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Collegeport Articles

 December 1935

By Harry Austin Clapp

On this day I am thankful for the clouds that kiss the sky; for the flowers that nurse from the breasts of the rich soil; for the sparkling waters of the bay and the little wavelets that snuggle along the shore and nibble at the beach; for the birds that sing their morning song and evening lullabye; for the soft murmur of the waters of the slough, as the tide ebbs and flows; for the sky laced with wild life beating the air as they float southward; for the sun rising in the east bathing the earth in life-giving rays and bringing new hope to humanity and a promise; for the clear gold moon that fades to a white ghost as a benediction, as the rays of the sun’s new day rises above earth’s rim; for the unknown friend who left a grocery store on our back gallery Thanksgiving evening; for the miserable wretch who is my angel woman and with whom I am falling in love; for my beloved daughter Mary Louise, Toddie Boy, my daughter Ann, Granddaughter Nancy, Sister Lucy and my other kin folk; for the host of friends who loved me during my most serious illness when I was flirting with death and who brought me flowers, fruit and tempting delicacies; for the prayers asking God to spare my life and restore me to service; for the hand that reached down and lifted me up; for the good physician the priest, the devotion of that Angel; for the twelve pound Coon Cured cheese a Kraft product sent to me by my Chicago sweetheart Imogene; for the beautiful Zenith radio, a surprise package gift from that dear old friend of quarter of a century; for the lesson I learned during the last five months, that enabled me to give more thought to the aspirations, desires, ambitions of other for the many letters from readers of “Thoughts” many of whom I have never seen and never will, but each with their prayers and hopes for my recovery; for the mocking bird singing from the fireplace chimney top always with hilarity, high spirits, brilliance merriment. How in his joyous burst of song he springs in the air only to alight and give me again his sweet melody; for the crane which visits along the slough and stalks so majestically among the tall green rushes; for ships at sea and other ships flying through air and streamline trains and other agencies; for my food, clothes, shelter and for the pictures in the clouds.

“For the pictures in the clouds
That no one but I may see,
Sometime I’ll sail away
On this fleecy, cloudlit sea.”

--Fragments From Hack.

And then I turned to the angel and asked: “For what are you most thankful?” Holding me close to her faithful heart, she uttered only one word: “You.”

“Your ‘Thoughts’ as always was a benediction to men, and I file it away with other prized things of the kind. My boys and grandchildren may find some pleasure in reading that after I have passed away. And that won’t be long. May God’s richest blessings rest on you three chosen people is my prayer.” What a beautiful sentiment to receive on the eve of Thanksgiving.

Two times this month the grim reaper has taken toll from this community. First the passing of Burton D. Hurd and with him some of his many dreams for further progress. Wednesday morning at one o’clock another character, who in no less manner, filled his place in the community life, North Cable was called to his fathers. North came here from Springfield, Illinois, about twelve years ago, as an employee of the Collegeport Fig Orchard Company and how well he filled the position is well known. For several years he was janitor of the local school and to his credit I record that never was there such a janitor. North loved flowers, shrubs, trees, bird and animal life. He loved flowers and they love him. He had what every man does not possess. He had the ability to make flowers grow and bloom. He gave each plant individual attention and they sprang into his arms spreading their fragrance on the air. Had the school pupils appreciated his work the campus would this day be ablaze with the colors of the rainbow. Instead they trampled on the flower beds, tore up, broke up and threw away the young shrubs and trees which he planted with loving care and much labor. A bunch of lawless rubes with home training lacking. None of them cared for beauty and so North, being disgusted, ceased his efforts. The school pupils evidently prefer a jungle of weeds and tall grass. North was a man of strong, rugged character. He wanted to work at some project of value to himself and others. He wanted to be independent, make his own living and pay his way. Modest and diffident, he spoke little except to his intimates. He owned his own little home on the bayshore and there he lived in bachelor style. He was seventy years of age. North Cable well filled his place in this community and there is no person left who loves plant life and all nature evidences as did he. His life work was well done. Funeral was held in the church house with Reverend George Gillespie reading the service. Many old friends brought the bloom he loved. Taylor Brothers were in charge and interment in the local cemetery. May God receive and rest his pain racked soul.

Thanksgiving day 1935, we most happily spent with the Harrison family in Palacios and when we returned home we found our kitchen table covered with groceries of many kinds. To this good day we have no clues to the friends who so generously and lovingly expressed their friendship for us. Not a trace, not one scent which we have been able to follow. Thursday last week I was on the back gallery about five p. m. and went into the house for not more than three minutes. On my return I found a large box filled with groceries of all sorts, flour, sugar, coffee, corn meal, canned goods without number. Someone slipped a runner on me and there is as before not one clue but to the unknown we give our heartfelt thanks. We do not even suspect.

Thanksgiving eve came Reverend Paul Engle and read to us the Litany. This is the grandest prayer in the Prayer Book. It is of age many centuries. Kings have sought to destroy it. People have been forbidden to read it under pain or death but it lived, sometime tattered and torn. It still lives and brings to us the perfume of the life of Christ.

Thursday Citrus Grove offered its twenty-fifth annual community dinner. Plenty of fine eatables, table loaded, good attendance and an enjoyable time and in the evening a party attended by about fifty. No dancing.

Often have I listened to people tell about the beauty of the radio and I always thought there must be some raw dough in the cake and now I know it. The first night we had a radio the miserable wretch forgot to clear up the table and wash the dishes until ten p. m. The next morning she placed six perfectly good slices of bread in the oven for our breakfast and then calmly sat down to listen. Soon I saw heavy smoke coming from the oven. Investigation produced six slices of charcoal. Doggone there is always something taking out the joy. What will I do with that gal?

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, December 3, 1936

By Harry Austin Clapp

[Local information taken from longer article.]

The annual bazaar of the Woman’s Union was held Thursday. Many beautiful and useful gifts were on display and brought ready sale, until the sales counters were cleaned. Miss Margaret Holsworth, Mrs. Merle Groves and Mrs. O’Leary sent handsome boxes of articles. That a good crowd was present, is attested by the fact that nine gallons of oysters were sold, in oyster soup, fried and raw. Coffee, cakes and pies made up the balanced menu. Oysters were supplied by Mr. Sutton, local fish and oyster purveyor. Our folk should give this man their business. The bazaar is an annual event in the community life and the ladies of the union have supported it for a quarter of a century. It is an operation for the Christmastide.

Gifts are not all there is to Christmas. There is a way for all of us to make the most of this Christmastide. Broadly speaking each of us get out of life just what we put in and no more. This applies to the kind words and actions and the man who does the most along these lines profits most in life. He deserves to be ahead of those who envy him. For twenty-five years the ladies of this union have pointed the way to happier Christmas life. Let us give them a couple of hails.

Came Mrs. James Louise Duffy with her mother, Mrs. Watkins, bringing a beautiful bouquet. The Louie Duffys now live on their ranch twelve miles west of Beeville. Also came Mrs. Leo Duffy (Fulcher) with another bouquet consisting of several cans of chili, hamburger, pears, etcetera, and so forth, and in the evening came Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Hurd for an hour’s conversation. Mrs. L. E. Liggett and the Shoemaker family successors to the celebrated Ramsey farm.

I wonder why it has taken me a quarter of a century to make contact with one of our most wonderful characters. I refer to Mr. F. Cornelius, Sr., living on his Juanita Ranch near Midfield. This man came here from Germany at the age of 18. He spoke no word of English, had no money, did not know one soul in the new country, but he knew how to work and how to be thrifty and how to make and keep friends.

Arriving in Galveston after a tempestuous sea voyage, he made his way out to DeWitt county where he obtained employment with Runge & Co. Here he was known as “Dutchy,” but he cared not for that, just went his way, putting in a full day of loyalty, saving his money, keeping good habits. He bought some land, a few cattle and was embarked on his life’s business. Married and raised eight children. After the loss of his wife, he married again and the union was blessed with nine children, and today thirteen of them are living. He is happily married to a most estimable woman, one of fine intelligence, a woman who is interesting, a woman who is lovingly called Josie by all the family, just as the first child, now Mrs. George Duffy, is called Mimi. For many years it has been the custom for the members of the family to assemble in honor of the birthday of the head of the klan. This year I was honored with an invitation to be present and for weeks I had anticipated the pleasures and joy of the event, but, alas, when the day arrived, my health would not permit the trip. I spent a day of sadness for the disappointment was great. I have been shut up for six months and this family gathering presented an opportunity to mingle with others. F. Cornelius, Sr., was 86 years of age December 2nd, but the celebration was held on the Sunday before, to accommodate many of the family living in Houston.

About seventy members of the family were present, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

The menu as always with these gatherings, was such as to make a stronger man than I envy those present. Turkey, fried chicken, barbecued beef, goat and pig, salads, pies, cakes, coffee steaming hot from the big pot. Well, I ought to know about this, for did not that splendid girl Josie, put up and send me a generous helping of those goodies and with six kinds of cake. You bet I know about the eats, even if I was deprived of the social contact.

I am in training now for the next birthday and it will be my business to be in a health condition that will insure my presence. Mr. Cornelius at 86 stands straight as an arrow, good color, fine speaking voice and appears to be sixty. He is a grand young man and I hope at same age I may have his youth.

Well, this day I am looking forward to the coming of Mary Louise for the Christmas celebration. Two weeks from Wednesday I’ll be happy to see her face lighted with the glow of youth, hear her voice and in memory I go back to the days when she climbed the willow tree.

“It’s a long time since your voice I’ve heard,
A voice singing so like a bird.
It came from far up in the big willow tree,
‘Daddy I’m way up as far as you can see.’”
--Fragments From Hack.

It is Sunday and we have been transported from Emmanual Jewish Temple in Dallas where we heard beautiful music by the choir, prayful prayers, splendid sermon to Carnegie Hall, New York to hear the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra in four selections. The miserable wretch feeds her music loving soul on this wonderful music and her face is transformed.

When I told a friend that we heard music from the radio before those in the studio heard it, he refused to believe it and was amazed when I explained the reason. Radio waves travel at the rate of 180,000 miles per second, while sound waves travel only 1,800 feet per second. Isn’t that easy? You may believe it or not.

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, December 10, 1936

By Harry Austin Clapp

[Local information taken from longer article about gambling.]

“I am just thrilled to hear that you are getting well and strong. I won’t forget to thank God in my prayers tonight that you are on the road to recovery.” And here is another: “We are very happy and thankful that God answered our prayers and that you are getting well again.” These letters are from two little Texas girls. With two such sweethearts a man is obliged to start back. These little girls believe in prayer.

Dallas, Texas
Dec. 9th, 1936

“Dear Mr. Clapp: I thank you for your letter of the 6th inst., and assure you that I am more than pleased to have you call me “friend.” It is very kind of you to compliment the Sunday morning radio services of Tempel Emanu-El in such warm terms and I do hope that you and Mrs. Clapp will continue to listen-in and participate in our services. I shall be glad to tell the Tempel Emanu-El choir of the fine things you say about singing.

Be assured that I appreciate what you, an Episcopalian, have to say concerning the Jewish people. We do pride ourselves upon being fine Americans, though we are at the same time loyal to our religious convictions.

My hope and prayer is that you will soon be well. Will you please, with Mrs. Clapp, continue to listen-in on Sunday mornings.

Very sincerely and cordially yours,

David Lefrowitz,
Rabbi Tempel Emmanu-El, Dallas

Just brought to us by our Zenith. Isn’t life wonderful?

Two fat ducks from Gustave Franzen, the one some folks call “Goose.” I don’t like that word when applied to as fine a boy as Gustave. He is a duck of a boy but he is not by any means a “goose.”

I have just received my 1937 Christmas cards. They are from the Tribune press and are not only beautifully executed but an admirable example of the craftsman’s art. Quality stock, clean cut impression and I am proud to send them out to my friends. Printing from the Tribune is always second to none and equaled by only a few.

A pleasant and very welcome visit from Vern Batchelder. When a fellow is shut in as I am these visits make bright green spots in the daily life.

It will not be long now before we shall have the Christmas greens, the tree sparkling in its brilliant trimming. This season presents a time for us to remember the other fellow.

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, Dec. 17. 1936

By Harry Austin Clapp

[Local information taken from longer article about Christmas.]

There is an ache in my heart this day, for one who stood by my side last Christmas and drank with me a toast for our happiness, has gone his way and left me to go my way. The sorrow stays and will not [go] down. His memory is like a thread of gold in a royal purple cloth. By this ache I experience the true thrill of the Christmas tide. This departed friend would want me to have in the fullest the Christmas spirit and the joys and happiness that is mine. That’s the sort of man he was. He wanted folk to be happy.  We should remember that when we have done something to make life happier for the least of those about us, we have done a worthy thing for the Christ. Let this Christmas be filled with music—fine music the sort that stirs one’s soul and causes heart strings to vibrate. Let us sing the old carols and let us not forget to pray.

Place in the window, a candle that the passerby may see and accept the invitation. This has been our custom for many years and one Christmas night as we were preparing for the Christmas feast, we heard a knock on the knocker and opening the door we met a man who had been finding himself on the wrong road. He entered and asked for instructions and was invited to sit at our old oaken board. He was an interesting man and we enjoyed his company. We found that he was a member of Christ Church, Houston, that his daughter was a worker in one of the guilds and that she had been at Camp Allen with Mary Louise. The candle has brought us other happy experiences. Place the candle and see what you may catch.

When you look into the heavens this Christmas and watch the sparkling stars, just remember that you are looking at the same command prepared to sacrifice his stars that flecked the blue sky, when Abraham obeying God’s son; the same stars that glittered over the herdsman and his flock; that saw David and Soloman and that led the Wise Men to the cradle and witnessed the birth of Jesus. The very same stars. And now many the Star of Bethlehem shine in our faces this Christmas day.

This from Kansas: “Looks to me as if Mr. Clapp made a trip into the astral and has brought back glimpses of the spiritual world. I am convinced that it is possible. Mr. Hurd’s passing is a great sorrow to the pioneers of Collegeport. Like Moses, he was allowed to see the promised land, but not permitted to dwell therein. It would help the son if he could feel that from the angel world his spirit will guide those who carry on the unfinished task. The Hurds have fought nobly for their ideals and won.” This astral business rather got me but I find it means a very beautiful thought; pertaining to coming from or resembling the stars. I most certainly reached the stars during my crisis.

Dryden says: “some actual forms I must invoke by prayer. A welcome visit from that miracle man, Doctor Wagner, who gave me much advice and a car load of as the Mexicans say “remedias.” I took both.

December 10th, the British empire lost a king and in forty eight hours a new king was hearing “God Save the King.” All in forty eight hours without fuss, undue excitement, great expense and the world’s greatest empire settles down. Take a look at America. When we choose a new president, what happens? Just four months of business uncertainty, the squandering of fifteen million dollars, trains rushing from ocean to ocean, hot stuff delivered from rear end platforms, many unkind and cruel words said and a general ripping up of social and political affairs. For four months we are like a vicious boil, tender and irritating. After all this turmoil, we settle down in our smugness. And we sing the song of Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Ye Gods!

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, December 24, 1936


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November 14, 2009
November 14, 2009