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Collegeport Articles

 February 1936


By Harry Austin Clapp


It's a long trail from way back in the sixties to this year of 1936, but all trails have an end and Robert Duncan Murry came to the end of the trail at the home of Henry Duffy Saturday morning at 4:45, aged 67 years, one month and seven days. He leaves a wife, two daughters and a son, four sisters and four brothers. Services were held from the Walker-Matchett Funeral Home and interment in the Bay City Cemetery. Active pallbearers were his old friends, the boys he used to talk things over with, the Messrs. Batchelder, Bowers, Ash, Fulcher, Ackerman and Nelson. Regardless of what any person thinks of this subject, it is my intention to pay a tribute to a remarkable character. I have known this man for some twenty-six years. When I came to this place, he was the first native to speak to me and ever since we have been good friends. Robert Murry was born in the cattle business and followed it to the last. In the early years he participated in the great drives to Dodge City, drives which required months of heaviest toil. He made the trips and knew all about the hardships. He had eyes that saw many things, ears that heard much, but God gave him a still tongue, so he spoke little. At times in a reminiscent mood, he would tell a tale that a writer might have expanded into romance3.


He was not known as a religious man, as he talked little, but on two occasions he told me of this faith, a faith built on "The Rock of Ages" and the twenty-third Psalm. This faith was to him sufficient, and it carried him through in silence. I wish many more might have enjoyed just this sort of faith. Such faith, such sufficient faith, is a wonderful thing for any man. It is an anchor that holds. Robert Murry was a kind man, a generous one, always helpful and willing. Many times he cared for the sick, arranged details for the dead. Never intrusive, but always ready to lend a helping hand. Many, many times he came to me and gave me aid with sick cattle and in this he was a genius. Never would he accept a penny, always saying, "glad to help you out." I feel a personal loss in the passing of this man and give this tribute to his worth as I knew him.


Love abode in his family. His children adored the father. Might be a good idea if other families would learn from the Murry family how to love each other. To his family I extend my sympathy and trust that in time the great Trail Driver in the Heavens above will soften the grief and bring them comfort.


"It's a long, long wonderful trail

From way back there to here;

At last he hears the Master's hail

The coming of tomorrow's year.

The end of the trail.


At last he came to the end of the trail

It's a long road from here to there;

It came as the sun began to pale

As it brought a blush to the morning air.

The end of the trail."


--Fragments From Hack.


Us poor sufferers down here on earth sure have endured a plenty this week for day after day it has been mud, rain, freeze. Cattlemen had much to worry about, but from all I have heard, losses have been slight. Temperatures down to 20 at times. Cutting wood and stoking the stoves kept me warm most of the time, but when exposed, icicles three feet long soon hung from my walrus mustache, or maybe it was my long silken beard, anyway, they hung. I broke them off and made the miserable wretch think they were candy sticks. My three hens cut down to one egg per day, but that was enough for me. My partner does not like eggs, thanks to the gods.


Saturday it was warmer, but a steady drizzle, but as it was the day for voting on "shall we have liquor or shall we not" thirty-three came out, with the result that twenty said we shall not and thirteen said "wish we had a drink." Outside of revenue, it makes not one particle of difference to the folk of this county which way we vote. There always has been, there always will be, plenty of liquor for those who desire it and it is easily and legally obtained. I have always been a strict pro with some exceptions. But in this election, I have felt just negative. I did not care which way the bull jumped. This idea of forcing all people to eat, drink, dance, enjoy life as I do or deprive them of things I do not enjoy, is the bunkiest bunk the Lord ever placed in the mind of a human. It has never worked and never will. I enjoy pigs' feet, but some of my best friends detest the sight of this delicacy. Shall I force them to consume pigs' feet? Just to digress, it is my opinion that a dish of pigs' feet with sauerkraut and a stein of cold beer is a luncheon and this desirable, sustaining and nourishing and I write this as a strict pro. Anyway, the people have chosen and I thank God there was no attempt to take from me those pigs' feet.


The Lee Players came over Friday night and put on the play "What Is Love?" Not necessary to play this theme, for believe me, I know what love is. I have enjoyed more than sixty years grazing in love's pasture and I know considerable about the legitimate and the illegitimate brands and they are all good. To love is to live, and when I lose the ability to love, I ask God to come down and take me home. The players took in nine depreciated dollars. Had they advertised, us Homecrofters would have contributed thirty cents, but we knew nothing about it until the next day.


Friday, Miss Carter of Reserve fame, spent the day making an attempt to boost the local reserves into attempting some constructive efforts. Tough deal, as most of them limit their ambition to bare legs, painted faces, frizzed hair, auto rides, rowdy actions and never a thought of community welfare. Oh, well, maybe as the years pass they will acquire some better idea of character values.


The clock on the mantel just struck one and I should be done, but my left brain flutters a bit and as it turns and twists, comes another thought. Saturday Burton Hurd honored me with the privilege of reading the field notes, applications to State Water Board, Highway Commission and Federal Army Engineers, and a sight of the maps and the plans of what appears to be the most gigantic development plan ever attempted in the Texas midcoast. It appears to be the most comprehensive far reaching development plan that will revolutionize conditions in this section. It will form a sportsman paradise for fishers and hunters; irrigate more than one hundred thousand acres; increase our population by ten thousand folk; impound the largest body of fresh water in the state; furnish freight for many trucks and rail transportation; develop a gigantic truck business; greatly increase rice production and incidentally revolutionize marketing systems; it will build two great dams, one of them between this place and Palacios, a mile long, the other about half that distance; it will provide us with a twenty-foot road way across the bay to the City By The Sea. A hearing will be held in Palacios February 18th, before army engineers, at which time all persons interested or not interested may come and speak their desires. I have read every word, examined all maps and plans and they look beautiful to me. At the same time, I must confess that as feeble a brain as I have and only half functioning, I am dazed, overcome, subjugated, and my left lobe freely quivers with amazement at the audacity of the man who had the vision to plan such a colossal, cyclopean marvel. I therefore doff my sombrero to Burton D. Hurd. If there be any person who desires to throw a wrench in this machinery for good work, let him be present the eighteenth and say his say; likewise, if there be those who have some vision and approve, let them also come and with helpful words, aid in the project or otherwise hold their peace.


The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, February 6, 1936



By Harry Austin Clapp


[Local information taken from longer article.]


I am told that the county voted wet by a majority of more than four hundred. It will now be the duty of the powers that be to fix the tax for a liquor store so high that the owner cannot make a living profit and thus enable the bootleggers to continue their profitable trade. This appears to be the rule in other places, so why expect more from our own powers? The solution is to make the tax very reasonable require prices to be also within reason, engage in a never-ending warfare on those who violate the liquor laws, send them to the pen and protect legitimate dealers. What we desire is temperance in the use of drinks, pigs feet, turnip greens and pot likker.


We have enjoyed a tempestuous week with roaring north gales, considerable rain, low temperatures. We all hug the stove and shiver. Don't talk to us about the balmy southland breezes that come capering across miles of tossing seas. These breezes come from the north pole and sweep down on us without warning and we have had enough, so beat it, north wind.


The Woman's Union was billed to meet with Mrs. Hattie Kundinger last Thursday and anticipated a good crowd. Hattie made thirty-six little cherry pies, topped with whipped cream and nestling on top a big red cherry. She had thin slices of white bread cut diamond shape, spread with caviar, one of Hugo's delectable cream cakes with pink frosting and delicious coffee. Not a soul was present. Even the officers stayed away. Rain, cold winds, mud, was just too much for the daughters to travel in. There was Hattie with all this elegant food so she passed it out to her hungry neighbors and we had two of the pies and they were just as glorious as glory could be. If Hattie will have another meeting and the same menu, I'll organize the King's Sons and we will be there.


School trucks fighting the continued storms, the mud and rain were a usual thing of late but at last the kiddies were assembled and study went on.


Monday I took the box of votes to Bay City and was surprised to learn that the county had decided that it wanted booze. Being a strict pro, I am unable to understand this for since 1907 the county has been legally bone dry, but illegally wringing wet.


Tuesday the 19th, a hearing will be held in Palacios that means much to this section. It is hoped that a number of our people will be present and speak their piece or keep their peace. This is no time to throw rocks. It may be, probably is, the last time we shall have a chance to dream of a causeway. The reason why this place and Palacios voted dry was because of the prospect of having a causeway and the voters thought there would be wet enough on both sides. Up to date no application has been made for a liquor store in Collegeport, but judging from the amount of liquor used, it might be a good business. One man said he would take out a permit, but he feared his family would raise hell.


This has been a poor week for news. Everyone staying about the stoves, hence no fights, wife beatings, and so forth.


A card from Raymond Hunt informs me that he is in the Canal Zone and will write me again from Ecuadore. He likes the ship life and enjoys fine health. Buster will make good. He is receiving a splendid education and is in line for advancement. We have reason to be proud of this lad.


The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, February 13, 1936



Collegeport Home Demonstration Club


The Collegeport Home Demonstration Club met Tuesday, February 11, with seven members and four visitors present. Refinishing old furniture was demonstrated, hat and shoe racks were displayed and several finished articles were reported, including quilts, rugs, and work on the new model clothes closet, which was demonstrated by Mrs. Sides at our meeting held January 14, and was attended by eight members and four visitors.


Mrs. Crane, Reporter


Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, February 20, 1936



By Harry Austin Clapp


[Local information taken from longer article.]


St. Valentine treated me in royal style. I received three big red heart shaped boxes beautifully decorated and containing a pound of chocolates. Then my "Vice" remembered me and here comes a sweet valentine from Denver with verse placed to music. Several other remembrances and among our callers were Mrs. Patricia Martyn and Louise Sharp from Palacios. Unable to drive to our gate, they left their car four blocks away and walked in the mud that distance. I hope the Precinct Commissioner reads this. Thursday night Charles Heck with a party of four bogged down near our place and it took nearly an hour to extricate the car. I hope the Precinct Commissioner reads this. Friday night the High School gave a Valentine party at the home of the Dean Mercks. With their guests more than fifty were present. They enjoyed games and stunts suitable for the time and were served with delicious refreshments prepared by Mrs. Merck. Saturday several drove to Blessing to attend to a meeting of the District Board of the Girl Reserves. I am informed that an interesting program was enjoyed.


A brisk dry norther entertained us for a day and then followed some mild weather which suggested Spring. We are prepared to give it a welcome when, as and if. Library opened Friday as usual and about forty books placed in eager readers' hands. There be some who thoroughly appreciate the library and the work of the faithful women who operate it. Many are indifferent. Some never visit the building but it stands there a monument to the vision of a woman who dreamed twenty-five years ago.


It don't seem possible that the men of this place will stay away from the hearing in Palacios next Tuesday, but from all I am able to observe they are quite indifferent. One thing is plainly seen. The promoters of this great plan are trying to do something and it is much better to try and fail than to sit on one's haunches on the buzzard's roost and do nothing. Our burg is full up with do-nothings.


Mr. Ainsworth, our oyster man, was found unconscious in his boat the other day, the boat floating in the slough. He was taken to his home and the next day was out in his usual health. This man is rendering the community a valuable service.


The long period of rains will delay planting and should be a lesson to our farmers. Those who plowed and laid up their land last fall are sitting quite pretty for they are ready to plant soon as the season permits. The other fellows will no doubt blame the poor crops season on weather and cuss out the climate. They should read "Farm Notes by F. O. Montague. They might learn something about what is called practical farming.


I read in the Beacon that I have been placed in the "Honor List." I am very much pleased if it means I shall have the privilege of reading the Beacon each week. It is a bright, snappy sheet which Palacios should be proud of. It is eight pages filled with interesting matter. It enjoys fair advertising patronage but still not enough, for every merchant in the town should use space and thus encourage a healthy growth. It is the mouth piece of the town. It takes, to many people, the heart beats of Palacios and they read it eagerly.


The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, February 20, 1936



By Harry Austin Clapp


Tuesday I attended a hearing at Palacios. I was not in it. I was not a part of it. I was just a "has been" sitting on the observation car. Often have I traveled this country and sitting there watched the tracks receded, narrow, come together in a point, disappear in the distance. Tuesday I saw the same thing and I felt that arguments, protests will also vanish in the distance. I estimate that about one hundred men were present, nearly all provided with a little hatchet of protests. In spite of the fact that Colonel Marks, who had charge of the hearing, emphasized the point that the Army department was interested only in the subject of navigation at least ninety-five per cent of the protests covered such points as irrigation, land flooding, stoppage of drains. Only two real protests were made against the building of the dam across to Palacios, one by G. A. Salsbury, with thirty-five signatures, and I am informed that of that number only three were property owners and the other by Captain Howard Stapp, Sr. Captain Stapp's protest was practically eliminated because from his own testimony he used the upper Palacios Bay very few times for refuge from storms. Carlton Crawford representing the Crawford Packing Company, testified that they owned and controlled thirty-five boats and that they never used the upper bay for refuge as they considered Carancahua Bay a much safer harbor. Six protests were received as against the dam across Carancahua Bay; Port Lavaca 3, LaWard 1, Edna 1, and Palacios 1. These were of such a nature that they will be easily adjusted. Granting the request of Mr. Fletcher Colonel Marks adjourned the hearing for thirty days in order that Mr. Fletcher and others might have time to study the plan in detail. To this Mr. Burton Hurd readily gave his consent as he very much desires that all facts be known and none obscured. At the close of the hearing, Mr. Hurd made a brief statement. He spoke in a gentle, easy manner using language that reflected his great ambition to accomplish a work of great value to this section. From the stenographic report, I gave the following from Mr. Hurd's statement: "I am glad to have this opportunity to hear the opposition and to have a chance to meet those gentlemen and go over the plans for the development. I do not wish to take up the time of Colonel Marks in doing so and will be glad to go over the plans and discuss in detail the various phases of the proposition either individually or collectively with all interested parties at my office or any designated point whenever the opportunity presents itself by those in opposition. My idea of this development was entirely progressive. This will be clearly demonstrated when the proposition is understood by those who oppose it. That there has been no navigation in these waters of any consequence in the past twenty years is a well known fact. That there are mud flats at the entrance to both the Palacios River and Carancahua Creek that would not be negotiated by any craft drawing two feet of water is also known. Further that I will provide locks in the structure if and when, the possibility of navigation demands it." I have no boats and I have no cars, but I have two good legs and therefore I am interested in this construction as it plans for a twenty foot highway and enable anyone to cross the bay from this place to Palacios in about three minutes. I desire the privilege of walking across this causeway and I am for the project strong. After the hearing, I was invited to a luncheon at the pavilion. Fourteen were present, proponents and some opponents, but all sat at one table in friendly intercourse. Oyster cocktails, oysters raw, oysters stewed, oysters fried, oysters broiled, steaks, vegetables, hot rolls and coffee were enjoyed. Looking at Colonel Marks' plate I saw he was feeding on the elegant apple pie and so I had one and boy, it was no bake shop stuff, but red hot out of the oven, guilt with a generous pay streak and just as delicious as the gods could make. The Pavilion cafe is a sweet, clean place, all in light green with plenty of windows overlooking the bay, giving a view of it's sparkling, dancing water, except this day the water did not sparkle because under the influence of a norther, the tide was low and water flowed in a sluggish tired manner. However, one might look and at no extra cost. The service is all that one might demand and that means perfection. The food generous in quantity and gorgeous in quality. Palacios may well be proud of the Pavilion and its beautiful cafe and soon as that causeway is open for traffic, us Collegeports will walk over and claim part ownership. Any Palacios business man who fails to support this proposition passes by the greatest trade bringing possibility that has ever been offered. It will release and add to the present trade area more than two hundred square miles with something like sixteen hundred potential buyers. You merchants who are straddling the fence better get off on the cultivated side and prepare to join in the harvest. Before I close this string I wish to congratulate the City of Palacios on the membership of the Pavilion and sea wall commission. The men who gave their time freely, accepted abuse, aspersions, vituperation and smilingly bent to the work and saw it through to beautiful completion should have and do have the gratitude of the people they served.


Friday night we observed the annual banquet in honor of George Washington. Tables were laid with a beautiful service for one hundred, but for some unknown reason, only about seventy-five were present. At each plate was found a red hatchet and a bundle of faggots, the latter consisting of strips of candied orange peel in red, white and blue. The tables were beautifully decorated in national colors and on the platform was displayed a large colored picture of George Washington. Mrs. Burton D. Hurd acted as toaster, and in her usual happy manner introduced the speakers, the principal ones being Burton D. Hurd, H. A. Clapp and Vernon Hurd, each of whom consumed about ten minutes in statements appropriate to the occasion. Table service was without objection, it was so near perfect and the girls were all dressed in colonial costume. Elliott Curtis, dressed in knee breeches and a white wig, appeared to be the court jester, for he seemed to have much enjoyment making wise comments on any statement made by speakers. It was amusing to listen to the singing of The Star Spangled Banner. Everyone knows the first verse and so all joined in and sang lustily. Came the second verse and a few dropped out; came the third verse and more fell along the wayside; came the fourth and only about a half dozen staggered through the lines. It was one of the real funny events of the evening. In my opinion it is much better to sing one verse lustily, heartily, than to attempt to drag a few faltering ones through the entire book. It was an enjoyable evening and the affair was a credit to the faithful few on whose shoulders fell the work of preparation and administration. Every two years some of the Bay City folk are interested in us and make us a visit. They seek something we have to give and when, as and if, they find what they desire, they fade away and we seldom see any of them for two more years. This is what brought Mr. S. O. Eidman to our banquet. He is after votes and if he is elected or defeated, he, like all the rest of our Court House gang, will forget us for two years. He brought with him his charmingly sweet wife and I was delighted to meet her again. She looks like a young girl, so fresh is her face. If she stands for office I would enjoy voting for her. I was also much pleased to see Mr. Eidman again and am glad that he is back in Matagorda County. He is a well known business man and if he is chosen for the position he seeks, no doubt he will fill it with ability. Ruby Hawkins, R. A. Kleska, Oscar Barber, Rose Newman, Harris Milner, A. D. Hensley, stand up and explain your absence. You should have been present with your thirty-five cents and your little cards. And George Harrison, Ray Phillips, G. C. Lawson. I suppose you were all waiting for the causeway to open. All you political guys love us generously once in two years. Why can't you play love with us more often and several times each year come down and mix in. None of us have rabies. We are harmless. We might, if demanded, provide a throat cleaner.


Saturday we were favored with a visit from Mrs. George Duffy of El Campo and Mrs. Leo Duffy of the big Duffy cattle ranch south of town. Before they left, we were invited to go with Myrtle Tuesday to Midfield to visit Mrs. Duffy's father, who being a Tribune reader, expressed a desire to meet the writer of "Thoughts." Weather permitting, I'll be there and look forward to the engagement with eager anticipation. Results next week. Grasping a stout stick of wood, I announce that Tuesday was cold but brilliant. Wednesday and Thursday not quite so good, but Friday, Saturday and Sunday bright and resplendent sunshine, doors open and good bye fires, at least for a time, but I still hold fast to that stick of wood for safety sake.


The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, February 27, 1936



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