Tales from Flour Bluff, the Little Town That Almost Was: Life and Times of Butch Roper, Part I

Flour Bluff, Front Page, History, Local history, Personal History

The Life and Times of James “Butch” Roper:  Part I

To preserve the rich history of Flour Bluff, The Paper Trail News, will run historical pieces and personal accounts about the life and times of the people who have inhabited the Encinal Peninsula. Each edition will feature the stories gleaned from interviews held with people who remember what it was like to live and work in Flour Bluff in the old days.  You won’t want to miss any of these amazing stories.  These stories can be found in print in The Texas Shoreline News.

 

     James “Butch” Roper, born October 16, 1940, is a direct descendent of George Hugo Ritter, a German immigrant who settled Flour Bluff at the start of the Ropes Boom in 1890.  Ritter’s son, Erich George, born in 1893, married Myrtle Mae Watson, whose family was one of the first families in Flour Bluff, as well.  They had three children, one of whom was Alice Ritter, Butch’s mother. Alice married James “Mickey” Roper and had three children:  Deanna, Butch, and Cheryl.  Butch spent his boyhood days helping his grandfather, Erich George, with the chickens, the crops, and the cattle while his father worked for Humble Oil at the refinery on Graham Road.  Butch Roper thoroughly enjoys entertaining people with his memories of what it was like growing up in Flour Bluff.

The Roper children, ca. 1940s (Photo from Butch Roper collection)

     Butch’s earliest memory is of a ghost in his grandparents’ house that sat on Red Lake just south of Graham Road and west of Laguna Shores Road.

     “I was coming out of the field with my grandfather.  I fell out of the truck and broke my collarbone,” recalls Roper.  “Back then, they strapped you in a harness for a broken collarbone.  They put me in the upstairs room of that old two-story house.  I was scared to death!  The story was that there was a ghost in that house and that she walked the stairs at night.  There I was, a little kid strapped in that harness in a big old spooky house,” said Roper.

     “To make it even scarier, it was when they used to make everybody in Flour Bluff turn all their lights out at night so the German submarines wouldn’t see where we were,” he said.  “Every time those old stairs would creak, I’d think that ghost was coming to get me!” Roper laughed.

Flour Bluff Sun photo (1980s edition)

     “By the time I came along, the house was old and run down.  Originally, it was a really nice house, painted and everything.  It was built by a lady named Mrs. Shade, and she sold it to my grandfather.  Before that, they lived out where the Navy base is.  It was called the Grass Place,” said Roper.  “It had giant sand dunes and lots of grass.  When the Navy came in, they ran all those people out of there.  They said they were squatters and that they didn’t own the land they had been working all those years.”

     According to an October 22, 1941, Caller-Times article, Roper’s memory is correct.  The whole eviction process was a complicated matter, that sent the whole case to Judge James Allred’s court multiple times to decide who actually owned property and who didn’t.  The article states, “The sum of $229,402 remains on deposit in the registry of Federal Court here awaiting payment to land owners at Flour Bluff who were evicted when the government took over 2,050 acres in July 1940, for construction of the Naval Air Station.”

     Roper told of how most people in Flour Bluff at that time either lived at the Grass Place or far down Laguna Shores where the Vannoy family lived.  “Everything else was mostly brush except where people had cleared to build their houses,” said Roper.  “The Ritters owned everything from Laguna Shores to Waldron Road and from Graham to Don Patricio, which included Red Lake.  That lake was so salty that ducks never came to it.”  This includes the property where the “little refinery” sits on Graham Road.

      “They had a long-term lease with Humble Oil.  Since then, the lease has changed hands two or three times,” said Roper.

     “My dad worked at that refinery for 32 years.  First, we lived in the two-story Ritter home; then we moved over to the house that sat next to this one,” said Roper pointing over his shoulder.  “The pilings and the well are still there.  The house came from Sandia, where we had a dairy farm.  They moved it all the way out here and put it on Waldron Road.  At that time, Waldron was just a dirt trail until the Navy came in and improved the road and named it Waldron.”

     “My great grandfather had the contract to build roads in Flour Bluff.  They built them out of clay and oyster shell,” Butch recalls.  “Flour Bluff Drive was not a main road.  It was the road where we’d take our girlfriends to go parking because nobody else drove it.  The Roschers lived off that road back where the windmill still stands on Roscher Road and Caribbean.  They owned all that property.  I used to go with my grandfather to get-togethers at the Roscher place.  They were German, and he was German, so they visited all the time, but I don’t remember them speaking German to each other.”

     “My grandfather was pretty smart man,” said Roper as he explained how his grandfather was able to grow lots of vegetables in the poor Flour Bluff soil.  “He raised chickens to sell.  When he built the chicken pens, he made the floors out of wire.  When the chickens did their business, it would fall through the wire.  Then, we’d shovel up the droppings, put it in a little wagon, and take it out to the field to fertilize the crops.  It must have worked because he was a successful truck farmer.”

     Roper’s grandfather also ran cattle on the Encinal Peninsula.  “He leased land from people all over Flour Bluff for his cattle, the way Calvin Self does today,” Roper said.  “We’d take them to auction in Robstown to sell them.”

     Roper recalled how much he enjoyed being part of the Humble Camp when his dad worked at the refinery.  “My family spent a lot of time with the Humble Camp people.  It was kind of like a big family.  They had barbecues and square dances on the weekends.  The adults played Canasta or domino games like 42 and 84.  That was a grown-up thing.  The kids just played and got into a little mischief when the parents weren’t watching,” Roper said with a smile.

 

Humble Camp men (Photo courtesy of Butch Roper)

     “When we lived at Humble Camp down by the South Gate of NAS, we’d go to Hawley’s Drug Store.  It sat right outside the gate,” said Roper.  “When I was older, in the 1960s, a plane crashed right next to his place.  I was working part time for Moore Service on the base then fueling planes, and I had just filled that plane up.  It went up and straight back down, killing everybody in the plane when it burned up.”

Caller-Times photo, South Gate (ca. 1950s)

      Butch started school at Flour Bluff when he was seven.  “I went to school at the old school on Waldron and Purdue.  It was just a long hall with a gym,” recalls Butch.  “We started sports in that old gym.  Back then it was just reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Mr. Wranosky was the superintendent.  He was a task master.  He had the look about him that you didn’t want to mess with him,” he remembers.

Flour Bluff Superintendent Ernest J. Wranosky (FBHS Yearbook Photo)

     “Every year he went hunting in Colorado, and that’s when we started going to Ouray for our senior trip.  That was a big deal for a little flat-lander kid,” said Butch with a grin.  “I was friends with his son, Bud.  We played baseball together on the first baseball team Flour Bluff ever had. My best friend, Eddie Farrias, whose dad Lee worked the causeway toll booth, was our coach.   Jim Coffman and his mom Bernie Arnold, who owned A & H Sporting Goods sponsored our team.  I remember rolling into the little surrounding towns in their company truck.  On the side it said, ‘Another load of fresh bait.’  That got us a few laughs,” Butch said.  “If we played in Flour Bluff, we played on the field that was on Waldron where Whataburger sits now.”

Photo of first baseball team (Bernie Arnold collection)

     Butch remembers a great deal about school, especially sports.  He played all the sports, but really enjoyed basketball.  “We played basketball all the time.  Sometimes we played in the Humble Camp.  Sometimes we’d sneak into the gym at school.  Mr. Wranosky finally gave us a key because he said he was tired of us breaking into the gym,” Butch said.  “That’s how we got so good.  We were short, so we had to be good shooters.”

     According to a Caller-Times article when Butch was in high school, he averaged 15 to 16 points a game.  Coach Bud Gray was three inches taller than his tallest player.  Butch and his best friend Eddie were regular starters.  Reporter Jim McKone, author of the article, “Flour Bluff ‘Shorties’ Beat 14 of 19 Taller Foes,” wrote: “Short but fast, the Flour Bluff Hornets have several dangerous scorers.  They average three or four inches below six feet.  But 5-10 Butch Roper and 5-4 Eddie Farrias are accomplished shooters.”  All those times sneaking into the Flour Bluff gym evidently paid off.

     “There wasn’t much to do in Flour Bluff for a kid other than play sports.  We had a wreck hall in the Humble Camp where we had gatherings with our families.  Sometimes we went to the show on the base.  It was a dime to get in.  We hunted and fished, too,” Butch said.

     “We duck hunted all the time.  Granny would fix duck.  I didn’t like duck, but she had a way of cooking it to make it taste better,” said Butch.  “When we went duck hunting, we’d take our row boat and put in at the Humble docks.  Then, we’d row out into the water and build a blind out of Sweet Bay bush trees right on the boat, and we’d hunt out of the boat.  It worked great!”

     “I fished all the time with a fishing pole and usually fished with my grandfather.  We spent lots of time together – and caught lots of fish,” Butch said proudly.

Butch’s catch  (Photo from Butch Roper collection)

Be sure to pick up the next edition of The Texas Shoreline News to read Part II of Butch Roper’s story.  To share his story with others online, visit https://texasshorelinenews.com/.

The editor welcomes all corrections or additions to the stories to assist in creating a clearer picture of the past.  Please contact the editor at Shirley@texasshorelinenews.com to submit a story about the early days of Flour Bluff.

Please follow and like us:

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.  She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.

Tales from Flour Bluff, the Little Town that Almost Was: Life and Times of Bobbie Kimbrell, Part II

Flour Bluff, Front Page, History, Local history

To preserve the rich history of Flour Bluff in print, The Texas Shoreline News, will run historical pieces and personal accounts about the life and times of the people who have inhabited the Encinal Peninsula. Each edition will feature the stories gleaned from interviews held with people who remember what it was like to live and work in Flour Bluff in the old days.  You won’t want to miss any of these amazing stories.

Bobbie Kimbrell still lives in Flour Bluff (Photo by Shirley Thornton)

     “It was a mass of oil wells back then,” Bobbie Kimbrell said, speaking of Flour Bluff in the late thirties and early forties.  “Right where SPID crosses Waldron.  That’s where most of the oil derricks were.  I was surprised HEB built where it did,” he said.

     “One of the wells right at the causeway blew out and burned for a long time.  When I was living on North Beach in 1941, it was still burning, and I could see the flare from all the way over there,” Kimbrell said.  He explained that the Navy had to help put it out because it was affecting the training of the pilots.  “The student pilots flew from Corpus Christi to San Antonio and back.  They didn’t even need their compass or anything.  They could see the light all the way from San Antonio.  It was killing their flying with instruments, so the Navy had the fire put out.”

      Bobbie Kimbrell is one of six children, four girls (Carmelita, twins Annette and Jeanette, and Virginia) and two boys (Acie and Bobbie), most of whom are gone. He speaks with a great deal of pride when talking about his younger sister Virginia, now 84, who worked for the Corpus Christi Fire Department under Chief John Carlisle.  “She did everything.  She served as dispatcher, made out the payroll, took care of insurance, and handled grievances.  The chief didn’t even have to be there,” he chuckled.

     After graduating Flour Bluff High School in 1947, Kimbrell continued his work as a commercial fisherman.  He even did some roughnecking.  In 1949, he went into the United States Army during the Korean Conflict.  Though he spent about 6 months in Okinawa, most of his training took place at Ft. Hood.  In 1951, he got out of the army and returned to fishing.  He met and married Helen Garcia in 1960.  “She was from San Benito, Texas, and was Rachel Krause’s aunt.  She was her aunt but was at least 20 years younger.  Rachel was married to Ralph Krause, who owned Pick-a-Rib in Flour Bluff,” said Kimbrell.

     Bobbie and Helen had three daughters, Rosemary Kimbrell Leatherwood, Edith Ella Kimbrell Stephenson, and Laura Lee Kimbrell Trueblood.  “I have lots of grandkids and even a few great grandkids,” said Kimbrell.  “All my girls still live in Corpus Christi.”  One has to wonder if Bobbie’s daughters knew just how tough their dad’s life had been trying to make a living as a commercial fisherman, something he did until 1999 when he was nearly 70 years old.

Photo courtesy of Bobbie Kimbrell

The following is a story written by Bobbie Kimbrell about a memory he has of fishing with his dad:

     It was the summer of 1944.  My dad and I lived in a little camp on the shoreline of the lagoon where Glenoak runs into Laguna Shores.  We would go rod and reel fishing nearly every morning.  We got up about an hour before the crack of dawn, had coffee, and ate breakfast.  Then we got in the 16-foot skiff and tried to make it to the Humble Channel before the sun came up.

     The night before we had used a minnow seine to catch about fifty shrimp, using the Coleman lantern for light.  As I rowed the boat, Dad stood in the stern and helped me along with the push pole.  We had a 50-hook trotline set out on a sand bar beside the channel, and we noticed in one section the main line was under water.  Dad picked it up, and there was a 5-foot alligator gar on it! We decided to leave it on until we finished fishing because it would have taken a long time to tie it down and release it. 

     We tied up to the 4 X 4 channel marker just as the sun was about an inch over the horizon of Padre Island.  We were on the east side of the channel so that our backs would be toward the sun.  After the sun was completely up, it was bright and red as blood with orange streaks above.  Dad said, “Turn around and look at the sun.  It’s going to be a hot one today.”

     We put a handful of the shrimp in a little bucket of water so that we wouldn’t have to get one out of the wooden bait box we had tied alongside.  Dad caught a nice trout on his first cast. It was about a 3-pounder.  While I strung it up on the stringer, Dad had already caught another trout and then started catching one nearly every cast.  It kept me busy just stringing them up.  Most of the trout were about 12 to 14 inches long.  Dad didn’t catch anything the next couple of casts, so he told me to start fishing and see if I could catch one.  One of the shrimp was nearly dead, so instead of hooking it through the head, I just wormed it on, threw it out, and caught one the first cast.

     The fishing had slowed down, but both of us would catch one every once in a while.  About that time, a wade fisherman waded out from the shore.  At that time, a lot of fishermen waded down beside the channel.  When the wade fisherman saw the trotline, he went over and picked up the main line.  When that alligator gar started flushing around, it scared the man so bad that he hollered for my dad to come and get him.  Dad told the man that the gar was hooked, so he didn’t have to worry about it, but the man was still scared and took off for the shoreline.  He got in his car and left.

     By that time, we had run out of shrimp, having caught about 30 trout.  So, Dad put on a small Dixie silver spoon and would catch one every once in a while.  I asked if I could put on a spoon, but he said, “No, your line is pretty weak, and if you hook one, you might lose the spoon.”  After a while, he said, “Go ahead and put that big No. 7 Johnson spoon on because I don’t ever use it anyway.”

     After a while, I hooked a sure ‘nough good one!  Its head came clear out of the water trying to throw the spoon loose.  With the sun shining into its open mouth, it was a brilliant, golden color.  It went back down and made a run for it as I burnt both thumbs a little trying to thumb it down since my reel didn’t have a drag on it.  After a while, I got it coming back toward the boat with Dad standing by with the dip net.  Just as Dad stooped over to net it, it just threw the hook and swam off right before our eyes.

     “Damn it!” Dad said.  “I bet that sow would have weighed 10 pounds!” 

     Later I got to thinking that at least I hadn’t lost the spoon, and I didn’t know if Dad would have lived it down if I had caught the biggest fish.  About that time where the channel ended into shallow water, the water started whirling up, and the fish whole end of the channel turned muddy.  Dad said, “Jerk those fish on the stringer back into the boat.  That might be a shark.”

     Whatever it was, we could see part of its back as it was nearing the boat.  I asked Dad if I should stomp on the bottom of the boat and scare it off.  Dad said, “Hell, no!  It might turn over the boat.” Anyway, it swam on off, much to our satisfaction.  We both got to thinking later on that it was a manatee because we saw no fins on it, and it was known that sometimes manatees come up the channels. 

     By then the wind had got up a little from the southeast, so we untied and hoisted the sail.  I steered as Dad gutted and gilled the trout.  We put the fish in a No. 2 washtub, took them up to the Nelson fish pick up station at the old Don Patricio Causeway and sold them.  We had 40 pounds at 15 cents per pound.

     Tom Nelson, the fish dealer, said, “Thanks for the fish.  Try to catch more tomorrow if you can because the housewives are buying all of them as soon as they come in.”  It was during WWII, and meat was rationed, so the housewives were substituting fish for meat. 

     I forgot to mention that we released the gar, and it swam off.  There was no other fish on the trotline that we had baited with 1-inch squares of baby crib rubber sheeting.

     When asked who the best fisherman was the he ever met, he did not say it was his dad. Kimbrell thought about it a bit and then answered.  “Talking through the years, it had to be Wally Grabowske.  He always caught the most.  Alvin Barta and Lacy Smith were right behind him though,” said Kimbrell.

     “Dad quit fishing and opened the Red Dot Bait Stand with Sherm Hawley. He made better money at the bait stand than he did fishing.  He sold it later to Freddy Edgeman, who had a promoter from San Antonio,” said Kimbrell.  He remembered the first bait stand being on the Intracoastal near where Snoopy’s sits today.  “The city demolished it, but I never knew why,” he said.  “Then it was moved to Humble Channel.  Edgeman ran it until he died.”

     Kimbrell recalled other bits of information about Flour Bluff and its people.

  • Gas wells were dug on Pita Island to power the Barney Davis plant.
  • The Curriers were the first Hispanic family he can remember in Flour Bluff. Their dad was the swing bridge operator, and they lived on Lakeside near the causeway.
  • Nicholson’s Grocery store was owned by John Nicholson and sat where Barton Street Pub is today.
  • Killian’s Grocery Store was on Waldron, north of what is now South Padre Island Drive. Constable Jewell Ross had a liquor store next to Killian’s.  (Note:  According to John Nicholson, grandson of the Nicholson Grocery owner and current owner of Barton Street Pub, “The constable’s office was located in the old building that now houses The Alibi lounge at 948 Waldron. Jewel Ross was the constable. There was a liquor store on the left side and the constable’s office on the right side. When not doing constable business, or when a liquor customer drove up, he was selling and operating Ross’s liquor store. If you look at the building, you can tell it was two units. This was in the 50’s.”)
  • Dunn’s Crossing was the shallow crossing of the lagoon where Yorktown runs into Laguna Shores. “I always thought there should be a historical marker there,” said Kimbrell.

     Bobbie Kimbrell still lives in Flour Bluff and can often be seen with his friends having coffee in Whataburger talking about the good ol’ days.  “I’ve been through some pretty scary fishing times.  If a storm blew in or an unexpected Norther hit, I sometimes thought I wouldn’t make it.”

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Be sure to pick up the next edition of The Texas Shoreline News to read some of Bobbie Kimbrell’s articles about the history of Flour Bluff.  Past articles can be accessed at the website, as well.

The editor welcomes all corrections or additions to the stories to assist in creating a clearer picture of the past.  Please contact the editor at Shirley@texasshorelinenews.com to submit a story about the early days of Flour Bluff.

Please follow and like us:

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.  She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.

Replacing Blake Farenthold

Corpus Christi, Front Page, Government and Politics, Opinion/Editorial

   

Photo design by Dan Thornton

     Campaign signs are springing up along the roadways which is a clear indication that an election is coming soon. In fact, the Texas primary election will be held on March 6th. One of the most important local races will be the Republican primary to replace Blake Farenthold. Blake Farenthold is not running for re-election, and I recently suggested to a friend that Blake was not running due to a guilty conscience, but my friend quipped lawyers don’t have a conscience. That is something to think about, but in the meantime, I am thinking about the five candidates in the Republican primary. They are Michael Cloud, Christopher Mapp, Jerry Hall, John Grunwald and Bech Bruun.

     In a report for KRIS TV, The “Out-of Towners Running for Farenthold’s Old  Seat,” it was reported that three of the five candidates do not actually live in the 27th District. Bech Bruun has a vacation home in Rockport, but his permanent residence is in Austin. KRIS TV reported that Bruun has been living in his vacation home since December. John Grunwald did have a trailer in Wharton County which is in the district, but it got destroyed by a hurricane, and currently he is living in Houston. Jerry Hall has property and legal records that tie him to Florida; however, he has rented an apartment in Corpus Christi. Residing in the district is not a constitutional requirement, but it certainly is desirable.  Why else would a candidate rent an apartment or relocate to a vacation home in order to claim residency just prior to an election?

District 27 map

     There are two candidates who have permanent residences in the district. Michael Cloud owns a home and a business in Victoria, and Christopher Mapp owns a home in Port O’Connor. If the election came down to residency, the candidates would be Michael Cloud and Christopher Mapp, but that is not the case. Elections often come down to money, and the attorney Bech Bruun has attracted both money and endorsements. It now appears the election is shaping up to be a contest between Michael Cloud and Bech Bruun even though Bruun’s permanent residence is in Austin. Since the election is not going to be determined based on residency, it is important to know where the candidates stand on the issues.

     I reviewed Bech Bruun’s website looking for issue statements, but I found none. I did find endorsements on two different pages, and I found one page about the candidate. All that I was able to learn from the website was that he claims to be a conservative Republican, he is a lawyer, he has a wife and three beautiful children, and that he has worked for water development and Get-Out-the-Vote at a state level.   However, I could not determine his position on any of the key issues of our time, so I have to wonder whether he is a conservative or not. Honestly, I have to wonder, should we send yet another lawyer to Washington? Is he trying to deceive me by claiming his vacation home is his residence? Do lawyers have a conscience?

     In reviewing Michael Cloud’s website, I found that he too has a wife and three beautiful children. I also found a page of position statements that did cover the major issues of our time. I would encourage you to go to his website and read his position statements for yourself. What follows are some highlights from his website:

  • Commitment to responsible spending cuts
  • Cutting back federal regulations
  • Ensuring the military has the resources necessary to combat terrorism
  • Protecting your right to keep and bear arms
  • Repealing Obamacare
  • Providing parents greater input in educational choices for their children
  • Reforming immigration, beginning with securing the border and upholding the rule of law
  • Ensuring veterans have access to quality health care and education
  • Controlling  the EPA or other government agencies
  • Continuing to pursue energy independence
  • Standing against government attempts to discriminate against people of faith
  • Working to enact policies that recognize parental rights, respect marriage, and protect life

     Based on the information that is readily available, I would suggest that Michael Cloud is a conservative. I would encourage you to research the candidates for yourself.  You can meet Michael Cloud at the Padre Island Candidate Forum to be held at Schlitterbahn February 21st at 6:00 p.m.  Remember the election is being held on March 6th.  If you cannot do as Al Capone encouraged, “Vote early and vote often,” at least vote.

Until next time…

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A citizen of the United States of America, a Texan and a resident of Flour Bluff, Dan Thornton, values enlightened reason and freedom. Dan is a lifelong student of history and philosophy, and a writer of poetry and song. The hallmark of his pursuit is a quest for universal truth. By admission, the answer is illusive, but he is undaunted, and the quest continues.

Nueces County Pct. 2 Wall of Honor a “Labor of Love”

Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page, Local history

 

Top: Mitchell Clark; Bottom L to R: Jerry Bouchér, Ronnie Polston, John R. Haynes, Jewell Ross (Photo by Shirley Thornton)

     On Tuesday, January 23, 2018, Nueces County Pct. 2 Constable Mitchell Clark unveiled the Wall of Honor, dedicated to all those elected to the office since the precincts inception in 1953.  It was an emotional day for many of the family members present at the ceremony for Jewell W. Ross (1953-1960), John R. Haynes (1961-1980), Ronnie Polston (1981-2001), Jerry Bouchér (2001-2016), and Mitchell Clark (2016-present).  Family members present included Kathy Ross Hooge, Janet Ross Trammell, Fran Polston, Michael and Anny Parks, Jodie and Joe Alley, Billy and Mary Polston, and Janie (Bouchér) Stobbs.  Constable Clark, who initiated the project, said, “The cost of this project was paid for through donations and didn’t cost the taxpayer one cent.”

Left to right:  Janet Ross Trammell, Rep. Todd Hunter, Ronnie Polston, Commissioner Jack Gonzales, Constable Mitchell Clark, Commissioners Mike Pusley and Brent Chesney, Janie (Bouchér) Stobbs, and Kathy Ross Hooge

Michael Parks, Mary Polston, Anny Parks, Ronnie Polston, Fran Polston, Jodie Alley, Billie Polston

     Seven months ago, Rachel Krane, Constable Senior Clerk, was charged with the task of doing the research for the project.  During that time, she made numerous trips to the library, searched newspaper articles, dug through county archives, and worked with local historians to get the information needed.  She was surprised to learn that better records had not been kept for elected officials.  Still, she persevered.  Krane’s work was instrumental in bringing the project to fruition.

 

Rachel Krane, Constable Senior Clerk

 

Jewell Ross

     In 1952, the Nueces County Commissioners Court shifted Pct. 8 from Driscoll to the area that extended south from Everhart Road, including the University of Corpus Christi on Ward Island, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, and all of Padre Island in Nueces County.  Jewell W. Ross was elected constable in November of 1952 and took office as the first constable of the new precinct on January 1, 1953.  His opponents were Joseph Henry, Fred Rhome, John O. Winters, William M. Bennett, and Walter Rogers.

     Ross quickly went to work building the department.  According to an August 19, 1053, Caller-Times article by Mary Gene Kelly, Ross started with a $4000 budget.  Soon after, he sought a salary of $3600 for himself and $6000 for his deputies along with a $100 a month car allowance.  He also requested office equipment that cost about $435.

Corpus Christi Caller-Times photo, ca. 1961

     In 1954, Ross and his deputies moved into the new $35,000 county building dedicated by County Judge John Young at a ceremony held on June 19, 1954.  Flour Bluff School Superintendent E. J. Wranosky served as the master of ceremonies.  The Rev. E. McCoy Bynum of Trinity Baptist Church gave the invocation.  In attendance were County Commissioners William McKenzie, Horace Caldwell, William J. Bryan, and John J. Sablatura.  The Spanish-style structure, located at the entrance of the Padre Island Causeway, housed offices of the justice of the peace and constable of Pct. 8.  It also had a courtroom, a two-cell jail, a large waiting room, janitor’s supply room, restrooms, and a parking area for 40 to 45 cars.  Along with the building, came a new patrol car and two full-time deputies.  Ross would serve as constable of Precinct 8 until his retirement in 1960.

Pct. 8 County Courthouse, ca. 1960s (Corpus Christi Caller-Times photo)

John R. Haynes

     The next election pitted A. Z. McIver against John R. Haynes.  McIver, who spent eight years with the Corpus Christi Police Department, resigned and began managing White Enterprises.  This Baltimore native came to Corpus Christi in 1950 after serving six years in the Navy in WWII.  Haynes, also a WWII veteran, was 38 at the time and operated Haynes Bonded Guard Service, serving the Port of Corpus Christi for ten years.  Haynes won the election and took office in January of 1961.  He would win against McIver again in 1964.

     In 1967, he was forced into battle against the county commissioners.  Commissioner Robert N. Barnes who led the charge to dissolve the Pct. 7 (Port Aransas) and Pct. 8 (Flour Bluff) constables’ offices.  Barnes knew he could not abolish the offices created by the Constitution of the State of Texas, so he moved to simply eliminate their salaries.  “Persons still could run for the constables’ offices,” Barnes told a Caller-Times reporter, “but they wouldn’t be paid anything.”

Corpus Christi Caller-Times photo, February 1969

     Haynes responded in the same article, “I’m going to take this as high as I can to hold my office.  The people out here gave me a vote of confidence that I was doing a good job.  They re-elected me with a good majority.  I don’t see how the commissioners court can cut an elected man’s salary off.”  Haynes would go on to serve the people of Pct. 8 until 1980, sometimes without any deputies, funding, or even an office.

Ronnie Polston

     In 1980, Jerry Bouchér, a young opponent who had served as Haynes’s deputy, defeated him in the Democratic primary.  However, Boucher would lose the bid for Pct. 8 constable to Republican Ronnie H. Polston, a Vietnam War veteran who was stationed at NAS CC in 1962.  Polston finished out his career in Corpus Christi in 1976 when he retired.  He went to work for the County Sheriff’s Department, working his way up from jailer to dispatch to patrol and finally to the Criminal Investigation Department.  Polston went on to become a sergeant in charge of the Civil Section.  It was at this time that he made the decision to run for constable.

Ronnie Polston outside old building on S. Padre Island Drive, early 1980s (Photo courtesy of Ronnie Polston)

     Polston had his work cut out for him when he took office.  He was faced with an aging building that needed lots of cleaning, repair, and painting.  The department vehicles were also in dire need of maintenance.  However, this did not keep Polston from focusing on the job he was elected to do, enforcing the law and tending to the requests of Judge John Cox, the justice of the peace.  “My goal was to improve everything at every level,” said Polston.  “Money was always an issue, and I just didn’t get everything done that I wanted to get done.”  Polston spoke of how difficult it was to get the commissioners to understand that the needs of the Pct. 8 constable were different from those of other precincts.  “I needed a vehicle for the island.  I couldn’t get one because the commissioners thought they needed to be fair and give all the constables additional vehicles, which they couldn’t afford.”

     Polston has fond memories of his days as constable.  “I was always available to the public – even if I was at home.  My staff and I had a good relationship with the community,” Polston said.  He reminisced about how his deputies would volunteer to work the intersection at the school and how they dressed up at Halloween to do it.  “Oh, the kids and the parents loved it!” he said.  “We really enjoyed going to the schools and talking to the kids.  I’d show them things, give them books and stickers, and such, and I’d teach them what a constable does.”

Ronnie Polston on the job as constable, early 1980s (Photo courtesy of Ronnie Polston)

     “I never expected the building to be named for me,” said Polston of the new county building where the Wall of Honor is located, “but I was very honored.  I loved the Bluff and the job.  I thank them for all those wonderful years.  It was the highlight of my life.”

Jerry Bouchér stands next to Constable Ronnie Polston in this Pct. 8 photo provided by Janie Stobbs.

 Jerry Boucher

The next man to hold the office was Polston’s Chief Deputy, Jerry Boucher.  He graduated Flour Bluff High School in 1970 and went to work as a reserve deputy that same year.  “Jerry’s dad was a reserve officer for John Haynes, too” said Janie Stobbs, mother of Boucher.  “He couldn’t wait to go to work there.  He knew everybody.”

Jerry Bouchér, top row far right, stands behind John R. Haynes kneeling.  Bouchér’s father, Charles is front row second from left (Photo courtesy of Janie Stobbs)

     “On his own time and with his own money, he took every course at Del Mar on law enforcement and got every kind of training available to him.  He even taught classes there himself later in his career,” Stobbs said proudly of her son who passed away in 2016.  “He has five letters of recognition and appreciation from five different governors.”  Boucher served at Pct. 1 with Johnny Alaniz as Chief.

Stobbs’s collection of Bouchér’s training certificates and commendations fill two folders.  Boucher even held a ministerial license.  (Photo courtesy of Janie Stobbs)

     Bouchér, who also studied marine biology and geology at Del Mar, served the Flour Bluff community as the President of the Flour Bluff Civic League.  According to a Flour Bluff Sun article, Boucher also served on the Nueces County Employees Credit Union Board of Directors and served as a Red Cross instructor.  For a while, he even served as the justice of the peace.  Though he was a busy man who was connected to his community in many ways, Boucher believed that the constable should be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, a philosophy he shared with his predecessor.

Bouchér with mother, Janie Stobbs at swearing in ceremony with Judge Janice Stoner (Photo courtesy of Janie Stobbs)

 

     “If his men were working, he had them watching out for the kids at Flour Bluff School.  He and his men provided traffic control for the Flour Bluff homecoming parades.  Jerry even rode in the parade even though he hated being at the center of attention,” said Boucher’s mother.  “He always loved Flour Bluff and taking care of the people there.”

     Constable Jerry Charles Bouchér, born in Brownsville, in 1952, passed away on Thursday, October 13, 2016. “His heart was in the constable office,” said Stobbs.  “We always knew where he was headed and what he wanted.”

The Ronnie H. Polston County Building, as it looked after Bouchér’s passing.  The building bears the geographical location of Flour Bluff, Texas.

Mitchell Clark

     When Boucher passed away, his friend of 40 years, Mitchell Clark, was the next man to assume the role of Pct. 2 Constable.  Clark ran unopposed in the November 8, 2016, election and was to be sworn in January 1, 2017.  However, Boucher’s death in October prompted Judge Loyd Neal to appoint Clark to Bouchér’s remaining term.

     A graduate of King High School in Corpus Christi, Constable Clark went on to join the United States Marine Corps.  After receiving an honorable discharge, Clark returned to Corpus Christi where he enrolled in college and began his career as a deputy constable. He went to school full time and worked full time as a police officer in the Nueces County Constable operations serving in Precincts, 1, 2, and 8.  After graduating Law School and receiving his law license, Constable Clark began a long career as a trial attorney, working on cases across the United States but never forgetting his first love, law enforcement. Constable Clark remained working in the Constable operations on a non-paid basis while practicing law.

Constable Mitchell Clark in front of Ronnie H. Polston County Building in Flour Bluff

     According to the Nueces County website, “Constable Clark is committed to providing the citizens of Precinct 2 a safe environment in which to work and live by using technology, equipment and his highly trained officers and administrative staff.” Clark started “Walk with the Constable”, where he meets with the citizens in their neighborhoods, and “Talk with the Constable”, where the Constable uses various social media sights to communicate directly with the citizens in Precinct 2. These programs allow citizens to share concerns with the constable and discuss solutions to problems.  Clark is responsible for initiating the Wall of Honor to pay tribute to those who came before him.  He told a local television reporter that the Wall of Honor was “a labor of love.”

NOTE:  Be sure to visit Texas Shoreline News for more Flour Bluff history and current events.

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Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.  She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.

Truth-goggles

Front Page, Opinion/Editorial
Photo by Dan Thornton

     I am glad to have survived another year of fake news, false claims, and frustration, and to tell you the truth, it has inspired me. I believe I am on the verge of the world’s greatest invention.  When I was a child, I remember seeing advertisements in comic books for X-ray glasses.  The prospect fascinated me, and I always wanted a pair of X-ray glasses, but the $2.99 price was always out of my reach.  I must admit that I did not think it was possible to merely put on a pair of glasses and acquire X-ray vision, but the idea was very appealing.  Later in life, I learned first-hand about beer -goggles, and much to my surprise they are at times very effective and affordable.  Like many others, I have found that beer-goggles alter reality in amazing ways.  While wearing beer-goggles, I find that I am taller, more handsome, funnier, dance better, and naturally more attractive to the opposite sex.  It is a rather amazing transformation at the right price.  Some would say that it is an altered reality, and they would not be wrong.

     It is just that altered reality that has inspired my invention. What if you could put on a pair of glasses, and they would filter out the altered reality, the lies, and innuendo?  It would be like a reverse invention of beer-goggles.  Since I have not officially named my invention, for lack of anything better, I will refer to them as truth-goggles.  Imagine if you will that you put on a pair of truth-goggles, and then you peruse the New York Times or the Newsweek.  The truth-goggles will filter out the lies and misrepresentations, and all you will see are the facts.  Headlines such as “Melania Trump Orders Removal of 220-Year-Old Tree from White House,” as Newsweek reported recently will not be visible.  Instead you will see a pleasant photograph of Switzerland.  You would also see a pleasant photograph of Switzerland where TIME reported  that a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. was removed from the Oval Office by Trump.  When watching the news on television, your screen would display beautiful photographs of Switzerland instead of the ABC News story claiming Trump ordered Michael Flynn to contact Russian officials while a candidate, or when CNN claimed Trump and Trump, Jr. were given access to Wiki Leaks documents when in fact, the documents were public information.  I am sure you are thinking that the false stories have been retracted – and they have – but not in such a way that low-information voters are aware of it because the retractions were not bold headlines on the front page, and neither were they headlines on the 6:oo o’clock news.  In fact, the retractions were published in such a way that they received very little attention;  therefore, many voters walk around believing the original fake news.

     I am sure most people believe that the elimination of fake news would be worthwhile, and moreover some would agree that an invention such as truth-goggles would be worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize like the one awarded President Obama for no apparent reason. It is certainly my belief, but I know there are some obstacles to overcome to actually get the truth.  My first thought was the use of contemporary fact-checking databases, but many of them have proven to be flawed.  I have discussed the problem with a trusted friend who suggested that I should contact Joe Friday of “Dragnet” fame, since he was interested in “just the facts.”  That of course presents a real problem since “Dragnet” was an old 1950s TV series that aired in wonderful black and white.  Many people will not remember the series and have the trust in Joe Friday that my friend has.  Even if everyone had complete trust in Joe Friday, there is still the obstacle of time travel back to the 1950s.  I thanked my friend for his input, but I have decided on another approach that does not involve time travel.

     I have decided to use artificial intelligence since the technology is readily available and can be miniaturized to fit inside my truth-goggles. The intelligence chip will only be required to do two things very well.  The intelligence chip will have to reason and absorb information instantly.  My research indicates that the absorption and reasoning process must be accomplished a mere nano-second faster than the fastest human, and of course a pleasant photograph of Switzerland will have to be selected and displayed instead of false information.  In my introductory model of truth-goggles, I anticipate using only pictures of Switzerland because all of the pictures of Switzerland are pleasant  and most are downright beautiful, so it will speed up the selection process.  As the speed of absorption and reasoning improve, I intend to offer an upgraded model of truth-goggles that will display any digital picture available.  Naturally the upgraded model will have programmable intelligence filters to assure that all displayed content will be age appropriate.

      I must admit that I can barely contain my excitement. To think that I am introducing a product that is world-changing actually boggles my mind.  There has never been a product in the history of mankind that has such profound implications.  Imagine a world without absurd advertising claims, a world without pseudo-science, a world devoid of false political claims, a world where truth prevails, and people are not continually bombarded with misinformation.  Once truth-goggles are introduced, and people begin to see only the truth, the false claims and the fake news will disappear from recorded media.  There will be no reason to publish false claims or fake news because the content will not be visible, so eventually the publisher will begin to produce the truth, and the entire system will become self-correcting.

     For the first time in the history of mankind, people will begin to learn the lessons of history because all of the gnarly, twisted misinformation embedded in historical content will not be visible. Mankind will actually understand Greek and Roman history and will learn from their mistakes.  The future of our nation and indeed the world will no longer be destined to failed systems and experiments.  The world will truly be enlightened.   The age of Aquarius will be within our reach.

       Once the initial truth-goggles are introduced, I will begin working on Phase II truth-goggles. The Phase II model will have the ability to sort out the truth in personal conversation.  The intelligence chip will have to go beyond rapid reasoning and will have to read the speaker’s mind.  As everyone well knows, mind reading requires very keen observation of gestures and expressions along with a great deal of intuitive thought.  The keen observation is the simple part and can be programmed to any artificial intelligence chip, but the intuition is a bit more complicated.  However, after the initial adoption of the Phase I truth-goggles, the intuitive programming becomes much simpler because people become accustomed to dealing in truth.  The truthful thought behind any verbal expression is very limited and can be categorized as either positive, negative or neutral.  Then it just becomes a matter of degree, and the truth can be discerned with relative certainty.  It really becomes a matter of studying the history of comments and their outcome.  It is important to keep in mind, that in any discourse,  the other party is interested in one thing above all others.  The other party always wants to know, “What is in it for me?”  Answer that question, and you can predict the thoughts.

     Perhaps an example would simplify the understanding required to read someone’s mind. Suppose you go to a car dealership to buy a car.  You find the car you want, take a test drive, and are pleased with the car.  Naturally you are thinking about the cost of the car, when the salesman asks you what you would like your monthly payment to be.  In that moment, your Phase II truth-goggles go to work, and you realize what he is really asking is “How much money can I make off of this chump?”  Realizing his thoughts, you do not take the bait, and you respond with “I will give you $28,000 for the car.”  This is not the response the salesman wanted, and he flinches noticeably.  You detect the flinch and think “I’ve got this sleazy car salesman in the corner.”  As it turns out, the car salesman has on his Phase II truth-goggles and sensing the satisfaction on your face he realizes that you think he is sleazy.  The salesman does not want to appear sleazy, so he puts on his best smile and says that he will have to talk to his sales manager.  After a brief visit with the sales manager, the salesman returns and says that he can accept your offer.  He begins immediately to complete the sales contract.  He quietly offers you the usual add-ons but is not pushy.  He accepts whatever response you give, and he completes the contract.  At this juncture you begin to think the salesman was not so much of a sleaze as you initially thought.  The salesman sensing your thoughts naturally puts on a pleasant smile and wonders if his next sale will be as easy as this one.

     As you can see from the example, Phase II truth-goggles simplified a complex transaction and left all parties satisfied. As Phase II truth-goggles are adopted and people begin to experience discourse with the new mind reading chip set, it will become second nature for people to eliminate the negative thoughts and approach every exchange with honesty and integrity.  With the elimination of negative thoughts, the Phase II truth-goggles will begin to process faster because they will only have to deal with positive or neutral thoughts.  When processing time has sufficiently decreased, I will introduce the upgraded Phase III truth-goggles that display three dimensional and holographic art.  It will truly be a beautiful world.

     While researching and discussing my project, many people have expressed an interest in investing in truth-goggles. For that reason, I have decided to crowd-source funding for the project.  This approach will allow anyone to participate and share in the eventual rewards.  It will be as though everyone has inside information and can get in on the ground-floor.  There are still a few details to work out, such as naming the product and the company, but that is the easy part.  Certainly truth will be incorporated in both the product and the company.  After all, it was Buddha who said, “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”  It is with the Buddha’s thought in mind that I devised the mission statement for the company.  It will be, “Truth – to integrity and beyond.”

Until next time…

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A citizen of the United States of America, a Texan and a resident of Flour Bluff, Dan Thornton, values enlightened reason and freedom. Dan is a lifelong student of history and philosophy, and a writer of poetry and song. The hallmark of his pursuit is a quest for universal truth. By admission, the answer is illusive, but he is undaunted, and the quest continues.

Tales from Flour Bluff, the Little Town That Almost Was: Life and Times of Lacy Smith, Part 2

Flour Bluff, Front Page, Padre Island
Lacy Smith, 2017

To preserve the rich history of Flour Bluff, The Texas Shoreline News, will run historical pieces and personal accounts about the life and times of the people who have inhabited the Encinal Peninsula. Each edition will feature the stories gleaned from interviews held with people who remember what it was like to live and work in Flour Bluff in the old days.  You won’t want to miss any of these amazing stories.

The Life and Times of Lacy Smith:  Part II

     Lacy Lee Smith recalls how he got his unique first name.  “My mama was going to name me Travis, but she had a friend who had just had a baby and had named him Travis.  So, she named me Lacy, after an uncle, I think.” Birth records for the United States indicate that only 5,1154 boys have been named Lacy since 1880.  Like his name, Lacy Smith is a rarity.

     Lacy’s mother, Rady Elizabeth (Jones) Smith, was born on September 11, 1909, in Marquez, Texas.  His father, Rupert Allen Smith, was born on May 11, 1889, In Belton, Texas.  Rady and Rupert, married on January 16, 1923, had five children:  Ruby Fay in 1925, Joseph Allen in 1927, Johnny Wesley Neal in 1929, Lacy Lee Smith in 1932, and David Kent Smith in 1934.  Their marriage ended in divorce, which is part of the reason for Lacy finding his way to Flour Bluff in 1936, shortly after the oil and gas boom in the area. During the Great Depression, the family fished and even worked as migrant farm workers.

     “We’d travel West Texas to pick cotton and down to the valley to pick onions and potatoes.  In those days, you could only sell a perfect onion or potato.  We would pick black-eyed peas, too, and we lived on the culls that were left in the fields.  Whatever there was to do, that’s what we’d do,” said Lacy.  “Sometimes we’d pick crab meat. We’d walk along the beach in Port Isabel and dip up crabs with a net.  Then, we’d build a fire and boil them and get the meat.  We got a dollar a pound for crab meat because it was handpicked.”

     Lacy tells of a different Flour Bluff than the one everyone knows today.  “When we first moved to Flour Bluff, none of the roads were paved.  They didn’t even have oyster shell on them; they were just dirt,” he recalls.  “There were a few cars, mostly Model A’s, with some Chevrolets and Chryslers.  We had a 1938 Ford pickup.”

     At the time that, Lacy said the main way into Flour Bluff was across Ward Island.  “We drove across Ward Island on an oyster shell road that went on down toward Dimmit’s Island. There were a couple of bridges on that road.  Mud Bridge was out on what became Yorktown Boulevard, which didn’t go all the way to the Laguna Madre then.  There were very few roads in Flour Bluff,” Lacy explained.  “It wasn’t until nearly 1940 that they upgraded the roads with oyster shell.  Later, they brought in caliche and gravel from Mathis.  That was because of Humble Oil and then the base.”  (See information below on how to read the entire story.)

 

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To read this story in its entirety, please click on the Texas Shoreline News link.  This will take you to the online version of the print newspaper.  There you can finish reading Part II of Lacy’s story and several other articles pertaining to Flour Bluff and Padre Island.  We hope you will give this new print newspaper a look.  The paper comes out every 1st and 3rd Friday.  

Be sure to pick up the next edition of the Texas Shoreline News to learn about Lacy Smith’s good friend and fellow Flour Bluff commercial fisherman, Bobbie Kimbrell. Print newspapers are available at all Southside Corpus Christi   To read Part I of this story and access back issues of the Texas Shoreline News visit https://texasshorelinenews.com/.

 

The editor welcomes all corrections or additions to the stories to assist in creating a clearer picture of the past.  Please contact us at Shirley@texasshorelinenews.com to submit or suggest a story about the early days of Flour Bluff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to pick up the next edition of The Texas Shoreline News to learn about Lacy Smith’s good friend and fellow Flour Bluff commercial fisherman, Bobbie Kimbrell.  The story will appear in The Paper Trail News in early February.

The editor welcomes all corrections or additions to the stories to assist in creating a clearer picture of the past.  Please contact the editor at Shirley@texasshorelinenews.com to submit a story about the early days of Flour Bluff.

 

Please follow and like us:

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.  She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.

Lessons I Learned in 2017

Front Page, Opinion/Editorial

Like most people, I want to start the new year with a little more knowledge and hopefully a little more wisdom than the previous year.  To recognize either, however, it is important to reflect on the year that came before.  I learned a few lessons from 2017 that I hope will help me handle the events of 2018 with a bit more understanding, courage, and grace.  I am relating these lessons in no particular order.

  • The storms of life are often unexpected and devastating but necessary. They bring us together and offer opportunities for working together, inspiring hope, giving freely and joyfully, and expressing genuine concern for those less fortunate.
  • We should put more faith in God and people than Hollywood and government.
  • When we are assaulted in any way, we must stand up to the offender and let it be known that we don’t tolerate rude or unseemly behavior. We must also report such behavior immediately for the sake of everyone.  Imagine what the world would be if everyone treated each other the way they want the person they love most in the world treated.
  • Hurricanes and snow storms can happen in South Texas within four months of each other. We should delight in the wonder of that.
  • We need more snow days. They give us a reason to do nothing except play, snuggle, drink hot chocolate, and marvel in how beautiful everything is when blanketed in snow.  Even the neighbor’s old shed makes for a great snow photo.
  • We should listen more, especially to those who struggle to find their voice. Our forefathers understood this and gave us freedom of the press to help do that.  That said, we should not allow anyone to be tried in the press.  We are a nation that believes in due process.  To ignore “innocent until proven guilty” hurts us all.
  • We should carry a trash bag on our walks and tidy up our paths. This is good for the environment – and our waistlines.
  • We should be quick to help and slow to criticize. Our opinions aren’t worth much, but our hands and feet are like gold.
  • We must admit it when we are wrong and forgive those who point it out. Most of us benefit from a bit of humbling now and again.
  • Investing in people pays higher dividends than investing in Bitcoins. Mentor a child who may not have a responsible adult in his life to teach him about right living.  Both of you will change for the better.
  • Find a way for kids to spend time with farm animals. It teaches them respect and a healthy fear of the big ones and allows them to see how even the smallest one has a purpose.
  • Patience is still a virtue. Sometimes waiting for what we need or want saves us time and trouble and unnecessary expense.
  • We should preserve the history of the common people and share it with our children by telling them or writing it down. It is our past, after all, that defines the direction we take in the future.
  • We must put names, places, and dates on pictures and writings so that “Who’s that?” and “Where are they?” and “When was this?” can be answered.
  • We should spend more time with four-year-old kids. They have the courage to hold a snake and sing and dance in public.  We should nurture this in them – and in ourselves.
  • We learn what our loved ones cherished by the paper treasures in their attics. Print newspapers and magazines allow us to leave a trail of what we value for those who may one day dig through our old shoe boxes stored in the closet in search of who we really are.

I am certain that everyone who reads this list could easily add to it.  So, print it, attach it to a piece of paper where you list your own life lessons from 2017, tuck it into a box or between the pages of a book, and give your children and grandchildren something to think and talk about after you’re gone.  They’ll be glad you did.  May each of you have a happy and blessed New Year, and may your resolutions turn into actions that make you a better person.

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”  ~ Benjamin Franklin

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Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.  She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.

Tales from Flour Bluff, the Little Town That Almost Was: Lacy Smith, Part I

Flour Bluff, Front Page, Human Interest, Personal History

 

 

Lacy Smith, 2017

In a little shack at the end of a cotton field outside of Weslaco, Texas, on March 19, 1932, Lacy Smith was born to Rady Elizabeth and Ruppert Allen Smith with the help of a midwife.  Soon after, Lacy’s family moved to Loyola Beach near Riviera, Texas.  There he started his career as a commercial fisherman.  Evenwhen the Texas State Legislature banned commercial fishermen from catching redfish in 1981, he found a way to continue in the business until 2009 when he suffered a stroke.

Lacy was never afraid of the water because he was raised on it.  “I used to carry the bait bucket while my mother and father seined for bait.  I’d go out in the boat with my mother.  She’d row out into the bay, and I’d go with her and catch fish to sell.  I was two years old then,” he recalls.

“Nothing about it scared me.  I grew up on the water,” he said, saying that he “learned to swim in Baffin Bay when the water was so salty you couldn’t stay under.”  Lacy remembered what should have been a scary moment in his life but wasn’t.  “One time I fell off my shrimp boat in the Gulf.  I was by myself, and I got back on board.  Most of the time I worked by myself.  You couldn’t get anybody to help you.  I had a policy; if I couldn’t do it myself, I didn’t even start it,” said Lacy, a philosophy that guided him through life and made a successful commercial fisherman out of him.

In a 1988 interview conducted by Nathan Wilkey, Lacy described himself as a “gypsy, moving up and down the Texas coast to follow his livelihood, commercial fishing, as a child and as a father of four.”  As a child Lacy attempted school in three places:  Port Isabel, Loyola Beach, and Flour Bluff.  When he arrived in Flour Bluff ready to start the fourth grade, his teacher saw that he was far ahead of the other students and moved him to fifth grade.  Lacy remained in Flour Bluff Schools until the first day of his sophomore year when Coach Meixner asked him if he really wanted to be there.  When Lacy said, “Not really,” the coach suggested he go on home and focus on his fishing, which he did.

“I sustained my family as a commercial fisherman,” said Lacy.

According to his wife, Lilia, he made a “very good living” as a commercial fisherman.

 

 

 

Lacy Smith and Ricky Allen caught this shark at the mouth of the Bernard River near Freeport, Texas, in the early 1980s.  The fins were sold to Japanese markets in California and the body was sold to other markets.  The fishermen were trying to overcome the ban on redfish by creating new markets for their catch, according to Smith.

 

 

 

Lacy, like many people in those days, worked hard to survive.  In the Wilkey interview, he tells of how his family acquired the necessities of life.  “Lacy spoke of his early childhood days when the family would go to town by wagon.  They would tie up the horses on the outskirts of town, a meeting place for the families who lived outside of town, and walk into town to buy supplies.”

When Lacy moved to Flour Bluff with his mother and stepfather, Lester “Wild Bill” Wyman, he lived along Laguna Shores in a one-room house that sat between Knickerbocker and what was then Davis Drive (South Padre Island Drive).  “They built a bunkhouse for the boys to sleep out back.  Later they built lean-tos until it was four or five rooms.  They built them one at a time.  It would start as a porch; then, we’d turn it into a room,” said Lacy.

“People in Flour Bluff collected rain water in cisterns, usually off their roofs when it would rain.  It rained a lot back then.  Some people got their water from wells they dug by hand.  My mother never had running water while she was alive.  She sometimes hauled water in barrels from the school house,” Lacy said.

Lacy’s mother continued to fish and shrimp, but Lacy does not remember eating much of her catch.  “She used to shrimp for Red Dot Bait Stand and sell shrimp for a penny a piece.  She’d go over there at night and dip up shrimp with a dip net and sell them to Ace Kimbrell.  We didn’t eat a lot of fish and shrimp.  Our diet was mostly potatoes and beans.  We didn’t have meat unless we killed something.  We had no means of refrigeration.  We killed ducks, geese, rabbits, whatever we could find,” he said.

When asked if they hunted deer, Lacy said, “I don’t remember any deer in Flour Bluff when I was a kid.  The pioneer families who lived here had hunted them out.”

Lacy spoke with great respect about his parents.  “Mom never forsook us or left us or abandoned us.  She always took care of us and was the best at taking care of money.  Everybody back in that day did.  My daddy kept a ledger.  He knew how much he made each day and how much he spent.  He could go back thirty years and tell you what he’d done that day.”

Lacy’s stepfather, Wild Bill Wyman, was a machinist from Detroit.  “People called him Wild Bill because he showed up in a boat that had that name painted on it.  All of us kids used the name Wyman when we attended Flour Bluff Schools.”

“I left home at 14 years old.  Sidney Herndon down at the L-Heads put out big boats on percentages.  I got a 40-foot boat by myself.  It was named The Lee.  Trout was 25 cents a pound.  I had 285 pounds the first time I went out.  I caught them on rods and reels in the Bird Island area,” said Lacy.  ““I had a 14-foot skiff with a 7 ½ hp outboard motor and a rod and reel at the start.  Later, I ran lines, used gill nets, line seines, dynamite.  I fished every way there was to fish.”

NOTE:  This article was first published in The Texas Shoreline News, a local print paper that serves the Flour Bluff, Padre Island, and South Side areas of Corpus Christi.

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Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.  She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.

From the Desk of the Constable

Flour Bluff, Front Page

Hello, everyone!

It’s January 2018 and time to hear from your constable, Mitchell Clark.  This publication from me to you on behalf of the Texas Shoreline News will be published every quarter unless something needs to be reported.  For current news from your constable or to learn more about me and my office, you can visit us on Facebook at Nueces County Constable Precinct 2 and at my website, constablemitchellclark.net.  This site has many informative features to it such as “Listen to the Constable” and my publications on various topics.

I thought this might a good time for a year-end report.  During the holidays, I reflected on how much we accomplished in 2017.  I remembered all the things we have done for the constable’s office that will help us serve you better.  We upgraded our computer system, met the State-mandated continuing education for all peace officers and firearms qualifications, purchased new equipment for my officers which helps keep them safe, bought new uniforms and bulletproof vests, and launched my two new programs:  Talk with the Constable and Walk with the Constable.

I am proud that the new equipment, uniforms, and vests did not cost the taxpayers a penny.  I secured this money from grants and from donations to my department.  Most importantly, none of this would have happened without the hard work of my officers and administrative staff.

One of the changes I made in 2017 was to engage in community policing.  As an example, to the extent possible, my officers spend time in the neighborhoods patrolling your homes to help keep you safe.  After the hurricane, I suspended paper service and focused my officers in your neighborhoods and businesses to keep an extra eye on you and your property. And yes, even the “ole Constable” was out on the streets on patrol.  (Some say that “cop” actually means “constable on patrol.”)

Finally, I have designed and completed the Pct. 2 Wall of Honor.  This is a dedication to all the elected Constables who have served this district from its very beginnings in 1952 through today.  It will be officially dedicated January 23, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. at my offices located at 10110 Compton Road in Flour Bluff.  Come on by and take a look at history or come to the dedication.  The cost of this project was paid for through donations and didn’t cost the taxpayers one cent.

Happy New Year to all, and I look forward to serving as your Constable in 2018.

Always there for you!

Constable Mitchell Clark

Constable Clark is the duly elected official for the Pct. 2 Constable’s Office. He has been involved in the Nueces County Constable operations since 1981 and holds a Masters Peace Officers license from the State of Texas. He is a licensed attorney in Texas and Tennessee and in the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a former Marine with assignments as a military policeman with a specialty in corrections and as highly prestigious Marine Corps Drill Instructor @ MCRD San Diego. Constable Clark knows the law.

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Constable Clark is the duly elected official for the Pct. 2 Constable’s Office. He has been involved in the Nueces County Constable operations since 1981 and holds a Masters Peace Officers license from the State of Texas. He is a licensed attorney in Texas and Tennessee and in the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a former Marine with assignments as a military policeman with a specialty in corrections and as highly prestigious Marine Corps Drill Instructor @ MCRD San Diego. Constable Clark knows the law.

NASCC Fire Department Adopts Local Preschool for Christmas

Education, Flour Bluff, Front Page, Human Interest

     At 9:30 a.m., on December 12, 2017, the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi firetruck arrived at the Flour Bluff Head Start preschool on Glenoak Drive.  Several firefighters quickly exited the big red engine as the children standing on the patio of the Head Start building screamed and waved.  These brave men (Captain Weston Beseda, Firefighter Phil Lala, Firefighter Shawn Kotal, Firefighter Eric Santillon, and Fire Inspector Otis Terrell), however, were not responding to a fire.  They were delivering Christmas presents to the waiting children.

     For several years now, the NASCC Fire Department has put smiles on the faces of the children enrolled in the Head Start preschool program in Flour Bluff. This program services families whose income falls below the federal poverty line by allowing the children to be in a preschool setting where their teachers prepare them for grade school. Many of these children’s parents often struggle with having enough money to give their children gifts for Christmas. That’s why the NASCC Fire Department decided to adopt – not just 1 or 2 of the children at Head Start -but all the children enrolled in the program. This year, there were four classes with almost 70 students in all.

 

     Early each December, a representative from NASCC FD picks up a name card for each child. This card includes the age of each child and a list of items each needs or wants. Often clothing sizes are included because the children may need new clothing. Once these cards are in the hands of the Fire Department, they are disbursed among the firefighters who wish to participate and buy a present or two for a child in need. Presents are then wrapped, sorted, and prepared for delivery. In years past, Santa has helped in the delivery of the presents to the classrooms.  This year he relied completely on the five firefighters to get the job done. They unloaded the firetruck and headed inside with presents galore.

 

     There they greeted the children and began passing out the presents. They called each child’s name, and one-by-one, each went forward to receive beautifully wrapped packages. Once all the children were sitting down with their wrapped presents, Captain Beseda counted down for the children to tear open their gifts, “5…4…3…2…1…Go!” At the sound of “Go!” the wrapping paper began flying as the children ripped open their presents, bringing ear-to-ear smiles to every face.

 

     Some say that giving is the reason for the season, and this community project taken on by the NASCC Fire Department proves just that. Not only do these guys take pride in serving our community, they also take pleasure in giving towards community projects such as this. The fire fighters of NASCC Fire Department look forward to continuing placing smiles on the faces of those less fortunate for years to come.

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Katy is a paralegal, wife, and mother of two boys, both of whom ride BMX. Even Katy has been known to race a moto or two! She is also a freelance photographer in her spare time – SevenTwelve Photography.