Flour Bluff Citizens Consider Future Land Use

Community Organizations, Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page, Local history
Dan McGinn of the Corpus Christi Planning and ESI Department,  addresses Flour Bluff Citizens Council, July 17, 2017

     Citizens of Flour Bluff were educated on area development plans (ADPs) at the July Flour Bluff Citizens Council general meeting where Dan McGinn, Director of Planning and Environmental Strategic Initiatives, defined what area development plans are, how they are connected to Plan CC, the city’s comprehensive plan, and plans for re-writing the nine area development plans, including the Flour Bluff ADP, which has not been revised since 1993 even though the 1987 Comprehensive Plan stated that all plans would be reviewed and revised every five years. Those in attendance were encouraged to look around the Flour Bluff community and take note of improvements, enhancements, or changes needed or wanted in the community in order to be prepared for future FBADP meetings when the real planning begins.  They were asked to look to the future and envision Flour Bluff in 20 years, a daunting task to say the least.

Flour Bluff, 1863

 

     Flour Bluff encompasses an area of about 18 square miles and is home to 22,876 (according to the 2014 counts), which is about 7% of the total population of Corpus Christi, according to a presentation given by McGinn to the Corpus Christi City Council the day after the FBCC meeting.  Until the Ropes Boom around 1890, Flour Bluff was for the most part inaccessible except by boat.  Flour Bluff Point, where NAS CC sits today, was identified by the 40-foot dunes that graced the landscape.  This area attracted activity (i.e. fishing, packing plants, trade routes) on the perimeter of the Encinal Peninsula, but actual long-term settlements did not take root until the Ropes Boom around 1890. It was then that the few families who moved into the area began building houses (which they moved frequently); fishing; farming;  raising dairy cattle;  establishing a post office;  starting a school;  and building bridges across the Oso and eventually across the Laguna Madre to Padre Island.  They were seeing Flour Bluff as a land of many uses, but without the tethers of local government.

     All was quiet for a while until oil was discovered, which brought many new families to the area, followed by the biggest growth in population with the building of NAS Corpus Christi. With the Navy base came a water line that would bring a source of water more reliable than the individual wells that had at times gone dry.  Electricity, phone service, an independent school district, thriving businesses, a county building with a constable, and other community elements such as churches, sports teams, and civic groups had Flour Bluff functioning as a town, but not officially.  By 1950, the talk of incorporation had begun.  The people of Flour Bluff, a fiercely independent group, wanted to be in control of what happened on their little piece of the planet, something that has not changed.  If they can’t turn back the hands of time and become a town of their own, then they certainly want to have as much influence as possible on what happens in their own back yards.  But, who else will have a say-so in the writing of the plan?

     According to the City of Corpus Christi’s website, “The Planning Division is responsible for developing and updating of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, Area Development Plans, Neighborhood Plans, and assisting with Utility and Infrastructure Master Plans.  The Comprehensive Plan contains the city’s policies for growth and development for the land within the corporate limits and the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the city. The Comprehensive Plan is mandated by City Charter, Article V, and includes future land use, annexation, transportation, economic development and public services and facilities, and capital improvements.  The plan may also include any other element the City Council may deem necessary.  The Comprehensive Plan is a series of stand-alone documents, referred to as elements of the Comprehensive Plan.”  It should be noted that these plans are not law and can be changed.  Plan CC states:

“The comprehensive plan contains broadly stated goals and policies that can
be implemented in several different ways, whether by adopting or amending
ordinances, policies or programs. The comprehensive plan’s goals and policies
themselves are ideas to work towards rather than law. While the City’s charter
requires that all city improvements, ordinances and regulations be consistent
with the comprehensive plan, the comprehensive plan alone is not an enforceable
regulation. It does not justify the denial of a plat or the development of land. The
comprehensive plan does not obligate the City to provide any program or regulate
any activity. While the comprehensive plan is consulted when making decisions
about rezonings, it does not establish zoning district boundaries or create zoning
regulations, which would require an independent public hearing process. The
comprehensive plan does not restrict the City from preparing plans, policies,
or strategies. It does not restrict the right of the City to adopt any ordinance not
related to the development of land. It does not create any cause of action against
the City or any City official, employee, or agent. It does not constitute a defense to
the prosecution of any crime. Finally, the comprehensive plan does not supersede
Federal or State requirements.”

 

 

     McGinn explained that other key players would be involved.  The Navy still has a great deal of influence over the area, as does the State of Texas, the EPA, and TCEQ.  Add to that outside developers, utility companies, and the tourist industry, and the influence of the local citizenry on the plan seems to lose impact.  One member of the FBCC said that the plan may be necessary as part of the City Charter, but the people must be vigilant before, during, and after the document is written.  “How many people actually read those little rezoning signs that pop up here and there? We should make a point of not only stopping and reading them but calling the number to see what is about to happen.”  He went on to suggest that the City could add a link to the web page that lists every proposed zoning change so that the citizens can easily attain the rezoning information.  This, he thought, would be the most effective way of controlling what happens in Flour Bluff since it is apparent that the area development plans are easily overridden by these zoning changes that go unnoticed unless someone is watching. Melanie Hambrick, Chairperson of the FBCC Committee on the FBADP, has taken on the task of gathering knowledgeable and willing Flour Bluff citizens to take part in the process, but it is the responsibility of every citizen to pay attention to what is going on in their own neighborhoods.

     Flour Bluff (and Padre Island) is unlike the other areas of the city because it has distinct geographical boundaries created by the Cayo del Oso, the Laguna Madre, Corpus Christi Bay, and King Ranch.  The FBADP is also one of the oldest on the list.  The map below shows the boundaries of each ADP, while the chart offers the timeline for development of each plan.  A group of Padre Island residents recently wrote their own ADP, which was accepted by the City Council in January of this year.  McGinn indicated that even this plan would need to be revised with the assistance of Texas-based city planning consultants.  The city planning department currently has two full-time employees to take on the task of re-writing the plans.

     The FBCC meeting was the first of many to come.  The FBCC encourages all those who live, own property, or have businesses in Flour Bluff to stay abreast of this issue and consider taking an active role in the planning process.  The FBCC will post information about upcoming meetings on its website and Facebook page.  In the meantime, it might be a good idea to watch the city council meetings on television or in person, take note of zoning changes in the Flour Bluff area, and stay connected with the community so that the citizens can work together to preserve what is great about this little community while improving the areas that are in need of upgrades.

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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.

Memoirs of Addie Mae Ritter Miller, Part 2

Flour Bluff, Front Page, Local history, Personal History

Addie Mae Ritter Miller, ca. 2003

This article contains the second part of the memoirs of Addie Mae Ritter Miller, as told to her daughter, Rosanne Miller Redman in 2003. Addie Mae was the granddaughter of George Hugo Ritter, the man who settled Flour Bluff in 1890.  Addie Mae, who died  November 25, 2009, paints a personal picture of a time gone by in Flour Bluff and nearby areas in her memoirs.  It was her desire to leave the story of her life in early Flour Bluff and Corpus Christi to her descendants.   The rest of Addie Mae’s memories will appear in later articles.

     Mama was a housewife.  In those days, women didn’t work outside of the home much.  She worked hard though.  She canned produce for family use, raised chickens, collected eggs, made all of our clothes on a pedal machine, did all of the wash by hand, and cooked three meals a day – all of the things farm wives did in those days.  We had no running water and relied on a cistern that collected rainwater for our use.When that was low, Daddy had to drive to town to get water.  Can you imagine going to town to get water?  I can remember Daddy killing a chicken on Sunday morning and Mama having to pluck, clean and cook it.  I am sure you can’t imagine doing that either!

Myrtle Watson Ritter, right

     Mama was a good cook and spent long hours baking pies, cookies, and cakes for Sunday dinner.  Aunt Kate and Uncle Hugo were regular guests on Sundays.  They were close to my parents (Uncle Hugo was Daddy’s brother).  I loved playing with my cousins, Annie, Cattie (they were twins), Joe, and Benny. They moved to Clarkwood, and we would visit them often.  I still enjoy getting together with Cattie and Annie when I go to Corpus to visit.  I grew up with many cousins and have a lot of fond memories of them.

Russell Watson, Jr., Addie Ritter, Annie Ritter, Cattie Ritter

     One of my most vivid memories of the house on the bay was when Junior was two years old.  We didn’t have electricity and got our light from kerosene lamps.  One time Junior pulled down the scarf with the lamp on it, and the lamp fell and hit him in the face.  He had cuts and glass all over his face and was bleeding badly.  Mama sent me to get Daddy.  I can still remember running as fast as I could across the field to get him.  We took him to the doctor in town, and he fixed Junior up, but he still had a piece of glass near his eye that always bothered him.

     Another vivid memory I have is of our ghost in the house in Flour Bluff.  Some of you know this story.  We lived in an old two story house that originally belonged to the Ritters.  One room opened into the attic, and we thought a ghost lived there.  We all shared a room at the top of the stairs.  Junior and Alice slept in a double bed, and I slept on a cot by the window.  Alice said that something always stood in the doorway at night.  Of course, I didn’t believe her!  Well, one night we had a storm, and I woke up.  There in the doorway was a white figure. It moved and kind of vanished into the white railing of the staircase.  I ran and jumped into bed with Alice and Junior!  We were then too scared to sleep in that room, so Mama and Daddy moved us downstairs near them.  We didn’t see the ghost anymore, but every night at supper time, we could hear what sounded like someone walking up and down the stairs.  They knew we were scared and always made joke about it, but I guess they didn’t really have an explanation for the noise.  The Grims later moved into that house and heard the same unexplained noise.

     I attended one year of school at Aberdeen and then went to Flour Bluff.  We were getting ready to move back to Flour Bluff when I was seven. Since school was starting before we moved, I was sent to live with the Ritters.  I love it there.  I was the first granddaughter of 27 grandchildren and was treated very special.  This was also very memorable for me.  Most of my aunts still lived there – Aunt Katie, Aunt Alice, Aunt Jo, and also Uncle Ben.  Aunt Katie was a teacher, and another teacher boarded there, also.  I had the best time because I love being around the grown ups.  Uncle Ben was a young man and would tell me about his dates.  I thought I was really somebody.  It was only for a month, but I had a great time and still remember it to this day.

Eric Ritter, Junior Ritter, Alice Ritter, Addie Ritter at Duncan place on the Oso

     Daddy was a farmer, and a very good one in those days.  He farmed cotton on the bay and then moved to Flour Bluff to farm cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelons, tomatoes, etc.  He had a good reputation in town.  He would load up his produce and go to town to sell to the stores there.  When his grandchildren were older, he would take them along with him.  I am sure that was a treat to get to ride with him in the truck to deliver produce.

Related stories:

“Memoirs of Addie Mae Ritter Miller, Part 1”

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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.

Stories of Flour Bluff, the Little Town That Almost Was (#6)

Flour Bluff, Front Page, History, Local history

“The Universal Geography”; by Élisée Reclus, Edited by A.H. Keane, Published by J.S. Virtue & Co., London [/USA/], printed 1885

     In 1871, after a series of wars, Prussian prime minister Otto von Bismarck (1815–1898) brought about the union of the German states (with the exception of Austria) into the Second Empire, or Reich. Germany quickly became the strongest military, industrial, and economic power in Europe. While Bismarck governed, an elaborate system of alliances (unions among groups for a special purpose) with other European powers was created. Because of the political changes, between 1871 and 1885 a million and a half Germans emigrated overseas–nearly 3 1/2 percent of the population. Of those whose destination was known, 95 percent went to the United States.   George Hugo Ritter, the man who would be the first to settle Flour Bluff, was one of these immigrants.

     Born in Germany in 1866, George Hugo, who went by his middle name, left his native country to avoid conscription.  This nineteen-year-old, blue-eyed “Prussian” arrived in New York aboard the SS Pennland in 1885 and entered the United States through Ellis Island. After spending an unknown amount of time in New York, Hugo eventually booked passage on a steamer to Galveston where he was met by his older brother Robert, who had emigrated several years before and settled in Corpus Christi.  Robert gave Hugo a job at his general store, Ritter’s Racket Store, on Mesquite Street and soon made him his partner.

     The brothers had a falling out over the business, which resulted in Hugo venturing out on his own to become a farmer.  His daughter, Marie Josephine Ritter Werner wrote this about her father:

“Now let me tell you about Papa.  I do not know if I can do justice to describing such a complex personality.  At times his severity was almost frightening, and then again there would be an almost tenderness as he reached out for the good things in his wonderful America.  His avid taste for reading built for him a library of history, the classics, medical books, and those on agriculture and animal husbandry.  The Rural New Yorker, his favorite newspaper, taught him much about the United States farming, dairy farming, and current events.  His life was almost a paradox:  a city boy immigrant to become a farmer in America, overcoming the language barrier to speak, read and write English fluently.  Yet he seemed to strive for something better in life. His perfectionist attitude that things must be done the right way made him appear a severe task master.”

George Hugo Ritter died April 21, 1921. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Orrell)

     About the time of the falling out between the brothers, Hugo met Katherine Birkmeyer Staufert, also a German immigrant, through mutual German-speaking families. Katherine’s first husband, Jacob Staufert (whom she married March 16, 1887) was a sheep rancher in the area near Alice, Texas, in what was then called Collins, Texas. On January 19, 1888, Staufert took several horses into town to sell but was shot and killed on his way home for the money he had in his bag. Katherine was left a widow with a little girl, Katherine “Katie” Marie, whom Hugo gave the name Ritter and raised as his own. According to an affidavit signed by Katherine Ritter on February 17, 1925, she and Hugo married on May 28, 1889. Born unto them were eight children:  Arthur Hugo (Feb. 6, 1891), Clara Ellen (May 15, 1892), Erich George (Aug. 18, 1893), Barbara Millie (Oct. 18, 1896), Anna Edith (Jan. 28, 1899), Johanna Alicia (May 16, 1901), Karl Robert Bernard (Jan. 8, 1903), and Marie Josephine (Mar. 15, 1907).

Hugo and Katherine Ritter (Photo courtesy of Kathy Orrell)

     The Ritters established and worked a farm near Ocean Drive just outside Corpus Christi, then purchased land for about $8.00 an acre at the “grass place” which is within a few hundred yards of what is now the south gate of  Naval Air Station Corpus Christi near Flour Bluff Point. They raised cows, hogs, chickens, vegetables, cotton, and corn.  They were truck farmers working a 40-acre farm and delivering produce twice a week by horse-drawn carriage to Corpus Christi to sell.  Three weeks after the birth of Karl Bernard (Ben), they moved to a new location on the Encinal Peninsula, an area called Flour Bluff.

Flour Bluff Sun photo, 1987

     According to an interview with Ben in the Flour Bluff Sun in 1987, the new homestead was “quite close to the Laguna Madre.  At that time Laguna Shores Road was only a sandy trail.  Hugo bought an unfinished, large frame house next to a large pond from Mrs. Shade.  It sat on 214 acres, of which 100 were farmed.  In addition to finishing the lower floors of the house and running the farm, Hugo Ritter landed a contract for the construction of some Flour Bluff roads to be built of clay and sand.”  Hugo was known to be a hard-working, well-read man of many talents, something that would lead him to take on many different roles in the Flour Bluff community.

The Ritter home that sat on Laguna Shores between Graham and Lola Johnson Roads can be seen in the background. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Orrell)

     Hugo’s farm later became known as the Brighton Beach Farms Dairy.  He sold directly to the customer, which brought him a greater profit.  Such a business method required that the family take on the job of deliveries.  His oldest son, Arthur, handled the route with butter, milk, and cream, making his deliveries in a horse-drawn wagon.  The dairy business required a way to keep the products cold at the dairy and while en route.  Arthur also had the job of driving the team to Corpus Christi twice each week to pick up blocks of ice.  The Ritters had a wet cloth cooler at the farm where the ice was surrounded by wet cloths to keep the temperature down.  In 1914, the Ritter family acquired something that made delivery much faster and easier; they bought a car.  The Flour Bluff community had a Model-T Ford just six years after they rolled off the assembly line in Detroit.  During World War I, Hugo  supplied dairy products to the men stationed at Camp Scurry, which was located where Spohn Hospital and the Del Mar neighborhood are today.

George Hugo in his new Model T, 1914  (Photo courtesy of Kathy Orrell)

     It was during this time that Hugo Ritter received a contract to open a U.S. post office in Brighton.  According to a 1997 book entitled Handling the Mails at Corpus Christi by Rex H. Stever, Ella Barnes, daughter of Clarence Barnes, the first postmaster, said that her father wanted to name the post office Flour Bluff, but the Post Office Department told him that it had to be a one-word name.  Barnes chose Brighton after his hometown, Brighton, Tennessee.  Clarence Barnes was appointed on April 27, 1893, as the first postmaster of Brighton. George Hugo Ritter was appointed postmaster on August 28, 1906, and Katheryn M. Ritter on May 13, 1914.  Early post offices in small communities were generally located at the residence or business of the postmaster.  So, the post office opened by Barnes was relocated when Hugo Ritter took over.

     He turned the front hall of the Ritter home into a post office that would serve the twelve families that lived in the community. Hugo, with the help of his sons, Arthur and Ben, built a counter across the hall, added pigeon hole boxes behind it, and a glass front to enclose it. There they collected letters, sorted the mail, and sold one- and two-cent stamps to the tiny community.  To receive mail from outside the Encinal Peninsula, a member of the Ritter family would meet the regular postman on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays at the Yorktown Oso Bridge (Mud Bridge).  The tiny post office discontinued service on March 31, 1920.

Brighton Postcard, 1909 (Butch Roper collection)  Note the 31 mm, 4-bar black cancellation, which was used from August 1906 to March 1920.

     The Ritters, along with other pioneer families of Flour Bluff, settled the Encinal Peninsula, farmed, ranched, opened businesses, started schools and gave birth to what grew into the Flour Bluff, a community which now has over 23,000 residents.  Their independent, do-it-yourself spirit opened the door for others like them to shape the little town that almost was. 

 

Sources:  Flour Bluff Sun interviews with Ben Ritter, interviews conducted by Cassandra Self-Houston, personal interviews with members of the Ritter family (Butch Roper, Kathy Orrell, Deanna Myers, Cheryl Beauregard), Corpus Christi Caller-Times articles

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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.

Flour Bluff Schools: 125 Years of Educating Children

Education, Flour Bluff, Local history
Flour Bluff School No. 1, pictured in 1916, first known as Brighton School, was located near the present Junior High School, at the corner of Duncan Cemetery.

     In 1890, when the first families of Flour Bluff settled the area, a school did not exist on the Encinal Peninsula.  In 1931, Mrs. Erich George Ritter (Myrtle Mae Watson Ritter) provided the following information about Flour Bluff Common School District No. 22:

“Back in 1890 there were few families living in Flour Bluff, and it was not until about 1892, during what is known as the ‘Ropes Boom’ that enough families moved in to justify the establishment of a public school.  About this time, however, the enterprising settler of this community began to give serious consideration to the education of their children and established a small, one-room school building in the autumn of 1892.  Mrs. Carter was engaged as the first teacher and took up her work with 25 pupils enrolled.  The term was six months and the salary $25.00 per month.  The school continued, but in 1900 the enrollment decreased to 12 pupils with Miss Florence Secoy as teacher.  The term was cut to four months, and the teacher received as her salary $3.00 per pupil.  Board and lodging was provided by the patrons free to the teacher, and she stayed in first one home, then another, as the guest of the family.  The school continued in this manner until 1908, but from 1903 to 1908 was closed due to the small number of children and the only instruction carried on in the settlement was of a private tutelage, where such could be secured.

“But in 1908, the doors of the public school were again thrown open.  New families had moved in.  New trustees Mr. G. H. Ritter, Mr. Joseph Watson, and Mr. Edward Sidney Duncan were elected, and Mr. Owens was elected principal to take charge of the school at a salary of about $25.00 per month and a seven-month term.  There were at this time some 20 pupils.

“For the next eight years, the school prospered under the leadership of good teachers, among whom was Miss Inez Emory, who taught three years of the eight.  The school had grown during this period to the point where the building and equipment seemed inadequate, and new two-room school was planned and construction started.  The framework of this building was completely demolished by the storm August 18, 1916, but was rebuilt, and school opened in November following with two teachers, Mrs. Walton Clark and Miss Anna Ritter.

Anna Ritter is fourth from the left, c. 1938 in Flour Bluff

“In 1919, a three-room teacherage was erected and other improvements made.  A few years later, the school was divided and another building erected for the purpose of accommodating those children who were living too far from the first school.

“The present teachers are Mr. Frank Kadanka, principal of School No. 2, and Miss Opal Wynn, principal, and Miss Melba Buford assistant, at School No. 1.  The trustees are Mr. E. C. Ritter, secretary; Mr. J. I. Gate, president; and Mr. J. H. Roberson, member.  Harmony prevails in the district and some very fine work is being accomplished.  The schools are very well equipped and the teachers well trained.  The trustees are to be commended for their fine spirit of cooperation and progressiveness.  They are interested in providing the best school possible for all the children of the district.

“The assessed valuation of the district is $296,470.00 and a local maintenance tax of $1.00 is levied.  For the 1931-32 term, Mrs. Sam Jeletich was elected to succeed Mr. Gates on the board, and Miss Lucille Wynn succeeds Miss Melba Buford as assistant at school No. 1.”

Flour Bluff School, 1939, Waldron Road site

Boys of Flour Bluff School, c. 1925

          In an article written by Opal Roscher Marston for the Flour Bluff Sun on the 100th anniversary of the school, additional information was provided about the early years of the school:

“In 1928 both auxiliary schools (2 & 3) were dissolved and all students went to the #1 school on the present site on what is now Waldron Road.

“In 1936 the first graduation was held with one graduate, Opal Roscher.  She had been a teacher’s aid in her senior year, teaching 5th grade history.

“In 1937 on the same site as the #1 school, a new brick school was built with multiple rooms and courses offered at high school level, such as bookkeeping, typing and commercial law.  They were taught by Sam L. Chandler who was also the basketball coach.  Teaching English was Julia Kaminka, who was also the senior class sponsor.  The principal was Mr. Hill.  Mrs. Hill taught elementary school. The school system furnished a 1932 Ford sedan for transportation of students on the west side of Flour Bluff bordering the King Ranch.

“Opal Roscher drove the car; this and the fact that Opal’s sister refused to attend school led to Opal returning to school.  Opal’s sister Ruth (12 years younger and a first grader) was bitten by a rattlesnake the second week of school.  Feeling embarrassed about it, Ruth refused to return


To school.  So every day Opal sat outside her school room until s

he felt comfortable to stay.  Opal decided to return to school and take business courses.

“In 1938 there were six graduates: Thelma Johnson, Valedictorian; Betty Barnes, Salutatorian; Edward ‘Pete’ Graham; Clifford Adams; Willie Mae Roper; and Joe ‘J.B.’ Duncan, Class President.  There was one post graduate, Opal Roscher.”

          In the years that followed, Karen Howden, local historian and former U. S. History teacher at Flour Bluff I.S.D., writes in “Flour Bluff Schools: A Notable History” what and who changed the school historically.

“The Flour Bluff Independent School District was created by the convergence of three very divergent entities: oil and gas, ranching, and the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. Through the use of student labor, frugality, and a visionary superintendent, it became a unique campus catering to a community with strong bonds.”

Ernest J. Wranosky, Superintendent of Flour Bluff Schools, 1948 – 1976

“The residents of Flour Bluff voted to become an independent school in April 1948. Superintendent Ernest J. Wranosky expanded the boundaries of the district to 56 square miles of land surface and 100 square miles of water surface. Every year, the district committed to a construction project which utilized government surplus along with local and student labor. One such project consisted of dismantling a hangar at Fort Point at Point Bolivar, Galveston, Texas, by using district equipment acquired from the Texas Surplus Property Agency and manual labor provided by the Flour Bluff students. The surplus hangar was trucked and then floated to Flour Bluff where it became the new gymnasium for the school district.

“Flour Bluff’s purpose of all instruction and activities can be summed up with Wranosky’s philosophy which was to ‘advance and equalize, as far as possible, the opportunities of all students regardless of their mental abilities and social economic status.’ This meant lots of student participation, which even included supervising and managing activities of the school. The philosophy also included an appreciation of all creeds and institutions and a desire for students to earn status in society, industry, politics, and professions ‘through fair and honest dealings, hard work and persistence.’ Patriotism was ever present in this philosophy as Wranosky wanted students to acquire ‘a knowledge of and an appreciation for the great size and value of this great country, its resources, its surface features, and the relative opportunities of its sections.’ The ideas also included an appreciation for the Creator, new fields in science, industry, and social progress.”

     Flour Bluff I.S.D. has changed a bit over the years.  Its valuation has certainly increased as it now encompasses an area of 156 square miles, including the Flour Bluff community, Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi Army Depot, and a developing resort and residential area on North Padre Island.  According to the FBISD website, “Six campuses and athletic facilities are located on a single 170 acre site which supports 5,600 students in prekindergarten through 12th grades. The District is extremely competitive in academic and athletic programs and has competed at the district, regional, and/or state competitions for many years. The University Preparatory High School Program was launched in 2006 as part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to establish a program for high school freshman to complete two years of college credit upon completion of their high school diploma.”

Hornet Country: All who live within the boundaries indicated on the map are eligible to attend Flour Bluff ISD free of charge. Those outside the boundaries may pay tuition to attend.

     Flour Bluff continues to make history, as is evidenced by the string of accomplishments over the years.  The following list does not include the awards received locally by students, faculty, and staff.  To be a Hornet is to be a part of a rich history steeped in hard work and a pursuit of perfection.  As in the Flour Bluff Alma Mater,  “All hail to those that came before us and made us so strong.  We will never falter or do you wrong!”  Happy 125th Anniversary, Flour Bluff I.S.D.  You continue to make us proud.

Students, Staff and District Accomplishments 2016 – 2017

Accountability Achievements

  • Junior High – Met Standard with 5 Distinction Designations
  • Intermediate – Met Standard with 2 Distinction Designations
  • ECC, Primary, Elementary and High School Campuses – Met Standard
  • District – Met Standard

High School Academics

  • U.S. Presidential Scholar Candidate – 1 student · National Merit Semifinalists – 2 students · National Merit Commended Scholars – 8 students
  • National Advanced Placement Scholar – 1 student
  • Advanced Placement Scholars – 15 students
  • Advanced Placement Scholars with Honors – 4 students; with Distinction – 5 students
  • National Hispanic Scholars – 12 students
  • Caller Times/Citgo South Texas Distinguished Scholars – 2 students
  • TAFE (Texas Association of Future Educators) – 2 students qualified for state
  • TFA (Texas Forensics Association) – 5 students qualified for state
  • KEDT Challenge Team – 1 student selected to All Star Team
  • Science Fair – 4 Students placed at Regional Science Fair – Regional: 1st Place Biomedical Engineering and Best of Show; 1st Place Biomedical & Health Science; 2nd Place Earth & Environmental Sciences; 2nd Place Behavioral & Social Sciences · VASE (Visual Arts Scholastic Event) 10 Students Superior Rating Regional Competition
  • Art Center–Port Aransas Middle and High School Student Art Show – 1 Best of Show, 3 students – 1st place; 3 students – 2nd place; 2 students – 3rd place; 1 Award of Merit
  • Del Mar College South Texas Press Day – Waldron Street Journal Newspaper Website, waldronstreetjournal.net 1st place
  • Craft Training Center – 1 student won Top Dog award in welding
  • NJROTC – Placed 1st in State Competition; 1st Place – Unarmed Exhibition Drill; 1st Place – Color Guard; 1st Place – Academics Overall
  • NJROTC – Advanced to the National Academic Bowl in Washington, D.C.
  • NJROTC – Unarmed Team and SeaHawks 3rd Place Overall in Nation; Unarmed Drill Team and SeaHawks placed 2nd in Inspection, 2nd Place in Element Exhibition Drill and 4th place in Color Guard at High School Grand National Championship
  • TAJE (Texas Association of Journalism Educators) – 1st Place Photography Scavenger Hunt Contest; Excellent Rating for Feature Writing
  • UIL Calculator Team – Team State qualifier; 4 Individual State qualifiers · UIL Current Issues Team – 1st in District; Individual Regional qualifier
  • UIL Mathematics – State qualifier
  • UIL Number Sense Team – 1st in District; 2 Regional qualifiers
  • UIL One-Act Play, 4th place in District
  • UIL Press Conference Team – 1st Place Newspaper Sports New Writing; 1st Place in Division 5A-2 News Story; 2nd Place Newspaper Feature Writing; 2nd Place Yearbook Tribute Ad Design; 3rd Place Newspaper Feature Photography; 3rd Place Yearbook Sports Feature Photography
  • UIL Science – State qualifier
  • UIL Spelling & Vocabulary Team – 1st place in District; 1 Regional qualifier
  • Cheer America Cheerleading Competition – HS Cheerleaders 1st in Division; Grand Champions in the School’s Division

Junior High Academics

  • TMSCA (Texas Math Science Coaches Association) – Math Science Team 1st place in State (32nd consecutive year)
  • TMSCA – 1 student was State champion in all three math events
  • TMSCA Results–1st Place Sweepstakes (Team); 1st Place Number Sense (Team); 1st Place Calculator Application (Team); 3rd Place General Math (Team); 4th Place Science (Team); 1st Place Number Sense (Student); 1st Place Calculator Application (Student); 1st Place General Math (Student)
  • Science Fair – 4 students advanced to the Coastal Bend Science Fair
  • Science Fair – 1 Regional Science Fair Winner; 1 student placed 2nd and 1 student placed 3rd
  • Art Center–Port Aransas Middle and High School Student Art Show – 2 students – 1st place; 2 students – 2nd place; 1 student- 3rd place
  • Anthem Essay Worldwide Contest Student Semifinalist
  • Voted Reader’s Choice 2016 by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Performing Arts

  • HS TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) All District Band – 29 students
  • HS TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) All Region Band – 11 students
  • HS TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) All Area Band – 3 students
  • HS TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) Region Orchestra – 3 students
  • HS UIL – Region Marching Band Division 1 rating; qualified for Area Marching Contest
  • HS UIL – 20 Division 1 Rating for Solo and Ensemble
  • HS UIL – 8 instrumentalists and 4 Twirlers advanced to State Solo and Ensemble
  • HS UIL – High School Symphonic Band UIL contest Division 2
  • HS UIL – High School Honors Band UIL Contest Division 1
  • HS UIL – High School Wind Ensemble UIL Contest Division 1
  • HS TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) All District Choir – 22 students
  • HS TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) All Region Choir – 16 students
  • HS TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) All Area Choir – 4 students
  • HS TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) All Region Treble Choir – 3 students
  • HS UIL – 16 Division 1 Rating for Solo and Ensemble
  • HS UIL – Show Choir and Madrigal ensemble received 1 rating
  • HS UIL – 13 singers and 1 Madrigal of 8 singers advanced to State Solo and Ensemble
  • HS UIL – High School Varsity Treble Choir Contest 1 Concert/1 Sightreading (Sweepstakes)
  • HS UIL – High School Varsity Mixed Choir Contest 1 Concert / 2 Sightreading (performed a Grade 6 selection)
  • HS Region 2 Film Festival – Group won Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Film and Audience Favorite Film
  • JH UIL Band Concert/Sight-reading –Honors Band received ‘1’ in Concert/Sightreading (10th consecutive Sweepstakes) Symphonic Band received ‘1’ in Concert/Sight-reading; (4th consecutive Sweepstakes)
  • JH All-Region Band – 23 students qualified
  • JH Band – 44 students First Division ratings on solos; 2 First Division ratings on small ensembles
  • JH All Regional Junior High/Middle School Choir – 22 students
  • JH Mixed Choir received a ‘1’ in Concert and a ‘1’ in Sightreading; Sweepstakes
  • JH Treble Choir received a ‘1’ in Concert and a ‘1’ in Sightreading; Sweepstakes
  • JH Mixed Choir received a Superior Performance and Best In Class at the Schlitterbahn Sound Waves Music Festival
  • JH Choir – Texas Choral Director’s MS/JH Honors Choir Member, 1 student

Athletics

  • HS Football – Area Finalists
  • HS Football – 25 students Academic All District
  • Shriner’s All-Star Football Game – 2 athletes selected to participate
  • HS Volleyball – District 30-5A First Team – 3 students
  • HS Volleyball – District 30-5A Second Team – 2 students
  • HS Volleyball – District 30-5A Honorable Mention – 3 students
  • HS Volleyball – Academic All-District – 13 students
  • HS Volleyball – Max Preps Player of the Year – 2 students
  • HS Team Tennis –District Champions 10 years in a row; Area Finalists; Regional Quarterfinalists; 1 State Qualifier
  • HS Spring Tennis – Girls District Champions; State Qualifier
  • HS Cross Country –2 students Regional Qualifiers
  • HS Boys Basketball –9 students Academic All District; 4 students Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (TABC) Academic All-State;
  • HS Girls Basketball – Bi-District Champions; Area Champions; Regional Champions; State Semi-Finalists
  • HS Girls Basketball – 13 students Academic All-District; 4 students Texas Girls Coaches Association (TGCA) Academic All-State; 2 students 30-5A MVPs; 2 students TABC All-State; 2 students TGCA All-State
  • HS Golf – Academic All District – 4 students
  • HS Girls Track – 2nd in District, 10 Area Qualifiers; 9 Regional Qualifier & State Winner in 300 Hurdles
  • HS Girls Track – 15 students Academic All District
  • HS Boys Track – 2nd in District; Area Finalist; Regional Finalist
  • HS Boys Track – 12 students Academic All District
  • HS Girls Swimming – District Champions; Regional Champions; 8 State Qualifiers
  • HS Girls Swimming – 13 students Academic All American; 4 students Academic All-State
  • HS Boys Swimming – 1st in District; Regional Champions; 8 State Qualifiers
  • HS Boys Swimming – 9 students Academic All-District
  • Diving – 1 student State Champion
  • HS Girls Soccer – District 3rd Place; Bi-District Champions; Area Champions; Regional Quarter-Finals Champions; Regional Semi-Finalists
  • HS Boys Soccer – District Champions; Bi-District Champions; Area Finalists
  • Boys Soccer – 11 students Academic All-District
  • HS Girls Soccer – 14 students received Academic All-District Honors; 4 students received Academic All-State Honors
  • HS Boys Soccer – District 2nd Place; Bi-District Champions; Area Finalists
  • HS Boys Soccer – 9 students Academic All-District; 4 students TASCO All-State; 1 student TASCO Academic All-State
  • HS Baseball – 6 students Academic All-District
  • HS Softball – 2nd in District; Bi-District Finalists
  • HS Softball – 9 students Academic All-District
  • JH 7th & 8th Grade Girls & Boys Swimming – Completed season Undefeated
  • JH Volleyball – 8th Grade “A” Undefeated
  • JH Football –8th Grade “A” Team 2nd in District; 8th “B” Team District Champions; 7th Grade “B” Team District Champions
  • JH Boys Basketball – 8th Grade “A” Team District Champions; 8th Grade “B” Team Co-District Champions; 7th Grade “A” Team 2nd in District
  • JH Girls Basketball – 8th Grade “A” Undefeated District Champions; 8th Grade “B” Undefeated District Champions; 7th Grade “A” Undefeated District Champions; 7th Grade “B” Undefeated District Champions
  • JH Boys Track – 8th Grade District Champions; 1 student broke school record; 7th Grade District Champions
  • JH Cross Country – 7th Grade Boys 2nd in District; 7th Grade Girls 2nd in District
  • Athletic Signings: 1 student in Baseball @Clarendon College; 1 student in Football @Rice University; 1 student in Football@Texas Lutheran University, 1 student in Football @ Texas A&M University-Kingsville; 1 student in Softball @NavarroCollege; 1 student in Softball @Texas Lutheran University; 1 student in Swimming @Valparaiso University

Intermediate School

  • Science Fair – 6 advanced to the Coastal Bend Science Fair
  • Science Fair – 1 Regional Science Fair Winner; 1 2nd Place and 2 3rd place winners at Regional Science Fair
  • UIL District – 5th grade: 1st place Ready Writing 1st place Spelling; 1st place Number Sense; Number Sense awarded gold medals in category; 2nd Place Sweepstakes
  • UIL District – 6th grade: 1st place in Sweepstakes Trophy; 1st place in Ready Writing; 1st place in Mathematics, 1st place in

Art; 1st Place in Calculator Applications; 1st Place in Science; 2nd place in Spelling, Number Sense, Art and Calculator

Applications; 3rd place in Science, Chess Puzzle and Listening

  • TMSCA (Texas Math and Science Coaches Association) – 6th Grade Math Science Team 1st place at State Tournament

Elementary School

  • Science Fair – 8 students advanced to the Coastal Bend Science Fair
  • Science Fair – 1 Regional Science Fair Winner; 1 student placed 2nd at Regional Science Fair
  • Paralyzed Veterans’ Art Contest – 2 students placed; 1 student national winner
  • Voted Reader’s Choice 2016 by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Primary School

  • Science Fair – 6 students advanced to the Coastal Bend Science Fair
  • Science Fair – 2 students Regional Science Fair Winners; 1 student placed 2nd

Early Childhood Center

  • Science Fair – 6 students advanced to the Coastal Bend Science Fair
  • Science Fair – 2 students placed 2nd at Regional Science Fair

Staff Recognitions

  • Teena Jones – National Society of High School Scholars Educator of Distinction Award

District Recognitions

  • Schools FIRST (Financial Accountability Rating System) Superior Rating
  • Students of Character – 14 students recognized during community-wide event
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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.

Stories of Flour Bluff, the Little Town That Almost Was(#5)

Flour Bluff, Front Page, Local history
This picture was published in the Brazosport Facts on June 6, 1976.

 

     “Make a loose fist of your hand.  Imagine that the fingers and palm are the major part of Corpus Christi.  The space between them and the thumb corresponds roughly to Cayo del Oso.  The thumb is Flour Bluff,”wrote Bill Duncan in a Corpus Christi Caller-Times article from 1963.  He, like many others, agree that the geographical location of the Encinal Peninsula greatly affected the historical – and even current – events of the area.  Though settlement of the area did not occur until the turn of the 19th century, this sandy “digit” attracted some human activity.

     With the discovery of several burial sites of the Karankawa Indians (Carancquacas) on the shores of the Oso, one could logically conclude that these nomadic people would travel across the shallow Oso waters onto the great “thumb” seeking fish, shellfish, and turtles.  These were staple foods for the pre-historic people called “dog-lovers” or “dog-raisers”, who, according to Carol Lipscomb, writer for the Texas Handbook Online, “kept dogs that were described as a fox-like or coyote-like breed.” The name Karankawa was a general designation of several bands of Indians who shared a common, though limited language, including the Capoques, Kohanis, and Kopanes.  According to one source, the Karankawa word for “dog” translates to “kiss.”  In addition to their limited vocabulary, they communicated with whistles, sighs, and guttural grunts.

Courtesy of Brazosport Facts, June 6, 1976

     Many theories exist about how the Karankawa came to the Gulf Coast of Texas.  This thoroughly coastal oriented tribe left an impression on all who encountered them.  According to a May 24, 2016, Corpus Christi Caller-Times article by local historian Murphy Givens, “The men were over six feet tall and carried long bows of red cedar.  Women wore deerskin skirts and smeared their bodies with alligator grease.  The men’s hair was braided with rattlesnake rattles, which made a dry rustling sound when they walked.”  Linscomb wrote that the bows “reached from the eye or chin level to the foot of the bearer” and that the men were tall and muscular and wore deerskin breechclouts or nothing at all.  She goes on to relate how they painted and tattooed their bodies, and pierced the nipples of each breast and the lower lip with small pieces of cane.  It seems that even the women tattooed their bodies and wore “skirts of Spanish moss or animal skin that reached to the knees.”

     Most accounts of this extension of Paleo-American man claim that the Karankawa tended to travel in groups of 30 or 40 and broke into smaller “family” units to facilitate foraging.   They could be hostile and warlike – even in their “play.”  Givens relates in his article that Cabeza de Vaca was kept as their prisoner for years after he was shipwrecked on a barrier island in 1528.  Twenty years later, all but two of a group of 300 survivors of a shipwrecked Spanish fleet were attacked and killed by a Karankawa band.  Linscomb tells us, “Karankawas also participated in competitive games demonstrating weapons skills or physical prowess. Wrestling was so popular among Karankawas that neighboring tribes referred to them as the ‘Wrestlers.’ Warfare was a fact of life for the Karankawas, and evidence indicates that the tribe practiced a ceremonial cannibalism that involved eating the flesh of their traditional enemies. That custom, widespread among Texas tribes, involved consuming bits and pieces of the flesh of dead or dying enemies as the ultimate revenge or as a magical means of capturing the enemy’s courage.”  Frequent encounters between the Karankawa and the European explorers, missionaries, and settlers led to many deaths from combat – and from epidemic diseases brought to the coastal areas by the invaders.

Map of 1853 Encinal Peninsula with names of the impresarios who were granted land on the Encinal Peninsula by the Mexican government

     Though the Karankawa managed to survive 300 years of European contact, 1821 brought a different challenge for the indigenous group.  Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, and the new government invited Anglo-Americans to the province of Texas.  Over the next 15 years, the Karankawa would battle not only with the Anglo-Texans, but also with the hostile Tonkawas and Comanches.  By 1836, the number of “dog-lovers” had diminished to the point that they were no longer considered a threat.  It is believed that the few who remained moved into Tamaulipas, Mexico, where they suffered attacks from the Mexican authorities and were eventually pushed back into Texas, perhaps back to the shores of the Cayo del Oso (El Grullo), where they slowly disappeared into history.

    By 1850, Texas and Mexico were attempting to untangle the land ownership of the El Rincon del Grullo, “The Corner of the Grey.”  According to Duncan, “It eventually went to Leonardo Longoria de la Garza of Tamaulipas by order of Texas Governor O. M. Roberts. Still there was no great rush to settle the area. One of the first surveys of the area, which appeared in the map, ‘The Public Roads of the Nueces County,’ and was adopted by the Commissioners Court in February, 1879, lists the entire tract from the Oso to Laguna Madre to Alazan Bay as ‘M. (Miflin) Kenedy’s Pasture.'”  The land speculation of the 1800s by a Union colonel, Elihu H. Ropes and others, was responsible for the first breaking up of the large parcel and the arrival of the first settlers.  Ropes filed a survey plat May 6, 1891, of the “Laguna Madre Farm and Garden Tracts”, which covered all of present Flour Bluff. It turns out that Ropes actually listed the 18-square mile plat (11,520 acres) as “Flower Bluff (sic) Farm and Garden Tracts”, some say to make the land seem more desirable.   There seems to be some question as to whether Ropes ever actually owned land in Flour Bluff.  Duncan writes, “More likely is it that the promoter made a deal with owners to survey the land and sell off portions under a ‘lot lease clause’ deal.” Sue Harwood, staff writer for the Caller-Times in 1959 wrote that Ropes did indeed buy the Flour Bluff land at $8 an acre.  Regardless, this idea – like the ones that got him run out of town – fizzled.

       By 1890, the Texas Land Development Co. of San Antonio bought what was left of the peninsula after Kenedy bought much of the original grant from heirs of the Mexican grant.  They started selling land between 1890 and 1900.  Some of the first to buy this property have descendants living in Flour Bluff today.  Mrs. Louisa Singer, G. H. Ritter, and E. Roscher were three who became some of the first settlers on the peninsula.  At about the same time, Mrs. Henrietta M. King, who had acquired much of “Kenedy’s Pasture” in a partition of their lands, sold off by 1907, creating the southern boundary of Flour Bluff that joins the King Ranch.  There, on the “thumb” between the Oso and the Laguna Madre, families started to take root in Flour Bluff, the little town that almost was.

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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.

Stories of Flour Bluff, the Little Town That Almost Was (#4)

Flour Bluff, Human Interest, Local history

     Three weeks ago the Blue Angels blew into the Bluff like a band of barnstormers.  In the days prior to the big event, they roared through the skies leaving jet streams to alert all of us on the ground that they had arrived and that the air show had come to town.  Oh, how those Angels made everyone jump as they appeared out of nowhere, dropped us to our knees, and zipped across the sky in their shiny F/A 18 Hornets.  Then, the day before the event, these rock star pilots swept into Veterans Memorial High School where they wowed the crowd, signed autographs, and left the children knowing that they, too, would one day be Blue Angel pilots, at least in their dreams. But, this story is not really about the Blue Angels.  It’s about a woman named Bernie, born September 2, 1899, in Bowie, Texas, to J.M. and Minnie Lee Harlan, who roared into Flour Bluff in 1950.  To understand this woman known as Bernie Arnold to the Flour Bluff community, it is important to take a peek into her early years.

     Coming of age in the Roaring Twenties seemed to shape Bernie.  Growing up in a town with the name of an Alamo hero who helped carve out the West, Bernie started carving out a life for herself in a male-dominated world.  As a little girl, she watched as automobiles replaced horses and buggies. She saw how the airplane brought the possibility of leaving the earth.  Bernie evolved just like the world – fast and furiously.  She was a self-liberated woman who never let anything hold her down, not even gravity.

Tarrant Street, Bowie, Texas early 1900s
Bowie, Texas, early 1900s

Mason Street, Bowie, Texas 1920s
Bowie, Texas, 1920

    Bernie, like a handful of adventure seekers (mostly male) took up flying in 1927, just 24 years after the famous Kitty Hawk flight.  She married young, the first time to Sam Coffman, an aviator and inventor.  Coffman designed, built, and produced the Coffman Monoplane, a three-passenger cabin plane that sold for a few hundred dollars.  He even tested a glider in 1930, which resulted in a broken leg, a broken ankle, and two broken wrists. The Coffmans were an aviation family, teaching their two sons, Sam and Jim, to fly at very young ages while big Sam continued to make a living giving lessons, building and selling planes, and creating a very successful business.  Bernie later divorced Coffman and married Ross Arnold, her flight instructor.  He was a barnstormer who took part in cross-country flights, so Bernie naturally turned to the life of a flying circus performer, going from town to town to show off her skills in loops and dives.  This life introduced her to the likes of Charles Lindbergh, Wiley Post, Amelia Earhart, and even Howard Hughes when her husband Ross signed on as a pilot for Hughes’s film Hell’s Angels.

     A barnstorming beauty, Bernie was the first female pilot to take off from Meacham Field in Fort Worth, Texas. She spent the succeeding years flying around the country and into the lower Yucatan jungles where she and Ross Arnold frequently flew across the Gulf of Mexico, hauling chicle’ from Yucatan to railroad terminals in Mexico.  The gum business ended after three months of operation in 1927 when the natives became unexpectedly hostile to them. The duo then took their air show to the most remote points of the United States. Recalling her barnstorming adventures, Bernie said, “First we’d fly over a small town and buzz it soundly so that all the people would be attracted.  Then with all the town’s eyes on us, we’d land in a pasture nearby for the crowd to flock around. In order to make enough money to buy gasoline, we’d take up passengers.”  Arnold lost his life in July 1929 while on an endurance flight in Des Moines, sponsored by the Des Moines Register newspaper.  Miraculously, a reporter riding with Arnold escaped serious injury. This event brought Bernie’s barnstorming days to an end.

     This grounded Bernie for a short while, but she continued to have an interest in aviation.  She became one of the few ticket agents in the country and went on to manage an air travel bureau for four pioneering airlines out of Ft. Worth, Texas, just 68 miles from her hometown of Bowie.  With the coming of WWII, Bernie took to the skies again.  Both of her sons became military pilots.  Lt. Sam Coffman was a flying instructor who died in a plane crash in Pecos, Texas, while on a training mission.  Jim Coffman served as an Air Transport Command pilot out of Palm Springs, California. Bernie, with a desire to help the war effort coupled with her love for flying, volunteered for duty with the Air Transport Command, where she served until 1945.  Bernie’s service to her country did not go unnoticed as she received an identification card on December 10, 1945, from Colonel R. J. Pugh that would grant her entry into any Air Force Station.

Left to right: Sam H. Coffman, Bernie Coffman Arnold, Jim J. Coffman

     At the end of the war, Bernie hung up her wings and moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, at the invitation of her friend and fellow pilot, O. L. Holden.  She and Holden went into business together, opening a sporting goods store on Water Street in Corpus Christi.  They simply named it A & H Sporting Goods.  “We were open 24 hours a day,” said Bernie.  “We had to be.  We didn’t have a door on the place.”  Soon, she got wind of an effort to build a causeway across the Laguna Madre to Padre Island. Bernie’s spirit of adventure and keen eye for business prompted her to buy land at the corner of Laguna Shores Road and what is now South Padre Island Drive.  The new causeway opened in 1950, and her new sporting goods store sat in the perfect place.  Thousands of visitors to Padre Island stopped in at A & H Sporting Goods, owned and operated by Bernie and her son Jim Coffman.  Bernie’s arrival in Flour Bluff, Texas, would lead her to new heights in business, local politics, and community service. Bernie would become a key player in Flour Bluff, the little town that almost was.

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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.

Stories of Flour Bluff, the Little Town That Almost Was (#3)

Flour Bluff, Front Page, Local history, Military
Waldron Field, 1943

 

     Since the posting of article #2 in this series, more information regarding the 1943 Flour Bluff High School that was later converted to the junior high has come to light.  On April 1, 1943, Waldron Field, one of the two auxiliary air fields in Corpus Christi still in use, was commissioned. Today, young Navy pilots use it to practice landings, with the southeast corner dedicated in the early 1970s to little league fields for the children of the Flour Bluff community.  The partnership between the United States naval base that sits on the northern part of the Encinal Peninsula and the Flour Bluff School that sits on the southern part is one that changed Flour Bluff forever.

The building in the bottom left corner is the school built by the federal government in 1943, the same year that Waldron Field was built.

    The arrival of military personnel in 1941 often brought families, too. County School No. 22, aka Flour Bluff School, boomed like so many schools in the area with the influx of new residents to the area, attracted to the Naval Air Station.  In response to the need for additional classrooms, the Public Buildings Administration of the Federal Works Agency awarded a contract for construction of a junior-senior high school at Flour Bluff to Chamberlain & Strain, Corpus Christi and San Antonio contractors, for $150,872 in April of 1942.  The school pictured above was not completed by the start of the fall of 1942, but it was ready to house the additional students by the 1943-1944 school year.

   In 1948, under the leadership of Superintendent E. J. Wranosky, Flour Bluff residents voted to become an independent school district.  Still the relationship between the base and the school continued to strengthen.  John Wranosky (son of E. J. Wranosky who graduated Flour Bluff in 1964 and went on to work in the Maintenance and Transportation Department of the school for many years) said that the high school remained the property of the federal government until 1953 when they sold it to FBISD for $1.00.  He also answered the questions about the unusual shape of the building.

     “The building was designed to look like a naval facility.  It had a glass enclosure at the top of the office that represented a lighthouse,”  said Wranosky.  This is consistent with the story Don Crofton relates about the structure, and it validates the theory that it was made to look like the ramps and tower at Waldron Field.  “The main part of the building even had circular windows like those found on a ship,” added Wranosky.  “After the school took ownership of the building, we added two more wings, creating a patio off the backside of the gym.”

Blueprint showing wings to be added in 1954 (Thanks to Clayton Pocius, FBISD Director of Maintenance & Transportation, for providing this blueprint)
Aerial view of original 1943 high school with wings added in 1954

     When I attended that school, I remember buying snacks at a concession stand that was attached to the back of the gym and faced into the patio/courtyard area.  I also recall many a naughty boy receiving swats in the middle of that patio.  Our teachers would not allow us to look as the punishment was meted out, but the sound of the paddle echoing off the walls that surrounded the patio was deterrent enough – at least for most of us.  This is not a criticism of school personnel “licks” to students; it’s just a memory of a time gone by.  At least, now we have the rest of the story surrounding the old high school and a bit more information on the active role the Navy took in helping Flour Bluff, the little town that almost was.

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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.

Stories of Flour Bluff, the Little Town That Almost Was (#2)

Flour Bluff, Front Page, History, Local history, Military
Waldron was built as a satellite airfield in 1943 for nearby Corpus Christi Naval Air Station. (National Archives Photograph, 1943)

     After posting the first article in this series, I received an email message and a 1968 Caller-Times article from Lacey Al Masri regarding Waldron Field.  “I was just reading your article on The Paper Trail about Flour Bluff and saw that you are looking for other historic/old stories for Flour Bluff,” wrote Al Masri. “I have an article from the Caller Times, 1968 that is about my grandfather and the prison farm that he ran out in the Bluff.  My family has been in the area a long time, before Corpus was even here.  My great, great, great, great uncle was James McGloin, the impresario of San Patricio.” I couldn’t imagine it!  A farm prison right here in Flour Bluff?  This information got my research juices flowing, and I was amazed at what I found.  I may have even stumbled upon the real story behind the shape of the 1948 Flour Bluff High School.  I will leave it to the readers to set me straight.

      The article certainly verified Al Masri’s claim that a farm prison once existed where the kids play baseball, softball, kickball, soccer, and youth football today.  This information prompted me to dig a little deeper into the history of Waldron Field.  What I found involved multiple uses of the 640-acre plot of land owned by the U.S. Government that is bordered by Waldron Road on the east and Flour Bluff Drive on the west –   According to the website Abandoned and Little-Known Airfields,  Waldron Field (named for LCDR John C. Waldron* who heroically lost his life in the WWII Battle at Midway) was built as a satellite airfield in 1943 for nearby Corpus Christi Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.  By 1947, Waldron Field closed, but it did not stay unoccupied.

     This large tract of land soon drew the attention of the Nueces County Commissioners.  John Stallings, reporter for the Caller-Times, reported on December 21, 1947, that County Judge George Prowse was making plans to spend 60 to 80 thousand dollars to convert existing buildings at Waldron Field to expand the Hilltop Sanitorium, where the county could only isolate 21 patients with tuberculosis at a time.  The proposed Waldron Field sanitorium would provide rooms for approximately 100 patients.  The plans were drawn; then, something happened.  Evidently, Judge Prowse’s negotiations with the Navy failed because the hospital never materialized – at least not at Waldron Field.  It was eventually built on Highway 9 and opened in 1953.  Once again, the Waldron Field property sat unused.   

Original plans for Waldron Field Sanitorium

     Enter Judge Prowse once again.  This time, he had a plan for a county prison farm at the Waldron Field location.  It was to be operated as a rehabilitation center for prisoners who had committed misdemeanors and was fashioned after a similar farm in Louisville, Kentucky.  The property was leased from the Navy for $1 a year.  Mr. and Mrs. Dudley Timon (grandparents of Lacey Al Masri mentioned earlier) lived at the farm with their children while Mr. Timon served as the superintendent.  Jim Davis, Caller-Times journalist interviewed Timon nearly 20 years after the farm closed, in an article entitled “Prison Farm Superintendent Thinks System Then Was Good,” published March 10, 1968.  

     In the article, Dudley Timon reminisced about the “good old days” when he served as superintendent of Nueces County’s first and only county work farm from 1947 to 1950.  The farm was an attempt to give some persons jailed on misdemeanor charges a chance to do something useful rather than just sit in their cells in the county jail.  Timon saw it as a success and told Davis that the inmates usually did not give him much trouble.  The article states, “Most of them were not hardened criminals, but rather men who could not hold their liquor or could not keep from writing a bad check every now and then.”  

Dudley Timon with scrapbook of old Waldron Field Prison Farm (Caller-Times photo, 1968)

     Timon was the only guard on the farm.  However, when he had to work 40 or so men in separate groups, he sometimes called in “an extra guard or two.”  He even used unarmed “trusties.”  Another Caller-Times reporter, Hoyt Hager, wrote six months into the start of the program that Judge Prowse saw this use of  “trusties” doing maintenance work at Waldron Field as the “guinea pig group” that could develop into a modern prison farm.  

     Timon told Davis in the 1968 interview, “The prisoners cleaned up the park areas at Padre Island and performed minor road and building repair work.  Work a the farm itself included caring for the animals – two milk cows, two horses, 40 goats, and dozens of chickens – and the garden.  The men also repaired furniture in a workshop.  Timon drew some criticism as farm superintendent because he let some of the men go fishing in the nearby Cayo del Oso. ‘That’s no lie,” Timon said of the fishing charge. ‘We worked Monday through Friday, and if men worked without trouble, they go permission to go fishing.’  He said the fishermen provided fish for the farm’s dinner table and often caught enough to send extras to Hilltop Tuberculosis Hospital and the county jail.”

     According to the article, the prisoners lived in the firehouse at Waldron Field.  Timon, his wife, and two daughters lived in the old officers club with no separate fence around their living quarters.  The superintendent’s house was off limits to all prisoners unless they were invited.  Mrs. Timon recalled how the men would stand at the curb if they needed something and call until someone in the house heard them.  One such call for help came when one of the prisoners had been bitten by a snake.  Mrs. Timon “wrapped tape around the bite area to prevent the poison from spreading and then made a ‘wild ride’ to the hospital with her daughters in the front seat and the moaning prisoner in the back seat.”
     
     Timon did not carry a gun at the farm except when he went hunting rabbits. “The men loved to eat those rabbits,” he said.  He said most of his “boys” were not really bad and he thought the work farm was a big help to them. They could do useful work rather than just sitting in jail and feeling sorry for themselves, he said.  In fact, Timon is proud of several of his former prisoners. “Two became preachers after they got out,” he said.Timon also said the farm saved the county money because the prisoners not only performed valuable work but also lived cheaper at the farm than they could at the county jail. 
    In 1950, County Commissioner Horace Caldwell disagreed with Timon’s and Judge Prowse’s evaluations of the success of the farm and its cost effectiveness. Calvin Ramfield, county auditor, presented a cost analysis of expenses of maintaining prisoners at Waldron and at the county jail and pointed out that the cost for care per day per prisoner was $1.36 at the jail and $1.33 at the farm.  Caldwell asked if the cost of going after runaways from the farm.  Ramfield said that this amount was included in the gas and oil item of the expense account.
     As related in a September 11, 1950, Caller-Times piece, Caldwell complained that he didn’t want to take responsibility for prisoners “that run off to fish, get into the King Ranch land, and do other things” he had heard about.  This complaint along with a few jabs traded between Caldwell and Prowse on who wanted what and why led to a vote of 4-1 that day to close the farm and revert the property back to the Navy.  
 
     Like the fabled Phoenix, Waldron Field would rise again.  Sometime after 1959, Laguna Little League moved in and created a ball park for the youth in the area. Not since 1953 had the athletes of Flour Bluff had a place to play baseball and softball.  In 1971, Little Misses Kickball found a home at Waldron Field.  Since then the property, still owned by the Navy, has been a place for soccer and youth football leagues to practice and play games.  For many Flour Bluff drivers education students, the roads on the property served as a place to learn to turn around, back up, and pull out of a skid.  
 
     In writing this piece, I spent hours piecing together the stories related to Waldron Field – and looking at aerial photos.  That’s when it hit me.  The 1948 Flour Bluff High School building that some remembered as having a lighthouse-like structure on the top while others remembered as being designed to look like a plane with the glass “top” serving as the “cockpit.”  I may be absolutely wrong about this – and I hope someone will correct me if I have erred in my thinking – but the shape of the building looks a great deal like the two ramps leading to the air traffic control tower at Waldron Field. Or, is it just a coincidence?  Whatever the case may be, there is more history to be discovered about Flour Bluff, the little town that almost was.
Air traffic control tower at Waldron Field, located at point of two “ramps” next to each hangar

NOTE: * It should be mentioned that Waldron Field and Waldron Road were indeed named for LCDR John C. Waldron.  However, the mascot for Flour Bluff ISD was not named for the USS Hornet, the carrier from which Waldron launched his final mission.  The FBISD museum has a school newspaper from 1938 that details how the Hornet was chosen.  This pre-dates the construction and commission of the carrier.

Corrections and additional information are welcomed and encouraged.  Please send stories to shirley.thornton3@sbcglobal.net.

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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.

Stories of Flour Bluff, the Little Town That Almost Was

Flour Bluff, History, Human Interest, Local history, Personal History
Flour Bluff School, 1939

     In the past few weeks, I have been inundated with all kinds of stories about Flour Bluff and Flour Bluff Schools.  One of my favorites came from Don Crofton, Flour Bluff resident since 1946. His story is attached to the wooden building just to the right of the main school building in the picture above.  It was a pier-and-beam building that was used as the cafeteria.  As Don tells it, many of the children who attended the school sometimes forgot their lunches, or the family had nothing to send for them.  To fix that problem, the lady who ran the cafeteria, Mrs. Dody, always had a pot of beans ready to serve anyone who had no lunch.  This filling meal became known as “Dody’s Beans.”  She had a free lunch program going even then to take care of the children she served.

Flour Bluff School, 1948

     Crofton also told me that he remembered a “lighthouse-type” structure at the top of the high school building. He said it was lighted by the sun but did not actually send out a beam of light. This really peaked my interest, so I started asking what others recalled.

     Greg Smith, lifetime resident of Flour Bluff, local historian, and current District 4 councilman, told me that he remembers a story about the shape of the building being made to resemble a plane, which would make the “lighthouse” the “cockpit.” Though he admits the story makes good sense considering how much influence NAS Corpus Christi had in Flour Bluff in the forties, but he could not validate the story as the absolute truth.

     Mike Johnson, a member of one of the original families of Flour Bluff said, “There was a dome above the front entrance and offices. All I ever saw up there was sweaty athletic uniforms.”

     Crofton added, “Yes, there were a lot of smelly football uniforms!”

Flour Bluff Football Field, 1956

 

     Another story came to me from John Stanley via Facebook.  Stanley moved to Flour Bluff in 1946 and recalls playing football on the sandy, sticker-covered field near the high school that is pictured.  “I moved to Flour Bluff in 1946. There was a dome on the high school, but I never saw any outside light like a lighthouse. There was a big room up there with various old equipment. When I was in the 6th grade we were taken up there to pick a football helmet. Those helmets were not like anything I have ever seen. They probably came from Navy Surplus, having large, hinged ear flaps. We wore those for the junior high games and played on the field which was located just north of the high school. One end of the field was full of grass burs. We played bare footed, with blue jeans and the helmet…no shirts. Most competitive teams were a little better dressed. On one occasion, the other team complained that our bare bones were injuring their players. We put on tee shirts and continued the game.”

     Joyce Dilley Pfannenstein spoke well of the education she received at Flour Bluff Schools under the leadership of Superintendent E. J. Wranosky.   “I was fortunate to have attended Flour Bluff all 12 years of school. I had the experience in my career of teaching in a parochial school, and I can say that we learned more values and how to treat others as well as the academics under Mr. Wranosky’s leadership. My class’s senior trip was the first time I had ever been outside Texas. I will always appreciate the education and opportunities that school provided. That was way before air-conditioned classrooms. We thought we were fortunate to have electric fans!”

     If you have a story to tell about the history of Flour Bluff, please send it to shirley.thornton3@sbcglobal.net.  My goal is to gather the stories and share them so that they don’t get lost over time.  Together we should be able to piece together the history of Flour Bluff, the little town that almost was.

Note:  All add-ons and corrections to existing stories are welcomed and encouraged.  We want to be as accurate as possible.

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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.

Wranosky: A Man with a Vision and a Plan

Flour Bluff, History, Local history, Personal History

The following article about Ernest J. Wranosky, Superintendent of Flour Bluff Schools, appeared in THE FLOUR BLUFF SUN on July 15, 1976, under the title of “Thirty Years in Retrospect, 1946-1976: Wranosky – Reflections on 30 Years with Flour Bluff Schools.”  

Dorothy Arnold, an educator and administrator who worked side-by-side with Mr. Wranosky, wrote this first-hand account as a historical record of all that Wranosky did for Flour Bluff students in his 30 years with the district.  No doubt many superintendents have come and gone in the 54 years before and 41 years after Wranosky, but none can compare to the man who put the community of Flour Bluff on the map by creating a school like no other, a school with a reputation for excellence and innovation that spread around the world, primarily via NAS Corpus Christi personnel.  It should be noted that Dorothy Arnold was instrumental in helping Wranosky bring his vision to life.  

As a 1976 FBHS graduate, retired FB teacher who spent her entire career at FBJH, and current school board member of FBISD, I am honored and humbled to offer this article in its entirety in THE PAPER TRAIL NEWS for all to enjoy.   I know that what Ms. Arnold writes is true. Mr. Wranosky left his positive mark on me because I came up through the system he created.  What he instilled in all of us is that we should leave things better than we found them.  He was a living example for us all.  (Note: THE SUN is no longer in print, and only a few copies exist here and there.  This copy came to me via Rene Self, long-time Flour Bluff resident and civic leader.)

     On July 10, 1946, Ernest J. Wranosky, Sr. held his first board meeting of Flour Bluff Common School District#22, a community on a peninsula of sand dunes, salt flats, scrub oak and sandy trails, with one paved road (Waldron Road) through the Bluff and another (Lexington Boulevard, now Padre Island Drive) to the Naval Air Station.

     There were sixteen teachers, two janitors, and the superintendent, with 188.9 average daily attendance at the close of the 1945-46 term and approximately 350 students at the beginning of the 1946-47 term.  The school district owned five classrooms (the old primary building), four acres of land, cafeteria, shop, home economics cottage, and four teacherages.  Classes were held in the old section of the present junior high school which was built and owned by the Federal Government.

     Members of the board of trustees at that time were Henry Brown, Joe B. Killian, and Arthur W. Whitener.  The assessed value of the district was $1,800,000 (about $5000 per student) on a tax rate of $1.50.

     The first task facing the new superintendent was to secure financing from the State of Texas for a full year (nine months) of instruction through the Rural Equalization Aid program.  Wranosky began renovating buildings on the campus, moved in a building to serve as a cafeteria, and added teacherages to attract personnel to make application in the school district.  At one time during this period, 22 families lived in school-owned housing.

Image result for wranosky + flour bluff

     In April, 1948, residents of the Flour Bluff community voted to become an independent school district.  The district hired a tax assessor and has maintained its own tax roll since that time.

     In May, 1954, Mr. Wranosky was responsible for extending the boundaries of Flour Bluff I.S.D. from 38 square miles of land surface to 56 square miles of land surface.  Also included were 100 square miles of water surface.  The district included parts of Mustang Island and Padre Island.

     Each year funds were committed to a construction project, and as time went on, auxiliary buildings, many of which were government surplus available at low cost and renovated with local (including student) labor, were added to the campus.  In addition, Wranosky was instrumental in securing funds from the Federal Government for classrooms and related instructional areas and laboratories.

Image result for flour bluff schools
Original high school that became the junior high when the new high school was built .

     During his 29 years of service as superintendent, Wranosky worked with 42 board members at 541 regular/special board meetings and missed only one meeting.  Those serving at the time of the election for an independent district were Henry Brown, Joe B. Killian, and J. W. Roper.  Those elected to serve on the new board were S. F. Hawley, president (formerly the superintendent of Flour Bluff Common School District), Joe B. Killian, secretary, Henry Brown, J. W. Roper, H. E. Johnson, Walter E. Bechtel, and W. F. Cutler.  Former board members who served with Wranosky and who are known to be living today are J. W. Roper, George F. Merzbacher, Sr., Edgar L. Barnes, H. W. Grabowske, Sr., R. C. Seeds, Sr., Jesse H. Bond, Edward R. “Bud” Graham, H. E. “Eddy” Savoy, Tom C. Witherspoon, Calvin Ramfield, M. K. Smith, Colvin E. Smith, Joe B. Killian, W. T. Talley, Sr., W.H. “Bill” Cofer, W. R. Duncan, Allen L. Hockley, Sr., D.O. Holder, H. E. “Bud” Johnson, E. L. Pharis, Virl Preston, and Doyle Rains.  Over this period of time, 52,896 students were enrolled in grades K-12, 1,865 students were graduated, and 746 professional faculty members served.

     At the close of his 29 years as superintendent, the size of the campus had increased from 4 acres to approximately 145 acres; from the two classroom building areas to its present size.  One of the most “talked about” projects was the physical education building and swimming pool.  The superintendent, with a group of students, dismantled an old hangar building at Fort Point, Point Bolivar, Galveston, and hauled the steel framework on school-owned trucks and floats procured by the district from Texas Surplus Property Agency.  There were those opposing the project who considered the controversial Van Galen Ditch an adequate swimming pool.  When asked, “How much seating capacity will there be in the new gym?”, Wranosky replied, “I hope none.  We are building this for students to use and not sit.”

Caller-Times photo, March 21, 1948

Caller-Times photo, November 17, 1968  (Note: The pool is located at the back of Wranosky Gym.)

     With a sharp eye for sound spending and close surveillance of tax dollars, Mr. Wranosky initiated new programs and new buildings on current financing.  During the years 1972-73, 1973-74, and 1974-75, major construction projects, including 30 high school classrooms (1972-73), 48 elementary classrooms, an office complex, library and satellite cafeteria (1973-74) were completed and paid for out of current tax funds.  The buildings are all fully air-conditioned, and the elementary building is fully carpeted.  The cost of these buildings was about $17.00 per square foot.  The architect was C. V. Tanner, and the builder was E. Eisenhauer.  The high school library was designed with the assistance of top level librarians, using American Library Association standards to meet the basic requirements of 2,200 high school students, allowing for study carrels for all basic academic areas, a teacher workroom, a processing area, and an area for audio-visual listening and preparation.

     

     Wranosky has believed tht children should be active physically, should know how to use their hands as well as their heads, and should learn much more than what is found in textbooks.  To this end, the district initiated vocational programs, offered physical education in all grade levels, and operated an “open-air classroom” program.  Throughout the year, groups of children were taken for camping experiences to the H. E. Butt Foundation Camp at Leakey, Texas, in the hill country, at no cost to the district.  Prior o the availability of this facility, Wranosky and the Board arranged for a camp site at Hunt, Texas, at a cost of $600 per week.  “With some hard-to-reach students, we get more academic subjects taught at a camp than in a classroom,” state Wranosky.  “Students are required to set up a bank account and write checks for every purpose.  They figure the bus mileage of the trip, how much the gas costs, how much it costs per child.  They learn to cut a tree and figure its age.  They study measurements, stars, and planets.”

     The faculty, in curriculum development work, outlined a vocabulary to be taught at each spot along nature trails at camp.  The camp is a paradise for student learning and meditation.  As to extra dividends gained through camp experiences, Wranosky stated, “We’ve had children who were impossible to reach in the classroom, but somehow they came around at camp.”  He should know.  He has authorized and watched groups from the second grade through the twelfth.  Since 1952, he has overseen the organization of activities and has, at times, accompanied the groups to and from the camp.

     

Caller-Times photo, 1968

     E. J., as he is referred to, had a passion to experiment, learn, and innovate.  As a young boy in the Territory of New Mexico, he learned by doing the work of farming, ranching, dairying, and livery stable operation.  It was his lot to work, work hard. And with the dignity of honest labor, he learned other simple virtues, such as family loyalty, a love and interest in one’s neighbors, the meaning of honor and respect for old teachings.  Family ties were strong, and the Golden Rule was not vague philosophy, but taken literally.  He completed his high school education in Woodsboro and Victoria.  During these years, he worked in an automotive garage and has put this experience into practice on many occasions.  He was awarded an associate degree from Victoria Junior College and Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Texas A&I College in Kingsville.  He has completed the doctoral course work at the University of Texas and the University of Houston and has done all the research work on his dissertation.  He earned a teaching certificate from Victoria Junior College and took a job in Victoria County serving as principal, teacher, coach, and custodian.  He moved to Woodsboro and served in the Bonnie View I.S.D. as principal, teacher, superintendent, and coach for 11 years prior to coming to Flour Bluff.

     Mr. Wranosky is convinced that educators have an obligation to assist in improving their community through service in various civic activities and organizations.  He has been instrumental in organizing the Boy Scout troops and has been given the Silver Beaver Award.  He is a charter member of the Flour Bluff Lions Club and has served in many capacities in this organization.  He became a charter member of the Southside Kiwanis Club.  He is a director of the First National Bank of Flour Bluff.

     The expansion of the plant of Flour Bluff I.S.D. in both physical size and quality and quantity of offerings during Wranosky’s tenure is indeed achievement.  While he has accomplished much, he has retained the personal and lasting respect of those who know him as a man of personal as well as professional stature.

     This administrator initiated a student analysis program which resulted in curriculum production and revision and brought about an implementation of his philosophy.  “The philosophy that has been pursued by the school over the past years is primarily my philosophy of twelve points.  The additional point and the revisions are other people’s ideas,” says Wranosky.  “Nothing succeeds like success itself, and nothing fails so dismally as failure.”

Wranosky’s Philosophy and the 12 Points, plus one

     Through his selfless devotion to the welfare of Flour Bluff I.S.D., Mr. Wranosky developed an enviable level of respect for the administration of the school.  He was never too busy to assist where help was needed.  He had the courage to tackle the biggest problem – such as moving the steel framework for the physical education building – and compassion to help a custodian, neighbor, or a student who had a personal problem.  Frequently, he would hear of a student who was having a particularly difficult time with his academic work.  He would make arrangements to have that student report report to his office regularly for a given period of time in order to counsel the student and attempt to work with him to gain a success pattern in a given course or find a chore that he could perform.  His door was always open, and he was ready to listen, provide a message of hope, and a plan of action.

     A former student said, “When we had a problem, Mr. Wranosky was always willing to listen and advise us in a wise and kind manner.”  They expressed genuine appreciation for his empathy, patience and understanding in his work with pupils, teachers, and parents.  The current emphasis in education, which focuses attention upon the needs of the individual students, reflects the basic philosophy which has motivated E. J. Wranosky, Sr. for these many years.

     During the thirty years that Ernest J. Wranosky has served Flour Bluff I. S. D. as superintendent and consultant, the system has faced numerous problems, not only in its growth from 350 students to over 3,000, from 16 professional employees to over 200, from 15 graduates to 140, but in other areas, as well.  His professional, calm, and well-defined approach to each of the problems – finances, hurricanes, personnel, equipment, tax issues, buildings – is indicative of the high quality school system he has helped mold for the citizens of Flour Bluff.  His leadership abilities have brought honor, stature and recognition from throughout the state, nation, and even foreign areas in which students and personnel have reflected his standards.  His entire sojourn has been dedicated to the youth and citizens of this area and to improving their education.  He has appreciation and regard for others and the talent to communicate.

     Questioned on his sojourn in Flour Bluff Schools, Wranosky said, “Directing the academic progress of  Flour Bluff Schools as the community evolved into a fair degree of affluence has been a real challenge which brought many satisfying rewards as well as some disappointments.  I recognize that I have passed up an opportunity to build the school plant monument that I might have.  One person who is in a position of judgement  told me, ‘You could have a gold-plated school plant here if you had levied the tax that you should have.’

     “A great many people have worked extremely hard to bring about the scholastic excellence which I desired above all else. To them, especially Board and faculty, I am forever grateful.  My sojourn began with a tax value of slightly more than $5000 per pupil and some deficit.  It ends with prospects for 1976 of near $50,000 per pupil and no debt.  The tax rate has not changed in 30 years.  It is a happy situation.”

**********

Dorothy Arnold Obituary

DOROTHY THERESA ARNOLD, age 93, passed away on Friday, September 27, 2013 in Victoria, Texas. Dorothy was born on September 1, 1920 in Cuero, Texas, to William Henry “WH” Arnold and Bertha Toerck Arnold. She attended Mission Valley School and graduated from Patti Welder High School in 1936. She attended Victoria College and Mary Hardin Baylor College in Belton. She received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Education Degree from The University of Texas. Her teaching career began in 1940 at Liberty School (Victoria County) and continued for 38 years in Weesatche (Goliad County), Bonnie View (Refugio County), of which 30 years were at Flour Bluff (Nueces County) as a classroom teacher and business manager. During this time, she participated in many professional and civic organizations on local, district, state, and national levels and continued her education to obtain bachelor and master degrees as well as doing her post graduate work at The University of Texas, University of Corpus Christi, University of Houston and Texas A&I University. She received numerous awards, honors, certificates, and recognitions related to educational pursuits. After her retirement in 1978, she enjoyed rewarding years living in the Mission Valley Community doing volunteer work, church work, and continuing participation in professional and civic pursuits which included the Pilot Club of Cuero and Heirloom Stitchers Guild. Dorothy gave of her time and talent in many ways to better her community. A very important part of Dorothy’s life was her strong devotion to her church. She enjoyed her hobbies of crafts, sewing, quilting, crocheting, as well as playing cards and domino games. She is survived by loving cousins and friends.  (Source:  Rosewood Funeral Chapel website)

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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.