural Center.
Blue Bonnet Hotel, Kerrville
I’d understand if you thought the Jaycees had outdone themselves with the lineup of events that day. However, there was still one additional event to attend.
“Following the dedication ceremonies Saturday, there will be a street dance in front of the building, part of the entertainment planned by the Junior Chamber of Commerce for Kerrville’s Fourth of July Centennial event.”
Well, there was actually more. The street dance began at 9 pm. Yet another dance, held at the Riverside Terrace of the Blue Bonnet Hotel, began at 9:30 pm. The Blue Bonnet Hotel, all eight stories of it, once stood at the intersection of Water and Earl Garrett streets, opposite Water from today’s Francisco’s Restaurant.
The weather that day was not cooperative: it rained, and the barbecue and rodeo had to be canceled. The following year the rodeo was held at the Tivy football field, which in those days was near Tivy and 3rd streets.
I have a feeling the Jaycees were a very tired bunch by the late evening of July 4, 1936.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who has fond memories of the Texas Cowboy Reunion, a rodeo held every July 4th, at his mother’s hometown, Stamford, Texas. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 3, 2021.

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