Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Texas Tourist Camp Complex


The Petrified Wood Gas Station holds a place in the pantheon of Texas roadside attractions.  It's got the triple threat pedigree that we are always on the lookout for:  Science, History and Culture.  We'll start, as we frequently do, with the historical marker:


     "Local businessman E. F. Boydston (1888-1945) purchased this site, a former feed lot, in 1927 for $400. Recognizing a potential business opportunity in offering services to the traveling public, he built a wooden shed and gas station in 1927. Travelers were allowed to build campfires during overnight stays, and by 1931 Boydston added three wooden cabins with garages to the camp complex. The buildings later were faced with rock, and more cabins and garages were added in 1935. The original wooden gas station was covered with petrified wood in 1935 when the highway was widened and remained in operation by the Boydston family until 1988.
     The Texas Lunchroom, a one-room frame building, was built in 1929. Renamed the Texas Cafe in 1935 and faced with stone to match other buildings in the complex, it was enlarged to provide second-floor living quarters. Popular with local high school and college students, as well as families and the traveling public, it was closed in the 1960s after a highway bypass built west of town diverted traffic from this area. The cafe reopened in 1993. One of the few intact examples of tourist camps built throughout Texas in the mid-20th century, this property is significant for its association with the early development of automobile tourism."

 And we move on, as we frequently do, to the video.  Devin explains the awesomeness of this location:



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Iron Works BBQ

A barbecue themed blog entry is long overdue so I hope you brought your appetites for today's installment of the blog.


Iron Works BBQ is in downtown Austin and serves up heaping plates of smoked goodness with a side of history. The restaurant's site was the location for an actual family run iron works.

Their historical marker reads:

"Ironsmith Fortunat Weigl (1884-1973) migrated to Austin in 1913 from Germany with his wife Anna and sons F. Lee and Herbert. Work was scarce until 1917, when Weigl was commissioned by the noted local woodcarver Peter Mansbendel, who supplied a forge and tools. In 1922 Weigl established his own ornamental iron works, which he moved to this site in 1935. With the help of his sons, he produced original works, entirely hand wrought, for many significant Austin homes, the State Capitol, and buildings of the Universities of Texas and Texas A & M. His firm remained in operation until 1977."


So grab some lunch on your next history hunt. And if you need more convincing I'll leave you with this shot:



Sunday, April 2, 2017

J.D. Tippit

If you are familiar with the circumstances around the JFK assassination you're probably aware of the role that DPD police officer J.D. Tippit played.  Unfortunately he was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin was fleeing.

It took almost fifty years but this unsung hero was finally awarded a Texas Historical Marker to his honor.  It was placed at the location of his death and is easily missed if you're not looking for it:


The loss of Officer Tippit came at a time of national mourning for the country so his sacrifice is too often overlooked.  Thankfully, the marker had been refurbished and still looks like it's brand new.  Here's the close up:


 It reads:

     "On November 22, 1963, at this intersection, Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit was murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald, 45 minutes after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza. After the assassination, Oswald fled to his rooming house in Oak Cliff, in a neighborhood where Officer Tippit was assigned. While on patrol and traveling east on 10th St., having just crossed Patton St., Tippit stopped Oswald, who was walking on the sidewalk. After a brief conversation with him through the passenger window, Tippit exited his police car, at which time Oswald fired three shots across the hood, striking Tippit as he pulled his gun. Oswald then came around the rear of the car and fired a fourth shot. Oswald left the area. Temple Bowley, a citizen, stopped and used Tippit's radio to call for help. Officer Tippit was taken to Methodist Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. 
     Oswald appeared at Hardy's Shoe Store shortly after manager Johnny C. Brewer heard a radio broadcast that a police officer had been shot and killed nearby. Brewer followed Oswald to the Texas Theater, where employee Julia Postal called police due to Brewer's suspicion. There, Oswald attempted to shoot arresting officer M.N. McDonald. 
     Tippit, who left behind a wife and three children, is buried at Laurel Land Memorial Park. In 1964, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Valor from the National Police Hall of Fame, the Police Medal of Honor, the Police Cross, and the Citizens Traffic Commission Award of Heroism. Although the intersection of 10th and Patton Streets has changed, Officer Tippit's actions and subsequent murder at this site are remembered for setting into motion a series of events that led directly to Oswald's arrest."

Due to grandparents with a great sense of historical preservation, I'm happy to own the 11/23/63 issue of the Dallas Times Herald.  Here's a look at the article/obituary for Tippit that was published that day after his death:


Sunday, January 29, 2017

C.S.A Leather Factories


 While passing through Gilmer, TX on recent trip from one place to another, I stopped in the downtown square to snap some pictures.  Like many small Texas towns, the downtown area is packed with historical markers.  The last one I was able to nab (photographically) was for a building that was a shoe factory that made leather boots for the Confederate Army during the Civil War:


The marker reads:

     "On this site during the Civil War, a shoe factory converted leather into footgear for the Confederate Army.
     A harness factory nearby made bridles and saddles and also leather lines and breechings that hitched horses and mules to gun carriages, wagons and ambulances, to move armies through campaigns and battles. 
     Leather was obtained from a local tanyard that treated over 2,000 hides a year. East Texas plants furnished the South 900 sets of harness and 300 saddles monthly during the war."

 But leather, schmeather...I was hungry.  Luckily the building currently houses Hadden's Sandwich Shop and it's got several of my favorite things inside: old school Texas antiques, Star Wars memorabilia, and sandwiches!


In case you were wondering if the mention of Star Wars above was just a typo, I can assure you it is not.  For some reason there is a tribute to the famous film franchise among the cases of antiques and East Texas memorabilia:


There is another case with Star Wars action figures for sale as well.  Why the seemingly out of place tribute to the sci-fi staple?  I have no idea.  But I like that it adds an air of mystery to the place.  It's there for a reason but I don't necessarily need to know why.  Another highlight is the "Wall of Fame":


Lots of places have similar walls and the best places have walls in which almost none of the pictures are of people that you would recognize.  This wall definitely comes through on that point.  I want to say that one of them is a magician, maybe?  But enough talk, let's eat!


They have a very extensive menu but I gave my attention to the sandwich section.  After all, this is a sandwich shop.  So I picked one of my favorites: the muffuletta.  A good muffuletta is all about the olives.  There are several different tactics: you can mash them into a mush or dice them or slice them.  These were sliced and had great flavor.  Merging with the cheese a meat, a new "sauce" was created which makes this sandwich much more than the sum of its parts.

It was an odd hour for eating and I was in a rush so I only got a half sandwich which is normally not enough for me to write a review but this pace made such a good impression on me that I wanted to get it out there.  I look forward to returning many times in the future to work my way through the rest of the sandwich menu.