of Virginia Hall Irby
Chapter 5, 1958 - 1965
First Draft Copy
& Sleep Shop
122 N. Highway B-288
Clute, Brazoria County
Lynch, Reding, Irby 3 Savanna Blue -
C. L. Reding Two Rivers Poetry -
G. M. Irby published poetry -
M. Hunter Long Shadows -
Five-year-old Virginia, 1923
1958, January 28
We moved our furniture business into our new building located on Highway 288 in Clute. The building had a cut-out pattern of "Irby's" above the front, then lighted with flood lights from both sides.
The new building was nice compared to the rented Farrar building on Main Street. The architect for the new building was Flynn & Flynn of Houston. It had brick and cinder block sides, concrete floor, large plate glass windows on the front, and a large freight door and freight area in the back. It was a 5,000 square foot building. Highway 288 was a four lane thoroughfare with traffic. Across the highway was a dense wooded acreage with cows roaming through the forest.
1958, March 24
The Hogg Mansion in West Columbia, Texas had a two day grand opening when they were "going public." This was the country home of the wealthy Hogg family of Houston and the ancestors to former Governor Hogg of Texas. The Garden Clubs of the area were asked to help dress up the house by using flowers, plants, fruits, and vegetables. Doris Miquez and I were selected as hostesses to represent the Clute Garden Club.
All volunteers were to wear long dresses that depicted the dresses worn at the time the Hogg Mansion was built in the nineteenth century. For the occasion I had made a calico tiered ankle skirt and a long sleeve eyelet blouse. I wore my hair in a long pigtail at the back. Mrs. Ima Hogg, daughter to Governor Hogg and at the time an elderly woman, patted my face with both her hands and said "you are just so beautiful."
1958, June 03
Keith was in a piano recital at the Temple Baptist Church in Clute, Texas. He played a piece by Tschaikovsky.
Selected others on the same program that evening were: Ginger Thomas, Shirley Insall, Albert Closs, Cindy Gardner, and Patsy Rasmussen.
Glynn was eight years old when he took his first piano lesson. He took for only seven weeks and played "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" at a recital. Then he stopped taking lessons for two years. We never told the boys they were supposed to practice. We left it up to them.
Glynn started lessons again in the summer between third and fourth grade. He then played in a large talent show in the spring of fourth grade that was held at the cafeteria of the T.W.Ogg Elementary School. There were two or three hundred people there. At various other times he played at several different recitals, another talent show at the Brazoria County Fair, at the Latin Banquet in High School (where he got a standing ovation for playing Liszt's transcription of Beethoven's "Fifth Symphony," first movement. He also played at state conventions (see other listing.)
A school boy studying agriculture selected a piece of ground behind our store for a pig lot. He told us there would be no problem. We had our doubts that it would be as clean as he claimed. Sure enough, it became smelly and fly infested. It took one call to city hall and the pigs were gone.
* * *
Aunt Annie came to visit in Texas when she was 67 years old. She had been no farther than fifty miles from her birthplace when she flew to Texas with one of Uncle Mack's daughters, Jean. Jean was about 17 years old. Mack paid for both of them to come and she was anxious to see the world outside those beautiful mountains of her home.
Some of the things she saw for the first time:
- The Gulf of Mexico
- Herman Park Zoo
- Big sea-going ships
- Big chemical companies
- Shrimp Boats
- Palm trees
- Pecan trees
- Crepe myrtles
- Flat lands
- Battleship Texas
- Cattle egrets
- Scissortail fly catchers
- Cotton fields
- Rice fields
- Oil wells
We rode the ferry in Galveston, and toured downtown Houston, where she commented: "Look at all the artificial people in the windows!"
She should have laid up these memories for a lifetime rather than for only her sunset years.
1959, February 02
Donna Jean Hall is born to Carman and Earl Richard Hall.
I had planted fifty daylilies in the yard and was looking forward to their first blooms but St. Augustine grass was about to take over instead. A yard man appeared and said that he could work the flower beds, pull the weeds, trim the bushes, and remove the unwanted grass. We hired him to complete the job and then we went to the store to work.
At lunch we went home to see the progress in the yard. All the St. Augustine grass was still in the flower beds and all the daylilies were snipped off at the top of the ground.
I cried and cried. It was a full year later before the daylilies finally came through and bloomed.
* * *
While we sponsored the Presbyterian Youth Fellowship we went out each Christmas to sing carols for the elderly and the shut-ins. We had prepared cards to give to them so they would know who was singing for them.
* * *
Grampa made our classic wooden cornices we use across our room dividers in our new furniture showroom. He surprised us with them. Over the years since they have given our showroom style.
Keith worked on a Boy Scout merit badge project about SNAKES. He collected over seventy eight live snakes and kept them all in the back room of the garage. Some of the snakes were poisonous, including a ground rattler, a coral snake, a copperhead, and a water moccasin. Many of the local kids learned a lot about snakes from him. One evening at 10 o'clock a man knocked at our door and said that his son had been bitten by a snake and he needed to know what kind of snake it was. He then lugged out a dead snake that he had killed. Fortunately it was not a poisonous one. Keith had four poisonous snakes among his collection.
I became very nervous about the snakes and threatened him with "I'm going to live with your grand parents if you don't get rid of those snakes!" Sometime later after returning from the store, Keith said that he had gotten rid of all the snakes. I was glad and thought he probably took them down to the lake and let them out by the woods. I asked him where he let them out and to my shock he said:
"I let them go out by the garage door."
I never did tell the neighbors about that for fear that they would have driven us out of town.
1961, May 05
Keith played baritone in a Clute Cougar Band Concert.
1961, September 10
Hurricane Carla hit us and the coastline pretty hard.
Brazoria County suffered $52,000,000 in damage. We had 8" of gulf water in our store on Highway 288 and grandpa had 11" of water in his house on Shanks Street. Five miles inland from us in a wooded community on Bastrop Bayou there was 12 ’ of gulf water, destroying almost everything and killing a family. (See related web site here)
Quoted from a letter to friends and relatives six weeks after Hurricane Carla.
Sorry to be so late in answering to the roll call after "CARLA" whipped across our land and left its terrible mark. Hundreds of our customers and friends returned to heavily damaged homes and furnishings ...
Our store is ten miles from the Gulf of Mexico and our sales floor had 7" of Gulf flood water (salt water). We lost profit on thousands of dollars worth of merchandise and much of our equipment suffered heavy damage. Our building had over $1100 worth of roof damage, but there were no leaks from the top, and the masonry, steel, and plate glass withstood the storm like an army tank. Therefore, our losses were not covered by insurance, as insurance does not cover "rising waters." Our warehouse was packed with new merchandise and there was no damage there.
Our home was dry but we lost roof shingles and one big valuable tree in the back yard. Daddy's house had 8" of water in it, roof damage, fallen TV antennae, and 27" of water in his garage. His pick-up truck, power mower, and many storage items were damaged. The flood water licked the threshold of his cabinet shop without getting inside.
Unless you have been right in the middle of mass disaster, you have no idea what it is like. TV and newspaper reports, even though they show much of the spectacular, can't begin to reveal what it is like, and neither can I. Take anything you saw or heard about "Carla" and compound it a thousand-fold and you still don't grasp the full impact. It is terrible!
Our area began to get evacuation orders on Saturday afternoon, September 9. Civil Defense took over our networks with constant instructions on what to do to protect property and lives and how to move into an orderly evacuation. Over 250,000 people left the coastal towns to seek shelter inland. We joined the exodus at 8:30 PM after the majority of them had already left. By the time we left, Marshal Law had been declared and they were arresting people who refused to be "smoked out" by [the storm.
We spent Saturday night at a lovely private ranch at Eagle Lake, Texas. The rancher treated us like honored guests, and had CARLA not been making such big news, we could have enjoyed this delightful place longer. Sunday and Monday we spent in Bastrop, Texas (near Austin) with Mr. and Mrs. George Swilley, friends of ours. They, too, were wonderful to us. The highways literally crawled with evacuees and in every town upstate chambers of commerce, fire departments, and police departments had set up evacuee headquarters and were dispatching storm evacuees to homes and shelters. It was a magnificent display of brotherhood and concern.
The return home was horrible for everyone. Radio and grapevine reports were sickening. We just knew that we wouldn't have a thing left standing at the home or the store. We will just never know how we were spared as much as we were, even though it was bad. Water was high all around us, but we were in a mile-wide strip that was spared the worse part. Four miles NORTH of us and farther from the Gulf than we are there were many fine new brick homes with five to seven feet of Gulf water! Hundreds of people in the area returned to bare slabs. There are many homes completely "gutted" — doors and windows washed and blown out, roof shingles peeled off, and trees and debris across them. This CARLA reduced hundreds of nice homes and furnishings to garbage! Handsome new brick homes took it much worse than most wood frame houses.
The "salt in the wound" is the discovery that the major losses are not covered by insurance. A person with a loss of $10,000 to his house and $4,000 to his furnishings is lucky to get a $800 settlement from his insurance company. It is causing bitterness between adjusters and property owners. The political wheels are stirred up over it, but I am afraid it is a lost cause for policy owners.
Dow Chemical Company, our main supporting industry, had as much as 14' of tide water in the plant and the Dow employees worked double shifts for weeks. Thousands of workmen came in here from all over the country; telephone men, electricians, engineers, heavy equipment operators, roofers, plumbers, carpenters, tree experts (thousands of big trees were down, many on houses and across thoroughfares), insurance adjusters, nurses (everybody had to take typhoid shots), newspaper photographers, window installers, carpet cleaners, and specialists, policemen, movers, air-sea patrol and rescue, ... you can imagine what a bee hive it has been!
CARLA hit on September 11 and we have never in our lives known the hard work we have had since that time. It has been over two months now and we have worked every night until midnight or later. One night we worked until 4:00 AM and another night until 5:00 AM and it has been 2:00 AM many, many nights. We get at it again by 7:00 AM. I just don't know how much longer we can stand it. Every week we think that surely it will let up soon, but CARLA is still riding heavily on our shoulders.
Our first big job was the cleanup. We had to move the merchandise out of the store so that we could wash out the salt water and silt. It had a fishy smell and that filthy water had washed over dead fish, cows, rattle snakes, sewage ditches, and everything. We had to scrub, disinfect, and rinse our entire floor and everything on it. The rising water circled our upholstered goods, made wood split, got into carpets, vacuum cleaners, file cabinets, appliances, and supplies. It was a mess! The Health Department closed businesses that handle food and made them destroy everything that they had in stock before they were allowed to reopen. We were able to sell most of our merchandise but had to take a terrible loss on it. Our competitor just one mile down the highway (south) had 5' of water in his store and has been unable to dispose of his merchandise and is still not straightened out. We had a one-day WET SALE that reduced our stock almost to the point of going out of business.
Our next big job was to [order] new merchandise to restock our store. At the same time our customers and friends were beating a constant path to our store for new furniture and for price estimates for insurance and Red Cross. Red Cross orders began to pour in. Van loads of new furniture began rolling in. Our shortage of personnel to "talk the language" and process the book work overwhelmed us!! We recruited extra help but it was very little that they could do. They didn't know the stock, availability, prices, office procedures, or anything and we were too busy to train them. This overload has been backbreaking for us. We process customers all day and then work the books all night. The new merchandise sells as fast as it comes in and we live in constant strain trying to keep it in proper balance. We are usually slow, careful buyers, but now we have to make quick decisions to keep everything rolling. Our showroom looks like a warehouse and our warehouse is almost empty. We can't imagine how long it will take for us to restore our original status. Things may never be the same as "B.C." (Before Carla.)
I will give you a few quick candid shots and then I must close. Schools were closed for eight days. Sure enough the snakes were BAD.
- We were without lights for a week (some of the others were without
lights for two weeks.)
- The city water was contaminated for three weeks and Civil Defense
furnished water from big tank trucks for that period of time.
- Emergency telephone service was restored almost immediately, but it was
over a week before we could receive calls.
- The Red Cross has been wonderful!! Churches and other organizations
from everywhere have sent money, clothes, furniture, and food.
- Looters have been numerous and kept the policemen and National
Guard on 24 hour duty. The National Guard has done a great job.
- The U.S. Corps of Engineers are still working with heavy equipment
cleaning land, burying debris, and rebuilding levies and roads.
- The U.S. Government planes have sprayed several times to keep down
flies and contamination.
- The local shrimp industry suffered heavy loss.
- One of our customers lost 13,000 chickens. There were thousands of
head of cattle killed.
- Every imaginable type of truck and heavy equipment has been at work
in the area.
- The telephone company alone reported $150,000,000 damage on the Gulf Coast.
- Some people who had lovely new homes are having to abandon them for
financial reasons. We lost several accounts to CARLA.
- The trees and shrubs lost every leaf but have now put out new leaves.
Everywhere it looks like spring ... roses and elm trees are blooming.
High in the trees are fresh tender leaves.
Our people are also "putting out new leaves." Hundreds had to find apartments until they could get their homes repaired and they are busy as beavers putting up new roofs, hanging sheetrock, and laying new floors (hardwood floors buckled as much as three feet and some of them pushed brick walls out and ruined the whole structure.) Entire neighborhoods are alive with hammers, saws, and sanders. Don't think for a minute that Americans have grown soft. Their courage and faith proves that the good old American pioneer spirit is greater than ever! ...
1962, January 13
Terri Hall was born to Carman and Earl Richard Hall.
1962, April 05
I did the set decor for the Little Theatre of Brazosport stage production of "Born Yesterday." This is one of many sets that we have either done the decor, provided furnishings, or done the entire set design.
1962, December 25
I wrote in my Christmas letter: "Keith is sixteen and a junior in high school. Glynn is twelve and in the sixth grade. Both are wholesome, healthy boys and we are very proud of them."
1962, December 30
We went to Monterey, Mexico. While we were walking around we saw a Presbyterian Church. We walked to the door as two Spanish ladies walked to the door. They hesitated and started speaking Spanish. We spoke only English. We jabbered to each other without knowing what each other said. Then they held the door open and swept their hands to invite us to enter. There were three more ladies in the church.
They showed us a calendar with names and they pointed to themselves and back to the calendar. We gathered they were trading shifts for a constant twenty four hour prayer service for the New Year. We prayed with them. They handed us a songbook and I couldn't read a word of it. I started singing the DOXOLOGY and they chimed in their Spanish. I lead out with "SILENT NIGHT." They chimed in with Spanish. We didn't know their language, but we walked with the Lord on that day!
Keith plays the baritone horn in the Brazosport High School Marching Band. He also plays the cornet. He plays the string bass in the High School Concert Band. He played the bass violin and ukulele with a singing trio in the Heart Fund program. He also frequently plays the piano for other public activities.
The band was to play at a state contest in Brenham and was to meet at 5:30am at the Brazosport High School band hall to catch the buses. He grabbed his suit and his new shirt but suddenly could not find his white shoes. He thought that at the last football game he had ridden home with Larry Barnes and maybe his shoes would be there. At 5:00am he called the house of Dr. and Mrs. Earl Barnes, General Manager of Dow Chemical, to locate his white band shoes. They searched and also could not find his shoes. As a last resort, I wiped white shoe polish on my old white platform shoes that I used for yard work. The band director stopped when he was inspecting the uniforms and said "Where did you get those shoes?" He was allowed to clog through the competition with them anyway.
* * *
We took the young people from the First Presbyterian Church to Mo Ranch, near Hunt, Texas for a week of fun and spiritual enrichment. The girls and boys stayed in different dormitories. On the second night the boys serenaded the girls with music. I counted the girls hanging out the windows at the front of the building and found that Margaret Hudgins was missing. I went back into the room and found her crying in her upper bunk bed. Her eyes were as red as a ripe tomato. She had worn contact lens for only three days. Since she had only two eyes, I had to get her to the nurse's quarters, which were on a 1200' woodsy trail through a forest. I took a weak flash light (It was weak because the girls flashed it every time they thought they heard a scorpion creeping around the dormitory. They had already seen three scorpions.
Back on the trail: We saw sets of eyes looking at us in the dark. We counted fourteen deer in the woods on the way to the nurse's quarters. They kicked up their heels and leaped out of our way.
The nurse put medication in Margaret's eyes and bandaged them and told her she could stay at the nurse's station or she could return to the nurse at 8:30 A.M. I was relieved because she chose to stay in the dorm. She would be a lot of protection from those deer. She wore bandages for two days and dark glasses the rest of the week. I called her mother and she decided things were under control. Margaret learned well what it is "to see the LIGHT" and what it is to "live in DARKNESS."
Glynn went with his classmate Maurice Coleman and his parents to their country ranch home near Trinity, Texas. They were going to have a weekend of horse riding and exploring the deep East Texas woods. Irby had packed for a trip to Dallas. When they left, their travel bags were exchanged and Irby ended up with Glynn's bag of little boy clothing, and Glynn ended up with his daddy's clothes and shaving equipment.
1963, May 10
Both Keith and Glynn played at a music recital at the First Baptist Church in Freeport, Texas. Glynn played four pieces. Keith played two pieces plus a duet with Joann Leverich playing the French horn. The next evening, 10 May, they both played at another recital at the Temple Baptist Church in Clute.
Others playing the first evening were: Tony Barnard, Steve Acker, James Day, and Albert Closs playing his own composition. Wayne Robinson played as a District Member, and Glynn played as an International Member of the National Fraternity of Student Musicians.
Others playing on the second evening were: Lucinda Venn, Regina Johnson, Debra Summerford, Sharon Runnels, Susan Finley, Anna Obenhaus, Debra Bradbury, and Vicki Otto. As members of the NFSM, the District member was Lucinda Venn, State members were Sharon Runnels, Regina Johnson, National member Debra Summerford, and International member was Glynn Irby.
* * *
We visited the Houston Museum of Art and saw some modern art made out of tin cans, or old shoes and combs. Keith said "I can do that." The next day he rummaged the garage and made his masterpiece.
He took a sheet of plywood 18" wide by 30" high. Smeared a background with black rug cement, splashed it with several colors of left-over paint. It featured an abstract thing, dripping, with eyes made from ping pong balls cut in half. It was all decorated with colorful fluorescent grasshopper wings (I had paid Keith ten cents for every grasshopper he killed because they were eating up my flowers.) He entered this project into the Brazoria County Fair Art Show and it achieved an "Outstanding Award of Merit."
1963, September 20
My father, Emless Richard Hall, married Mabel Cagle from Maggie Valley and Canton, North Carolina, at the Berea Baptist Church near Canton. Attending the couple were Lieutenant and Mrs. Jack Lunsford of Berea, formerly of Freeport, Texas. Immediately after the ceremony the couple left for a trip to Niagara Falls.
They then alternated between living in her house in Canton, North Carolina, and his house in Clute, Texas, spending six to seven months at a time at each residence. While in Clute they used his 1961 Volkswagen and Chevrolet pickup truck. They used a pickup to travel to North Carolina, using her car after they arrived there.
1963, October 05
Earl Irby's mother, Mae Belle Irby Reid, passed away on Saturday October 5, 1963 in a nursing home in Greenville, South Carolina. She is buried near Anderson, South Carolina in a cemetery where Reid-Bagwell Road crosses Shiloh Road near the Shiloh United Methodist Church. She was born March 5 (2?), 1887 (1883?) and was 75 (79?) years old at the time of her death. She had lived for twenty one years at 12 University Ridge near the old campus of Furman University. She was a member of Mountain Springs Baptist Church. At the time of her death she was survived by one daughter, Motelle Griffith of Harper Woods, Michigan; two sons, Harold P. Irby of Ormond Beach, Florida, and Earl M. Irby of Clute, Texas; a sister, Mrs. Etta Simpson of Tyron, North Carolina, and three grandchildren. Her parents had been Lawrence Orr Aikens (20 Dec 1852 - 15 May 1896) and Ary Malinda Gillespie (28 Oct 1862 - 23 Oct 1946) both of Greenville, South Carolina. Brothers: Mitchell Sylvester Aikens (24 Jan 1882 - 10 May 1955), Benjamin Walter Aikens (14 March 1885 - 30 Dec 1946), Henry Spann Aikens (13 Oct 1887 - 03 Nov 1913). Sisters: Etter Aikens-Simpson (09 May 1890 - ) of Tryon North Carolina, Norma Eloise Aikens-Rogers (Ulysses) (29 Dec 1892 - 04 Dec 1956J) of Smyrna, Georgia, and Lula Orr Aikens-Bannister (Claude Ellis) (01 May 1895 - 26 June 1959) of Transylvania County, North Carolina.
1963, October 1963 - May 1964
Keith is the Chaplain of the Brazosport High School Exporter Band. He does the prayer at all the games and contests. He also sings with the church choir at the First Presbyterian Church. He is also active in sports, played basketball in both junior and senior year, and was on the track and tennis teams for the high school. For three years previous to this he was on special weight lifting and exercise programs.
1963, November 01
Quoted excerpt from a letter to my father (GP) and Mabel:
Great flocks of ducks have been migrating south for the past few days. Twice I've seen them from horizon to horizon. I guess they are just ahead of a real Texas 'blue norther!! ’ ...
Glynn had his first formal date last week. He mustered up enough courage to ask Marva Henry to the Homecoming Banquet at the Junior High School and she accepted most graciously ...
She has been ... twirling in front to bands and audiences since she was in kindergarten. She won the championship in the twirling contest at the [Brazoria County] Fair again this year and has won district, state, and all kinds of honors for years. She flashes and twirls like a fairy sparkler. Her band jacket looks like a coat of armor with all the medals hanging on it. She is an honor roll student, an editor on the school paper staff, and a very well-mannered young lady. She puts on her show on the stage, then she retires to complete modesty. Don't take me wrong, I'm not promoting her as a 'steady' for Glynn. It was the first date for both of them and they are too young to attach themselves to anyone ...
J.T.S. Brock opened his pecan orchard today ... Prather and Pat went there early this morning and picked up about fifty pounds. Irby and I went up on our lunch hour and picked up forty pounds in just a little while. The fresh air and sunshine hit the spot! We loved it ...
The Rusks are selling their home in Havenwood and moving into Emerald Forest (the new area on north Shanks) ...
Earl Richard called. He is going to Alaska tomorrow ...
1963, November 11 - 18
Daddy and Mabel went up to her mountain cabin on Cold Mountain in North Carolina and spent several days. In the letters he wrote from there he described the deer, the foxes, bears, owls, and the other wild life, the spring water they used to keep food cool, and the pleasant natural sound during the day and night.
They had a radio with them and he described the beautiful music they heard performed by the Cleveland Orchestra.
He said the temperature was reported to be 17 degrees on Mount Mitchell, but he didn't have a thermometer to gauge the temperature on this neighboring mountain. He described the snarly, knotty wood they used in the fireplace and said he wished others could see the same sights that he was seeing and that we could enjoy the large fire in the fireplace that they were enjoying in the cold weather.
1963, November 21
The President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. At that time Irby and I were having lunch at Corley's Restaurant at Lake Street and Highway 288 in Clute. Keith was a senior in high school and was driving a carload of young people from our church to a conference at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. At the time of the assassination they were in Dallas. Glynn was in the Clute Elementary seventh grade English class of Mrs. Hopkins.
We got a new tape recorder and everyone is enjoying the marvels of recording our own voices and the interesting things around us. We also have a new black and white television, AM-FM Hi-Fi radio, and a portable stereo record player.
A nice new auditorium and library was completed at the Brazosport High School in Freeport. This is a great facility and has already added to the cultural activities in the area.
I was on the Brazosport Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for three years.
* * *
The bikini bathing suite made a debut on the beach at Surfside and in other beaches and swimming pools round the world.
Glynn was elected Seventh Grade Favorite out of a class of 180 seventh graders. He was also elected treasurer of the Student Council. He is president of the Junior High Fellowship at the church.
* * *
I took five home improvement programs in eight days to civic clubs last month. This month I have more. I also worked many, many hours this winter on a church training program on Home and Family Nurture. I was secretary to the committee that made up and executed the whole program. Irby and I even tried our luck at acting — in a church play!
* * *
Earl Irby was installed as an Elder in the Presbyterian Church. I'm sure he will realize spiritual growth with the experience.
* * *
We were guests of Dr. and Mrs. Barnes to the Austin Symphony concert at the new BHS Auditorium
* * *
The musical "Oklahoma" was staged this month at the BHS Auditorium.
* * *
Earl Richard Hall is in Spain on a military assignment.
1964, May 29
Keith Irby graduated (Honor Roll Graduate) from Brazosport Senior High School in Freeport. He then made plans to go to college at North Texas State University in Denton, Texas.
1964, June 02 - July 22
Keith is a swimming lifeguard at Mo Ranch Presbyterian Camp and Convention Facility in Hunt, Texas, in the central Texas hill country. He has been to Mo Ranch twice before at youth conferences and I'm sure he'll enjoy being on the staff this summer.
Emless and Mabel are in Texas now, painting the house, gardening, installing a picket fence around the big oak tree in the back yard. Emless sculpted a wonderful wooden cornice to go over the windows in the living room. They have flower beds all around the house.
The Junior High School music directors were anxious to have Glynn in the Clute Cougar Band because he had made the highest score of anyone on the music and sound comprehension tests that everyone had taken earlier in the year.
He learned the tenor saxophone and went on to state contests in the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades. In scholastic competition in Texas City he came home with two First Place awards in the solo and ensemble contests. (Only two of eighty students received these awards.) He won top honors on all tests and was the "first chair" player most of the time. Then he decided to drop band and concentrate on piano and organ during the senior high school period, thinking that he would enjoy the piano and organ for a lifetime. In the place of band in high school he took journalism I & II, social studies I & II, economics, and current affairs.
Keith enrolled at North Texas State College.
By the time he left he had taken piano lessons for three years longer than Glynn had. One of my favorite pieces that he played was the " Adagio Cantabile" movement from one of Beethoven's sonatas.
One day, not long after Keith had gone, I came home from the store in the evening. As I approached to door I heard the sound of " Adagio Cantabile" on the piano. The first thing that crossed my mind was "Keith’s come back!." When I came through the door I found that Glynn was playing the piece beautifully. He had learned it without our knowing it and it brought tears to my eyes!
1964, September 10
Keith got his Eagle Scout ranking in the Boy Scouts of America. The presentation was given by Gene McDaniel, the charge by Joe Tod, the requirements by David Landsborough, Sr., introduction by Elmer Pendleton and Roger Chamberlin, prayer by the Rev. C.Knox Poole. Program for troops #367 and #304, Post #333. Merit Badges were presented to Charles Lindsey, Tommy Parker, Steven Porter, and Stephen Landers. Keith was the only Eagle award of the night.
1964, October 08
Quoted excerpt from a letter to my father and Mabel as they spend the winter in North Carolina:
Our mouths water every time you say 'apple!' Wish we could be up there to help you peel and can the apples! ... It has been real cool here. Everyone was wearing coats at the Brazoria County Fair this week. I slept in my flannels under a sheet, spread, and two blankets! ...
Your yard [in Clute] looked pretty. Thomas [Anderson] mowed it and the flowers look good.
Keith Irby was elected by popular support by the freshman class to the Student Senate of the North Texas State University in Denton, Texas. He is studying banking and finance.
Glynn, age fourteen, wears a 11.5 shoe.
* * *
Keith had savings from the time "tooth fairies" left dimes for fallen teeth, to the time he played the piano for dance classes. We told him if things go well we would match what he saved when he graduated from college. It could buy a new car or purchase a new wardrobe, or he may get married about that time and he may have needed it for that purpose.
In the meantime we deposited a budgeted amount for each semester as it unfolded. We looked forward to his going to college because we felt he would be ready for it, he had been raised right, he was very good natured, and he had a good sense of humor.
He made it through the first year with no problems. But in the second semester he apparently discovered GIRLS and he hasn't been the same since.
* * *
We bought two lots south of the store. The former owner had rented one of the lots to a man who built a "shacky-shack" auto parts store, and now that we owned the property they were not keeping up the rent. We asked them to move and they left all of their trash including the shack building, a slab of concrete (part of their floor was dirt), two junk cars, part of a junk truck, and a whole yard piled with junk, junk, junk!!
We picked up three tubs of broken glass alone. We picked up chains, batteries, motors ... It took five dump trucks to carry it away. It now looks like a park.
1965, February 05.
Quoted excerpt from a letter to us from Earl Hall:
We are watching a piano and cello recital on TV, making valentines, cleaning fingernails, and writing letters. Not a very exciting Friday night, but it's a lot better than my last two.
Yesterday I got back from survival school and it's with great pleasure that I announce "I survived." Our first week was devoted to classroom lectures, physical conditioning, and judo. We wore our heavy "jump" boots and rubber overboots and ran everywhere we went on base. Exhausting, but it helped the legs. After a little over a week of this (classes were from 7:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.) we made our way through an obstacle course into a compound which simulated a prisoner of war camp. The obstacle portion began about 9:00 p.m. one night after we had been up since 5:30 that morning. It was about a mile in length and consisted of various pits, fences, barbed wire entanglements, ditches, etc. It was well wired with flares and sound effects to simulate a battlefield; the really messy part was that it was about six inches deep in half frozen, slushy mud, and we had to crawl or roll our way through. It took most of us about two hours to complete the course by which time we were completely soaked with sweat from the inside and caked with mud on the outside. As we completed the course we were "captured," stripped and searched, and put into solitary boxes about the size of an orange crate. They have boxes of all sixes and each man gets one that he can just be squeezed into. After a few minutes of contemplation in one of those we were (individually) subjected to periods of intense interrogation in an effort to get us to give information of the fake mission we were to have been involved in. The interrogations were pretty realistic, although of course they used no physical violence against us. Thirty minutes of matching wits with them left a guy fairly well washed out mentally and emotionally. We were then put in private "suites," boxes 4' x 4' x 6', totally dark, unheated, (it was about 25 degrees outside,) and left there for a couple of hours while records of a baby crying were played at an extremely high sound level. Then back to the little box a while and then the interrogator. The cycle was continued for almost 24 hours. During this time we got a cup of vinegar tasting soup to eat — no water. A few of the fellows let the treatment get to them in one way or another. One man broke down and cried. Some took swings at their interrogators (a definite mistake) but most of us tried successfully to maintain some dignity. It's hard to do when you're filthy, cold, exhausted, and being humiliated.
I think we all learned things about ourselves we had never known before.
The last week of training was the field phase and we spent seven days in the Sierra Nevada mountains. There was about four feet of snow on the ground on level areas, and of course it was much deeper in drifts. We were given rations totaling 3500 calories to last the week ... We were on the move a lot, day and night, and I got pretty good at walking with snowshoes. The last five days we covered more than 30 miles. These are direct miles as measured on a map, and believe me, that's no indication of how far you have to walk when faced with mountains, ridges, slopes, trees, ravines, and "enemy" patrols. We were usually between 6,000' and 7,000' (thin air) and always carrying a 40 pound pack. Weather was our big break. It was cold — as low as 5 and 10 degrees — but clear skies prevailed. Our sleeping bags are considered adequate down to 0 degrees, and I was cold only one time at night. That was the one night I slept on clear ground rather than in the snow. Every other night I cut pine or fir branches and put them on the snow under my bag. The last two days we were split into pairs and sent off with about eight miles to go each day. My partner was a big 21 year old whom I expected to help me along. We moved out at 9:00 P.M. in order to make as much progress as possible under cover of darkness. (We had already covered over five miles that day in our larger group.) At 2:00 A.M. I stopped to do some crude navigating and when I got ready to go again he wasn't there. I finally found him passed out on the snow. He said he couldn't get up to fix his bed or shelter. I had to fix his bed before I made my own in order to keep him from freezing. He was better the next day, but said he was to his limit the night before. We managed to make our destination that day with only five minutes to spare, but the last day we pressed through and hit the final check point four hours early! About two hours out I twisted my knee pretty badly, but we were so far ahead of schedule by then I could loaf and take long breaks and still make it ... I lost 12 pounds during the week, and I hurt from head to foot, but at least it's all behind now. It was absolutely the most grueling ordeal I've ever encountered, but I have a new measure of confidence as a result ...
* * *
1965, Late February - September
Earl Hall is a captain in the Strategic Air Command and is presently assigned in the Far East. He can't tell us what his assignment is, but I'm sure it is dangerous. He is a pilot of the big KC-135 and is drawing combat pay. He spends four weeks over there, then ten days at home in California, then back again to the Far East.
* * *
At 2:00 A.M. somebody rang our front door bell with urgency. Irby and Glynn dashed out as if lightening had struck and I was right behind them.
A lady called out, "My house is on FIRE — Call the Fire Department!"
She vanished to hurry back to her house.
"Who are you?" I called out. I got her name and number. She had brush rollers in her hair and she was under the porch light only a second. Irby and Glynn jumped into their clothes and started moving furniture out of the burning house.
It was my job to call the Fire Department. They had a new devise for signaling the firemen and it failed in its initial test. The house was heavily damaged. It was the Hamilton house across the street. Her husband and boys were deer hunting. She was alone and had been ironing. She went to sleep without turning off the iron and it had begun the fire.
1965, March - April
This is the year we drove into the hill country and sat in big fields of bluebonnets and had our pictures taken. We made this trip every year (1965-1992) until after I had the stroke. A customer, Mrs. W.L. Stoerner 1, grew up in Industry and she led a map trail for us. The trail included Industry, Welcome, Round Top, Dime Box, Sealy, and Brenham. The bluebonnets dominated these places but there were big patches of scarlet paintbrush, delicate pink evening primrose, and yellow daisies. The German culture shows throughout the countryside — in the architecture, their accordion music, their bratwurst, their dancing, and their high spirits.
The bluebonnet season usually lasts about a month and brings thousands of people out to see Texas in it's finest garb. Flea markets flourished selling crafts, art, antiques. 1
Keith is taking some classes at summer school and is also a lifeguard at one of the university pools.
Glynn is taking driver training classes and is looking forward to having a restricted driving license at the end of the month. He is also doing well on the Red Sox teenage baseball team.
Both Keith and Glynn are in politics. Keith is still a freshman class senator at the University and Glynn is still in the Junior high student council.
1965, October - December
In North Texas State College in Denton, Texas, Keith was employed to play the piano for a folk dance class and two tap dance classes on campus. Each class met three times a week. He was paid $180 a month. The music played was "Misserlou," "Majorca," "The Hatter," "Gathering Peacecods."
1965, October 18
Quoted excerpt from a letter to my father (GP) and Mabel:
Mrs. Whiteker had a letter from Carman and Earl last week. They said that the doctors have decided that Carman has an ear disease instead of an ear virus, and has already suffered partial loss of her hearing in one ear ...
Bill Whiteker took an early retirement from Dow and is now in construction work ...
Mrs. Whiteker's mother is here and isn't getting along well at all.
Mrs. Poland (GP's neighbor) won a portable TV at the Brazoria County Fair in some kind of drawing! ...
Charles and Shirley Van Meter are building a beautiful new home in Sleepy Hollow! ...
Glynn played in a piano recital in Angleton ... There was a National Judge there from Houston ... he told Glynn he had unusually good expression and timing was extraordinary! Later he talked with Mrs. Thomas (Glynn's teacher) and said that he wanted to teach Glynn.
“Mrs. Ima Hogg, daughter to Governor Hogg and at the time an elderly woman,
patted my face with both her hands and said
‘you are just so beautiful’.”
& Sleep Shop
122 N. Highway B-288
Clute, Brazoria County
Lynch, Reding, Irby 3 Savanna Blue -
C. L. Reding Two Rivers Poetry -
G. M. Irby published poetry -
M. Hunter Long Shadows -
“He described the deer, the foxes, bears, owls, and the other wild life, the spring water they used to keep food cool ... and the beautiful music they heard [on the radio] performed by the Cleveland Orchestra. ”