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Collegeport Articles

April 1937

By Harry Austin Clapp

When I landed in Collegeport, I met two remarkable characters. One was Robert Murry. For 25 years we were on ever-increasing friendly terms. I always took my cow troubles to Robert and he always responded and never would accept a penny for his services. He did many kind things for me and it need not be stated that I miss this man. The other was my old friend Jed Prutz. I met him one day down by the slough. He is a great fisherman. Tall, oh, say, about five-ten or eleven. Lanky, skinny, not an ounce of surplus flesh, all sinew and strength. He has a thatch of gray hair which is getting a bit thin now, blue eyes that at times are as soft as a maiden’s prayer words and again burning with stern fire. He wears what is called a walrus mustache, the ends of which turn up like the handle bars of a bicycle and the middle a deep yellow from the juice of the kisses left by Lady Nicotine. Teeth colored by continued use of chewing. His hands would please an artist for they are well shaped, show strength. They are slender and delicate, but my goodness how strong they are. If you don’t believe it, shake hands with Jed and then you will believe that strength rests in slender hands. From time to time I have a hankering to see Jed and listen to his philosophic talk so I hunted him up.

Hunting Jed, I first go to the shack where he lives with the old woman. There I found her bending over a wash board earning money with which to buy food for Jed. Alongside, a wash pot filled with clothes bubbled merrily. The old woman has a tooth out in front of [her] upper jaw and through it she can spit fifty feet and hit a nickel. Before she talked, she dug up a stick chewed into a brush, took out a can of snuff and proceeded to swab her gums and then she spat a yellow stream at a fly and did she hit him? Oh, boy, you should have seen that fly. In reply to my enquiry as to Jed’s whereabouts, she said, “how in the hell do I know where that worthless coot is?” And then she said, “hunt along the slough and maybe you will find at least his dirty hide.” Along the slough I went and at last there he was on his back. Two poles stuck in the ground and around each big toe was tied a fish line. All set for fishing. I said, “Jed, my old and valued friend, how does the world treat you?” He sat up, spat a yellow stream in the slough and said, “Cain’t find no kind of fault. I don’t own nuthin’ so I pay none of them taxes, my old woman buys my grub so I kin keep a fishin’.” “What do you think of national affairs?” I enquired. In reply he said “Jest look at me. I am seventy-eight years old and I know more about fish and fishin’ than any of these here young coots and that’s the way with them old men up there in Washington. They know more than the hull passel of brain busters thet the presidunt hez hangin’ aroun’ him.” About two spits and he continued. “I believe we jes’ better leave this here constitushion alone. It’s good fur all of us and so bein’ no tax payer I believe in lettin’ things slide.” He replied over and with many a grunt and groan and sat up, for a fish had hooked onto one of his toe lines and soon he landed a big red. Raising up the looked at me and said, “Now about this penshun bizness. It don’t worry me worth a dam site. I got no taxes to pay an’ I don’t need any penshun so long as the old woman kin git plenty of washin’. So long as she duz, I sit plenty purty and easy, so I’ll say I don’t give a single damn fur any of them penshuns. “Well, so long, kid. I got to git to fishin’ or the old woman will snap hell out uv me.” I walked away and left him there with the fish lines tied to his toes. And yet old Jed Prutz is a likeable old cuss and as often as I can, I go and listen to his talk. Jed has been my friend for many years and although he is sort of a worthless old coot. I enjoy meeting him.

Tuesday came Rev. Paul Engle bringing the Holy Eucharist. Great comfort to a soul groping in the darkness, guided by the light that comes from the cross.

Also came Dr. and Mrs. W. W. Van Wormer who are looking over the town site making some plans for future development, the nature of which was not revealed. They both look like a plethora of ready cash. Fine looking couple. Mrs. Van has beautiful red hair and I like red headed gals. They take me back to the days when my baby had a glint of red in her bonnie thatch. We enjoyed to the limit the short stay and hope before they leave we may have them again with time enough to say more than “hello! Come again!” Some day this Springfield Doc is going to build the dream of his life. A beautiful sanitarium on the bay shore.

We have in this burg a woman who is a very busy soul. I don’t know how she does it all. She has a family of five, does all the house work, feeds them well. She directs and cares for a junior choir, secretary of the woman’s club, librarian, secretary of school board, secretary of Mopac House Foundation, secretary of County Federation of Woman’s Clubs, vice-president of district board of Houston YMCA, active member of woman’s union, King’s Daughters and the Lord only knows what other activities. In every civic effort this woman puts in a willing and able hand. I don’t know how she does it, but she does. Wish we had a few more cut from the same cloth.

That good, kind soul, Dena D. Hurd, made us a beautiful angel food cake which we sent to Mary Louise for an Easter remembrance. This has been our custom for many years and we never fail our girl. Some thing binds us three together in bonds of golden cords and we just stand together for good or ill. Whatever comes, we three will be there, ready. Great idea. Well, anyway, the cake was a peach, all glistening in its white frosty dress and inside I know what was there and so I say, “Oh, boy!”

Friday is called Good Friday. Why? It commemorates the death of Jesus, so why Good Friday? Because it means the beginning of a new day for the Christian world. It is the day of passion and in Roman and Anglican Catholic Churches the world over is held the three-hour service. The faithful few are there on their knees for three hours listening to the words that came from the cross. To many, three hours once each year is just too much and they either stay away or, rising before the three hours is over turn their backs on the Christ and walk out. Three hours is just too much to spend for Christ and yet they will gladly spend that much time in a show house or the night at a dance. So they turn their back on the Christ. Those who stay go away with a comforted soul—a clean feeling—a joyous, happy glow. Wish we might be at St. Marks’s this Good Friday. And then comes Easter. A few will be out at seven in the morning for the communion service. A few of the faithful, but boy, tell it to me around eleven when everyone will be there doing their annual duty to the church that attends them at birth, during life and delivers the last mass at death. Glad clothes, flowers, spring hats and new suits and shoes, everything aglitter for ‘tis the day of fashion. The alms basin will be well filled, communion will be taken on a tummy filled with undigested breakfast and all will go away feeling that duty has been observed. The few faithful will be there at seven and again at eleven. What would we do without the few faithful? What would Christ have done without the few faithful who waited at the foot of the cross for death to descend? O, la la, the world moves slowly, but it moves and each year we remember the light that shines from the cross and we realize that on this day two thousand years ago the world witnesses its greatest tragedy, the triumphant failure.

I am not much impressed by what is called a shower. If intended to be an honor, it at times is a splendid idea, but many times it compels folks to attend who are not very much interested. A chivarie is quite another thing. It is just plain rube in its action and as a rule is organized and carried through by the sort of folk who live across the track or down by the pickle factory. If you understand what I mean, you will understand that I think a chivarie is lacking in refinement. It shows no culture and to make a long tale short, is just the rubiest of rube manifestations. If a chivarie party approached my home I would consider it an insult and treat the participants as a bunch of lawless hoodlums. Perhaps you now know what I think of a chivarie. A chivarie has been pulled off in this community several times and never a creditable affair.

March has been going out by giving us about four days of the lion’s roar. That means four days of strong, cold north winds with heavy clouded skies, mist, and at times rain. It has been four or five very nasty days, causing us to go into a huddle about the red hot stove. We sure long for the south sea breeze.

The Palacios oil well has blew in or something like that. The gas flares light up the night for a mile around. This well is only two miles from us so maybe we will be able to eat some cake. Leases and royalty bring high prices and the end is not in sight.

Easter passed quietly with only one caller, Mr. John Shoemaker, who brought us the latest oil news. Had no chance to wear our new frock or bonnet and no opportunity for the service of our church. So passed the day.

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, April 1, 1937

By Harry Austin Clapp

It is the close of a beautiful day. The sun is slowly settling to rest in the west. Streaks of shimmering light comes to my eyes like the radiated light blossoms from the pearly wings of a million butterflies. In the fading light the white buildings over at Palacios lose their identity and appear like the white dress of a young bride, waiting for her lover. The lover is on the way from centuries of resting nine thousand feet underneath the surface and the bride blushes and blooms anew. The sun is down; the sky is painted in delicate shades of pink and from the Corona streaks of jubilant color pierce the sky. Shafts of reds, pinks, greens, blues, orchids, pearl and it requires no elastic imagination to see forming in the delicate semi-transparent filmy clouds, castles in the air. We may see the turrets, the great gates and the drawbridge and from it come pouring hordes of horsemen in glittering armor. I mean one may see this beautiful pageant if one has imagination. Behind the castle are continued streaks of flaming fires like flares of fired arrows shot by some unseen hand, into the heavens, a remonstrance against the dying day. A faint yellow streak across the waters of the bay still discovers the downward path of the retiring sun. In the open, is visible a strip of moonlight from the moon that has followed the sun and it, too, will pass into decadence.

I have witnessed sunsets from the top of Pike’s Peak, from the deck of a ship of the western ocean; from a bed by the trail; from the shaft of a mine; from below the sea; but never have I seen more gorgeous sun and moon effects as are see here many times each year. We have many beautiful things in this Southland, if we only know how to recognize them. Flowers, grasses, shrubs, plant life of all kinds and with them the tiny insect and animal life that lives therein. These things are for observant eyes and for folk with imagination. To others the book is closed. Watch the west and the glory of the setting sun. Watch the east as the moon spills its silvery luster over the earth’s rim. You’ll be seein’ things.

Saturday I suffered what might be called a backward step and so thanks to John and Lutie Shoemaker, I was taken to Palacios so the miracle man might give me the once or twice over. He did and gave me a pouch of belly ammunition and I returned very tired and ready for my little cot.

One must go out of town to hear nearby news and so I met Ray Phillips who informed me that the oil well east of town had blown in with the largest flow in the country. This was news to me for when I left, there was no blowing. I am informed that the operators are installing a Christmas tree and whatever it is I hope Santa Claus will hang on it a big gush of black gold. The well at Palacios, about two miles from where I write, is a well making satisfactory flow and accepted by the State Oil Board. The derrick is being taken down and removed about 900 feet for an offshoot well. I don’t know what that means but it looks good on paper and the readers will think I am well posted. A big house boat and three small motor boats are in Palacios. The house boat for the home of a group of geologists who, using the small boats will test out the bay floor. Sure looks like a great field has been opened. Don’t say ‘nay’ to Palacios folk for the resent such language.

Mrs. Dena Hurd, president of the local Woman’s Club, also president of the County Federation, is in Houston this week attending a meeting of the District Texas Woman’s Club Federation. Mrs. Agnes Liggett is also in Houston as a delegate from the local church to the District Presbytery. Needless to state that these two leaders will make a creditable showing.

March 31st ended by giving us a slight freeze and a heavy frost which nipped beans, peas, radishes, corn and cotton much to the disgust of farmers and gardeners. Just proves that the gamble is still in the farming game. We have excellent mustard, lettuce and young onions not touched.

Mr. William Korn, tearing out a window frame in the house where he lives and at one time occupied by Lytle and Russell Hull, found a tin tobacco box and in it a penny, a foreign coin, and a slip of paper, on which was written March 1912, and signed Lytle Hull. That was twenty-five years ago when Lytle hid that box. Wonder why? Old timers will recall the Hull brothers as they lived here for some time and while they were here everybody knew they were here. Lytle now fishes with President Roosevelt  on Vincent Astor’s yacht.

There appears to be much interest in the plan to pack the Supreme Court where nine old men loll on their seats and deliver decisions. The plan is to either force them to make proper pleasing decisions or fly off a perch to which they have been appointed for life. So thinking about their sad predicament, my thoughts go to our old man in the northwest corner of the Court House. It must be about time to demand that he retire. Like the nine, he also appears to be appointed for life, therefore, if he refuses to leave his cubicle, the County Judge should have authority to appoint one nurse auditor each year until we have six auditors and then each of them should be compelled to remove themselves at the age of seventy, for that age is now recognized by our highest to be the age of senility, mental decay, old age idiocy. And going farther, it appears that the county clerk and tax collector are both life termers and so they should come under the this seventy year rule, and if they refuse to resign, the County Judge should appoint one clerk and one collector each year for six years. We must get shut of all horse and buggy people who clutter up our offices and refuse to make decision or operate offices as laid down by the highest. The judge, county attorney, superintendent of schools, treasurer, county nurse and county agent are exempt, for they are in jobs so long as they behave. If they fail to do as ordered, why it’s raus mit em.

Now this worry is off my mind, I record that Mrs. Agnes Liggett is home from Houston where she fixed up the Presbyterian Church affairs for a few months. Mrs. Hurd, who was there to look over the State Federation Board, is still in Houston, having a swell time.

School election Saturday with Mesdames Crane, Murry and Mr. Merck receivers of ballots. No one knows the result thus far.

When I read this copy to the miserable wretch, she said, “What about the four old men who form the county commissioners’ court?” In reply I told her that they were just there to take orders from the Judge same as Congress takes orders from Roosevelt and the State Legislature takes orders from the governor. They are so near the retirement age that we may very well allow them to stay until their life term ends. They are four nice old men, harmless and obedient, so let’s not worry about them.

My life partner told me Sunday that we’d better take down the stove and in less than fifteen minutes, down swooped a norther and the temperature took a sudden tumble way down the line. “Wimmen is queer critters,” said Josh Billings.

My geranium, a gift from Mrs. F. Cornelius, Sr., is still blooming away. Guess I’ll go up to Juanita Ranch and tell her about that fine gift. Boy, it is chilly this morning of the 5th.

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, April 8, 1937

By Harry Austin Clapp

The desk on the south side has been vacant and a slight film of dust has collected. On the top rests a tab of yellow copy paper and on it is found a he man’s pencil. It is a big woody pencil, with heavy lead and makes a broad mark. In the hands of the master it has written yards of scorching editorials and possibly will again. The Senior, with lessened health vitality, seeks recovery over in Kerrville, so it is up to I and Mirth to get out the Tribune. This, I and Mirth have done very day except Sunday. Often it came out a six sheeter and sometimes an eighter, but it always came out and with plenty of society news, good two barreled stuff from Mirth and that boy is some writer, let me inform you, if you don’t know it already. The fact is he is almost as good as I.

Well the Senior should be a very proud pencil wielder, to know that in Junior he has a person who can assume the burden of a daily and weekly paper, get them both out on time and as good or better that when the old boy is on the job. I am informed that the Senior has returned much improved in health and I presume he will sharpen that pencil and—well the first editorial appeared today and covered the Sit-down Strike in his usual trenchant, incisive, piquant style. I enjoyed it especially because it reflected my own ideas.

After you read Mirth, the Senior’s editorial and Thoughts, I advise that you read the editorial in last week’s Collier on last page. After that is digested you will be feeling fine enough to read the story of Mrs. Brennie Moore in Sunday’s Chronicle, as told by Mrs. Louise Hill. A wonderful tale and Mrs. Moore’s slogan is “The Lord Blesses Us.” It might be well if more of us would use the same slogan. It is a tale of one woman’s struggle and shows what determination does for an individual and a family. They have two new shirts, which the Lord sent. If this woman can do what she has done, anyone in this world believing and trusting in God may accomplish as much. Read the story and adopt the slogan “The Lord Blesses Us.”

I congratulate the Bay City Chamber of Commerce on the selection of Mr. Henry LeTulle for the president office. This is a wise selection and I am sure that under his direction much progress will be recorded. He enters this work under favorable conditions for Bay City is having growing pains and Henry can grow along with her.

Monday I received from Mr. Louis Fabrigel [Fabrygel], Midfield, several copies of Our Sunday Visitor, the national Catholic Action Weekly. As I am very much interested in church history, I have read each issue with much interest. I belong to the Anglican Communion, but I believe many of the articles of the Roman Communion. I thank Mr. Fabrigel [Fabrygel], for his thoughtfulness and I trust I may have the pleasure of meeting him some day.

It is a beautiful day. The sun shines brightly and in the blue sky the stars have been wiped from sight by the blueness of the blue. It is a day for added joy to me as a shut-in, for this day came on a special trip to see the writer of Thoughts, Mrs. C. L. Jackson of Bay City and Mrs. G. B. McAlpin of San Antonio and with them the sweet baby daughter of the latter, Miss Patricia Ann. Fine looking women, both, and intelligent and vivacious. Mrs. McAlpin, who is the daughter of Mrs. Jackson, is a mighty sweet young woman and I lost my heart and some of my Thoughts as I watched the play of her face. Well, it added to the day of a shut-in and I thank them for the visit and hope I may see them again. Few can realize what these visits mean to me after a year’s illness. They brighten my oft-times weary hours.

The school election resulted in choosing Dean Merck and Mrs. Frank King. The latter is a veteran, well posted on school law and a splendid member. Dean has had no experience, but no doubt will fit in and develop into an active element. The board will consist of Mesdames Liggett and King, J. D. Evans, Vernon Batchelder, Dean Merck and two others who names I have not. It is no small job acting under present laws to handle the many delicate school situations that come up during a year. I feel sure the board will handle all situations as they arise.

The season is here for week-end visits to Torre’ Vista, Collegeport, Texas. Luxurious surrounds, refinement, pleasurable activities and for those who desire a dip in the salty waves or to fish for reds, trout or flounder, proper equipment will be supplied. A day or two at Torre’ Vista will send you home vitalized.

In my opinion, the fish are wise to John Shoemaker, for knowing he is the busiest, smartest fisherman on the coast, they fear the enticement of his tasty baits and refuse the hook. This is much to the disgust of Fisherman John. Some day he will land a whale of a red, one about six feet long and weighing less than a ton and then and not until then will Fisherman John be a happy boy.

It is a tough deal for a fellow who is shut in, writing and anxious to record community events to always get the subject matter unless some thoughtful person brings in the information. For example too late for last week’s string I learned that the King’s Daughters held a shower for Mrs. Albert Barton, nee Frances King, and that about thirty-five were present. From what I have been told, Frances received many useful, beautiful and costly gifts and I congratulate her on her setting forth on a married life and my good wishes go with her. She is a fine girl and worthy of the reception given. If the people of this community would only be a bit thoughtful and send me the information or as I prefer bring it to me, it would enable me to give better service. I am unable to go out. Just sit around the house. Writing is my amusement and I want the product to reflect the community life and be of interest.

Well, it looks as though sit-downers have come to their end in Texas, since the Governor has made his pronouncement. I believe in the organization of labor and collective bargaining, but I do not believe any man or group of men have any moral or legal right to take possession of property and prevent its functioning. This is just a step toward lawlessness. Every man has his personal rights to his property and its use and so do corporations. This unlawful sit down business not only prevents production, but is a heavy pay loss to the man who works. It always spells ruin to both parties. The American people are patient but patience has a limit and it has about been reached. All thanks to our Governor, Senator Connally and Senator Holbrook, three brave men.

Fred Robbins, Jr. sends word to me that he plans to visit me as soon as he settles some personal business. He is a bit diffident for he says “I am wearing three-cornered pants and want to wait until I get into B.V.D.’s.” I sent word that I liked three-cornered pants and used to wear ‘em myself. I am looking forward to much pleasure to this visit from my friend Fred.

Saturday morning came Myrtle Duffy with her little daughter for an hour’s visit, which we enjoyed to the utmost. Same day came Louise Sharp of Palacios and Mrs. Homer P. Clark of Port O’Connor. Mr. Clark is a distributor of all kinds of sea foods and operates to San Antonio, Dallas, Galveston, Houston. Louise still operates her grocery and sea food emporium, but is crazy to leave the confines of four walls and get to the deck of a boat and out where the spray and spume will blow into her face. She is a better sailor than a grocer.

Still continues cool weather which is remarkable for this time of the year. All plant life is delayed. My mockingbird came to the chimney top today and gave me a song and I could see him in my imagination flip up in the air never missing a note of his sweet song. I shall be much happier when the weather allows me to be out and gather some of the early prairie buddings and watch the tiny bugs and crawling life that lives in the miniature forest.

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, April 15, 1937

By Harry Austin Clapp

[Local information taken from longer article.]

Men do many unnecessary things in their desire for peace, contentment, comfort. These things are within the reach of the meanest of us. All that is required is to reach out and take. Just now God has sprinkled the gorgeous green of the prairie pastures with lovely, charming bloom. Pinks, yellows, blues and reds dot the landscape. They are here for our pleasure and to gratify our desire for the beautiful. Just so does God sprinkle all about us His many royal favors. All we require is ability to recognize, appreciate and utilize. These are here for us to pluck to our spiritual enjoyment. These are the things that bring peace, contentment and satisfaction to the old, the young, the rich and the poor. We have traveled in a circle so long a time that we have forgotten to look at the things so close to us. My advice to our local people is to stop idle, vicious gossip and stand close together for the common good and turn-follow-learn-pray-serve-worship-share and the greatest is that we serve and share. Let us as members of a very small, insignificant community, get out from under the influence of alternating psychic waves.

Klapp & Korn are growers of DeLuxe Truck—that is Korn grows the stuff and Klapp consumes it. Well, anyway, today Klapp has on his table crisp red radishes, young onions like Orient pearls, turnips looking like base balls, and greenest of mustard. This is what Korn has done while he is also raising Korn.

In writing about this I wish to thank Mrs. Jerry Lashbrook for a fine bouquet of Swiss chard and a beautiful spinach as I have seen. A muchly appreciated gift, very thoughtful.

I notice, or rather am told, that we are to have a new store built by Mr. Kopecky down on the corner of the Heisey place. The store will be filled with such unnecessary luxuries as bread, spuds, meats, canned goods, but the thing that interest me is that a necessary of life will be provided is canned beer. This is a thing all progressive people need. Beer is a food and a drink and as it sparkles and foams it brings surcease from earthly troubles. We need beer much more than we need bread, so I welcome this innovation. We have a fine drug store with excellent old drinks, but not a drop of booze can be supplied even with a prescription. Isn’t’ that one helluva situation? I’ll say it is. Booze all around us and not a drop to irrigate our internal tubes.

Welcome visit from Mrs. Myrtle Duffy and her little daughter, Mrs. L. E. Liggett, Elliott Curtis and then comes my old friend, Seth Corse, with Bion Gill. I have not seen him for years. He is 81 years of age, hale and hearty and still milking cows. Had a fine hour and hope we may repeat.

With sorrow I record the passing of James O’Neal, former mayor Portsmouth. For many years the O’Neals ran the hotel south of this place. Patroized by hunters, fisher folk and pleasure parties, always assured of fine meals from Mrs. O’Neal’s kitchen. Mr. O’Neal raised a swell garden and much fine fruit, figs, citrus, peaches, plums, grapes. It was a restful place to spend an hour or a week. I shall miss Jim O’Neal and I ask God to comfort Mrs. O’Neal.

I also record the passing of Mrs. Spence, mother of Mrs. Liggett, who passed over the river Friday night after a very long illness. Mrs. Spence will be well remembered by old timers as she used to live here many years ago. Mrs. Liggett left Saturday for Dallas and the funeral will be held Monday morning. We are born, we live, we pass. Where to? Most of us believe into a richer life—such is the hope, faith, belief, that deadens the grief of the passing. It is one of God’s blessing.

The other day I read the story of Mrs. Bernice Moore and what that frail hundred pound woman, mother of eleven children, has accomplished and saying “The Lord blesses us.” I think also of what Mr. Green, president of the A. F. of L., says about three million unemployed and that we have thousands of acres of rich unemployed soil, it strikes me that if Mrs. Moore can get by and keep cheerful with her slogan, it seems to me that if some of the unemployed would stop scratching the posterior portion of their anatomies and scratch dirt, things would look up in the U. S. Mrs. Moore’s situation and accomplishment is a lesson to us all. “The Lord blesses us” if we ask and work. She smiles at the world and says “we have two shirts.”

I am glad to report, thanks to the kindness of our school superintendent, Elliott Curtis, several girls, including Miss Maude Lashbrook, are privileged to attend the District Meet of the Girl Reserves at Freeport this Saturday. We want all deserving girls to attend this meet.

The building occupied by the Collegeport Supply Company has received a well-earned coat of white paint that causes it to glisten in the sunlight. Inside, stock has been arranged on tasty display shelves and new high quality goods place in stock. When you buy good of this outfit, one is guaranteed first quality that pleases the buyer or money back and no back talk. It’s a pleasant place—willing and courteous service.

I am also congratulating the community on the possession of what I have long called Collegeport’s Palatial Pharmacy. Here one is served delicious drinks by Hattie, the boss and her assistant, Hugo. If one desires all sorts of remedies from noxious preparations to those which may be taken with delight, this is the place. No nice, homelike, comfortable drug store can be found in the county or sweeter service.

The C. W. Goodmans, hunting through some packing boxes, unearthed a panorama photo which they thought might interest me. They ironed it out, put a glass and frame on it and brought it to me. It is about twenty inches long and ten wide. It was taken from the gallery of the LaSalle Hotel, Port O’Connor, and shows about two hundred fifty delegates to the meeting of the Texas Midcoast Industrial Congress there September 17, 1911. In the center front row we see Judge W. S. Holman, president and H. A. Clapp, secretary. Then we see John Land, Allison and Richey, Frank Hardy, Clarence Holland, Faustino Kiber, George Culver, Colonel Hawley, Carey Smith, the former Grace Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Goodman, Duncan Ruthven, Henry Mugge, Mrs. Clapp and many others. This was the group who were doing things twenty-six years ago. Today I read in the Tribune the list of delegates to the Rivers and Harbors Congress and I find a new bunch. September 17, 1911 most of those named were sucking nurse bottles and wearing three cornered pants and now they are the men who are doing things. Who says the world don’t move? Any answer?

Tuesday I journeyed to Palacios to see the Miracle man. I am happy to report that I am feeling much better and that Tuesday I expect to trip to Houston and spend two days with the Goodmans. Wednesday night I [will] be the guest of Jack and Elvie Martin and the boys. Will write about this Trip Around the World next week. Jack Martin has sequestered two cans and I’ll have one of them. Several times I have asked Hattie for a glass of beer and she give me her Mona Lisa smile and says: “I advise you to alkalize with alka seltzer.” Fine dope for a thirsty customer.

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, April 22, 1937

B y Harry Austin Clapp

After a fellow has been a shut-in for a year, each day filled with suffering, one hones for some outlet allowing a new view of people and surroundings, so I planned to accept the most cordial, invitation from my good friends, the Goodman’s, to visit Houston. Leaving home Tuesday the 20th, we passed, with the courtesy of the Shoemakers, through a road lined with sweet pink primrose blooms. When we crossed the Colorado bridge, we saw on either side solid acres of primroses. Solid acres of pink fragrance. I suspect that the seed was brought down by the last high water and deposited in the sift rich silt, germinated, and so brought to our eyesight great pink stretches of beauty.

On my arrival in Bay City, my first visit was with James Lewis of the First National and for a very good reason. He met me with his usual kindly smile and said, “What may I do for you?” In reply, I said, “I need a little cash.” He gave me another smile, for he knew that here was offered some good business, and he asked, “How much do you need?” In my most engaging manner—a nonchalant manner, I said, “Oh, twenty grand will be sufficient.” His face changed as he replied, “Mr. Clapp we only have on hand two and a half million, which makes us a bit short. We are glad to do business with you and hope you can get along with a trifle less.” Replying, I said, “Make it twenty dollars,” for after all the sum I required was enough to buy two tickets to Houston. And by golly, he wrote out a note and handed me twenty depreciated dollars. He evidently was relieved and pleased for it was good business. I’ll get the balance of that twenty grand later on. Then I called on my old and valued friend, Carey Smith, Sr., and was pleased to find him much better than I had anticipated and I ask God to give him comfort and relief from his physical troubles. Carey Smith, Jr. has assumed the business burden and carrys on in splendid style, of course with my aid. When I have to give up my column it will be sad day for the Tribune. Tootsie appears to be operating a taxi for she took us to the station, carried our luggage in, gave us a smiling goodbye and pleasant trip and so we waited in the M. P. station while the miserable wretch spent part of that twenty and had a conversation with the courteous ticket man.

The choo-choo came and we climbed on. Every one of the coaches ran on wheels as did the big engine. The engine had a whistle, which was sounded about every mile or two. The M .P. has no fault to find with the business of that train for it was filled. We went into the last coach, a sweet, beautiful affair, air conditioned with swell clean chairs offering comfort to the passenger. The little dinette was clean and neat, the chef was courteous, and an excellent meal with ice cold brew, furnished by Mr. Pabst. Maybe some of you have heard of him. We enjoyed an easy, pleasant trip and were especially pleased with the always present, but never annoying service. As I had not seen a rail train for many long months, I am informing you all that when you take a trip, go via the M. P. and have safety, comfort, peace. On such a train you worries are over.

On time at Houston, we were met by the Goodmans and soon settled in their beauty of an Oldsmobile, we were whisked to Franklin Court and given a suite consisting of a sitting room, bed room, kitchen, bath and breakfast nook with Frigidaire service, electricity and all other modern gadgets. The Goodmans certainly believe in providing service along with the superlative in generous, willing, kindly hospitality. From the moment of our arrival, something was on the program for our pleasure and interest. Wednesday we saw the two-mile parade, the child welfare movement. Lead by the Regan school band of about one hundred instruments with a real Drum Major at the head wearing the big tall bear skin chapeau. The band members wore red coats and white trousers. Behind streamed several hundred children, even babies in carts, afoot, wheeling baby buggies all dressed in spangles and lace. Very interesting and impressive. With the Goodmans, rode all over Rice Institute grounds with the fine buildings and gorgeous flowers and plant life. A beauty spot.

Wednesday night we were entertained in a gorgeous manner in the home of Mr. Jack and Elvie Martin, who live in a cute duplex on Leeland, a busy street. Present were their two sturdy sons who very gently aided me in going from and to the auto and they told me that they prayed and asked God to bring me back to health. The table was spread with a handsome cloth and sparkling glass and china and in the center, on a large glass tray, was assembled the things that make up a Dutch lunch. I don’t know where Jack and Elvie found so many varieties of cheese and sausage but there they were in generous quantities and luscious flavor and as Jack had promised; he not only had two cans, but many, all cold as ice and sparkling with creamy foam. It was a most enjoyable occasion. These two young folk were very kind and gentle in their hospitality and we carried away with us the fragrance of their happy home. Jack explained that he did not have an auto for he said, “I can’t afford an automobile and two sons.” His choice seems to be a wise one. We had such a happy time that we hope we may have a repeat some day. I have known Elvie since she was a small child and then she was Elvie Merck. It is a fine experience to be a guest in such a happy home and I hope God will continue to bless each of them.

Back to Franklin Court tired and ready to rest, which we had until morning. Thursday at 7:10 came our beloved Mary Louise and I rested with C. W., for my daughter and her mama “a shoppin’ would go.” Back they came with bundles. Took lunch at one of Houston’s famous places and I never will visit the place again, not because of the food, but of the crowd who stood in line two blocks long, pushing and crowding for a chance at the food tanks. Just too many folks to suit me.

That night at 8, Elliott Curtis came for us and we were soon on our way and arrived home, tired but happy, at 11:30 and to bed. Mary Louise remained with us until Sunday P. M., when she started back to Bryan. Four delicious, delirious, joyful days with our beautiful, wonderful girl, and now we are waiting at the gate for her next homecoming. It was a grand week and when “the ball was over” I was very, very tired, but feel no effects from the journey or entertainment. I had no desire to see a picture show. Plenty of pictures wherever I drove. I was astonished seeing the hundreds of new houses being built, the everywhere evidence of money, the well-dressed folk, the crowded stores and hotels, the absence of old autos. Everywhere every person spelled ready cash. Houston gives evidence of her prosperity at every turn. Thus ended a year’s sentence as a shut-in and I am anxious to try another trip.

On my return home, I find a nice letter from Mr. M. W. Kopecky, of whose new store I wrote last week. He give me a cordial invitation to visit his place of business and try the contents of a can which he keeps ice cold and as soon as I can catch a ride that way I shall do so. He may keep a large stock of the unessentials, but if he keeps the great necessity, he does us much favor. After I try it, I’ll let you folk know if the place will pay for a visit. We are using from our garden head lettuce, and I mean lettuce that heads, cabbage, radishes, onions, mustard, turnips. Pretty good for Klapp & Korn.

One day Will Rogers said, “If all cars that are not paid for are denied road privileges the traffic problem will be solved.” Now comes the new slogan, “If you drink, don’t drive. If you drive, don’t drink.” Obeying this slogan will also solve the problem. Scientists have decided that even one glass of beer will slow up foot, hand and eye action a fraction of a second and this in many cases is the margin between death and life. Therefore, let’s not drive if we drink, and if we do, let’s not drive. If in need of liquid refreshment, drink a cold bottle of milk.

Side Lights: A man who having suffered the loss of both legs close to the body runs about on a small platform with wheels. I was told he owned a duplex. A poorly clothed old man selling pencils. A woman selling papers. Some pickets walking in front of closed shop bearing the sign, “Closed because of strike.” The pickets were poorly dressed, one fellow having his shirt out, but they wearily walked their beat with signs, “Unfair to labor.” One picket was asleep in an old Ford with his sign fastened to the car. Good and easy way to picket. A palsied beggar holding out a tin cup. A small girl asking for a penny. A man with shoe strings and chewing gum. Some were proud that they were making good and thus for had no relief. A boy rushing about cleaning shoes and doing a fine job.

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, April 29, 1937


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Nov. 28, 2009

Nov. 28, 2009