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H istory • South Texas

A Publication of the Jim Hogg County Enterprise

Special Edition REMEMBERING HEBBRONVILLE WHEN ...

14 articles 17 photos

By Cynthia G. Gutierrez

VOLUME 1, ISSUE 3

Celebrating

the rich culture and history of South Texas...

FEBRUARY 27, 2013

Jim Hogg County


SOUTH TEXAS HISTORY

STH VOL. 1 NO. 3 PUBLISHER Poncho Hernandez Jr. enterprise78361@aol.com

February 27, 2013

On The Cover ...

PAGE 2

Cynthia G. Gutierrez in a 1965 photo taken in Hebbronville, Texas

SCHOOLHOUSE - 1917 - 1932 - HEBBRONVILLE, TEXAS

If you are interested in receiving South Texas History Magazine contact us at 361-460-9493 or email us at enterprise78361@aol.com. You can also fax your requests to 361-256-2015 or 361-527-4545. To submit articles and/or photographs for publication, please send to: sthistory@aol.com or by mail to The Enterpise, P.O. Box 759, Hebbronville, Texas 78361.

South Texas History Supplement to The Enterprise Wednesday, February 27, 2013 Volume 1, No 3 SUPPLEMENT TO THE JIM HOGG COUNTY ENTERPRISE 304 E. Galbraith, Hebbronville, Texas 78361 Copyright 1998 by the Jim Hogg County Enterprise All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means without the express permission of the publishers. Entered as Second Class Matter at Hebbronville, Texas under May 5, 1926, at the Post Office the Act of March 8, 1979, Second Class Postage Paid at Hebbronville, Jim Hogg County, Texas 78361. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to

Jim Hogg County Enterprise 304 E. Galbraith, P.O. Box 759 Hebbronville, Texas 78361. Poncho Hernandez Jr. Editor/Publisher 361-460-9493 Subscription rates are $35.00 per year. Call (361) 527-3261 for information. Base advertising rate is $6.00 per column inch. Volume and frequency discounts available. Contact us by email at enterprise78361@aol.com Social Media: facebook. com/enterprisenews PHONE: 361-527-3261 FAX: 361-527-4545 PHONE; 361-460-9493 FAX: 361-256-2015

MEMBER

Texas Press Association

About The Author ...

Cynthia G. Gutierrez is a local teacher who retired after 30 years

of service to the children of Hebbronville and Bruni. Cynthia received her B.A. in English and History and her M.S. in Elementary Education and is currently a doctoral candidate at Oral Roberts University. Her love of history came out of many elective courses taken during her undergraduate years at the University of Texas. “I took so many History electives that I ended up with a double major,� she recalls. Now she puts both her love of history and her writing skills together to produce the weekly column Remembering Hebbronville When. Cynthia has been married for 39 years to local prosecutor Rodolfo Gutierrez. Together, they have four children, Ricardo - a chef, Angelina - a historian, Cristina - a manager at HEB and Michelle, a computer graphics designer.

Cynthia G. Gutierrez


SOUTH TEXAS HISTORY Originally published 5-19-12

February 27, 2013

REMEMBERING HEBBRONVILLE WHEN ...

The census was 5,449 By Cynthia Gutierrez South Texas History

W here were you 72 years ago? If you were living in Jim Hogg

County, your name and information should be listed on the census records for 1940. The 1940 census records were released by the U.S. National Archives on April 2, 2012. While the overall aggregation of data from the census was released shortly after the census was completed, federal law and privacy concerns required that release of the actual forms be delayed for 72 years. The individuals in the 1940 census are part of what has been called “the greatest generation,” people who survived the great depression and defended our country in World War II. Jim Hogg County’s population peaked in 1940 at 5449 inhabitants, a 10% increase from 1930. The county also gained another 3000 residents between 1920 and 1930, the largest increase in County history. Most of the new residents were drawn to work in the oilfields, moving from every part of Texas and from as far away as Hollywood, California. While information from previous census records is available, for the first time, researchers are able to search and view the actual digital images of the records online. More

than 3.8 million records, which were scanned from over 4000 rolls of microfilm, may be searched by enumeration districts within each county and state. On the day of release, demand was so great that many people were not able to access the data on the National Archives website. The website received more than 37 million hits within hours of the release, causing the site to crash. The release was also complicated by an online report that a little known law required a further delay in the long-awaited release of these records. This turned out to be nothing more than an April Fool’s day joke. Since the records have not been completely indexed yet, you may have to search through several pages of records to find your ancestors. Jim Hogg County, which was divided into 5 enumeration districts, has more than 140 pages, each page listing information on 40 individuals, including name, age, marital status, place of birth, level of education and employment information. Maps and descriptions of each enumeration district are also available. For example, the Precinct 1 enumeration district is described as being North of the Texas Mexican railway, including the Jim Hogg County Jail, Scotus College for Immigrant Students and St. Mary’s See CENSUS, Page 6

PAGE 3 Originally published 7-18-12

The chamber helped build our town

Y

By Cynthia Gutierrez South Texas History

ou often hear around town people remarking that towns similar to Hebbronville in size, have a Walmart and an HEB and we don’t. It’s interesting to note, however, that Hebbronville has supported various businesses and industries over the years. Instrumental in this endeavor is the local Chamber of Commerce. Basically, a Chamber of Commerce is a network of local businesses that work together to advocate on behalf of the business community, encouraging local residents to think, shop and buy locally whenever possible. In 1958, Hebbronville businessmen voted unanimously to form the first Chamber of Commerce. Its first president was local rancher Jack Fulbright, followed by Julian Gomez, Jr., Otto Remmert and Chester Huff. In 1960, the Chamber of Commerce became interested in opening a Retail Merchants Association. To this end, the Chamber recruited Emmy Morales from the Falfurrias Association and with Emmy as secretary, they opened up the local RMA. Their office was located on Galbraith Street where the View is currently located. Once Emmy made the move to Hebbronville, she put down roots and married Baldemar Benavides. The office boomed with many members and hundreds of files. She and her husband also worked closely with

Quita Mitchell organizing the annual Watermelon Festival. “My favorite parade was the Buccaneer Parade in Corpus Christi when Nanette Huff was the Watermelon Queen in 1960,” she recalls. She ended up buying the business from the Chamber and continued to run it for several more years. She finally sold it so she could raise her family. Unfortunately, the RMA closed several years later. The Chamber of Commerce was also the driving force behind the publication of the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Book in 1963. Known as the “Gold Book”, it a compilation of the history of Hebbronville and Jim Hogg County from 1913 to 1963. These books have become a coveted possession to many Hebbronville natives. Currently, the Chamber of Commerce is headed up by Juan Carlos Guerra and has over 50 members. Along with the Vaquero Festival and the Jim Hogg County Fair Association, the Chamber strives to promote Hebbronville’s events, attractions and businesses. Together with other local organizations, the Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for the county’s 100th anniversary in 2013. If you are interested in joining the Chamber, check out their website at www.visithebbronville.com. Thanks go out to Mrs. Emmy Benavides, who called with information regarding the Retail Merchants Association of Hebbronville.

Want your article published? Simply email your article with your name, address and phone number to sthistory@aol.com. Be sure to include any photos and captions along with the author’s name. All content must be original. Once our editorial staff reviews and approves your submission, we’ll publish in our next edition. Your articles can then be read by interested readers garnering you increased exposure and noted professionalism. And remember, “If you don’t bring it, we can’t print it!” Articles can also be mailed to The Enterprise, P.O. Box 759, Hebbronville, Texas 78361. Please send stamped envelope for returned content.


SOUTH TEXAS HISTORY

February 27, 2013

PAGE 4

Remembering Hebbronville when the sheriff patrolled on horseback By Cynthia Gutierrez South Texas History

T

here was a time when lawmen chased bad guys on horses with nothing more than a side-arm and locked them away in a 4 x 6 foot cell with no air-conditioning. The original jail was located to the north side of the county courthouse. A two-story building, it housed the sheriff downstairs and incarcerated the “desperados” upstairs. It was built in 1914 and was used as a jail facility until 1986, when the sheriff’s department moved to the former First National Bank building on Galbraith Street. For all that it was a small facility, no one ever successfully escaped from the jail, although there were several attempts. It was also conve-

“... no one ever successfully escaped from the jail, although there were several attempts.”

niently located close to the courthouse, making it a short walk from the cell to the courtroom. Family members were known to visit prisoners by standing outside and calling up to them through the barred windows. It was also the site of the first drive-by shooting in Hebbronville in the early 80’s. Apparently, a known drug dealer drove by the jail and shot at the door in order to create a diversion. No one was injured and the driver was quickly apprehended. The downstairs also served

as the living quarters for the sheriff. The first elected Jim Hogg County Sheriff was Oscar Thompson, who was succeeded by Pat Craighead and P.B. Harbison.

The longest serving sheriff was Alonzo Taylor, who was elected to the post in 1928. He served for 22 years until his death in 1950. Former Sheriff Juan Lino Ramirez related his favorite memory of Sheriff Taylor. “ I remember him coming out of the office,” Mr. Ramirez recalls. “He was always dressed in starched khaki pants and a starched white shirt and tie. “He would go across the street to the garage next to the corral where he kept his ’46 Packard.’” It was a well known fact that Sheriff Taylor never wore a gun. His presence was enough. Sheriff Taylor was followed by Rafael De la Garza, the first Hispanic sheriff for the county. De la Garza was succeeded by C. I. (Lile) Trevino, who was in turn followed by Juan Lino

Ramirez and Gilberto Guerra. Gilberto Ybanez was the last Sheriff to serve in the original county jail before relocating to Galbraith Street. In 2011, ground was broken for the new jail. At a cost of about five million dollars, it far exceeds the cost of the first jail, which was built for just under $7,000. Here, current sheriff Erasmo Alarcon will fight crime with the best technology available. But after 98 years, the old building is still useful. Currently, it is being renovated for use as the county museum where you can still see the old cells, graffiti on the walls, and the ominous hook where the hangman’s noose used to hang. Pictured: Sheriff Pell Harbison

Originally published 6-13-12


February 27, 2013

SOUTH TEXAS HISTORY

PAGE 5

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SOUTH TEXAS HISTORY

February 27, 2013

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

CENSUS - From Page 3

I

totally enjoy my subscription to the JHC Enterprise. It keeps me posted on the latest news in Hebbronville in addition to what my sister-in-law Margaret Ellison tells me. Yes Cindy, this is Karen Ellison Gerken, your classmate of 1974! You all are doing a fantastic job of Remembering Hebbronville when.... I do remember some of those days you write about and some were before our times but I can imagine those days knowing what Hebbron was all about "back in the day.” My family will be attending the gala in June. I do want to purchase one of the new books that will published on the last 50 years of Hebbronville's history so I expect to see the info on how to order in the Enterprise. Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of the original "Gold" book of the First 50 years, however, I plan to borrow Margaret's at some point in time and have a copy made and bound. My daughter loves the history of Hebbronville and has many fond memories of her childhood there as she spent time during the summer with my Mom and brother Guy there in Hebbronville. During that time she was down at Ellison Ford and The New York Store a lot too. Cindy, I do not have a Facebook account and had lost the email address I once had for you so I knew I could get a message to you this way and "speak" to the Enterprise crew too! So kuddos to all of you for the job that you are doing and I am looking forward to the Gala in June. We usually get to Hebbron at least twice a year. Hope to see many of you in June and feel free to email me at kgerke Keep up the good work in our dear hometown of Hebbronville - Dear HHS!! Karen Gerken, MLS Elementary Librarian Monday Primary School Kaufman, Texas 75142

PAGE 6

Addressed to Cynthia Gutierrez

Celebrating 100 Years

First National Bank of Hebbronville

The

“A century of Strong and Independent Community Banking” 1913 - 2013

Congratulations on your 100th Anniversary Jim Hogg County

Banner from Thursday, April 11, 1935 Edition of The JHC Enterprise

School. You may have to look through several pages to find your parents or grandparents, but you may find some interesting characters along the way, such as the 34 priests, lay brothers and students studying at Scotus College, or the 6 Catholic nuns who were teaching at St. Mary’s school, including a 25-year old Sister Josefina Mora, later known by her Little Flower School students as Mother Josephine. If you are interested in looking at these records, visit the Archives website at http://1940census.archives.gov You can also access these records through Ancestry.com. If you think this is too much work, you can wait for all these records to be indexed, or better yet, you can join the more than 100,000 volunteers who are actively working on indexing the information contained in these records. The percentage of U.S. records currently indexed is more than 28%, while the number of Texas records indexed is at 18%. With the help of countless volunteers, the index is expected to be completed by the end of 2012. To join the effort to index all 132 million names, visit the Family Search website at https://www.familysearch. org/1940census/ and sign up to help index these, or hundreds of other genealogical records, including birth, baptism and marriage records from Mexico.


SOUTH TEXAS HISTORY Originally published 5-23-12

REMEMBERING HEBBRONVILLE WHEN ...

We went to School

N

By Cynthia Gutierrez South Texas History

o reminiscences of Hebbronville would be complete without a segment devoted to the teachers and coaches who gave so much of themselves. My first teacher in Hebbronville when I moved from New York was Miss Elma Mora. To begin with, I came from a parochial school where all the teachers were nuns. To have Miss Mora as my first lay teacher was quite an experience. She was, as we say in South Texas, “alborotosa.” The word has no real English translation, but there you have it. If she was your teacher as well, you know what I mean. She would call me up to her desk, almost daily, to touch my eyelashes. Again, you had to Miss Elma Mora be there. She was only one of the many fine teachers we encountered throughout our education at H.H.S. I remember Genevieve Gonzalez, my eighth grade English teacher. She was very proper, and insisted we be as well. She instilled in me a love of poetry. We had to memorize a number of poems every six weeks. I can still recall many of them. In high school, Mrs. Maude Rogers was a very big influence on me. She encouraged me during a very difficult time, and remained a lifelong friend and mentor. Mr. Edward Zamora was our band director. Tough, yet kind, he opened doors to a world of music. He would come in first period with some outrageously difficult piece of music and we would all scurry to practice rooms to learn our parts. Under his direction, we were named state honor band at least twice. Graciela Gonzalez taught typing and business. She would begin dictation when the bell rang and heaven help you if you lagged behind. Pedro and Amanda Perez were favorites all around. I was never in sports, but my husband’s favorite coaches were Mr. Leo Sayavedra (now Dr. Sayavedra) and Mr. Eliseo Ramos, his baseball coach, after whom the boys’ baseball field is named. I think the boys would have walked through fire for him. Although I do remember that he had a penchant for confusing people’s names. For four years he called me Gloria. I don’t know why. Several years after I married, though, my husband and I met up with him somewhere. “You remember my wife, Cindy,” Rudy said. And Coach replied, “What happened to Gloria?” How do you respond to that? There were many teachers who touched our lives on a daily basis. Many graduates chose teaching as a profession because of this influence. I know I did.

February 27, 2013

PAGE 7


February 27, 2013

SOUTH TEXAS HISTORY

PAGE 8

Originally published 3-14-12

REMEMBERING HEBBRONVILLE WHEN ...

Going to the movies cost only a quarter By Cynthia Gutierrez South Texas History

D

El Rancho on Main Street

Old Casino Theatre Circa 1925

Ritz Theatre

Texas Theatre

oes anyone remember when going to the movies cost a quarter? Over the years, Hebbronville had at least five movie theaters, including one drive-in. The first movie theater in Hebbronville was the Casino Theater, built in 1925 by Don Patricio Cruz. It was located on Tilley Street, behind what was then El Precio Fijo, the local general store. Tickets sold for five cents and the theater sported a balcony. The building is still standing and is currently being used as a gymnasium. Later, the Texas Theater was built on Galbraith, our old mainstreet, However, in 1950, a fire took the Texas Theater leaving only the façade. County Commissioner Juan Lino Ramirez was 15 at the time, and a volunteer fireman. He recalls standing on the roof of the adjoining building hosing down the flames. On March 18, 1954 a new theater opened its doors. A contest was held to select the name and Mrs. Maria Diana (Trevino) Hinnant, Mr. Ramirez’s grandmother, submitted the winning name; The El Rancho Theater. The Theater opened to a gala celebration including a parade and carnival rides. When I moved here in

1966, El Rancho Theater was run by Mr. and Mrs. Knopp. You could buy a ticket, popcorn and a drink all for about 50 cents. Not only that, but you could stay all day and watch the movie over and over, which was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon, especially during the summer when air conditioning was a luxury not many of us

had. I remember the soda machine in the lobby. For a dime, you could get a drink, only Coca Cola. First the cup would pop out, then the soda would squirt down, filling it to the top. They don’t make those machines anymore. The theater shut its doors in the early 70’s. Clark Rossi shared with us a song that reminisces about the El Rancho and

other Hebbronville landmarks. “Was a place I used to go, the old El Rancho picture show. Back then they called it a matinee. I’d watch my heoroes rope and ride, John Wayne never cried. He’d just get on his horse and ride away.” Sometimes on summer evenings, we would See MOVIES, Page 9


Februaary 27, 2013

SOUTH TEXAS HISTORY

PAGE 9 Originally published 4-11-12

A ‘tiendita’ on every corner By Cynthia Gutierrez South Texas History

A

Cal-Tex Theatre

MOVIES - From Page 8 go out to the drive-in theater to watch old Spanish movies. I remember watching Antonio Aguilar and Flor Silvestre ranchero movies. He always played the hero, swooping in on his white horse to save the damsel in distress. Then he would sing to her and sweep her off her feet. In 1972, Roberto and Romelia Vasquez opened a state of the art theater called the Cal-Tex, which boasted of being an ‘all-electric’ building. Located on Mesquite Street, the Cal-Tex offered both English and Spanish movies. Unfortunately, it closed and Hebbronville has remained without a local theater for over twenty years.

s you drive up and down the streets of Hebbronville, you see these tiny buildings and may wonder what they were, or what they were built for. These are the remnants of the local “tienditas.” Back in the day, there were really no big supermarkets in town, but there were “tienditas” on every corner, literally. Although you could go downtown to get your weekly groceries at Piggly Wiggly, Bozada’s or the Red and White, each neighborhood had its own local “tiendita” within walking distance, where

El Progresso you could purchase grocery basics and snacks. Going down East Lucille street, you can see the remains of two of these

old stores, El Globo and from school to buy penNino’s, not more than a ny candy, nickel sodas, block apart. Kids rou- chips and Topp’s Trading tinely stopped at these stores on the way home See CORNER, Page 13

Remembering Hebbronville when sirens marked our days B

By Cynthia Gutierrez The Enterprise

ack before big red fire trucks and organized fire departments, men were appointed as fire wardens and when a fire was spotted, it was handled by volunteers with a bucket brigade that passed full buckets of water up to the fire and empty ones back to the water source. Following the biggest fire in Hebbronville, which occurred in 1923 and took out an entire block of Galbraith Street, the first Volunteer Fire Department of Hebbronville was organized in 1931 under Fire Chief O.A. Thompson. That same year, the fire siren was installed in the newly built firehouse on East Galbraith. For many years, Hebbronville life was marked by the sound of the siren at noon and for the 10:00 pm curfew, a custom that began during World War II. It was also used to signal the start and end of each business day and to mark the start of community activities. In 1937, then Judge Dannelly decreed that the

water district would not charge for water used for fire fighting. The water department also provided fire mains and fire hydrants to the community. Eventually a Fire District was created to oversee the department and use county tax revenue to purchase and maintain modern equipment and a trained staff. From 1956 until his retirement some five decades later, the fire chief was Zaragoza “Gocha” Ramirez. It was shortly after he became chief that one of Hebbronville’s most devastating fires occurred.

According to newspaper reports, four men were critically injured in an explosion on September 28, 1957. It occurred as mechanics worked on a butane gas truck inside the Hebbronville Motor Company, located on the corner of Galbraith and Oak, where coincidentally, the current fire department is now located. The concussion, which blew out the roof and walls of the structure, was felt all over town. Windows as far as two blocks away were cracked as the garage was engulfed in flames. Falfurrias firemen and ambulances from surrounding cities came to render aid. The injured were taken to the Falfurrias hospital where two men later died. In recent years the biggest challenge facing local fire fighters has been the large number of grass fires caused by the drought. In order to combat these fires the county has issued a burn ban, which includes fireworks, burning trash and brush. Today the fire department is headed up by fire chief Manuel Chavarria, but still relies primarily on volunteers to man the pumps, just like the bucket brigades of old.


February 27, 2013

SOUTH TEXAS HISTORY

PAGE 10

Originally presented 10-17-12

Remembering Hebbronville when the train was our main connection to the country

D

By Cynthia Gutierrez South Texas History

id you pay attention in class when the social studies teacher told us that the railroad helped the westward expansion of our country from the east coast all the way to the Pacific Ocean? Well, not only did it help continental expansion, but it also helped grow many communities along the way. Hebbronville was no exception. In November of 1881, the Texas Mexican Railway was chartered, running the first ‘through’ train from Corpus Christi to Laredo, through Hebbronville, providing the first link from the Gulf Coast to the International Border. Initially, the train stopped at Pena, a dray station, where it reloaded with wood and water. But when the owner, Francisco P. Pena, refused to sell land for the town site, the railroad contracted with James R. Hebbron for a new depot located 1.5 miles to the west. The depot station was actually loaded onto a flatcar and moved. The community of Hebbronville grew up around the depot. The original town site consisted of a 20-block area, which extended from the depot east to the Pena residence and west to what is now Smith Street. Early on, it took over six hours to travel by train from Laredo to Hebbronville and over fourteen hours to get from Laredo to Corpus Christi. In the 30’s it operated a daily passenger train between Laredo and Corpus Christi with connections to Houston, Texas and Monterey, Mexico. Since coal and oil were in short supply, the main source of fuel was mesquite wood, which was used to power the steam engines. In 1939, it became one of the first railways in the United States to convert from steam to diesel power. Over the years, the train line carried mail, passengers and news through South Texas. Eventually, as times

1987 Tex-Mex Railway passenger train changed and the community grew, the line primarily became a freight carrier and the depot was no longer a gathering place. In the mid 80’s however, for a brief time a passenger route was re-established offering the ride from Laredo to Corpus Christi. Recently,

Class of 1964 50th Reunion July 4 weekend of 2014

If interested in attending, please contact the following class members Dalia Montalvo Johnson 361-319-2503

Adriana Zuniga Rivera 956-286-6663

Grace Morante Perez 361-296-4443

Juve Morante 956-286-9440

Israel Hinojosa Israel@fnbhebb.com

there has been talk of a new rail line running from Hebbronville to Mission and into Mexico. Ideally, this could pave the way for a rail bridge, making this area a hub for distributing products nationwide. Perhaps once again the railroad will bring a boost to this community, as it did over 100 years ago.

Did You Know! The Enterprise was not the first newspaper in Jim Hogg County! Surprisingly, an early four-page publication, “The Hebbronville News,” hit the newstands three years earlier in 1923 with a yearly subscription of $1.50. The Enterprise was established in 1926.


SOUTH TEXAS HISTORY

February 27, 2013

PAGE 11

Remembering Hebbronville when every business was family owned By Cynthia Gutierrez South Texas History

T

here are only a few businesses in town that have withstood the test of time and remained family owned and operated. One such business has been Frank’s Café, operated by the Gutierrez family since 1921. Of course, it wasn’t always known as Frank’s Café, and it wasn’t always a restaurant. It started out as a general store named “El Precio Fijo”. Opened by Francisco Gutierrez Sr., it offered dry goods and groceries. The photo featured this week shows Francisco, his wife Santos, their five children, friends and neighbors. The little boy in white shirt and shorts is Francisco, Jr. who turned the general store into a restaurant in 1938 before he entered the army and closed it while he served in France and Belgium in the signal corps during World War II. When he returned to the U.S., he and his new wife Hilda really got their restau-

rant going with the idea that serving good food and lots of it would keep people coming back. What helped a lot was Francisco himself. With a natural gift of making people feel at home Francisco, or Paco as he was well known, built up a pretty good reputation for himself and his café. It was even written up in Texas Monthly as a “must

see” Texas attraction and featured in the Texas Country Reporter television show. Paco took care of the front of the house. He sat with customers as he took their orders, making adjustments along the way. “Don’t forget the onions!” He loved onions on everything. And heaven forbid you ordered a steak well done. He liked his steaks rare. With Hil-

da in the kitchen they had a winning combination. Together they served congressmen and senators, movie stars and sports heroes, astronauts and a Congressional Medal of Honor winner. They fed such notables as Nolan Ryan, Dean Martin and Roy Benavides; and they all got the same service. If you happened to stop in, he called you sister or

sobrino. It made you feel at home. Really, it was that he didn’t remember your name. I was married to his son for 30 years and he always called me ‘daughter’. I don’t know if he actually knew my name. Paco was also famous for his sayings, like “If your dog thinks you’re the best person in the world, don’t ask for a second opinion.”

Originally published 3-21-12

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He liked his dogs, all of them named Smoky or Minnie. He was a true country philosopher. And he liked to dance. Whenever the jukebox was on, he was likely to pluck a lady out of the crowd for a two-step. If you go to Frank’s Café today, much of the charm is the same, but a new face visits the diners. It’s Bob, Paco’s youngest son who stayed at home to run the café. The original building hasn’t changed much in 90 years. A kitchen was added to the back when it became a restaurant, but the rest is much the same. It still has the original ceiling tiles and if you look along the walls, you’ll find the rails that held a rolling ladder used by clerks to fetch merchandise. Gone are the handwritten posters with Paco’s wit and wisdom, replaced by all manner of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia. The jukebox is still there, but occasionally Bob features live bands.

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SOUTH TEXAS HISTORY

February 27, 2013

REMEMBERING HEBBRONVILLE WHEN ...

Electricity first brightened our homes

T

By Cynthia Gutierrez South Texas History

hese days it’s easy to take things for granted. Flip a switch and light goes on, a thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature in our homes, press a key and you are instantly connected to the world. But of course, none of this would be possible without electricity. There are few people who still remember that our main power source used to be kerosene and gas. There was a time when no one in Hebbronville had electrical appliances. My grandmother told me of a time when cooking was done outside. Clothes were washed by hand and pressed with a heavy iron, which was heated over mesquite coals. In the 1920’s, as Hebbronville began to grow, Viggo Kohler granted the land where the town’s first electrical light plant would be constructed. This plant came to be known as The Hebbronville Power and Light Company. It was not until the 1940’s that the struggling company really started to take off and became Central Power and Light. In the late 1950’s, CP&L opened a home office in Hebbronville and needed a crew. A five-man crew was brought in from Rio Grande City to service CP&L installation in Hebbronville, Bruni and Zapata. The crew con-

sisted of Higinio Fuentes, foreman; Asencion Gonzalez, lineman; Herminio Arredondo, apprentice lineman; and Miguel Arredondo and Ernesto Garza, lineman’s helpers and worked under CP&L Manager Otto Remmert. This crew came with family in tow and set their roots in Hebbronville. Of this original crew, only Asencion Gonzalez remains. He recalls bringing home fresh milk and produce from the dairies and farms he visited along his route. He tells the story of the time the Border Patrol called him to change a light in a beacon. It was a really high t o w e r and they offered him $100 dollars to climb up and change the bulb. When he got to the top, he saw that they had given him the wrong one. So he had to come down to get the right one and got paid an extra $100 to take up the correct bulb. When asked about his time as a line foreman, Mr. Gonzalez recalls, “ I wish the bucket had been invented sooner. Then I wouldn’t have had to climb the poles.” Mr. Gonzalez had a

couple of close calls climbing those poles. Once, he recalls, his utility belt snapped and he fell from near the top of the pole. Another time, he received a massive shock that ran an electric current from his hand, through his body and out through his foot. He remembers waking up to Ernesto Garza pounding on his chest and thinking that if the shock didn’t kill him, Ernesto would. Mr. Gonzalez remained on the job at CP&L until the home office closed in 1982. At that time, the local crew was

PAGE 12 Originally published 9-19-2012

offered the opportunity to move to the Laredo office but Mr. Gonzalez chose to retire after 30 years with the company. At age 91, Mr. Gonzalez still recalls his time with CP&L fondly. Most Hebbronville residents can proudly claim an all electric home. So the next time you flip a switch or press a key, or when you can keep cool through these brutally hot summers, take a minute to remember the people who made this possible. PHOTO: Ernesto Garza, Asencion Gonzalez and Herminio Arredondo.

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CORNER -

Back when Football was king

From Page 9

Cards. There were even smaller stores scattered throughout the neighborhood. These were not very big and did not have a very large stock of supplies. Rumor has it that one store owner refused to sell his last can or corn to a customer, because it WAS THE LAST ONE, and he wouldn’t have any more to sell. Other neighborhoods boasted of The Cash and Carry, Chavez Fruit Stand and El Progreso; each central to its part of town. All of them are gone now. The Piggly Wiggly building was torn down in 2010 to make room for a car lot and Bozada’s has become the new home of Alamo Lumber Yard. Of the newer ones, Bryan’s, formerly Doerfler’s, and Hillcrest are still thriving. The best part about these local stores was that they were all family owned and operated. The owners knew their customers by name, and people stopped by just to talk and catch up on the neighborhood gossip. Now the biggest grocery store in town is part of a chain, but people still pause in their shopping to talk to old friends and catch up on the local news. Small town habits die hard.

PAGE 13

“... A goldmine of pictures and information from an era that seemed innocent and carefree.” 1929 HHS Varsity Football Team

F

By Cynthia Gutierrez South Texas History

ormer students returning for Homecoming witnessed a tough loss to longtime rival Freer, capping a disappointing football season. But like all Homecomings, they were able to enjoy catching up with old classmates and teachers and reminiscing about their days at HHS. Remarkably, 1942 graduate Howard Herschap was the oldest former student, returning for his 70th Homecoming. Among the pictures posted at the high school last week was a photo of the 1942 graduating class, which included a really young Mr. Herschap, former County Judge Horacio Ramirez, Elma Gutierrez, Isaura Martinez, Herminia Ramirez, Maria Chapa and my mother-in-law, Hilda Ramos and her sister Blanca. While working with the Historical Commission trying to find old photographs for the 100th Anniversary commemorative

book, I was able to borrow 4 HHS annuals for the years 1953-56. What I found was a goldmine of pictures and information from an era that seemed so innocent and carefree. I enjoyed finding friends, relatives and former teachers among the many young faces. I found my Aunt Gloria teaching her 2nd Grade Class and former teachers of mine like Mr. Nava, Miss Mora, O. O. Gonzalez, Arnoldo Martinez, and Pedro and Amanda Perez at the start of their teaching careers. Among the students were future teacher and County Judge Romeo Vasquez, future District Clerk Lila Pena and future Sheriff Gilbert Ybanez. I also discovered what many local sports fans consider the “Glory Days” of Longhorn football. From 1952 thru 1956, Longhorn teams compiled a record of 486-3, including an amazing 27-1 in District play. Coached by Milton Hild, and led by players like quarterback Rodemiro Gonzalez, who went on to play at T.C.U, and all-District players like Hector Ramirez,

Santos Canales, Douglas Ward and All State Honorable Mention Rene Medellin, the Horns won 3 straight bi-district titles and 1 regional crown, advancing to the State quarterfinals in 1955. The regional champions were captained by Polo Guerra, Gilbert Ybanez and AllState 1st-teamer Rene Ramirez, who also went on to a standout career at the University of Texas. Twenty years later, the 1975 team, led by David O. Ramirez, returned to the quarterfinals after an undefeated regular season, and gave a new generation of students a reason to cheer. While the team’s fortunes may be low this year, those of us old enough to remember the good old days know that it’s just a matter of time before the next generation will be cheering their Longhorns to victory, continuing this long legacy of success and enjoying their own glory days. Originally published 11/07/12


Februaary 27, 2013

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PAGE 14

Jim Hogg County Sheriff Pell Harbison Pell Harbison and wife Helen at the steps of the Jim Hogg County Courthouse in an early 20th century photo donated by the Harbison family.

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PAGE 15

Originally published 8-29-12

Remembering Hebbronville when we started a new school year By Cynthia Gutierrez South Texas History

H

aving taught for about 30 years, I have the unique perspective of seeing the first day of school from both the kids’ and teachers’ point of view. Of course for the teachers, this day was preceded by a week of inservice training and preparation days. Especially on the elementary school campus, teachers have spent days decorating and getting ready for the first day with students. It is important to have a cheerful and welcoming room for the kids to come to. It makes the first day really memorable for children just starting school. Think about it. What was your first day like? For many of us, it was a time when we got to wear our new school clothes and new sneakers. For me, coming out of a Catholic school, it was the first time I got to wear regular clothes to school. After wearing a plaid jumper for four years, it felt so strange to wear a dress.

1922 Second, Third Grade Class Of course, it was a dress because back then girls were not allowed to wear jeans or slacks to school. And the dress code only indicated how long, or short, a dress should be. “No skirt shorter than

seven inches above the knee will be permitted.” I remember that so well because I did not have seven inches above my knee. The curse of being short. Boys were limited as to how long they

could wear their hair. No hairstyle could touch the collar. New clothes are always fun, but there’s also something about new school supplies with fresh pencils, reams of paper and new folders.

It gives a sense of new beginnings; new subjects, new friends, new teachers. That’s what a new school year is about, isn’t it, starting all over again with a clean slate. Students should look for-

ward to the new school year as a new beginning with the opportunity to set new goals, make new friends and move one step closer to graduation. In fact, that’s not a bad idea for teachers as well.

Originally published 6-20-12

Remembering Hebbronville when little league was a favorite pastime I

By Cynjthia Gutierrez South Texas History

t’s that time of year when kids oil up their gloves and hit the baseball diamond, while parents brave 100+ degree heat to cheer them on. Though Hebbronville has always been a “football” com-

munity, Little League has long been a favorite for Hebbronville’s baseball fans of all ages. Little League has always been a way for parents to get involved with their kids. At one point my husband and I were both coaching and had all four of our kids on three different teams. I even learned the infield fly rule, but I still threw like a girl. Home

life was non-existent and we ate pizza every night for the six-week season. Like many parents, we set aside a normal family life in order to support our kids’ athletic aspirations. In the days before instant replay, I watched my See LEAGUE, Page 16


SOUTH TEXAS HISTORY

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LEAGUE - From Page 15 daughter pull off a triple play. T-ball was always fun, with parents cheering all the players, regardless of what team they were on. The first Little League was started in Hebbronville in 1961. There were only four teams at that time: First National Bank, American Legion, Lunz Pharmacy and Lion’s Club. Some of the first managers were Orlando Ramirez, Gocha Ramirez, and Jose Gonzalez. There were no try-outs; the boys showed up at the park, divided into teams and played. The first All-Star team was named in 1963, almost fifty years ago. That team consisted of Roy Cantu, Juan Perez, Hector Ramirez, Marcelo Hinojosa Jr., Perry Vaughn, Rudy Gutierrez, Primitivo Gonzalez Jr., Rumaldo Vasquez, Pablo Munoz Jr., Felix Gutierrez, Henry Yzaguirre Jr., Mario Guerrero, Juan Alvaro Soliz, and Benny Morales. The team was managed by Jose Gonzalez. Many of these boys went on to become coaches themselves. In 1969, the Little League park was officially named the Otto Remmert Field, after the president of the Chamber of Commerce at that time. This was the time before girls were allowed to play. But once girls started to play, they played with a vengeance. The 1982 girls All-Star Softball team, coached by Oscar Salinas and Arnoldo Garza, actually advanced all the way to the state finals. That team included Melinda Salinas, Linda Puig, Wanda Gonzalez, Zeena Rossi, Nora Trevino, Nellie Kay, Norma Canales, Velma Garza, Roxanne Hernandez, Olga Jimenez, Norma Salazar, Sara Garza, Zelma Molina, Sara Cadena, Laura Soliz and Cecilia Pena. Now the League includes t-ball, coach pitch, boys’ teams, girls’ softball teams and Pony League, involving boys and girls from ages 5 to 15. This participation in team sports has carried over to Jr. High and High School athletics and has been the foundation for many successful teams over the years. Another year of All-Stars playoffs begin this week, but none of it would be possible without the parents who coach, manage, and serve on the board, but especially the parents who sit in the 100+ degree heat to cheer for their kids.

Centennial Celebration 1913-2013 Remembering when everyone listened to the radio By Cynthia Gutierrez The Enterprise I remember old time radios. They were called consoles and took up a whole wall in the living room. They had enormous speakers and about 100 buttons, but only two actually worked. Everyone my age or older remembers sitting around the radio in the evening and listening to favorites: The Shadow, Amos and Andy, The Howdy Doody Show. The longest running of the current soap operas, The Guiding Light, actually started on radio in 1937 and ran in 15-minute segments. When I got older, the big deal was to get a transistor radio. Yes, kids, your parents also walked around connected to a small device that played music. Except our music came from a radio station and the music was at the discretion of the disc jockey. DJs played records, those big flat round black discs that had music recorded on them. They introduced us to the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys In the early 60’s, “outlaw” radio stations sprang up along the U.S./Mexico border. These

stations were manned by all manner of outrageous characters, like “Wolfman Jack”, playing an eclectic variety of music and pitching everything; weight loss pills, weight gain pills, dog food and record packages. Late night preachers alternated with rock n roll music. These stations were so powerful they could be heard in Australia on a clear night. The most famous of these, XERB, was memorialized in a song by ZZ Top called “Heard It On the X.” Every “rocker’s” favorite station was KTSA out of San An-

tonio. Ricky Ware, the top DJ of the time, spun the golden hits of the era. It was during the birth of rock n roll when we cranked up the living room radio and learned all the popular dances of the time. Does anyone remember the frug? How about the mashed potato? Certainly you remember the twist? These dances were the ‘Macarena’ of the day. While my friends and I were doing the Watusi, my kicker friends were listening to the country station out of Corpus Christi. When we had our high school sock hops, it was a mish-mash of rock and country, the swim and the Cotton Eyed Joe; we danced to them all. In the late 70’s, eight track and cassette tapes replaced radio and vinyl records. Later, even these were replaced by cd’s. Now, most music is digital and is downloaded directly to MP3 players. You can pre-set your playlist and listen only to the music you like with no surprises or commercial interruptions. But I still miss listening to the patter of the old DJs and hearing Wolfman’s howl just before he played a great new tune from Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids.

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