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Collegeport Articles

July 1935


By Harry Austin Clapp


Have you ever listened to the music of the corn? If not, you have missed something grand. The best time is when the sun is just fading from view. When dusk is coming with its restful light. When the shades of night are being pulled down. Go out in the corn and listen. You will hear a regular rhythm. At first a deep bass. Then as the wind tosses the tassels, you will hear notes from the upper register. The silks rubbing against the stalks give other sweet notes. And then as the wind rises, a crescendo of harmony greets the ear with melody that surpasses anything from human mechanism.


You are listening to God's wonderful organ. Take a stroll beneath the waving tassels. There are no threats in the gentle air. The tall graceful stalks form a veritable wall that shuts one off from the far visions. He looks, instead, far down the cathedral aisle to the far away end and there, one sees the sanctuary with the gleaming cross and the flickering candle flames and then comes a vision of God on His throne looking down with a smiling face, as He sees with approving eyes life unfolding in the growing corn. At the end it is like the rolling up a shade on a window. A fairy land laid out by a genius. Foliage from the ground up and there corn flowers stream. At times one can see rank upon rank of soldiers standing with lances aslant, pennants flying in the breeze. There they stand as if waiting for orders from the Great Commander to march on and one may hear the soldier band playing "Onward Christian Soldiers, marching as if to war with the cross of Jesus going on before."


Yes, my friends, the cross of Jesus may always be seen in the corn field if you gaze with eyes turned to illusion. On moonlight nights one listens to symphony orchestras. At times the breeze slackens and then muted music. Then as the wind increases a crescendo of harmonious notes greets the ear and always a rhythmical, harmonious sweet sounding air that delights the ear. Browning once wrote "you get simple beauty, and naught else. You get about the best thing God invents."


If any of you readers doubt all this, just take a stroll as evening falls. Take a walk with listening ears. You may see and hear this cul-de-sac of beauty at first hand in any field of growing corn. Stand there, you will be alone with God, you will learn lessons of tolerance. You will be taught how to suffer and bear the burdens of life. As you look down the cathedral aisle and see the face of God in its shining beauty, the very stillness of the night, the muted music of the corn speaks to you and you have the feeling that God has reached down His hand and grasping yours has led you a little way to the things worthwhile in life. You will go back to your home with a sweeter, cleaner heart, a soul filled with ecstasy. Try it out. Take a walk in the corn field at night. Be for one time along with your thoughts.


The other day the miserable wretch accompanied Hattie, the boss of the Palatial Pharmacy, on a trip to Bay City. Arriving there she became a "Business visitor on our streets." On our streets is right, for where may a visitor in Bay City rest. All one may do is walk the streets, so it is no joke to report "was seen on our streets." Well she did have some rest for they drove up to the Black Cat. It should be named Black Kitten for it is a restful place where good service lives. Soon as they stopped, out came a fairy with the name of Florene. Just as sweet as the name suggests and she rendered real service at the curb. The Doc Pepper which Hattie, being a strict pro absorbed, was cold and refreshing and the Magnolia with its browning cuff was a delight to the dusty throat of the "MW."

Guess I'll have to meet this little puss called Florene.


Yielding to the urge of the Liggett tribe, we spent Thursday in Bay city and attended the meeting at LeTulle Park. About 250 were seated at the tables eating barbecued meat, salads, sliced tomatoes, bread, coffee and drinking coca cola. It is my bet that about 200 of those eaters honed for the beer which the Galveston brewery offered to send. If beer had been served, that barbecue would have been just 100 per cent perfect and please remember that I am a strict pro, but I am not one of the minority who attempt to impose my likes in eating and drinking on the others. It was a splendid barbecue and a credit to the one in charge. The service was dainty, the food delightful and I give thanks to the fine women who worked so hard to make it a success. We just can't get along without our wonderful women. I met many old boys, whom I used to know years ago when I was in the business of rescuing the farmer. It was not a farmers meeting. It was a gathering of real estate men, bankers, merchants, chamber of commerce managers, railroad men, news gatherers. As I looked them over and listened to the talks, it came to me that no one was nearly as much interested in the poor stricken farmer and his present condition as they were in securing greater and better business opportunities for themselves. The moving of farmers to the Gulf Coast is just an incident. Once located, he becomes a potential buyer for the products of the store, the bank, the printer, the chamber of commerce. That is the main idea and there is no use of trying to hide it.


If there were no prospects of increased trade opportunities, no tears would have been shed for the poor farmers of the "sub-marginal" lands. That word "sub-marginal" is a swell one and I advise its frequent use. It was used over time Thursday. Nearly every speaker showed his distress over the terrible situation of the "sub-marginal" farmers.


Of course we desire to increase our population and we do desire very much to have idle acres under the plow. As was told by many of the speakers, our lands are rich and adapted to a variety of farm uses. Our climate is salubrious. Water in abundance. Fine type of people already settled and room for more. The purpose of the meeting is a most worthy one. The selection of E. O. Taulbee as president of the Gulf Coast Development Association was a tribute to a man who gives freely of his talents for public benefit. Reverend Buckley of Port Lavaca is the vice president.


It is refreshing to find once in a while a minister who has time for material things. We have one in Palacios in the person of Reverend Geo. Gillespie and over at Port Lavaca is Rev. Dave Buckley. Most of the preachers hide away in their cubby holes, gnawing on spiritual things, forgetting that the development of the material would produce greater spiritual opportunities. I therefore thank God for giving us two ministers who have time to mingle with their fellow men and aid in solving the material things of life. They are about as important as the spiritual things so I am pleased that a priest of the Roman Church has time.


The news of this great meeting has been handled by the press so this is just a scribble of my personal ideas. I hope for much benefit to come from it. Every town from Galveston to Corpus was represented. I sat on the front seat right in front of Ed Taulbee and he did not invite me to speak. When we opened Mopac House I featured this guy, gave him a long rope and now witness how he pays the debt. The next time I organize an affair, he will use his mouth for eating only. He sure made me sick the way he neglected me and not satisfied, he called the miserable wretch "honey." Gosh, she is miserable enough now, without being this boy's "honey."


O, well, I pass it by, for he no doubt drank two bottles of that coke.


From this distance looking over the many fine speeches, it is my belief that the one delivered by Carey Smith (old man) was by far the best. He used few words, but told his story and no one did more.


Back in Bay City, I called on Mrs. Mary Long in her office at the Franklin Theater. She was so glad to see me that she told me to go in and see the show. It was "The Scarlet Pimpernel," and it met with my approval for it was a beautiful historical romance. It taught me some good history while it presented a splendid love plot. My visit with Mrs. Long was a delight and I hope I may see her many times in the future. While there I met Jean and tried my best to have her go shopping with me, but she wanted to wait until evening. I don't know why. When I left, I asked her to be true to me. She replied that she would try but if she was unfaithful, she would keep it from me. That is just like a woman. If they are not true, they don't want any one to know about it. The longer I live the more I am puzzled about these here wimmen.


John Billings once said "wimmen is queer critters."


Went around and saw the Penny store and was surprised that Bay City was able to support such a splendid array of merchandise. Mr. Mansfield told me that he could not exist a day were it not for what was outside of Bay City.


Registered at the society desk of the Tribune where Sue put me down as being "a business visitor." We had a swell time even if I did not have a glimpse of my "vice." That gal is never around when I hunt for her. Probably exploring canyons or maybe canons.


Saturday night Mopac House gave its third dance. Small crowd, but easier dancing. Every one had an enjoyable time until 12:30 when the light plant gave up the ghost and then they danced to the light of flash lights. It was a nice little home party. Merton Smith and His Incomparable Royal Texans served the musical tidbits to the delight of the dancers. 1:45 a. m. when we, meaning I and the miserable wretch, hit the hay. Pretty sporty for two old sports.


The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, July 4, 1935



By Harry Austin Clapp


[Local information taken from longer article."


This from Pennsylvania "The Matagorda Tribune comes to me each Monday. I read it all and have for years. I always enjoy your writings in the paper and have often thought I would write you and ask you about things in general, especially about the oil and rice outlook."


That boy Jimmy Gartrell sure brings sunshine with him. Down here again the other day with an enjoyable visit with him. He promises to bring friend wife with him and they cannot come too soon to suit the Homecrofters.


Well, I see that Taulbee and his crowd are going ahead with their organization without giving Collegeport any recognition. The Collegeport Industrial League is perhaps the oldest incorporated commercial organization in the Mid-coast, if not in the state. Organized under the state laws in 1910 and that was when Ed Kaufmann was secretary of the Galveston Commercial Club; when Roy Miller was secretary of the Corpus Christi club; when Oscar Barber was secretary of the Bay City Young Men's Business League; when Palacios and Matagorda supported boards of trade. It has functioned ever since. Its officer should be on the board of directors of the Gulf Coast Development Association.


How frail the works of man. Well, anyway, I hope that a goodly per cent of that 200,000 families may be induced to settle in the Mid-coast and that some may settle in Collegeport for like hell we need people. If we can get just a few live oysters to come here, we may yet have a chance to walk to Palacios over the causeway.


Andy Jones is the expert gar man for he frequently brings them in. The other day he caught a forty pounder. When properly cooked, the miserable wretch pronounces gar as a very delicate morsel. She always did hone for strange foods and drinks. I have known her to devour with relish blood and cheese pudding so why not relish gar?


About thirty new books have been added to the library and the committee busy cleaning house, installing new cases and placing books ready for the opening. They have subscribed for the Literary Digest for a year and that with other magazines will be on the table.


Girls have returned from camp and report a glee-or-ious time. Some are brown and some are pink, but they care not for that is part of the program. At least two will go from here to the short course at A. & M. last week of July.


This month furnishes the fortieth anniversary of us Homecrofters wedding. I am telling you boys that forty years is a helluva long time to look into one face. This the miserable wretch has done so far as I am able to discover. As for me, while I have done some more or less wandering, I have always returned home most of the time with a righteous face. Any man who can work that game for forty years is some boy. Even now the "MW" believes in me, so you see that I am not only able to catch 'em, but to hold 'em. I look back fifty years and see a sweet, trim figure, coming up the bank at Klinger's Lake with a pair of oars on her shoulder. Wish I might go back, way back down the road, and walk it over again.


Quiet dull week, except from excitement caused by the sudden illness of that fine man, Hugo Kundinger, which required that he be taken to the Bay City hospital for treatment and observation. I am glad to report that he was brought home Sunday much improved. This is too valuable a citizen. He is a big souled, generous, charitable man, one who believes there is good in the worst of us.


Hattie has been as busy as a one armed paper hanger operating the Palatial Pharmacy and hiking to Bay City each day.


Several heavy showers during the week interrupted with extreme hot days.


The next Mopac House dance will be held August 8 and further announcement will be made.


The keyboard of my Corona is hot--my glasses are obscured with mist--my shirt is wet--my face make up is ruined by flowing waters--my hair needs fresh waving--guess I'll go after the mail tomorrow in my BVD's. Even at that I'll be more decently clothed than some of the girls. Saw some of them the other day just returned from camp who would have been well clothed had they worn "G" strings. I like legs as well as any man, but I don't care much for them in the raw. I want something suggestive and this is lacking when the bare flesh, sometimes dirty, is exposed clear up to the top of the hop bones. Legs is too common now days.


Johnny Ackerman, who is in the army has been here on four-day furlough. He returned to the defense of his country Sunday. Army life has done much for this young man. It would do as much for a few others if they had the guts to step out.


The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, July 11, 1935



By Harry Austin Clapp

O tempora o mores is a famous sentence by Cicero in his First Oration against Catiline. It translates as Oh the times! Oh the customs! This sentence is now used as an exclamation to criticize present-day attitudes and trends, often jokingly or ironically.]


[Local information taken from longer article.]


Every one in these here parts knows Mr. James Sartwelle, but not all know that he is president of the Texas Soap Company. This company makes several kinds of soap among them being Big State, Big Bar, Texso, Texana. A colored woman names Leanna, who lives on our place, thinks it is the best soap made and when the grocer asks what kind she wants, she just says, "Mr. Man, I don't know nuthin' about them names. All I want is some of Mr. Jim's soap." When I start for the store, the miserable wretch yells at me "Don't forget to bring some of Mr. Sartwelle's soap." Neither one gives a kuss about the brand so long as it is Mr. Jim's soap. As this is not copyrighted, Houston papers may feel free to use it.


Monday we had some delightful callers, among the being Mrs. James Louis Duffy and sweet baby daughter Jane Louise Duffy. Mrs. Duffy is a young woman of much charm and in my opinion, Louie is a lucky kid. Then came Mrs. Richmond and although She is 78, she danced a few Irish jigs just to show off and prove that she was still a young girl. Vivian Johnson, who is now in her ninth year as superintendent of the Pierce school, is a splendid young woman, beautiful and charming and she is one sweet girl and boy I know what I write about when I inform you that she is a sweet girl.


Friday the 19th, the local canning club will present a womanless wedding. I don't know much about it, but Mrs. Frank King informs me that it is perfectly possible to have a real wedding without a woman. Maybe this is true, but she will have to show me. When I married, I had to pay $3.50 for a permit and furnish my woman. Admission five and ten cents of the present depreciated dollars. Ice cream comes at five, a chance at a big basket of groceries and plenty of funny skits. Proceeds to be used to send a girl to the short course. A most worthy project and entitled to a huge attendance.


Delay in causeway construction keeps us away from many important functions. I hope most earnestly that the project so well outlined by Mr. Taulbee goes right on to success.


The other from one of my sweet girls with this superscription "Regards to the sweet wretch." Sweet wretch me eye! That woman spends her time hunting work for me. From morning to night, it is "Harry do this and Harry do that"." After I retire, she spends about an hour explaining plans for tomorrow. I detest making plans for tomorrow. Plans for today are bad enough. I like to sit in repose with my pipe loaded with R. J. R. and just think. That is a man's right, but this "sweet wretch" fails to recognize my right. I like rest and must have it. She is in every truth my miserable wretch and some how I've loved her for forty years come the 24th.


Mrs. L. E. Liggett left Thursday for Dallas where she will stay for some time at the bedside of her mother who is very ill. In her absence, Roberta is the chief cook and from reports gives splendid satisfaction.


Prevented from going across the bay because the causeway is not open for traffic, Ben Mowery spends some of his time at the small end of a telescope viewing the west side. He reports extensive improvements on the old college located at the west end of the causeway, the building of golf links, the seawall in view near the BYPU grounds and other extensive public works that will be enjoyed by those who live "over there" and by us soon as the causeway is opened.


If folks don't get busy, Ben will begin to look through the large end of gigantic scope. We know what he will then see.


It is reported that Arthur Liggett is so enamored over the Bay City climate that he spends about 99.4 per cent of his time basking in the sunshine of the city far from the bay.


Many strange cars seen on our streets the past week and nearly all seeking a way across the bay.


The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, July 18, 1935



By Harry Austin Clapp


[Local information taken from longer article.]


The Gulf Coast Development Association asked me to secure as much information as possible regarding lands for sale in this section. Therefore, if any reader of this column, resident or non-resident, has for sale small tracts in the Collegeport area or large tracts that may be subdivided, they are requested to list them with the writer of Thoughts with prices. This will aid the association officers in their efforts to colonize the Midcoast.


Arthur Liggett, who has been absent exploring foreign parts, has returned for a short rest but will soon go right back to the bright lights and eyes. I don't blame him for I remember when I had the fever with a temperature running as high as 120 or more, it was just impossible to keep away from the source of the fever.


Major and Mrs. Putnam, who have been visiting the latter's father Mr. S. W. Corse for the past month, will leave for Washington, D. C., first of the week.


William Korn landed the Wadsworth school painting job and is not at work.


My favorite pipe broke and I was in despair, but Ben R. Mowery looked it over and said that he could fix it and he did. It is a beautiful piece of delicate work and shows that he is some "mechanikan." I hope P. M. General Farley does not read this for he would order Ben to report for pipe mending service in Washington.


Oil well shut down for a few days waiting for special equipment that will enable them to go through the flowing shale. Ruth Boeker stays on her job serving mustard and spinach greens etcetera and other things.


Hugo Kundinger is reported to be up and walking about his apartment which is good news to all our folk.


Margaret Holsworth, having procured a can of paint and a smock, the smock being always worn by artists, will soon give an exhibit of her artistic taste in painting an elegant garage. If she is as good a painter as she is a teacher, we will soon see a gorgeous spectacle on the bay shore.


Louie Walter still smoking that crooked stem pipe and driving his horseless Ford.


The cafe at the oil well, judging from the huge orders of groceries that go out day after day, is doing a rushing business. Those in charge have lost a total of forty pounds, but still look fine in fact much more so.


With a swell golf course and club house at the west end of the causeway and a fine tourist camp planned for the east end, the necessity for this much needed facility ripens. Looks as though Pacoma would at last fly the blue.


The library has received ten volumes Wonder Books of World's Progress, by Henry Smith Williams. Don't imagine they will be used much for they are pretty stiff scientific works and the local gente do not care for heavy literature. The library also received Mandola Mandola by Winifred Holty and Oil for the Lamps of China by Alice Tindale Hobart.


Mr. and Mrs. Emmitt Chiles and family were not only seen on our streets Thursday as business visitors, but as callers at Homecroft and we therefore enjoyed a mot delightful visit with our good friends.


Friday, members of the Merck Klan consisting of Mrs. Merck, Sr., with the grandson, Master G. W. Merck, John and Hazel Merck and infant son John Morris the latter from Sandy Point drove into Homecroft and gave us a happy call. I looked at little John Morris with amazement. When he was three weeks old, he underwent a major operation for the removal of a tumor near the stomach. He lives and is a strong healthy child thanks to the development in surgery.


Mr. and Mrs. E. A. McCune, having disposed of their cafe at Sandy Point, are here for a short time before returning when Mr. McCune will take charge of the new rice warehouse. He reports a splendid crop of rice at Sandy Point. We regret that these fine folk cannot be permanent residents.


Little six year old Gerald Merck caught and landed a nine pound yellow catfish which accounts for his brave air.


The recent heavy rains and flood waters from the rivers has freshened up the waters of the bay to such an extent that few salt water fish come up this far. It is reported, however, that Oyster Lake teems with trout and reds.


The oil well, so I am informed, has encountered shifting shale and work has been interrupted until some new and expensive machinery arrives which will enable the operators to pass through this difficult formation.


Burton D. Hurd, having sold his big Buick and awaiting the delivery of a new car, walks with the other proletaires. I can testify that it is good exercise for I, having no auto, turn off about 1200 miles per annum. Guess I'll invite Burton to join my pedestrian club.


When this is read I'll be on my way to College Station where, as president of the Texas Writers Conference, I will exercise my prerogative as boss of the gang until the last day, when they will use the axe on my neck and toss me into the basket that already holds fifteen heads. How short is glory? Today hearty handclasps, loud greetings--tomorrow an abandoned has been. After Thursday, Aug. 2, I'll be back where I was one year ago just "Mrs. Clapp's husband" and that isn't such a bad position as that.


It is with sincere regret that I have received a letter from Mrs. Abel. B. Pierce that local affairs make it impossible for her to be at the short course and take her number on the program. She would have given a brilliant exposition of Texas Romances. We will see about this next session.


I am reading Oil For the Lamps of China, by Alice Tisdale Hobart. A fascinating tale of the business of a great American Oil Company in China, the land of multitudes and small individual business. It is in the library among the new books and its reading is advised. Wish I might see the film.


Leaf worms have become active the past week and farmers are busy putting on poison. Some are using liquid from the dipping vat, spraying it on with good success. It is not only cheap, but appears efficient.


Have several letters from non-resident land owners who desire to return here and make contact with some business. Most of them state that they are "getting by" and I advise them to stay where they are if they are getting "by" or even "bye bye."


Corn is all made and about ready to husk. Some of it is first class grain, but considerable is badly worm eaten. If thickness of husk is of any value as a weather prophet, we are in for a cold winter.


Mopac House will be the scene of another dance about the 8th of August, the date being left to Merton Smith and the Incomparable Royal Texans.


If the trout and red in oyster lake know that A. D. Jackson would arrive this week, most of them would scoot for the open sea. A. D. Is a rare fisherman. Shrimp are being taken in abundance out in the gulf, but few are in the bay thus far.


O, yes, I forgot to mention that Jimmy goes to the short course with us. He enjoys auto riding.


A letter from an Alice reader states "I don't know when we will get out of the mess that we are in, but I know that we will pay and pay and pay." At times it appears to me that as a nation we are on a shoot the chutes having a helluva, a joyful, gorgeous, laughing time forgetting that soon the sled will reach the bottom with a bang. Then will begin the arduous task of hauling.


Came Sue Mansfield, a nifty gal, with her charming personality and with her Miss Edwina a Peachy peach from Georgia where luscious peaches are grown. Guess I'll go over to that country and look up peach trees and find a peach for my own delectation. I adore peaches. With them for a body guard was Arthur Liggett. He is always nowadays found nearby.


Then a big auto that spelled coin came and brought Mr. and Mrs. A. D. Hensley and the old timer Callie Metzger. They promise to come down again very soon which will be a delight. Thus passed Sunday.


Saturday night, much to my delight, the womanless wedding was pulled off to a success adding twenty one simoleons to the canning club exchequer. A big crowd witnessed the solemn ceremony which united Mr. Would B. Wood to Miss Prue Sawdust. The bride was Fred Ballhorst and I have no criticism to make except the bride showed too much embonpoint and the dress was cut to low in front as to show too much bust. I don't like too much exposure. The groom was Jerry Lashbrook and everyone knows that he was a marvelous groom, but very dignified while undergoing the trial of being united. The attendants were Messrs. King, Nelson and Guyer and each one noted for his personal beauty and charm. The ceremony was performed by Judge or maybe Reverend Verl Hill who in his usual dignified and icy manner rendered the service. Sue Mansfield sang one of her songs in her fine voice and Verl Hill played a number on the guitar. Thus passed a very pleasant and profitable evening much to the credit of Mrs. Frank King and her associates. Several from Bay City were present for it is not often that a wedding is solemnized without the gracious sex.


The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, July 25, 1935



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