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Collegeport Articles

March 1937

By Harry Austin Clapp

No questant requires that both brain lobes function and so in as much as only my right lobe is of use, I am still able to go a questing. Another grand thing is that although my wooden leg greatly handicapped by static, failed to operate as I would desire, still enables me to stagger about. As I stagger about, my right lobe is as active as a bunch of screw worms and I think of many things—I mean I have some wonderful ideas. Many times people seeking a week-end of line wetting or shot gun explosions, come to Collegeport, a place which nature has beautified in many ways, for the purpose of enjoying a week-end or a day of sport and rest. Often they have called on us midnight and finding that the community possessed no place where they might enjoy what they sought, they would return to the place from whence they came. Result was that few returned. I have given this situation much thought and at last I had what I consider a very bright idea. Right on the bay shore where nature offers excellent fishing, bathing, boating, oystering and by the way just think of oysters twenty-two of which fills a quart and taken from in front of Collegeport. Right here in a most desirable location is found a beautiful house known for years as “Torre Vista” is the large and generous Hurd home. It is large enough to care for as many as sixteen people over night. It has ample room for guests to use the four kitchens for the preparation of meals. It is furnished in handsome style and furnishes a charming, graceful beauteous and restful place for short week-end vacations or for dancing parties and for those who desire accommodations for several days or sport or rest. It is suitable, proper, neat, appropriate, graceful. As the result of my questing, I worked up my shattered nerves to a point where I might contact Mrs. Dena Hurd who owns and occupies this swell home. with some fearsomeness I broached the subject and much to my delight, it appealed to her and the result is that from and after Easter, “Torre Vista” will be open for refined, cultured and discriminating guests. People who are decent and seek a day or week or more of clean sport in God’s open, restful hours in clean and sweet surroundings. Mrs. Hurd desires no froth hunters. She only cares to act as hostess to the best class. Those who seek a place where bars are down and all things are overlooked, are not desired and will receive no welcome. Reservations may be made in advance, for a night or a week and if desired games and dancing programs will be arranged. Guests may bring their own sporting equipment, but bait and flounder equipment will be available. If desired, guests may bring their own cook and enjoy the use of the four kitchens. Eventually the plans being made, call for the erection of several cottages along the shore line and within one hundred feet of the sea wall. Guests who avail themselves of this privilege will find at Torre Vista a charming and gracious hostess whose ambition is to see that visitors are happy, contented and depart with a sweet feeling and longing to return to the delights of Torre Vista. Address all communications to Torre Vista, Collegeport, Texas.

You readers know from this column that I have been ill for many months and my activities very much circumscribed, but you will be delighted with me to know that the trouble has been diagnosed as “Buerger’s disease” or in plain language “thornboangittis Obliteran.” Isn’t that swell? I bet my last depreciated dollar bill that many of you boys will envy me my good luck. Not ever person is able to take on such a fashionable disease.

Well, anyway, February 22nd arrived and the annual banquet, except that this time it was just a supper, but what a supper? Delicious chicken pie with mashed spuds, salads, brilliant, sparkling coffee and a cherry pie, believe it or not, made from cherries which grew on a descendant of the tree George Washington slashed down. If doubted, ask Mrs. Roy Nelson. She is a truthful woman. The affair was handled by Mrs. Liggett and her corp of a few faithful women. About one hundred were present, including Rev. and Mrs. M. A. Travis of Alamo, Mr. and Mrs. John Kirkpatrick of Edinburgh all old timers, Mr. and Mrs. John Cherry of Bay City. Mrs. Cherry knows how to make wonderful apricot-cherry pies. Others from all parts of the county were there and that included Barbara and Tom. The miserable wretch tells me I should write Tom and Barbara, but I think Barbara should have first place, as she is sweeter and much more delicious. The arranged program started with a piano solo by Mrs. Dorothy Corporon and I know of no person who has given more of time and talent than this young woman. Vernon Hurd talked about George Washington and drifted into National defense, a subject we all should study. Short talks by Rev. Travis, Mrs. Travis and Tom Hale. The best thing was the community singing led by that master director, John Kirkpatrick, and it took us back to the time of his first visit to the burg as director of the Red Oak Iowa band. Mrs. Kirkpatrick gave a short talk as did Mrs. Travis, John Cherry. A beautifully rendered vocal number by Mrs. Vernon Hurd delighted the audience. Mrs. Hurd possesses a voice of unusual sweetness and grand carrying power. I am not versed in musical terms or technique, but to me it was just swell. The program closed with a talk by the writer of “Thoughts.” The speaker informed the audience that if they would read Acts III-7-8, they would know why he was present and concluded with “He put down His hand and lifted me up.” The speaker contrasted the birth, life and service of George Washington and Lincoln and stated that in his opinion they were the two greatest characters developed by America. Weakness caused by long illness made it necessary to abruptly terminate the discussion. Thus closed the 27th annual observance of the birth of George Washington.

Elliot Curtis, superintendent of schools, trying to start the school truck with some gadget in line, suffered what was almost a broken leg. Elliott, who weighs around 280, sure has a swell leg, and this accident was not required to enhance its beautiful lines. He now navigates on two crutches.

February ended with a three-day blast of stout north winds, temperature about 38, much rain, mist, overcast skies. Doggone unpleasant for us thin blooded inhabitants. Sunday bright, sunny, but the cold winds still blast. Some cotton up looking pert, but looks like a second planting.

Shells of all loads and gun sizes on hand at Collegeport Supply Company, fish poles, bobs, hooks, sinkers, will be found at Collegeport’s Palatial Pharmacy. Don’t forget that Torre Vista opens about the time for Easter hats.

Mr. and Mrs. John Shoemaker spent the week in San Antonio where Mr. Shoemaker was called by an important business wire. Returning Friday, Mister will make another attempt to land a red.

Welcome callers on Sunday, Rev. and Mrs. Paul Engle and Mrs. Horn from Bay City. Rev. Engle will visit us Tuesday morning with the Holy Eucharist, our second for the Lenten time.

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, March 4, 1937

By Harry Austin Clapp

After writing the above caption, I began to wonder why and how and where a stick, and as usual, I hurried to old man Noah and to my surprise I found columns of fine print, all about some sort of stick. Stick of timber; stick to friends; stick a stamp; stick to this and to that and at last I found what I wanted. The stick that sticks to man and gives him aid and support. When I go out for a small stroll I am obliged to use a stick. The one I have has a family history of many years. It was used by my father-in-law for many years and especially during his final illness, which terminated in death about sixty-two years ago. That alone gives it some history, but I am informed that it has a history of about eighty years. It is a slender, stout stick, well polished by years of use. A very stout, sturdy stick, topped with the carved head of a dog. Around the dog’s neck is a silver band bearing the word “C. Vanness” and the square and compass of a Master Mason. It was a gift as he left the chair in the East. Originally, the dog had two bright black eyes, but by accident one received a K. O. and so some person put in a white bead. Now the dog looks at me with his soft gentle black eye, expressing his love for me, but from his watch eye he sure gives me a fierce stare, so that at times I fear his bite and hope that when he does bite, he will start on my wooden leg. It shows that ten branches were cut off in making it over for a walking stick. Where did it grow and how? Was it the top of a gigantic tree? Did it sprout and grow as a shrub or bush? I doubt that, for it has much evidence of substantial maturity. Who cut it and trimmed it? All lost in the far away past. In my opinion this stick was grown in a semi-tropical region, at least two hundred years ago. Think of what this stick has witnessed. Before the Revolutionary War; before the formation of the Colonial Confederation; before man after hours of labor and thought wrought out our wonderful Constitution; before the surrender of Cornwallis. Perhaps some lucky man was supported by it during the inauguration of George Washington.

What a history is written—a concealed history—in this stick. I still sit here in front of my Corona and ponder as I wonder. Did this stick at one time grace the tip of a great tree that sprouted centuries ago? Did this tip swaying and dancing in the breeze, sweep the sky and gather a bloom of stars, filling a crystal glass with foams of sparking flame? I ask this of the passing breeze and the breeze tells me naught. All I know is the late history—that C. Vanness, a man I never saw or knew was the wonderful father of the wonderful girl, who for more than forty years has watched over me and kept me decent. So this stick has performed its mission of giving support and aid and today, as I stagger about on my wooden leg, I lean with confidence and faith on the same stick which supported the last faltering steps of C. Vanness. ‘Tis a wonderful stick. Who will care for this stick after I pass on? Will someone cherish, preserve and use it for support? The winds ask who?

A Tribune reader gives this toot-toot “Your Thoughts this week are fine and I read them just as soon as I got the Tribune. That is a wonderful writer-up you gave Torre Vista plan.”

Still another, “I think the plan for providing a place where people may take short vacations is grand and your presentation of the plans pleases me so much that I intend to tell my friends about is and urge them to visit Torre Vista.”

When one thinks of the “nine old men” on the Supreme Court, why not allow one’s thoughts to wonder to the score or more of tottering old boys hovering around an average of seventy-five, who occupy fat jobs and enjoy seats in the Senate or House. What shall we do about them? Some of them are so fragile that they actually stagger about the chamber. Two plus two is still four. A man whose brain is too weak to sit on the bench, should also be denied a seat in Congress for the same reason, senility and incapacity. It’s a poor taste that will not work both ways.

Most farmers are inclined to be grouchy. ‘Tis too wet or ‘tis too dry. Of late they have craved rain and Thursday afternoon and night they had their fondest wish gratified, for at least five inches of rain water fell and as a result, everything is afloat. Fields rows are canals. Our yard is a sea and I plan to turn it into an oyster farm and invite the guests of Torre Vista to come here a oystering.

We have all read about the Hitler-LaGuardia insult affair. It just proves that men are after all just children grown up. Here it is in a nut shell. Mama’s little boy, Jimmy, threw a rotton egg at Mr. Hitler’s house which was well spattered. Mr. Hitler rushed over to mama and entered a complaint and demanded that Jimmy should be punished, to which mama agreed. She called Jimmy in and said, “throwing that egg at Mr. Hitler’s house, some spattered on your face, so go at once and wash your face and don’t ever again throw a rotten egg at Mr. Hitler’s house for if you do I shall be obliged to punish.” That is all there is to this episode. Jimmy threw the egg; Mr. Hitler complained; mama punished Jimmy.

Gosh, here it is Saturday, and more rain. The atmosphere is too well saturated that if I say it rains I am a liar and if I say it does not rain I am a liar. Take your choice and while you are doing so down comes the rain. Chickens are now using stilts and lay eggs in water glass.

Just read of the passing of that good scout, Philip Bucek, of Port Lavaca. Ten days ago, meeting a man from Port Lavaca, I sent Philip my respects. A fine man; a progressive man; a man always ready to aid in any civic work. I knew him for twenty-five years and appreciated his confidence and friendship. I sorrow with his passing and my sympathy goes to those he leaves behind.

I am proud of our Junior Senator. He has proven his Americanism. He has proven that the blood of his ancestors still surges through his veins. He has proven his right to wear the mantle of a true American patriot. Every Texan should be proud of this brave and heroic soul. I wish I might write the same story for the Senior Senator. I hope I may write it of our Representative. Judge Mansfield has reached an age beyond the prescribed age of those who occupy the Supreme bench. Who shall say his brain is not active and that he can no longer render proper service to his people? And yet, it is true he has reached and passed the prohibitive age. I pray that he proves his Americanism and his oath to protect and support the Constitution.

Sunday morning. The sun burst from the east in resplendent glory. Makes me think of a ship sailing wing and wing, climbing over the rim of the sea, parting the waves and tossing spray from the parting bows.

I’ve seen it at sea. ‘Tis a glorious sight. And then suppose that God put out the sun! Suffering, starving humanity, waiting for famine to do its work. In a few days humanity should be cleared from the face of the earth. So I say let us thank God for this merciful sun and for life and our daily happiness and comfort. He puts down His hand and lifts us up.

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, March 11, 1937

Collegeport Girl Reserve News

The Collegeport Girl Reserves gave a tea in honor of their mothers and the Collegeport Woman’s Club Thursday, March 11, at 3:30 o’clock at the Collegeport Community House.

A dialogue was presented by Ethel Nelson and Norine Harvey, followed by contests and songs. Refreshments were then served, the color scheme being green, yellow and white.

Those present were as follows: Mrs. Burton D. Hurd, Mrs. Lester E. Liggett, Mrs. Frank King, Mrs. Verne Batchelder, Mrs. Roy Nelson, Jr., Mrs. Nelson, Sr., Mrs. Henry Guyer, Mrs. Vernon K. Hurd, Mrs. Fred Law, Mrs. Jerry Lashbrook, Mrs. Anna Crane, Mrs. Dick Corporon and son, Eugene, Mrs. Dean Merck and son, Dean, Miss Margaret Hill, Mrs. Hensley, and the following Girl Reserves, Geneva Blackwell, Norine Harvey, Dorothy Williams, Ethel Nelson, Nancy Sutton, Ella Guyer, Lillian Maddox, Oneida Bullington, Juanita Bullington, Dora Mae Emmert, Betty Lashbrook, Mrs. Frances Burton, formerly Miss Frances King, sponsor, and Maud Lashbrook, reporter.

The Daily Tribune, Tuesday, March 16, 1937

By Harry Austin Clapp

The north wind howls about our home and its fingers seem to try to claw into the warm room and drive us out. I feel the wind and I ponder and wonder from whence it cometh and whither it goeth. Who knows the wind and who can value what it brings.

As it beats on my window, I think back many years when Carey Smith, Sr. took over the Tribune. Since that time he has slaved at that desk, in front, a pad of copy paper and in his hand that heavy pencil with which he has written many a practical and sensible editorial. He also has a pencil of blue which he uses at times. Several times my copy has carried a tale I thought rather pert, but the blue pencil, knowing it represented a religious journal, was merciless and so zowie!—out came my funny line. For more than 25 years I have contributed at times once in a while and at times twice and Carey, in his friendly way has carried my slush to his readers. Some have like it, while others denounced it. Well, anyway, Carey slaved on, his ambition being to build, and so he slaved at that desk on the south side with result that today he has an enterprise that has reached success and now that he has reached that point, he enjoys the declined heath that is the punishment for drawing too heavily on nature’s resource. He is in Kerrville under treatment for letting down. It is my earnest wish and prayer that God may aid him to come back and return to the task he has so skillfully carried on. He has been my good friend and I have enjoyed his confidence and I have no desire to lose him and his ability to place before the readers the truth about local, state and national situations. I ask God to “put down His hand and lift him up.” In his absence, the work is being carried on in a remarkable manner by Mirth, sometimes known as Carey Smith, Jr. This young man is a brilliant writer and a sturdy young business man. The Tribune is in good hands and I congratulate the old boy on having such a dependable young boy. The old boy need have no worry for the young boy is doing excellent work and the paper comes out on time sparkling with nutty, spicy, terse statements that are sound and substantial.

St. John’s Palacios will be the scene of the confirmation of an old Collegeporter in the near future. This man will not consent to be confirmed except in what at one time was Grace Chapel of St. Mary’s Mission. Further details in a later issue.

The Supreme Court squabble has caused me to indulge in deep thinking and I have spent hours of daylight and hours of restless nights trying to devise some plan that would solve this great question and allow people to go back to their jobs. Here is my solution: Just amend the present proposed bill so it will give the president power to remove any Supreme Court justice who votes against any of the president’s plans. The removed justice would forfeit his $20,000 pension as punishment for his failure to observe the desires of the president. The president now owns congress bag and breeches, body and soul except a few brave revolts. My plan provides that he now have placed in his hand complete control of the judiciary and then everything would be just lovely.

Wednesday, under the direction of our ubiquitous superintendent, put on an elimination contest in declamation. The judges were Mesdames Agnes Liggett, Valerie Hurd and Louise Van Ness Clapp. The judges were placed in different parts of the room and enjoyed no contact or opportunity for discussion and at the end turned in their several judgments and it was found that all agreed that in the junior, Ethel Nelson easily won and in the senior, Nancy Sutton was winner. These winners will now go to Bay City and enter the county contest and if successful, on to Houston for the district. I hope they will carry on.

The marriage craze sure gets my whiskers. The latest is the marriage of Frances King to a young man employed at the oil well, a Mr. Barton. They went over to Palacios and were married by Rev. George Gillespie and returned to receive the blessing of the bride’s parents. Frances is a beautiful girl, refined, intelligent and a teacher in the local school. I wish them much joy and a long happy life.

Just to give people up north an idea of the kind of weather we have, will relate that Friday night two of our young married folk desiring a bath, filled the old wash tub on the back gallery and there, out in God’s cozy atmosphere, took a much-needed bath. Good thing they did not wait until Sunday, for that day came a brisk, damp, chilly, clammy, misty norther which sent chills down our family bones. Us Homecrofters do not intend to risk our health by taking any kind of a bath until the weather settles. Much easier to brush it off. We like to be clean, but rather stay filthy and avoid a cold and the buying of aspirin or alka seltzer or B. C.

Great big fat luscious oysters continue to come to our table. Saturday Mr. Sutton brought us a quart that ran 23 to the quart.

Well, Saturday, much to our desire and happiness, came our good friends the Goodmans from Houston for a week-end. They had just bought a new car, an Oldsmobile, and wanted to try it out, so took the hike. These people lived here in Collegeport’s early day and occupied the house first east of where Carl Boeker lives. Old timers will remember the Goodmans. Well, anyway, whether they do or do not we had 24 hours of delectation, charm, transport and a few other emotions.

Friday I got down to about 44.423 which is to say I was below 50 per cent, and so my friend, John Shoemaker took me to Dr. Wagner, the miracle man in Palacios. He gave me the once or three times over, took blood pressure, looked at my tongue, felt of my pulse, looked with a professional eye, punched my tummy, wrote a few scribbles on paper which I had transferred to a bottle of remedia and home I came. Felt better the next day and my score went to about 58.46. During my illness I ran down to 115, but yesterday I almost busted the scales at 132.

John Shoemaker, our local fisherman, declares that there are no fish in the bay and yet Friday a boat brought in 3,000 pounds. Friday 12 boats from Palacios were dragging oysters opposite Collegeport. Wish they would fish in other parts of the bay and allow us to preserve the local beds.

While in Palacios we called on Louise Sharp and found her in Galveston attending the funeral of a friend who met her death under the wheel of an auto. Louise has a neat place for her store and it is well stocked with standard grocery items. Fish and oysters are on hand at all times. We had a fine visit with her mother, my good friend, Mrs. Stapp.

I am glad to report that Terre Vista is now ready to receive guests for a week-end or longer. Everything that is possible to do that guests may be contented, happy and enjoy their stay is done. A visit to Terre Vista on the beautiful bay shore will fascinate one so thoroughly that one will long to return.

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, March 18, 1937

By Harry Austin Clapp

In my mind, there is no doubt if any place on earth can be found a better place from which to plan than from a rumble seat. Tucked in there, one is out of sight of prying eyes and prying eyes cannot see—out of hearing of ears, where ears cannot hear—out of hearing of meddling voices, where meddling voices may not meddle. Therefore cuddling down in this secure place where ears do not hear, eyes do not see, hands do not touch, I make a few plans for the future. I plan to leave here Tuesday, April 20, and arrive in Houston the same night, where if not punched as I leave the train, I’ll be the guest of the Goodmans, the goodfellows who abide at 519 Colquit. Wednesday I’ll prowl around Houston with C. W., watch the street-cars and traffic, see a few policemen, maybe put my foot on a brass rail and cut some other didoes such as a rube from the country generally tries when in a city. That evening I’ll be the guest of my good friends Jack and Elve Martin. It may be a dinner supper or lunch, for I don’t know just what it is now called, but it may be a snack, but with it will be two cans when Jack has promised he will provide. I don’t know what will be in the cans, but Jack told me that if I emptied one can, I would not have to use aspirin, alka seltzer or B. C. and so I’ll take the chance. Two days will be spent with the Goodman family and I will go out with. C. W. and prowl about and maybe do some yowling, depends on what we drink. Thursday morning I’ll be at the beautiful S. P. station to meet my wonderful daughter, Mary Louise, and that night we will return to the home nest for a three day’s vacation. Planning for this as I sit in the rumble seat is just the same as planning for ‘round the world trip. I have been a rube so long that I fear I will hardly know how to behave when in the city. I shall look at every cop with fear of being pinched for a racketeer, kidnapper or booze runner. I shall make little noise for fear of attracting attention. I hope the miserable wretch will not attempt any funny business that will involve me, for it she does, I’ll just let her go to the bastille along. Well, anyway, it’s nice to sit in the back rumble in the dust making plans for a vacation.

I have little love for unions. The nation is fed up on unions, but here in Collegeport is a union of women who meet from time to time and have to sit down strike. This union met Thursday with the Nelsons. I don’t know much about it, but I am sure they had a religious service as usual and a big feed. I was not invited, so know little. I know that always when this union meets with Mesdames Hurd or Liggett, I have a sit-in. I sobbed myself to sleep that night, for I did want some of Mrs. Holsworth’s golden biscuits floating in chicken gravy, Mrs. Liggett’s apple pie and those famous Carrie Nelson Noodles. Soon, between my sobs and breaking heart, I slept and awoke in the morning to fill my tummy with buckwheat cakes. Oh boy! My honey wretch sure can bake ‘em, and so I forgot the trouble of the night before. This union is known as The King’s Daughters, and is a regular sit down union. Sitting down to one of their feeds is a happy event for me.

We have so many oil wells surrounding us that they are a doggone nuisance. Oil wells to the north, east, south and west, but none on our place. One is so near its grumble, groaning, growling, grinding, shooting keeps us awake all night and the miserable wretch, unable to get any substantial shut-eye, fixes up a midnight lunch and after eating it gives a few purrs like a contented cat, curls up and sleeps while I listen to the grumble.

Leases are being picked up, some at good money. I don’t care for money, for I sold my last cow the other day and am now ready to make the first payment on a Packard or Elite.

One more week and the oyster season is over. Thanks to Mr. Sutton, us Homecrofters have enjoyed big, fat, luscious oysters each week during the season.

I have just heard that to the Fred Law family there has come a son. A boy to carry on the Law name and fame down another generation. I, therefore, send my warmest congratulations to the new papa and mama and the hope that this boy will grow up to be a pride and comfort. Greetings to you, mama. Greetings to you, papa. No sooner had I written the above than the mail brought me a communication signed Fred Robbins Law, Jr. He knew that I would write about his coming and he wanted me to have the facts. His name is Fred Robbins Law, Jr. He arrived on March 17, 1937, and weighs eight pound and twelve ounces. I sure appreciate your thoughtfulness, Fred, and it enables me to make a complete report.

Early morning callers on Saturday at about 7:30, were Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Ash, and we had a pleasant top of the morning visit.

I notice that the linotype man, in setting up Torre’ Vista, spells it wrong so that interpreted, it means land view in English, whereas the correct name is Torre’ Vista, spelled T-O-R-R-E’ V-I-S-T-A, accent on the last syllable. This means “Tower View” and is the old time name of the Hurd home. It is now open for the pleasure and entertainment of those who desire surroundings and joyful vacations. Come down any time and visit at Torre’ Vista. Tower View right on the bay shore with excellent flounder ground, fishing, oysters, boating.

I am sorry to report that our girls made little impression on the judges at the County Meet and obtained no scalps. Too bad, but we still have the girls and will try again.

Everyone shares the grief of the stricken parents at New London. One of the most awful tragedies the continent has ever witnessed. Nearly five hundred innocents stricken with death without a chance for escape. One of the teachers was a young man from the A. & M. graduate school well known by Mary Louise. A fine young man with a brilliant future before him. Why these terrible things come to us no one knows, but it appears to be God’s way to take to His arms many of our innocents. Let us ask God to comfort and care for those who are left on this sad Palm Sunday.

I read in the papers that the Humble, Texas and Sinclair Oil Corporations have voted higher wages and shorter hours and that I feel is good until I find my end of the stick. Same day I bought a barrel of kerosene for which I had for several years been paying eight and one-half cents per gallon, but with this delivery it cost me nine cents. A half cent advance means twenty seven cents on a barrel. It is my bet that this half-cent advance will pay all the advanced wages and leave the companies a nice profit. It is just the old, old story that the consumer pays and pays and pays. We look on accounts of the various food, fruit, truck rackets in the big cities, but this labor racket is the biggest, most dangerous thing that confronts the American people this day. When one man can so organize the workers of the land so thoroughly that he may snap his fingers and stop oil industry, it is time for the people to “Stop—Look—Listen.”

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, March 25, 1937


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