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Collegeport Articles

March 1935


By Harry Austin Clapp


To be a symphonious rambler about the City By The Bay is rather difficult. I was there Tuesday and as I rambled, I thought "what a beautiful, charming, sweet little city. A city pregnant with potential possibilities beyond the vision of man, for who can look into the future one hundred years and see Bay City?"


There she sits in unplacid content. I know of no reason for building a city on her site, except that it is the geographic center of the county. Nature made no plans for a city. Man made them. And, although individually, her people have dissensions as all folks do, as a unit she sits on her throne, like a jewel bedecked queen, arrogant, egotistical, a bit selfish and inclined to dictate and dominate. Selfish? It was a bit selfish to rob Van Vleck of the honor and glory of developing an oil field, which is now known as "The Bay City Field."


Not content with that, she now claims the publicity of the birth of triplets over at Sargent. The fact is, that Bay City has nothing to do with this quite important event, except that Paris A. Smith Jr., so I am informed, issued an insurance policy guaranteeing not less than three or more than five. Well, anyway, the babies came to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Chambless, Sargent, Texas. They were born on the 22nd day of February, quite an important day, which will be celebrated every year all over the nation. The first child weighed four pounds and was named George, the second weighed five and one-half pounds and was named Martha and the third weighed six pounds and was named Columbia.


The merchants of the county came with arms filled with gifts and many individuals gave from their pockets and family stores. Every thing one might think of from the necessary didies to beautiful dresses, hoods, capes, towels, baby bath tubs, safety pins, blankets, dozens of the most essential of baby foods, clocks to feed by, jugs for heat, a beautiful three compartment kiddie koop 20" x 26" all screened. This koop was designed by Paris A. Smith and Moyes Livengood and built by Dick Harrison, a Bay City Boy Scout, so he also did a good turn. This is the story of the triplets as was told to me as I rambled. They are Matagorda County triplets, so let us invite all the people of the county to participate in this possession.


I called on our French County Agent, the ubiquitous Monty and found him and his aide busy solving cotton problems. Went over to the Tribune office where I have no business, except I like the smell of printers ink and enjoyed handling fine paper, especially when beautifully printed. I realize that I am only a bum scribbler and should be content with peeping in the windows. If Carey Smith buys one more machine even though it be a paper knife, he will have to add more room for the present quarters are so filled with beautiful and costly machinery that one is hardly able to pass through the intricate maze. The last acquisition is a wonderful machine full of cogs, wheels, belts, and what nots and is entirely automatic in operation. If a stack of unprinted sheets is placed on one end and the operator presses a button, he may go to a football game and the machine will deliver at the other end beautifully printed sheets all properly stacked. If any sheet happens to feed crooked, the machine stops and when the pile of sheets is exhausted, the machine also stops. A cute little sucker operated by wind, picks up one sheet at a time and feeds it in. A few more machines like this and even Mirth may stay away all day and still write his column. Guess I'll buy one.


I received quite a shock, for one clerk after I had explained I wanted some articles for Mopac House asked "What is Mopac House?" I explained that it was a community house being built at Collegeport and here came the shock for she asked "Collegeport? Where is that? I never heard of it." Just tie onto that and realize my feelings after twenty-five years of Collegeport publicity. Makes a feller feel as though hell had lost its heat. The idea of such ignorance. George Serrill rushing along to renew a fire policy before the bell rang. Went into Stinnett's where they keep the only real good five cent cigar, the William Penn. Been doing that for twenty-five years and expect to do it for another twenty-five. Called at the cafe next to the insurance office and, lo, they are putting on airs with walls all paneled in natural finished oak with swell mirrors for "mi lady." Viola came to me and gave me good advice as to what the kitchen afforded and with it brought a plate of those glorious red hot rolls. Looking at Viola as if she were your sweetheart brings the repeat. I tried it and it worked. Oak panels and mirrors are all right on the walls, but give me some more of them noble rolls. I was amused when calling at the office of the county judge, for Oscar tries hard to look dignified. Just impossible so long as he keeps that smile. Without it he looks quite fierce and at that I advise the county court to buy him a toupe. Tom Hale has acquired a dignity that befits him well. I am gambling that he develops into a Super of the first class. Fine boy is Tom and he had to be in order to win Barbara, for she it a bit finer.


Looked in the Piggly Wiggly and was shocked to learn that sugar had advanced eighty-five cents per hundred. Did not go in, for had only one of those bent two bit pieces. The Bachman store is a sweet emporium of tantalizing eatables, with gracious service even if one does have to pay for it. Tried to borrow twenty five grand at both banks and at each place was given a dead fish eye. You know the way they look when the answer is "Nay." Had I been successful, we, meaning I and the miserable wretch, would have bought a repossessed car. The man in the post office was tickled to sell me a portrait of George Washington. Sisk does not sell crockery. I had no intention of buying, just wanted to beg a plate or two for Mopac House.


Tried to find my second vice, but was told she was still exploring caverns and monkey islands. Doc Scott was not so hot, for he did not have what I wanted. Fun to watch the stop lights halt traffic until the green shows and then if flows again. City airs at an expense not needed. Registered at the office of the county health nurse for my tonsils were all a tingle. Found her busy with three new babies. The babies belong to the Chamblisan family, so not necessary for any extra excitement. Men with a hunter's face and others with the face of the hunted. One scouting for game and the other hunting for cover. Prices have advanced so that most of us are no longer able to eat pork products, except the tail and even that sells for a nickel and it used to be free. Gone are the days of free liver. Depression is here and yet about the court house square were parked two hundred thousand dollars worth of automobiles. And Bay City sits in calm content knowing full well that no person is able to divert her destiny. She is a sweet lovable, queenly city, even if she does have a few faults. I'll let Mirth tell about them.


I am congratulating Mr. Elliott Curtis on the splendid manner with which he handles the toast master job at the banquet. Elliott evidently knew his onions and that he was not supposed to spend all the time playing his own tune. He played a piccolo, low and sweet and pushed the program right along as all programs should be pushed. He started the fire works and then sat back and let 'em sizzle and sparkle. He proved himself to be some toaster.


Sunday evening we had the delight of a welcome visit from Vernon King Hurd. Vernon is employed in Corpus Christi with the Stewart Construction Company. Vernon is a capable young man well educated and with splendid executive ability and with that good habits and always a gentleman. We are very fond of this boy and proud that we enjoy his friendship.


Sunday was a peaceful day. Gentle breezes, high tide, doors open, no fires, beckoned Spring. Monday morning at 6-5 came a norther. We knew it was coming for we have a magic rug. About 24 to 48 hours before a weather change, if rain is to come, the corners of this rug begin to roll up. Before rain ceases, it begins to flatten out. Sunday the rug rolled and the norther arrived with rain, but early in the day the rug began to flatten and presently rain ceased, but the wind blew a gale and the temperature dropped to around 38. Trees lost their buds, grass ceased its growing, flowering plants beginning to pierce the earth, went back to rest. There is a lesson in all this phenomena. Nature gives all plant life a time of rest. All over the prairies, along the road side, under the surface there rests life, ready when conditions are ripe to spring into glory. If it be true that God does not allow a plant to die and plans that after each resting time it blooms again and turns its flower head to the breeze, how can it be possible that He condemns the soul of man to oblivion? Nay, my friend, this is not true. Man is born, buds into youth, flowers with age and in the passing time reappears to bloom again in another world. This is the hope, the faith of men have hugged to their breasts since man walked the face of this earth. It has brought comfort, peace, solace, to restless souls. If the plant lives, if the sparrow does not fall, man surely will live again. The God who watches over the grass, the shrubs, the flowers, also watches over the souls of men for that is God's most precious thing, His masterpiece.


Oscar Odd's column brags that Cornelius Vanderbilt has made 54 round trips to Europe. That's nothing. Stanley Wright, during the year ending March 31, made three hundred twelve round trips to El Maton and still lives. O. O. better hunt up something wonderful.


When impresaria Nell Harris had the Mellon Moon Minstrels tuned up to her satisfaction, she wished, before offering it to the public to try it out on the dog, so she presented for the first time at the Collegeport Opry House. Much to her surprise, the dog liked it, licked his chops and asked for more. The curtain went up showing a typical minstrel ensemble with the Interlocutor Mr. Elliott Curtis in the center and the familiar half circle extending to the footlights. In the rear on a raised platform the chorus was assembled. The bones and tambos were Clara Nicholson, Annette Johnson, Sue Mansfield on one side and Viola Prunty, Ruth Boeker and Roberta Liggett on the other. Between the bones and tambos were seated several whose principal business appeared to the imitation of baboons and monkeys and Miss Parker sold herself by her makeup. Each of the end men sang a solo with the full chorus for a backing and the singing was most excellent. In addition, Ethel Nelson and Aldine Williams rendered solos in sweet, tuneful tones and with the full chorus brought much applause. Nicholson, Johnson, Prunty and Liggett filled their part of the program to the delight of the audience as was attested by the prolonged applause. Ruth Boeker was the funny man of the show and was continually doing tricks that delighted the audience. The star of the evening was Sue Mansfield and that she is a star of the first magnitude is acknowledged by all who witnessed her performance. That gal can sing like a bird and dance? Whey she does all sorts of regular and fancy steps and does the stunt walk to perfection. As she danced, I knew why she got sore toes riding horse back. I have seen worse on the stage drawing good pay and I see no reason why she should spend her time teaching school. Every thing about the show represented work. The singing was way above par. The orchestra was in charge of that well known director Dorothy Corporon and from bass viol to traps showed the result of much practical training. To sum up the description of this excellent show will say that not one number needed the hook. Coffee and pie served by the ladies and the Girl Reserves replenished their depleted treasury with many of those sixty cent dollars.


At seven o'clock Saturday evening having filled my pipe with R. J. R., got her het up and drawing well and settled down with General Hugh Johnson to discuss the N. R. A. I heard a timid tap on the front door. The door opened on Mary Louise, a wonderful, delightful, glorious surprise. Why boys that girl of mine looked like a bushel of priceless jewels. With her was Mr. Rege Creede of Bryan. He came along to bring a beautiful white sink for Mopac House and incidentally because he wanted to see us. We had nineteen hours of delightful loving, telling all about it, kissing, eating, talking, more kissing and now she has gone back to her place at the A. & M. College. It's a grand and glorious thing to possess such a daughter.


The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, March 7, 1935



By Harry Austin Clapp


[Local information taken from longer article.]


Wednesday, Miss Harris arranged a declamation elimination contest for the pupils of her room the winners to be the accredited representatives at the county meet to be held in Bay City this week. The judges were Mesdames Thomas, Clapp and Bond. The successful contestants were as agreed by the judges to be Clara Nicholson, Margery Brimberry and Ethel Nelson. If they are successful at Bay City, they go to the district meet at Houston and if they win there to the state meet at Austin.


We received as a gift from Mr. Elliott Curtis a quart of the largest and finest oysters we have ever seen. They were from 2 to five inches long raw and after stewing or frying they were more than two inches long. Big, fat, white boys, two of them being quite a feed.


A week ago I wrote when telling about Curtis as a toast master that he knew his onions. That was an error and I write now that he knows his oysters.


If some time Sue Mansfield offers to bring your mail to you, don't fall for the seductive offer, for you will receive some other fellow's mail and most of yours will not be taken from the box. Sue is not to blame. One may not expect first class service from one suffering from a sore toe. If I ever allow any one to handle my mail in the future, I hope some person will dunk me in Pilkington Slough.


Saturday morning at six-thirty, I saw a car coming down the highway with lights burning brightly and it banged right into our yard and pulled up in front of the door and to our delight it disgorged A. D. Jackson, chief of publications Texas A. & M. and Rege Creede. Jackson spoke at a meeting in Richmond Friday night and having a similar date at Rosenberg for Monday night, just drove on down to Collegeport, The Heart of the Midcoast, to pass the time in oystering and fishing and enjoying the society of his friends of many years. Fishing was not a success, but we all gorged ourselves on fine big fat oysters many of them being nineteen inches long or less. Rege Creede is an unlucky boy for every time he comes here to fish, the tide is high or low or the water rolly so no floundering is possible. Well, anyway, we had a swell time and they are both coming back for the opening of the Mopac House.


Last week the fixtures arrived for the Mopac Auditorium and they are nifty, refined, cultured and reflect the good taste of the ladies who selected them. Soon as we find two missing doors and a pot or two of paint, the big affair will be opened with a whizz bang.


Ethel Nelson is making her plans to be a winner at the county meet and she can easily make the grade if she will slow up a bit on her delivery. In baseball, fast delivery is good stuff, but in speaking is not quite necessary. Leave it to Ethel for there is a girl with confidence in herself.


Went over to Palacios Saturday to see the man who built the house, but he is like the little flea, seldom found in one place. Met our old friend of many years, Mr. Burke. Heavy fog all forenoon making driving a bit hazardous. Library opens Friday letting out fifty books and with thirty guests. Relief work slow this week, but with patience the end will no doubt be at the game this week. A new religious sect has located here and hold meetings Thursday nights. They call themselves Israels Elders and appear firm believers in the efficacy of prayer for curing all manner of diseases.


Mr. John B. Heisey brought me a big weeping willow cuttin and with it the tools to set it out with and it's now waving in the breeze and we hope it makes a good growth. Three men working at Mopac installing the sink, putting in water, placing the electric light fixtures; building table tops ad seats. The only thing we want now is two doors and some paint. God only knows when we will have these and He will not tell so we wait with patience.


The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, March 14, 1935



By Harry Austin Clapp


I am warning the reader that what follows is not for the education of the matured adult, nor for the edification of the middle aged, nor for the amusement of those in the last teens, those who call father the old man and say impertinent words to the mother, causing heart aches, but for the amusement of those under the age of twelve. With this warning it is not necessary to read farther.


For many years I had enjoyed tales about the Coon River, as related by sea captains, but it was not until this year that I had opportunity to see the strange things along that wonderful river. Our boat was a staunch craft with a captain named Big Bill. With plenty of provisions stored aboard we embarked on our journey of exploration, going up stream hoping to at last reach our destination which I was informed was called Queso Island. Along about the late afternoon of the first day, we notice a red tinge in the water and as we proceeded the color became more intense until we came to a stream flowing into Coon River which was red as blood.


We turned up this stream and at last it lead us into a lake of red flood on the surface of which floated objects the size of an orange. Taking a few in a bucket they proved to be cranberries. It was Cranberry Lake and the shores were lined with cranberry trees loaded with the large fruit as delicious as any I had ever tasted. Going ashore we soon found a strange animal that the captain said was an Imasquidt. It had the head and feathered neck of a hen, the body of a cat and a tail devoid of hair like that of an opossum. The neck was longer than the body and when it rested it tied a knot in its neck in order that it might rest.


This queer animal crowed like a rooster and laid eggs that weighed several pounds. One of them made an omelet sufficient for our crew of ten men. It was a difficult matter to leave Cranberry Lake for the fruit clogged the propeller of our ship, but at last we were free and out in the Coon River stream up which we proceeded. Standing with the captain near the bow we saw what appeared to be a big sand bar but when reaching the obstruction we found it to be composed of those Famous Carrie Nelson Noodles and it may seem strange, but the fact is that the gravy of the noodles did not mix with the river water and there it was in all its original delicious gooey flavor with big bits of chicken floating about.


I need not state that we all enjoyed a noodle dinner much to our gustatorial delight. We anchored that night near the noodle bar so that we might enjoy the delightful aroma that filled the air.


The noodles attracted hundreds of fish and among them were some strange species that I was not familiar with. We caught one that weighed about fifty pounds. It had two eyes in front so it could see where it was going and one eye in back of the head so it could see from whence it came. From the top of the head protruded what might be called a staff on the end of which was an electric eye. This was used at night to attract lesser fish on which it fed. This fish, the captain said was called damfoozle because I always fozzled its food before eating it. Very interesting all these sights, but we had to be about our business of questing Queso Island and so up stream we proceeded until at last we sighted our objective. There it stood rising abruptly from the river perhaps one hundred feet. No visible place for landing and we wondered how we might explore the island.


While figuring on some plan we caught sight of a group of funny looking folk on top of the island who waved flags and beckoned for us to approach from the other side. Steering our ship around we found a portal through which we might enter and were soon on top of this gigantic cheese.


It was made from whole milk by a patent method and strange as it may seem was Coon Cured. The cheese was honeycombed with galleries through which we passed and in which these strange little folk lived. The captain told me they were known to scientists as "Piophaila casei" but were commonly called "skippers." For instance said he "my name is Wilhelm Colvenberg but they call me Big Bill.


These little folk were about three inches tall and wore red coats and green trousers and skirts and a peaked hat. The shoes were long, turned up at the toe to which was attached a sweet toned bell. Imagine the musical effect when several hundred were hustling about. Going about in the galleries cut out by the Piophalia we were urged to taste the cheese and to my taste it was the best cheese I have ever eaten before or since I had that wonderful Christmas gift of a similar Coon Cured cheese.


All a rich golden color, tangy, marty, crumbly and take it for the truth we took large hunks back to the ship and made several messes of a gorgeous rarebit. The little children of these folk were called Imogenities because they were images of one who spends much time fishing along the banks of the Chicago River. The coats of the children were black diplerous whatever that means.


I asked where in the world they obtained enough milk to make such a big cheese and was informed that they caught and impounded many big whales and milked them. A whale gives from six to ten barrels of milk and it is all used to make Coon Cured cheese. I don't know as this it true, for I did not see the whales, but I do know that any kind of a whale will supply several families with plenty of rich milk.


Retracing our course we were met by a federal coast guard boat and failing to heed a call "ship ahoy" they fired a shot across our bow which caused us to stop and anchor.


We were ordered aboard with our clearance papers. When we arrived on the deck I was surprised to be met by Ruth Boeker dressed in the navy uniform. I said, "Why Ruth I supposed you had joined the army. How comes you are here?" Ruth replied "I decided the army was no place for so young a girl and that the navy was a better berth."


I climbed up to the crows nest and found Ethel Nelson stationed there as a look out and it was Ethel who called "ship ahoy."


We were escorted to the captain's cabin by Roberta Liggett and Rosalie Nelson. I said "I supposed you girls were in the Girls Reserve. How come?" They informed me that the Girl Reserves were too tame and the Navy Reserve gave them broader vision and greater activity and more travel. They told me the rest of the Reserves were down in the hold shoveling coal.


On the way to our home port we heard a noise as though some one was sobbing and we anchored the boat with good luck over an oyster reef and found that the sound came from a big oyster which we raised to the deck with others. This oyster we learned between her sobs was weeping because Elliott Curtis had taken her babies from her. Taken from the shell she weighed fifty pounds.


The shell was five feet four inches long, two and a half feet wide and twenty inches deep. Just to prove the truth of this tale I brought it home and planning to use it as a bath tub left it on the front gallery. In the morning it was not there and while I have no proof and therefore refrain from using names it is my belief that a certain fellow who lives not far from the S. W. corner of block 102 took the shell and destroyed it because he did not want people to know there were any oysters larger than those he takes. It was a fine trip and I returned burdened with cranberries, noodles, cheese.


Of course the parents of the children will not believe a word of this tale but Coon River still flows and Coon Cured cheese is still to be had and so they are at liberty to take the trip and have proof.


The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, March 21, 1935



By Harry Austin Clapp


[Local information taken from longer article about "mothers of men."]


Tuesday, much to our surprise and delight, came Charles Heck Sr. and visited with us for an hour or two. Charles was the engineer on the first train into this community twenty-five years ago and for many years pulled the regular train between Collegeport and Bay City. He lived here and his children went to the local school and the Heck family was a part of the community. We were sorry when they left. He visited Mopac House which as has been told frequently in this column has been built from material taken from the old Missouri Pacific station building. Mr. Heck expressed his pleasure as he viewed this fine community house and said that every person should be proud of its possession.


In a few days we shall again be allowed the privilege of voting for school trustees. I say allowed the privilege. That is all it amounts to for after the election is over, the trustees consider the school business to be their private affair and seldom or never give out any information to those who pay for the fiddling and never do they ask the school patrons to attend a meeting or allow them to know anything about the financial situation. In a few words, the patrons may go hang themselves on a hickory limb and this they do for they all appear to fear that they might offend the trustees if they ask for information. I have been informed that this year the school board will turn over to the superintendent the selection of teachers. This is a grand idea for it relieves the trustees of severe brain strain, but they forget that they are backing a dictator. They should discuss these matters with the superintendent, but when they evade their responsibility and place all the power in the hands of one man they go just too far. I hope we can select two trustees who will show evidence of having just a few guts, at least enough to cut in on some of the vicious practices that, under present regime, are allowed or at least overlooked.


According to all reports, we have a bunch of hoodlum outlaws in the school who are bent on destroying anything on which they may lay their hands. They destroy, mutilate and desecrate the toilet facilities to the disgust of many taxpayers. The officers of the school simply smile and pass these depredations on as just boy tricks. I am also informed that two teachers are marked up to walk the plank and also the only janitor the school has had.


When North Cable goes we shall be deprived of the services of a man who has taken pride in the buildings and grounds and had the outlaws developed a love for bloom the campus this day would be filled with flowers and beautiful shrubs.


We have two real teachers on the staff.


Friday was library day and fifty books put out and about forty guests. Every two weeks one woman comes and really enjoys the library. She feels its restful atmosphere. She sits in the easy chair and reads and stays several hours. She is the only patron who gives evidence of pleasure and enjoyment and rest. Others take the books and depart. This woman stays and goes away carrying with her something worthwhile. In a short time the reading room will be ready for such as this woman and her enjoyment will be increased. I visit the library often and I too enjoy it. It is a restful place.


One would be compelled to travel many miles to find a better equipped business place than the Collegeport Pharmacy. It is a veritable machine ship. A Delco 900 watt lighting plant with battery. An ice machine making 300 pounds of ice per day. A new silent Alamo generator of 1000 watt capacity, an electric drive pumping plant for water, ice cream mixer electric driven, a Delco Frigidaire for keeping ice cream and other delicacies in fact every machine required for first class service and back of all this maze of machinery one finds day and night the genial faces of Hugo and Hattie always ready to supply high quality service.


Friday night we were favored by a visit from Gustave Franzen thus passing a delightful manner what might have been a dull evening.


To Mr. and Mrs. Walter Wilkinson Jr., a daughter [Jean] comes to brighten their home and a daughter [Barbara Lee] came to the home of R. K Thompson. Thus the burg grows or rather attempts to keep up with desertions.


A delightful letter from a St. Louis Tribune reader says "I shall be sorry if you have to give up Thoughts. It is one of the attractive features of the paper. I have read your column for many years and have enjoyed the combination of news a philosophy. Through this I have become acquainted with a lot of interesting people I have never met, but many of whom I should like to know better. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to attend the opening of Mopac House and meet some of the people who are the life and character of Collegeport." Such letters "brighten the corner where you are."


The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, March 28, 1935



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