Friday, June 24, 2011
The Rockdale Reporter, June 24, 1948. Ford Showing Here Friday and Saturday Draws Record Crowd. More than 3500 attended the Gaither Motor Company showing of the new 1949 Ford here last Friday and Saturday as they saw and rode in the new model. . . . The local firm joined the 6500 Ford dealers throughout the country to play host to the public for the first time since before the war.
The local show was in typical carnival fashion. Pennants and banners decorated the showroom, balloons and favors were given away, and the Salty Swing Band played for the Saturday afternoon showing. . . .
"I have been a Ford dealer for thirty-seven years and I can truly say that the public acceptance of this all new Ford is the biggest thing I have ever seen happen in the Ford Business," Mr. Gaither, one of Texas' oldest dealers, concluded.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Eighty years ago today . . . on the 17th day of June . . . in the year 1931 . . . a baby girl is born in Rockdale, Texas . . . the proud parents are Harry Hughes Whipp and his wife, the former Mary Catherine Hill (born in Rockdale in 1898) . . . other members of the family living in Rockdale at the time include an older sister, Nancy Catherine . . . as well as the maternal grandma, Catherine M. Hill nee Walden . . . this baby girl is given the name Mary Sue . . . her maternal grandparents were in Rockdale before 1900, which is when her Grandpa Hill is enumerated as a book seller . . . in 1910, he is listed as the owner of a book store in Rockdale . . . by 1934, when Mary Sue's little brother, Harry, is born, the family is living in Harris County, Texas . . .
Mary Sue Whipp would grow up to become the 3rd and final wife of Lafayette Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology . . . it has been said of the Hubbards that . . .
They were indeed an unlikely couple – a flamboyant, fast-talking extrovert entrepreneur in his forties and a quiet, intense young woman twenty years his junior from a small town in Texas. But anyone who underestimated Mary Sue made a big mistake. Although she was not yet twenty-four years old, she exercised considerable power within the Scientology movement and people around Hubbard quickly learned to be wary of her. Fiercely loyal to her husband, brusque and autocratic, she could be a dangerous enemy. . . .
Monday, June 13, 2011
The Athenian, Friday, June 13, 1884. Monday last Mr. J. A. Jones and his bride were welcomed to their home in Athens. They were married in Rockdale May 28th, but the torrents of rain which had fallen had caused several washouts along the line delaying the happy couple until June 9th.
Friday, June 10, 2011
The Rockdale Reporter, June 10, 1999. Word from the wife by Peggy Cooke. Roberta Pounders was at the office looking through some 50-year-old issues of The Reporter to get some information and ideas for the 50th reunion of the Class of 1949 and this weekend's Homecoming celebration. I had to look over her shoulder — I love looking at the old newspapers — and I was fascinated, not so much by the news items, but by the advertising.
For instance, Stricker's Variety Store sold everything from soup and something to cook it in, to clothing, linens, "things electric" (that's what it said in the ad), hardware items, and on and on. Today's big superstores have nothing on Stricker's. Their slogan was, "Yes, you'll find it at Stricker's!" A few items from their quarter page advertisement were --
- electric irons
- alarm clocks
- soldering irons
- electric switches and plates
- fluorescent lamps
- Romex (what's that?)
- wash cloths and bath towels
- can cutters
- rotary egg beaters
- dishes of various kinds
- oil cloth
- coffee pots and dripolators
- double boilers
- tea kettles
- dish pans
- brooms and mops
- window shades
- men's khaki pants
- undershirts and shorts
- socks and gloves
- men's and boy's T-shirts
- dress shirts
- ladies (get this) "new" brassieres
- panties and gowns
- slips and nylon hose
- cabinet hinges
- drawer pulls
- Bibb washers
- shoe soles and nails
- wrecking bars
- hack saws
- glass cutters
- dozens of tools
McLeod & Timmerman Grocery & Market had specials on --
- sugar — 10 pounds for 88¢
- Oxyod, Duz or Super Suds — large size 37¢
- dry salt bacon — pound for 45¢
- pickles — 22 ounce jar 33¢
- Texas oranges — 8 pound bag 25¢
- bread — large loaf 18¢
- sardines — 2 flat cans 25¢
In one lead story, there was an urgent call for rooms in town as the La-Tex Pipe Line Co. of Houston would have 125 working men in Rockdale the next week looking for a place to stay. Rockdale was to be headquarters for the entire job from Hearne to San Marcos if living facilities could be found. The story said office space was secured "over the bank" and storage for trucks and tools in "the rear of Salisbury's Garage." They were asking for anyone with a spare room — or even a bed for one, two or more men to call the office.
The Kay Theatre advertised Courage of Lassie and a Saturday double feature with Fit for a King and Hittin' the Trails with Joe E. Brown and Tex Ritter with a Hop Harrigan serial and a cartoon at no extra charge. On Sunday, Centennial Summer with Linda Darnell, Cornell Wilde and Jeanie Crane.
Perry Hardware & Furniture advertised . . .
- flour sifters for only 25¢
- five-strand brooms 85¢ each
- white cups and saucers, set of 6, for 95¢
Louis G. Gest Buick Sales & Service advertised the new Buick for 1949 with white sidewall tires available at no extra cost. New Dynaflow Drive -- where there is no gear shifting -- you just step on the gas! And Gaither Motor Co. offered bargains in used cars from $395 to $850.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Rockdale Reporter, Thursday, June 13, 1974. Record Crowd Attends Homecoming. Rockdale's Homecoming at Fair Park Sunday (June 9, 1974) drew an estimated crowd of 400, the largest since the Homecoming Association was organized in 1933. With Rockdale celebrating its Centennial year this week, the Homecoming had particular appeal to former residents, and local residents turned out in large numbers to greet the "Homecomers."
They came from all parts of Texas and from California, Kentucky, New York, and Louisiana. The guest register showed Houston listed more than any other city. Mrs. Hazel Largent Benjamin, of Torrance, Calif., was awarded a Centennial souvenir for the visitor coming the greatest distance -- 1661 miles. Similar awards went to the oldest man and oldest woman present -- both from Rockdale. They were Jack Richards, 89, and Mrs. Lillie Martin, 92.
The event saw visitors start arriving at Fair Park at mid-morning. Following some two hours of visiting and talking over old times, a barbecue chicken lunch was served in Fair Park pavilion by the women of the New Salem Home Demonstration Club. Helmer Dahl, of Hutto, organist, provided background music.
W.H. Cooke emceed a short program that included the presentation of awards and election of officers for the Homecoming Association. "We held the program to a minimum to give visitors and local citizens a maximum time for visiting and talking over old times," he said. Glenn Hodges told the visitors about Rockdale's new $2.5 million hospital now under construction.
In the election of officers, Cooke was named president, succeeding Hugh Estell, this year's president, who was moved to the office of vice president being vacated by Cooke. Mrs. Cooke was named corresponding secretary, replacing Mrs. Hugh Estell who has been serving in this capacity. She was unable to attend this year's Homecoming, having had surgery at Richard's Hospital the previous Friday. Mrs. Louise Sessions was reelected recording secretary and Miss Emma Hardie was reelected to the treasurer's post.
The meeting disbanded shortly before 2 p.m., but the "visiting and yarn spilling" continued for another hour for many. Others participated in various events of the Rockdale Centennial program during the remainder of the afternoon. The museum and art show were open downtown, and many visitors joined the tour of Alcoa's Rockdale Works, "the nation's largest aluminum smelter." Many stayed for the community-wide church services at the football field at 6 p.m. The old homes tour also drew many former residents.
Retiring president Estell said the Association finished the Homecoming year "in the black" for the first time. He reported $386 in the collection box for those attending. "After paying all bills," Estell said, "the Association has a balance of approximately $75 on hand." The Association's income comes from membership dues which are $5 a year. Estell and incoming president Cooke said membership cards will be mailed to out-of-town residents who request membership, although this is not a requisite for attending the annual Homecoming.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Rockdale Reporter. In June of 1996, Bill Cooke published the following list of rememberings as originally shared by Wiley Gilmore while addressing his RHS Class of 1951 reunion on the 8th and 9th of that month . . . Bill said that . . . Wiley's words will rekindle memories for the natives of our town and will serve as a history lesson for the non-natives . . .
You're an old Rockdalian if you remember . . .
- taking piano lessons from Mrs. Sledge, Mrs. Perry or Miss Catchings
- buying a block of ice from Mack Davlin's little ice house across the street from the post office
- when the Rockdale economy was influenced more by the weather than by a corporate decision in Pittsburgh
- when the town's Aggies ate a side order of crow along with their turkey after Thanksgiving (this menu has included more beef in recent years)
- your choices for swimming were a stock tank, the Gabriel or the pool in Cameron
- the Plunkett Stage Show which came to town for a few days every summer
- when Rockdale had three movies theaters -- two indoors, one out
- when the Rockdale football team made the front page of The Reporter just for scoring, much less winning (that was, of course, before the Tigers of '50 & '51, who were strong)
- when the fastest-traveling (good) news in town was that Ashby's Confectionery had gotten a shipment of Hershey bars
- the only real barbecue was cooked by Mr. Lee Caywood
- George Sessions Perry -- two bonus points if you knew the real names of the Rockdale people George wrote about in his novels
- the unique ammunition Stricker's Variety Store advertised once -- & only once -- in The Reporter (editor's hint -- the item involved the word 'shotgun')
- barber Arch Holley giving you your first barbershop shave free (applied only to boys, of course)
- Maxie's Sweet Shop, Stein's Bakery & Red Smith's Place -- also Weems, McVoy's, Backhaus Bros., M&T, and Holley's Red & White groceries
- riding a school bus driven by Mr. Beard, Mrs. Kirchenwitz, Mrs. Lynch, Mr. Alford or Mr. Gross -- in my case it was Mr. Dewitt Kornegay's bus, with the ever-present threat of a roadside breakdown or getting whipped by Toughy Hunt
- when the girls who were the best dancers went to the Baptist church & the girls who were the best piano players went to the Church of Christ
- when people uttered the words Republican & communist with the same tone of disgust
- playing racially integrated baseball on the playground of the old Minerva school long before Jackie Robinson set foot on Ebbetts Field for the Brooklyn Dodgers
- special teachers, including but not limited to Mizz Dee McCoy, who loved you like a grandmother before moving you out of fifth grade & into the hostile world of junior-high -- Mr. Arthur Winkelman who dispensed a lot of citizenship skills & compassion along with occasional whacks with his board Excalibur -- & Loween Malachek reading Damon Runyon's short story about Dancing Dan every year the last day before Christmas break -- I owe her many debts I can never repay
- special childhood friends -- mine was Frank Poncho Thompson who later made the supreme sacrifice for his country in Korea -- Poncho & I rode the school bus together, did crazy things like give each other models of German & Japanese airplanes for birthdays & Christmas -- he & I competed fiercely for everything -- once, in the third or fourth grade, we had a 'rasslin match for the favors of Nan Jones -- she spurned us both, grew up & married an engineer & served many years on the Austin school board
- the start of World War II -- I was seven years old when America got involved -- we attended a little Methodist church in Minerva & one of the young men of the congregation went off to war -- he asked the members, as a commitment of support, to sing God Be With You Till We Meet Again at the close of each Sunday service until he returned -- Charles Hickman Trotter & his brother, Billy, both returned from the war safely
And as we go separate ways from this reunion today, it may be appropriate to remember the words of that hymn & to ask that . . .
until we meet again . . .
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
The Rockdale Reporter, June 7, 2001. Singer's Grill by Bill Cooke. . . . Back in the late 1940s, Tommy Thompson and Vera Prestridge Thompson Miller’s downtown Singer’s Grill featured a country / western band every morning. The 30-minute session was broadcast live over KTAE radio in Taylor. . . . Veteran musicians Bill Dowdy and Jimmy Hester of Lexington played rhythm guitar and sang in that Singer’s Grill band. Dowdy remembers most of the others who played too, including the late, and legendary, Perk Williams of Chriesman. Williams later was the fiddler / vocalist with Jimmy Heap and the Melody Masters of Taylor, a band that also broadcast live over KTAE for a half hour each weekday at noon, and became Central Texas’ top dance band.
The Singers Grill band was called "Tommy Thompson and the Boys" and it played from about 1948 through 1950. "Tommy wasn’t a musician," Dowdy notes, "but he ‘fronted’ the band with his cigar." Dowdy remembers most of the musicians who came and went. In addition to Williams the list includes Jay Bird Thomas, drums; Hub Sutter, clarinet; Bill Dessens, fiddle (now with the River Road Boys of Houston, a premier western swing band); Smoky Wilson, lead guitarist; Wally Bryant, bass; and Cotton Collins, fiddle. "Most of ‘em, but not all, have passed on," said Dowdy, who is 79 going on 39, still playing several times a week.
Singer’s Grill was so named by its first owner, Charlie Moore who loved to sing and did so at the drop of a hat. He even organized and led a short-lived Rockdale community chorus. Vera and Tommy bought the cafe from Moore and moved here from Franklin in 1947. Vera ran the restaurant and a dress shop next door for many years. Both businesses burned in 1973 and Vera moved to other locations. NBC Bank now  occupies the space where Singer’s Grill and Vera’s Heaven to Seventeen were.
Monday, June 6, 2011
The Rockdale Reporter. June 6, 1974. The Day the James Boys Rode into Rockdale. It was back in the year 1880 that Frank and Jesse James and three members of their gang paid a visit to Rockdale . . . . but very few people knew about their visit or who they were. The following letter from Ruth (Williams) Wildman (1905-1993), a former Rockdalian now  living at 5133 Lindsay in Houston, tells an interesting story about the visit of the James gang.
My father, Edward Williams, came to Rockdale as a very young boy. Having been born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, he crossed the Mississippi River on a ferry with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Shark Williams. The family settled on a farm near Schulenberg, but later looked for greener pastures. They bought a farm near Rockdale, and there my father grew up and lived his entire life, except for one brief business adventure. Yes, a business adventure. He came into town when he was 21 years old, the year was 1880. He opened a wagon yard, and the story he told was:
On a cold winter's evening, five men rode into his wagon yard and asked what he would charge to feed and keep their horses. He gave them his price, and they replied, "Sell us a barrel of corn, and we will feed our own horses." This he did, but he locked their saddles and bridles up for the night. Each saddle had a Winchester buckled to it.
The men told my father they were going to the telegraph office to send a wire. They left and did not return until late the next afternoon. They paid my father, but asked him if he would go buy them a loaf of bread. When he returned with the bread, they were saddled and ready to ride.
One of the horses began to act-up, and one man said, "Here, trade horses with me," so they traded. As they rode out of the gate, my father remarked to the one who was on the pitching horse, "I'd sure like to own that horse." The man replied, "Yes, and a lot of others." Then the man pulled his coat back and showed my father a big side gun, and said, "They don't allow this in this town, but I'd like to see them help it." Then they rode away unnoticed, as they had ridden in.
In the meantime, there was another businessman there, under the name of Bell. He ran a livery stable. About six months to a year later, Mr. Bell decided to leave town, but before he left he said the five men who rode in that day were Frank and Jesse James, and three of their gang. They had spent the night and the following day with him. He said they spent the night talking of old times, and they rested all day. They were his friends. He was a former member of the gang, and his name was not Bell.
My father said later, "I always knew they were the James Boys." He said, "It was Frank who traded horses with Jesse, and it was Frank who showed me the side gun."
One more thing, the wagon yard was located where Phillips and Luckey Funeral Home is now .
Note from the Keeper of this blog . . . back in 1974, Rockdale was celebrating its 100th birthday . . . and this was one of the local history articles that ran in the Rockdale Reporter . . . which is now celebrating the 100th anniversary of being owned and operated by the Cooke family of Rockdale . . . there seem to be quite a few stories about the James Gang among the families of the Rockdale area . . . our Henry line came to Texas from Kentucky . . . a story that has been passed down in our family says that members of the James Gang stopped for a visit at the Henry homestead in Milam County . . .
Dallas Morning News. Rockdale Woman has an Old Paper. Copy of Galveston News of June 6, 1888, has Much of Interest Now.
Special to The News. Rockdale, Texas. -- An interesting relic of the early days of Rockdale is a copy of the Galveston Daily News of June 6, 1888, the paper having been carefully preserved by Mrs. B.B. Baxter, widow of the late B.B. Baxter, well-known cotton factor of Rockdale in its earlier days. Mrs. Baxter lived here for the last forty-seven years, having reared a large family of sons and daughters, including B.B. Baxter of Fort Worth, E.F. and Dr. T.D. Baxter of Chilton, Charles L. Baxter of Chicago and Mmes. W.M. Wells of Morgan, Texas, and W.D. DeGrassi of Amarillo.
Doubtless the paper owes its long life, for a newspaper, to the fact that it contains a column write-up of the most disastrous fire which destroyed the Mundine Hotel, a three-story brick structure, causing the loss of life which led the reporter to say, "It almost surpasses human conception as to a building with such numerous avenues of egress that of thirteen people only two should have escaped. The only rational theory advanced is that the fire originasted about the staircase in the first story, and a comparatively small space being to the top of the house operated as a flue, filling the house with a volume of smoke so dense that the inmates were only awakened to suffer almost instant suffocation."
Then, as now, The News ran a column called "State Press," under which caption were numerous comments and quotations from various State journals, some of which have long gone the way of all flesh. Among those quoted are the Rockdale Messenger . . . Dallas Morning News. February 20, 1922.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
The Rockdale Reporter. 1925. Old Paper Gives Account of Epochal Event in History of Rockdale. 37 Years Ago Mundine Hotel Burned in Rockdale. Through the kindness of Y.A. Gjedde the Reporter editor has been privileged to peruse a copy of the old Rockdale Messenger, published by Enoch Breeding, of date June 7, 1888, in which is printed an account of the burning of the Mundine Hotel in Rockdale. The fire occurred at 4:00 a.m. on Monday, June 4, 1888, and eleven people lost their lives in the flames, as follows:
Of the thirteen people sleeping in the hotel that night only two escaped, one being D.M. Oldham, a traveling man, who got out through an upstairs window, and Dr. Brooks, who was rescued by D. Sanford. The account of the fire is written in a somewhat flamboyant style, and the writer was evidently much agitated, the story being rather incoherent. It is not made plain just who Dr. Brooks was. His rescue and the account of the death of Mrs. Brooks and children are treated in separate paragraphs and no connection established between them.
- Isaac Crown, Rockdale business man
- Pemberton Pierce, a traveling man
- J.F. Brisco, wife and two children. Brisco was a barber and with his family was to have moved to Taylor the next day.
- Mrs. W.A. Brooks and four children. Mrs. Brooks is described in the story as being "a lady who had been a kind mother to all of us for lo, these many years, until we had all learned to love her."
The style of the writer is entirely different from present-day newspaper style. The story gives little details of property loss, merely stating that the post office and store of T.B. Kemp were destroyed, and that an adjoining building owned by J.R. Rowland was damaged by the falling walls of the hotel. V.B. Orr, a jeweler, is mentioned as having sustained a heavy loss. The story closes with the following paragraph:
"If we have not told all this terrible story, let the conditions and circumstances under which we write suffice. There was only one of those who perished, but was an intimate and a friend of ours. The pen fails to transcribe the words we would write."Other items contained in this copy of the Messenger, printed 37 years ago, included:
A perusal of the advertisements showed that:
- an account of the marriage of Mr. C.A. Duffy to Miss Dedie Wilson. Mr. Duffy was described as the representative of the Missouri Glass Works, and Miss Wilson as one of Rockdale's most esteemed young ladies
- the death of a child of N.P. Crump
- the birth of boy babies in the homes of Luther Davis and T.J. Woody
- the removal of the post office to the Messenger building, "around the corner"
- the return from Wooten Wells of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Isaacs [findagrave]
- the visit of R.H. Hicks and G.B. Randle to Galveston
- the receipt by the editor of a 29-inch turnip and six Irish potatoes weighing near four pounds
Another display ad on the front page announced the democratic ticket of Cleveland and Thurman, giving woodcut engravings of each. Among the professional cards were those of:
- bottle beer was for sale at the Rockdale Saloon at 5¢ a glass
- Hawkes' spectacles could be purchased at Douthit's drug store
- board and lodging could be had at J.H. Simmons, six miles south of town, at the rate of $10 per month or $3 per week by those who desired to stop there and drink the mineral water from the well on that place
- Wallace & Company handled lumber
- John G. Brown sold all kinds of good whiskey
- Isaacs & Lockett were dealers in general merchandise
- J.P. Heywood sold millinery and fancy goods
- T.B. Kemp dealt in dry goods and groceries
- Geo. W. Williams sold farm implements
- Wolf & Winterberg were house and sign painters
Advertising rates were quoted at one dollar per single column inch. (Present-day advertisers take notice.) T.B. Kemp's produce quotations were as follows:
- Dr. E.W. Allen, dentist
- Dr. J.H. Wilson, physician
- Thos. A. Pope, physician
- Henderson, Henderson & Mcalla, attorneys
- A.G. Wilcox, attorney
- A.C. Walker, G.A. Trott, B.F. Lee, P.A. Horton and J.B. Stone, physicians
No less than nine separate and distinct lodge directories were given. The paper consisted of four pages of six columns each, and much of the inside space was devoted to politics, including a two-column interview with Harry Tracy on the subject of the Farmers Alliance.
- Butter 12½¢ per pound
- eggs 7¢ per dozen
- chickens, each 10¢ to 16¢
- turkeys, per dozen, $3 to $7
- hides, 3¢ to 5¢ per pound
- corn 60¢ per bushel
- sweet potatoes 40¢ per bushel
- pecans 5¢ pound
- J.H. Hill was mayor
- J.R. Arthur, city marshal
- Solon Joynes, R.H. Ames, J.G. Brown and Joe Lowenstein were aldermen
- H.C. Travers was postmaster
- Rev. J.H. Stribling pastor of Baptist church
- Rev. N.F. Law, pastor Methodist church
- Rev. T.C. Brittle, pastor Episcopal church
- Rev. W.E. Copeland, pastor Cumberland Presbyterian church
The brittle and yellowed original of the above 1925 newspaper clipping belongs to Iola Avrett nee Christian of Rockdale.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Rockdale Reporter. May 19th, 2011. Rockdale Homecoming ahead on June 12th. Rockdale’s 77th annual homecoming is set for Sunday, June 12, at the Patterson Civic Center. Judith (Lumpkins) Slusher, Rockdale Homecoming Association president, said activities begin at 9:30 a.m. with exhibits and visiting. A catered lunch will be served at 12:30 p.m. Price is $10 and there will be no pre-sale of tickets. Honors class will be the 50-year RHS Class of 1961. There will be displays of memorabilia both days at the I&GN Depot Museum, and the Kay Theatre will also be open.
The second annual Big Blue Band Reunion is scheduled for Saturday, June 11, for the Patterson Civic Center, according to Jim Perry, former director. Perry and former directors Bill Grusendorf and Don Thoede plan to attend. The first reunion, held last August, drew a crowd estimated at 450. “The reunion gets under way at 1 p.m. and continues until ‘whenever’,” Perry said. Perry said donations will be accepted to cover the $425 cost of renting the venue. A concession stand will be open, staffed by the Matinee Musical Club.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Google Books. Texas State Journal of Medicine. Dr. I.P. Sessions, of Rockdale, was injured during the early part of June , during a trip in his automobile. When crossing the Nueces river they got into water over the engine and extinguished the spark. Dr. Sessions got out into the water to crank the engine when the lever slipped, struck him in the side, and fractured a rib. The party was compelled to remain in the river until late that night. [Click HERE to visit his findagrave memorial page.]