By Harry Austin Clapp
When the late congress finished its business, kicked the cat and dog into the street, locked the door and threw the key away, it left behind a president with the privilege of distributing among the states for the purpose of rehabilitation a sum of money said to be in the neighborhood of three billion dollars. This appears to be a stupendous sum and it is in the aggregate but in the last analysis it is only twenty-four dollars per capita. Of this large sum about twenty-five millions will be given to Texas highway commission for its use. To most of us this represents a quite comfortable fortune and yet it is only about five dollars per capita which is quite an insignificant sum. This money according to the bill is to be used for widening narrow pavements like for instance our "nine foot sidewalk," eliminating railroad grade crossings, building bridges and viaducts (like the one to be built between Palacios and Collegeport), building new pavements parallel to branch railroad lines which have been abandoned under authority given by the Interstate Commerce Commission. (The Collegeport-Buckeye branch.)
When the Hug-the-Coast Highway Association met at Freeport late October, it adopted as the route a highway from 58 at Palacios across the bay to Collegeport and then to Matagorda, Gulf, Freeport and Galveston. In November, a large delegation went to Austin and appearing before the state highway commission, asked for designation. The commission delayed this action and ordered a preliminary survey and estimate of costs. If this has been done I know it not. Until recently the matter has been buried in a condition of innocuous desuetude. Lately the breath of life appears to have been breathed into the project and I am informed that the prospects for early action are very bright. This is most heartening news to us who live at the end of the road so cheer up brothers and such sisters as are interested. Now is the time to go before the highway commission, show them plainly that the situation that confronts about sixteen hundred folk and urge quick action. All we need is "Just One Penny Mister." Just one penny from each dollar in that twenty-five million. It is a small sum, but this penny will be ample to make connection with 58 at Palacios, across the bay and connect up with our beloved "nine foot sidewalk" and put us on a through route. There is no time or place for bitterness, passion or hate. With these our community life will surely stagnate. We must have civic consciousness, co-operation, co-ordination, cohesion, if we intend to blaze the way to better conditions and a finer life. While we may enjoy a certain sentimentality, we must realize that to put this much wanted facility through we must look at it as a serious business deal. It was no accident that located Collegeport on the east side of the bay, in close proximity to that sister city by the sea. The man who stuck the stake visioned the present situation and the spirit of progress which we must develop as the underlying factor in fruition of our hopes. In our grandfathers' time people were taught that isolation was a much desired situation, but changing conditions leaves us in a position where we cannot be satisfied to live longer at the end of the road, denied the pleasure and profit that comes from through traffic. We cannot afford to waste much time on sentimentality. If we do, the sheriff will get us sooner or later. To succeed in our ambitions, to have an uninterrupted flow of traffic between this place and Palacios points south and north, we must be up and on our toes employing every human agency within our grasp. If we do not go forward now, we must go backward, for there is no such thing as standing still. These are significant facts which we should realize. In the past we have missed many opportunities of gold, by sitting idly by and thinking that all will come to those who wait. Shall we continue to live in the clouds of theory and starve, or being practical and grasping the opportunity which an indulgent government has placed before us for our use and wax fat?
Things appear to be breaking in a favorable way, so that in the near future, we, meaning I and the miserable wretch, may walk to service at St. John's Chapel. And so I say again to the state highway commission "Please Mister Just a Penny."
When Mrs. Frank King was in Austin a few days ago she called on the state superintendent of education for some information about the status of an independent school district and he referred her to Mr. A. A. Bulock, chief supervisor of rural schools and to him she propounded the following questions:
Question: If a common school district changes to an independent district and the common school district has a bonus coming to it, will the independent district receive the bonus?
Question: Will said independent district receive the same rural aid that the common school district would have received?
Question: Does the officer appointed by the trustees to assess and collect axes necessarily have to increase or is the fixing of the tax rate left in the hands of the trustees?
Answer: "In the hands of trustees."
Question: If the district becomes independent, does it have any effect on any other district in the county?
Question: Could another district join with said independent?
Question: Will you kind enough to tell me how to change from a common
school district to an independent district through the county judge?
I am giving this out so that our people may have some information about this proposition of changing our district from a common school to an independent.
Under our constitution, the people at all times have an inherent right by vote or by voice to make changes in their form of government. Doing this is never what is called a revolution, but the right to revolution is at all times the right of the people. This right has been tested out in our courts many times and each time the right of the people to make changes has been upheld. That sacred document, the national constitution has been changed many times and at this writing is being changed again. Under these decisions when the majority of the people in a common school district decide that they desire to exist under the rules and government of an independent district, they only exercise their inherent right, when they ask the county court to arrange for them to vote on the question. I am not at this time ready to state that in my opinion this is a wise move. I shall have to study the question before I decide how I shall cast my two votes. But I am firm in the belief that the people themselves have a right to vote on the question and to that end I shall give my support. Whether it is amendments, prohibition, local option, consolidation of school district or what not, the people only exercise their inherent right when they demand the privilege of voting. Let us therefore have no more smoke screen, less unreliable statement. Vote instead of fight and stand by the results. I feel sure that we all desire the finest school that it is possible to have. If an independent district will give it, let us have it at once that the coming year may enable our school to make greater progress.
From Moline, Ill., comes this "I read the Bay City Tribune and of course the first thing I did was to hunt for your column, Mr. Clapp and read it. The celebration must have been fun. And so Collegeport is 25 years old! I wonder what changes will be made in the next 25 years? I hope some of the many dreams you people have for the growth of your city materialize."
For the benefit of the out of the county readers who are interested in oil development, I will state that the derrick being erected stands one hundred thirty-two feet from the ground to top and is built to handle a string of tools eight thousand feet long. The first drilling will be a twenty-two inch hole which will prove that a great pool exists close to Collegeport.
The library let out fifteen books on Friday and will close during the month of August for the purpose of and a general house cleaning.
Mr. E. L. Hall, who is now running from Houston to Kingsville on numbers making new arrangements for filing eleven and twelve motored down on Sunday to see his old friends in his home town. This visit simply put the bloom on the week ending July 2 for we had not seen him since he gave up the Portsmouth limited. He reports that business is picking up rapidly on the Brownsville railroad. For fifteen years he has been a daily visitor at Homecroft and we miss his cheery smile and pleasant ways. A good friend, time tried and fire tested. We have no better.
The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, July 6, 1933
By Harry Austin Clapp
[Local information taken from longer article about bonds and loaning money.]
The other day I called at one of our local stores and asked the proprietor to lend me fifty dollars. With a surprised look he said, "Why should I lend you fifty dollars?" Astonished at his lack of business sagacity, I replied: "I wish to borrow fifty dollars so that I may buy groceries from your store." He almost fainted, but I told him that is the way our federal government sells goods. It lends Russia five million U. S. dollars, so that Russia may buy our cotton and it lets China have fifty million dollars to enable it to buy our wheat. Looks to me as though what is a good business deal for Uncle Sam is also a good deal for my local grocer. I am sorry to state that Carl Boeker, Vern Batchelder, Mary Ellen and Hugo Kundinger are a bunch of nit wits when they turn down such a splendid chance to sell their goods. Their refusal made me provoked and I'll not repeat the offer.
Saw one of our town girls the other day wearing pajamas, the legs of which were so wide that she took three steps before her body moved.
The soul of Gerald Wells is filled with disgust, dislike abhorrence. He tells me that this is the deadest burg he ever saw and that there never is anything doing. He hones for excitement. I suggested attending the various club affairs, community meets and as he wore a cowboy hat, I advised that he procure a pair of spurs and attend the rodeo at Palacios and bulldog a wild steer or ride a bucking bronc. None of these exciting things appeared to satisfy his craving. I then suggested the library for he met his best girl at the library. At, not in. If all these exciting and satisfying things have no appeal, why not a trip down the bay and hook onto a three hundred pound jew fish or a one hundred pound tarpoon or go out to Frank King's and tackle a twelve foot alligator, a wild hog or a lobo, failing in these, why not take a trip on our train from Collegeport to Buckeye. If this program fails to interest, then the only thing is back to Beardstown, Ill., where something is doing all the time.
The starting of the oil well southeast of town has brought about thirty people here who require houses. In two weeks, another derrick will be set up and this will double the present crew and additional quarters must be provided. Non-resident house owners should arrange for the occupancy of their houses by these thrifty folk who are able and willing to pay a fair price for service.
There is also presented the opportunity for lot owners to build small but comfortable houses as they will rent easily. The oil development will no doubt keep the present force here for one year and the probability is that a big field is to be opened southeast of Collegeport. The men and their families who are here now, are a splendid class and our people are anxious that they shall be provided with comfortable living quarters. Some of the rent houses now occupied by non-payers should be vacated and repaired for the use of these paying tenants. The wise property owner will act on this suggestion.
Mrs. Carl Boeker, secretary for the local canning club, reports that this community has this season put up the equal of four thousand one quart cans of meats, vegetables, fruits, lard, soap and other products. She states that this is more than has been put up by any club in Matagorda County. This reflects credit to Mrs. Leola Cox Sides, our county demonstration agent, for she started the work and has taught our people how to process their products.
During the gulf storm which struck the Mexican coast this week, we experienced a stiff breeze from the southeast which turned to northeast in the afternoon. A tide of about three feet covered bay shore roads. The local barometer, which usually stands at 29.98 feet dropped to 29.96. During the Freeport storm last year it dropped to 29.56. The rain was needed and with present ground season, it appears that our crop will go ahead and make.
The Woman's Union met with Mrs. Richard Corporon this week with an attendance of twenty-two which was good for a hot day. Percy Corporon brought me a big watermelon, a cantaloupe and two yellow pumpkins. (I mean punkins.) The punkins were globular, spherical and plump and in this respect resembled Percy, but did not weigh quite as much. Well, "here's to you, Percy, when we serve punkin pie." These hot days appear to take the tuck or something like that out of a feller.
"I'm jes tired of thinkin'
My heart seems to be a sinkin'
I don't want to work a-tall.
Jes lay on my back an' listenin'
Lookin' at the clouds an' whistlin'
That ain't no work a-tall.
I want to sleep by the slough
Listen to the tide rush through
I jes don't wont to work a-tall.
Jes a shirt, pants, one suspender
In the river on a swimmin' bender
That won't be work a-tall.
Others may worry and hustle
And with life's problems tussle
I'm not friendly with work a-tall.
If I could have my wish
I'd catch a great big fish
Without workin' a-tall.
I want to see and kiss my gal
My wonderful sweetheart pal
Kissin' ain't not work a-tall.
--Fragments From Hack.
The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, July 13, 1933
By Harry Austin Clapp
[Local information taken from longer article about the Century of Progress International Exposition which was the 1933 World's Fair celebrating Chicago's Centennial.]
I am informed that a petition is being circulated asking the county court to call an election to enable the people to vote on the question of local option for Matagorda County. This is very right and proper, for if three-point-two is to be sold, it should be handled in a legitimate manner. When this wholesome, non intoxicating in fact beverage is legal in this county, it should decrease home brewing business and I for one trust that our officers will raid every house in which it is made. Everyone knows that a bottle of home brew can be made at a cost of one and a half cents and for that reason the new legal beverage must be sold at a fair price, else home brewing will continue.
I am informed that the drillers at the oil well southeast of town are now down about two thousand feet and have had no trouble from any cause. It is a fine piece of work so far and today everything is real jake, just like beer and skittles or something like that.
The Woman's Club met Thursday with a fair attendance. The program was "Good Citizenship: with Mrs. Anna D. Crane as leader. It appeared to dissolve into a debate on the prohibition question and that no one could be a good citizen if they were in favor of repeal. One member, bolder than the others, testified that she enjoyed a cold bottle of beer. This of course horrified some of those present. In my opinion, a person may enjoy a glass of three-point-two and still be a first class citizen in spite of arguments to the contrary.
At the quest of Miss Beryl Bell, the sum of seven dollars was voted for the purpose of takin ght reeserves to Portsmouth for the weekend. Twelve members will go down to the city of Mayor O'Neal Friday afternoon and stay until Sunday evening. Miss Rosalie Nelson sponsored or suggested this week-end for said she, "If we cannot send a representative to the camp near Housotn, it would be fine to use our available cash to send the entire membership for a 'week-end outing.'" It was an unselfish gesture from a girl who might have been chosen for the Houston trip. I hope they have some of them Famous carrie Nelson Noodles.
Homecroft ws made merry, gladsome, frolicsome, hilarious, Wednesday by a very welcome visit from teh George Harrisons. We had a very happy afternoon closed with a trip down the bay shore towards Portsmouth.
Last week this column reported that the local canning club put up four thousand one-quart cans, but I find that this was up to June 1. At the picnic held Friday in the park just west of the Colorado River, the local reported stated that the Collegeport Canning Club had to date put up 500 [5000?] quart cans of al products. In as much as the reports showed that the entire county had canned about 28,000 quart cans, the work of the local club is quite comfortable, outstanding, splendid, magnificent or something like that.
About twelve from this place attended the picnic and report an enjoyable time. They were very much delighted with the talk given by Roy Miller, director of public relations of the Texas Gulf Sulphur Company. About one hundred and fifty wer present and report a happy day. The picnic was organized and directed by Mrs. Leola Cox Sides, county home demonstration agent.
Saturday night, MRs. Burton D. Hurd arranged for a dance, jig saw evening, for the delight of the young folk. The attendance was light, although admission was the nominal sum of two bits. The atmosphere was too beautiful, the hostess too graceful and generous to attract our dance lovers. They'd rather dance on rough two-inch planks. They crave liberty; they get it. Plenty of delicious chicken sandwiches were served, drinks of lemonade, coca-cola, soda pop and coffee were served and those who attended report a most delightful evening. Had this geture been approved by our young folk, it is possible that each Saturday night other similar affairs would have been arranged.
Our community is busy with petitions for this and that. A petition for a special election for an independent school district. One for a local option election. Now one calling on the county court to raise the valuation of the Gulf Sulphur Company. We have a total valuation of about twenty-five millions of which the sulphur company provide sixteen millions. Thus they pay more than half the taxes of the county and they pay while many of those who sign the petition are delinquent, many own no property and never pay a tax, others do not even have the right to vote because they are too indifferent to pay the poll tax. Yet they beg the county court to increase this valuation. In 1932, the sulphur company paid on the dot, more than three hundred and sixty thousand dollars. If others would pay in the same ratio, and as promptly, county finances would be on silk plush.
The sulphur company has always been very generous. Its pocketbook has been opened more than frequently in aid of schools, churches, 4-H Clubs, farm demonstration work, public enterprises of every kind. Of course, it is able to do these things, but how many corporations are willing? Not many. The sulphur company should pay its just proportion of taxes, but not a penny more. Valuing several millions of tons under ground at eight dollars is not just. Sulphur, like gold, silver, copper, underground has only an intangible value. No man knows when minerals pinch out. Mineral gains value when as and if, it is on the surface and visible and tangible. Then it attains real value. I was engaged in mining for many years and I know from bitter experience how uncertain, unreal, unsubstantial, are mineral bodies underground. In my opinion, instead of each year hectoring the sulphur company, we should give it encouragement. Because the men back of the organization, had brains, nerve experience, they have made something from nothing. They have added to the wealth of the county. For centuries the vast deposits of this mineral lay undisturbed. Countless men rode over it. Many realized that under the ground slept wealth, but none had the nerve to undertake the work of exploration. These men had and ever since they have been exploring, developing, producing, they have been hounded by certain elements, who too selfish to invest their money in such an enterprise, are willing to snap at its heel and obtrude and interfere with progress. I admire big business and men with vision, provided they are willing to be a part of the community, pay their portion of expenses. The sulphur company has shown its willingness many times. It would be a sad thing for our county finances if at one swoop some great disturbance of nature, should wipe from the face of this county the sulphur company and all of its values. I had no chance to sign the petition for those passing it around knew what I thought and where I stand.
The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, July 20, 1933
By Harry Austin Clapp
[Local information taken from longer article in which Mr. Clapp traces the newspaper process from the tree grown in the Canadian woods to the printing press. The following section begins with a listing of advertisers.]
The banks publish statement; the Franklin tells about "The Key Hole," A. H. Wadsworth offers insurance, Anderson-Rugeley sells cars, J. C. Penney clears every thing out for new stocks. Reach for a Lucky, six for sixty cents at Parks, dresses for seventy-nine cents at Hurley's, Sanitary Dairy has healthy milk, Scott Drug Co. advises us to go "Crazy,” get a Helmecke if you are a fishin' and the classified column. Ever read it? Full of pathos, humor and romance. Child's pet missing, ten cents reward, five furnished rooms for refined couple without children or dogs, refined discreet young lady wishes employment as executive assistant, lady of culture and refinement wishes position as housekeeper for lonely man, no objection to children. Lots of fun reading the "ads."
The voice announces birth, life, sorrow, joy, death. Of all the articles manufactured by man, I think of nothing so human. Human because through it speaks the voice of God. From the time He spoke through the bubbling brook, the flowers, the song birds, the trees the voice was silent, but now in the printed sheet God comes to His own.
Plowing his cotton field last week, W. H. Gussie turned up a beautiful Indian arrowhead. It is about three inches long and a fine specimen. From the beauty of its lines, one feels sure it is the handiwork of a master craftsman. What a story it could tell.
Sunday, Clarence Vaughan brought us a watermelon that must have weighed close to forty pounds. This rind, bright red flesh and as sweet as an angel's breast. It did not last long for the miserable wretch is one watermelon hound.
Opponents of the proposition to organize an independent school district are circulating the propaganda that valuations will be raised and this will increase taxes. Good argument if true, but I find this in Section 141 (2793) of the Texas school laws: "When a majority of the board of trustees of an independent district prefer to have the taxes of their district assessed and collected by the county tax assessor and collector, or collected only by the county tax collector, same shall be assessed and collected by said county officers and turned over to the treasurer of the independent school district for which such taxes have been collected. The property of such districts having their taxes assessed and collected by the county assessor and collector shall not be assessed for county and state purposes." This appears to do away with bugaboo number one.
A thread from a strainer cloth hanging on the back gallery to dry, blown by the wind fastened to a gallery support forming a triangle. A spider seeing this took advantage of the situation and using the thread as a base soon filled the triangular space with a dainty lace handkerchief. The world moves fast.
Read this from Popular Science Monthly, April, 1929: "Sh--They're Filming "Talkies."
Tuesday the miserable wretch complained that one of the molars in lower jaw ached so she took advantage of the presence of Mrs. Patricia Martyn, county health nurse, and went to Bay City where Dr. Sholars after a long examination gave the figures furnished The Facts by Ray-tooth treatment and thinks he can save it. Invited to take lunch with Mrs. Pollard, she found a regular parple. The luncheon was prepared and served by Miss Katherine Pollard and when the MW told me about that mashed potato and gravy and delicate baby lima beans cooked with bits of bacon, oh, boy I went out on the back gallery and bit myself. Had I accepted the invitation to go along on the trip, I would have been at this elegant luncheon. Katherine Pollard can not only raise fair funds, but she can also raise bisquits. I don't intend to lose out next trip.
Thursday we had the delight of entertaining at luncheon. Mrs. Patricia Martyn, county health nurse, and Dr. M. T. Roland, sanitary engineer for the Texas health department, Dr. Roland will spend a few weeks in our county in the interest of three school projects, viz: sanitary drinking founts, sanitary toilets and sanitary facilities for washing hands and faces. Very happy _____ and ready for a repeat.
Monday the 24th, marks the 39th time, we, meaning I and the miserable wretch, have celebrated our wedding anniversary. You men who have served a similar sentence will agree with me that thirty-nine years is one h-o-a-l-t to look into one face. She has, but I confess that on several occasions my gaze has wandered over the fence, but always by devious, wandering, meandering eyes have returned to look once more into the only eyes. We have had much from life. It has been good to us and to day I can truthfully say that the flower I picked so long ago, is in full bloom and its perfume fills my heart with delight. Married life is a grand game if you pick the right one.
"When I see a flower
Blooming on the hour,
I think of her.
When I see the star light
Piercing the dark of night
I think of her.
When I see the rosy morn
And the sun as yet unborn
I think of her.
When I see a bird that sings
Sweet notes that thrill and rings
I think of her."
--Fragments From Hack.
The Girl Reserves with their leader Miss Beryl Bell gave a dance, bridge and domino party Tuesday night. The affair was given in the rice warehouse and was well attended and reports are that the girls had an enjoyable time.
Clarence Vaughan brought another of those forty pound watermelons the other day and I said "I sure would enjoy putting one on Doctor Van Wormer's table." Come again Clarence for ye scribe dotes on watermelons.
The King's Daughters met Thursday at the home of Mrs. Roy Nelson. I was not invited. I don't see what is the matter with the daughters. For the sake of publicity they should invite the press. I don't even know if they served the Famous Carrie Nelson Noodles. I was told they had a good attendance and plenty to eat.
The hike of the Girl Reserves to the beach at Portsmouth last Saturday appears to have been a secret expedition, for little information has been released for the press. I did learn that when the leader waded into the bay, the tide rose three feet; that Frances wore a bath tog cut V in front and C behind; that Elizabeth wading in the tide returned yelling for help because a crab bit her doggie; that Rosalie being more refined, cultured and retiring, took a book of poems and a bunch of those Famous Carrie Nelson Noodles and sought seclusion in the shade of a cactus tree, but only for a moment and now stands while she eats. This is about all I know except they were afraid of snakes and staid awake all night.
This week I will attend the short course at the Texas A & M College. "Thoughts" have been received such world wide acclaim that they just could not have a finished program unless I was present and unburdened myself of a string of "Thoughts." Pretty wise, that fellow who made the program. Shows he knows and appreciates excellent stuff.
The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, July 27, 1933
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