Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Stills: History

Over Memorial weekend we attended the 65th--and only--class reunion of our ghost town's historic Rio Frio school, the ruins of which are next to our short grass prairie.

 Laurie's Class of '39 ring

Although we don't own the school, the children--who often rode up to six miles alone--tied their horses to trees in our creek. The school also used our land for Easter egg hunts and as their dump; we find all kinds of interesting things when we dig around in our butterfly garden.


I am friends with many of the students, now in their late 70's and early 80's, who still live around here--Willis, Molly, DeLois, Lora B. My friend DeLois--who's pictured on the left--gave me some images taken around our property. The large wooden building in the background was the original school, and was torn down to build the final one. This is the wooden bridge that used to go over our creek. That would be our future property on the right, before the school.



Here it is today. The bridge is gone and large culverts have been installed, with reflectors warning of the steep drop off. You can see our circular drive entrances on the right. DeLois' dad owned the phone exchange and the road grading equipment. This was taken at the end of our future property.



Here's the same spot now. I am struck by how few trees there were back then, and how many we have now.


One new thing we learned was during the summers our place was used to show movies. Everybody came from miles around. A traveling family named Shultz used to set up a tent in the clearing where our house is now. Their little boy, Loyo in his homemade 'car' was photographed on the corner of our property. Behind him is the historic school, and Schoolhouse Mountain. To the left is the historic church, and to the right the school outhouses that either bordered or were on our short grass prairie.

Perhaps one of the greatest surprises was meeting George who lived in our house for 31 years. Our house is still known by his name. Here he is with his daughter.


We had been told he was dead. Not only that, we'd seen his headstone in the pioneer cemetery behind us. As it turns out that belongs to his father (whose front porch has become our greenhouse). George preached at the historic church on Sundays and ran the post office out of the front room in our house (now my art studio) during the week. I inquired about his wife Laurie (who was also rumored to be recently dead).


But we found her very much alive! It just goes to show you cannot believe everything you hear. She attended the historic school which only went to grade 11. But she loved school so much she convinced them to let her attend school one more year. Thus, she is the only student who attended for 12 years. The first photo is of her hand and class ring.


This is my friend Lora B. Her family built the historic church. She once made hats for Lady Bird Johnson, my former employer. She's traveled all over the world and is an excellent historian, storyteller, and writer. She served on the board that renovated the Alamo, and is active with the DAR and Rock Art Foundation. When I was still a visiting botanist to the area she put me up, several years before I would someday come to live in this small community.

Just 22 more years to go before our house might be known by our name. Until then, we'll still honor George.

Ruins of the school at sunrise taken from our short grass prairie

For more historical images, visit Sunday Stills!

16 comments:

photographerpainterprintmaker.com said...

What a absolutely wonderful story! How gratifying to actually get to meet all these wonderful people who pioneered your community. I love the first photo of woman's hand with her class ring. Sepia toning it was an excellent choice.

Regular Guy said...

Neat photos and stories.

thecrazysheeplady said...

How cool! My first thought was that was going to be Marie's ring. You have so many great stories and histories. This one is especially neat.

dibear said...

What a wonderful story, I enjoyed it very much. :)

Ann said...

How many were present for this reunion? Were any absent?

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

This was a wonderful wonderful story! So much local history, and you are so lucky to have so many of these folks living locally and willing to visit with you to share the history of your home and neighborhood, too. Wow! The photos were fabulous, too!


~Lisa

Brenda said...

Love the homemade car!!! What a difference in the pic of the old bridge and the one where it was gone. I love the look of the old days. The first photo had me, not just the ring, but the hand.

Ed said...

Sage, this is the best post for this challenge, great shots and story..:-))

CTG Ponies said...

Fabulous history and how wonderful that you can hear about it first hand.

Jeff and Meg said...

I love the hand picture!

Dana and Daisy said...

precious! I have always dreamed of rebuilding either an abandoned school or church for a studio... just a thought!

sadly, i posted a few pics of my garden debacle if you care to see what's going on in my world.

I wanted to reply to your comment on myfolia. The nurseryman who came to do the estimates said it appears a growth inhibiting herbicide was sprayed, which I believe attacks thru the leaf and stem, not thru the roots. So I should be able to replant but not until after the investigation is completed. I am hoping by fall.

Anonymous said...

Sage, Are you going to be getting rain from the storm?

NitWit1 said...

I love the history post, especially since it is Texas.

In an era seemingly controlled by computers and other electronic devices encompassing our lives, it is refreshing to remember children were entertained, very well, thank you! with home made cars, and other toys, which probably encouraged more imagination and play than today's "toys." That box car could well be a tank, or anything imaginative minds might devise.

NitWit1 said...

I love the history post, especially since it is Texas.

In an era seemingly controlled by computers and other electronic devices encompassing our lives, it is refreshing to remember children were entertained, very well, thank you! with home made cars, and other toys, which probably encouraged more imagination and play than today's "toys." That box car could well be a tank, or anything imaginative minds might devise.

Callie said...

I loved reading this post and seeing the photos. I do enjoy reading about history. And here was history in the making and you did a great job of recording the event.

dibear said...

Missing you on Sunday Stills Sage. :(

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