We Remember…

W E R E M E M B E R . . .

Pearl Harbor was attacked 80 years ago today. Wacoan Doris Miller, serving aboard the USS West Virginia, risked his life to defend his ship and help his shipmates. Through his selfless and sacrificial actions, he became a WWII hero, and we are grateful for his service. We celebrate this great Wacoan on this date which still lives “in infamy.”

For more information:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doris_Miller

Photo from The Texas Collection, Baylor University,

It Was Just a Little Tree

IT WAS JUST A LITTLE TREE
by Virginia Plunkett

Once upon a Christmas, there was a little tree nestled in among the taller ones on the Christmas Tree lot. Shirley and Bob Brothers, with their young sons, Bob, Jim, and Bill, browsed through the lot hoping to find the perfect tree.

Up and down the Christmas Tree lanes they walked and then the boys saw the little tree. They all fell in love with it.

They learned that the tree was a cedar of the deodar family, or devadaru, which means “divine tree”, closely akin to the cedars of Lebanon.

They took the little tree home. And, trimmed with tiny lights, ornaments, and tinsel, it sat on a living room table and seemed to glow with pride all through the holidays. Hoping the little tree might possibly take root and live…a very doubtful possibility…they planted it in the front yard on New Year’s Day.

In 1965, Bob and Shirley sold the property at 4400 Live Oak to John and Vivian Walker, and for twenty years the tree stood majestically in their front yard. The once tiny little Christmas tree, planted on a New Year’s Day in 1961, had grown up with the neighborhood children.

Now it so happened that the little tree had another mission to fulfill…the Greater Waco Beautification Association was searching for “the perfect tree” to be the city Christmas tree. Headed by the GWBA president, Jackie Wooldridge, the committee drove all over town looking…and then they saw it! It was “the perfect tree” and they fell in love with it just like the three little boys did that Christmas in 1961.

John and Vivian Walker, the gracious couple they are, told the committee that of course they could have the tree. “But,” John said, ”You will cover up the hole won’t you?”

On a December evening at Indian Spring Park, the once tiny little tree stood 40 feet tall. It had a bright star on the tip top and, trimmed with thousands of colored and red bows, the tree again glowed with pride because now it was the City Christmas Tree!

The scene that December evening brought back a nostalgic interlude for one of the neighborhood children…Christi Ratliff Breeding . “I played under that tree when I was a little girl,” Christi said. “Bob and Shirley Brothers’ yard was our gathering place, and Bob, Bill and Jim had the best baseball equipment.”

Christi said she played outfielder and, “I was a good hitter, too.” Trying to remember the names of the neighborhood friends, Christi remembered Gail St. John, Carolyn, Mike and Dale Carlisle, Klaus and Martin Krohn, Rick, Randy, David and Cathy Hensley, Bill Casey, Jim and Bob Stewart, Rhett Taylor, Mark, Linda, and Allen Storey, Sue Ingram, and Randy Fondren.

The Christmas 1984 tree-lighting ceremony was the usual happy occasion, yet for many it was not without sadness…the tree had been slowly dying from blight. After the holiday season, the red bows and colored lights were removed, and the tree that had reached out its leafy arms with the love and spirit of Christmas, was cut down.

There’ve been other beautiful Christmas Trees and there’ll always be beautiful Christmas Trees at Indian Springs Park, but there’ll never be another just like the City’s first Christmas Tree.

And so, with love from three little boys, the neighborhood children on Live Oak Street, and all of us-Thanks for the memories, little tree!

From the book “Around Again” by Virginia Plunkett.

(This is the type of tree mentioned here, but this is not that tree. Image from Google Images. )

Fourth and Mary

FOURTH AND MARY 1915/2020
Looking north up Fourth Street

The photographer is in the intersection of South Fourth and Mary. Union Depot is on the right, and the old Post Office is just beyond it, on the corner of Fourth and Franklin. The Metropole Hotel is across Franklin. The building on the left was and is the Behrens Drug Building. The Natatorium Hotel would be just to the right of the photographer in 1915, across Mary from Union Depot.

This postcard was postmarked September 20, 1915. It is addressed to Mr. Louis Divina, c/o J. T. Karth, Bruno, Nebraska. Can you translate the message?

Postcard from our personal collection.
Present-day photo from Google Earth.

The ALICO Building

THE ALICO BUILDING

Photo by John R. Gorham

From the reverse side of postcard:
“Built in 1911, it is 22 stories tall and when built it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. During a devastating tornado in 1952* which virtually destroyed downtown Waco, the Alico Building withstood and sustained no damage.”

*The postcard incorrectly states that the Waco tornado was 1952. It was May 11, 1953.

This postcard is from our personal collection.

Photo by John R. Gorham.

The Flooding Brazos River

Flooding of the Brazos affected East Waco much more than downtown Waco. 1913. The Suspension Bridge (1870), and the recently completed Interurban Bridge (1913).

Photo by Fred Gildersleeve. From the Gildersleeve-Conger Collection, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

From the book “A Pictorial History of Waco” (1964) By Roger Conger.

Big 4 Ice Company

UNCOVERED

Avery Von Blon writes that he wonders how many Wacoans have spotted the old Big 4 Ice Co. emblem recently exposed on the little building at Twelfth and Columbus that used to be an “ice house”.

“It will take some of the old hats of Waco to recall this or the chore of buying ice here and taking it home on the bumper of one’s car and carrying it into the house to place in the ice box to keep things cool.”

“How many times did one forget to empty the pan under the ice box and let the water run over?” Von Blon asked.

It’s a safe guess there are quite a few out there who remember Big 4 Ice Co., but even some of those might have forgotten how handily a nickel block of ice would fit on the bumpers of the cars of yesteryear.

The Waco Tribune Herald, October 12, 1975.

Article contributed by Mike Braun and transcribed by Randall Scott.

(NOTE: Big 4 Ice Company was located on the southwest corner of 8th and Franklin, 203-225 South 8th, where M. B. Ise Cream Company was earlier, and where the new Post Office would later be built.)

The Waco Morning News, May 30, 1915.
The Waco News Tribune, May 26, 1920.
The Waco News Tribune, March 12, 1925.
The Waco News Tribune, May 16, 1920.

The Mouth of the Bosque

The Mouth of the Bosque
Cameron Park
October 11, 1917

We recently acquired this post card photo that I had never seen. It was taken by T. Mann, a photographer who seems to have been associated with WWI Camp MacArthur (1917-19) in North Waco. The cliff is what we now know as “Circle Point” and the Bosque River, which has just flowed past Lovers Leap, is now joining the Brazos River, where it will continue the journey south through Waco and beyond. Where the Bosque River meets the Brazos River is called the “Mouth of the Bosque”. The area at the top of the photo is Steinbeck Bend. And if you’re new to Waco, “Bosque” is pronounced “Bos-Kee”. 😊

Brazos River near Camp MacArthur, Waco, Texas. By T.Mann, 10-11-1917.

Photo from Google Earth.