Friday, February 26, 2016

Looking at La Grange

One of the first times I was in La Grange was on a Sunday in the 1980s as we drove back for somewhere
Colorado River
in south Texas, probably the beach. We were hungry and wanted a place for lunch. At the time restaurants were few thus the choices were limited. We finally found a place with ‘home style’ cooking that had a vacant table and was willing to serve travelers. As we began our meal, a middle-aged lady in a ‘going to church’ dress entered the room to applause from the patrons. She sidled up to the organ and began the live music that was to accompany lunch. The compositions had a religious flavor and were performed with great zeal if not substantial accuracy. Once back in the car, we tuned the radio to a local station to be greeted by the live performance from the restaurant, accompanied by the tinkle and crash of tables being cleared of dishes. This truly was small town Texas culture at its finest.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Rockin’ to Rockport

Aransas Bay
It’s been a warm winter in Texas, but we needed a couple of days out of town so we headed for one of our favorite places on the coast, Rockport. This little city is on Live Oak Peninsula between Copano and Aransas bays. It got its name from the rock ledge beneath its shore and has spent most of its history as a commercial seaport. Founded just after the Civil War and incorporated as a city in 1871, it originally supported beef packing plants, but with the withdrawing of rail service to move these products, companies failed leaving only the fishing industry to support the population. However, boatbuilding, fishing and tourism, once rail service returned to the area, developed as important industries in Rockport. In the late 1800s, residents began investigations into the feasibility of a deep-water harbor that required a channel through the sand bar at Aransas Pass. This plan didn’t come to fruition until 1922 with the harbor finally completed in 1926. Rockport, the seat of Aransas County finally completed the courthouse, designed by James Riely Gordon, in 1889. Downtown Rockport still has some of the buildings from the early days; most of these house art galleries and shops. The owners are friendly and helpful, even if you don’t buy anything. Since we’d come down for the Rockport Clay Expo and Bountiful Bowl Pottery Fair, we also spent some time wandering the shops looking for treasures. The pottery fair benefits the local Meals on Wheels Program and happily Cindy the Potter as one of the exhibitors. Not only do I like her work, but it’s good to be able to support the Meals on Wheels Program.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Doing Lunch in Denton

Morrison's Corn Kits Plant
It’s always great fun to have an adult ‘play day’, so one morning early I took off for a friend’s house near Denton, Texas. We were planning to do some beading, giggling, and dog wrangling, as well as taking a break from all of this hard work to have lunch. Denton is an interesting town, the seat of Denton County and home to two major universities. This town, like many others, was part of the land grant given to William S. Peters and named Peters Colony; later Hiram Cisco, William Woodruff, and William Loving donated 100 acres as the actual site for the town. However, both the town and the county were named for John B. Denton, a preacher and lawyer killed by the Kichai people in the Battle of Village Creek. In 1857, Otis G. Welch, county surveyor Charles C. Lacy, and Joseph A. Carroll laid out the city and named the first streets, but Denton was not incorporated until 1866.This area of the state was agricultural and became a center for flour and cottonseed oil mills, along with cottage industries when the Texas and Pacific Railway and Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway established stops here in 1881. Since these connections only went north-south, the town did not develop as a manufacturing and wholesale center. This first rail connection brought an influx of people to the area and set the stage for the creation of North Texas Normal College (University of North Texas) in 1890, and the Girls Industrial College (Texas Woman's University) in 1901. As the universities grew, so did their impact on Denton's economy and culture.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ankling It to Aubrey

Railroad at Aubrey
Onega came into being in 1867 when Lemuel Noah Edwards, a Civil War veteran, built his house. The town grew as he gave each of his ten children lots on which to build their homes when they married. Although dancing was not allowed, the family and others who had come to the community gathered in the Edwards home to sing and to listen to organ music. By 1881 the Texas and Pacific Railway built a station house, completed the tracks, and began operations. Evidently townsfolks didn’t care for the name ‘Onega’, so alternate names were placed in a hat and the name ‘Aubrey was drawn. Very shortly, a post office, one-room school and churches were established along with several businesses.