Housenfluck
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A HISTORY OF THE THOMAS HAROLD HOUSENFLUCK, SR. FAMILY

By. Mrs. Martha Housenfluck

Tom and Florence Housenfluck, with their two little boys, Thomas and James, came to Nederland in 1928. They moved here from Beaumont because Mr. Housenfluck had accepted a position with the Lower Neches River Valley Authority to have charge of the fresh water canals from Spindletop to Taylor's Bayou, supervising the maintenance of the canals and locks and seeing that the cities and refineries of Mid-Jefferson and South Jefferson County got the water that they were supposed to receive.

The Housenfluck family bought a house at 741 Mena Street (now a vacant lot of the First United Methodist Church at 204 Thirteenth) from the Methodist Church. The house, one of the oldest in Nederland, was thought to have been built by J. W. Barr, the father of Alvin Barr. It was a rent house for several years until it was bought by the church in 1910 as its first church-owned parsonage. When a new parsonage was built across the street, the house was sold to the Housenflucks. The church trustees who signed the deed were J. Berthold Cooke, Dr. J. H. Haizlip, and Con D. Wagner. The house, which had again become church property, was torn down in the mid-1980s, and the lot is now used as a playground for the young children in the church's nursery programs.

Thomas Housenfluck, Sr., was born in Warren County, Virginia, on August 11, 1877, the eleventh child of James Jacob Housenfluck and Annie Elizabeth Rosenberg. The family moved to Texas when he was a small child and settled in the Georgetown area, south of Austin. When he was a very young man, he enlisted in the U. S. Army during the Spanish-American War. His services were quite brief as the war only lasted four months. His parents had given him the middle name of Tucker, but he never did like it because other children called him "Little Tommy Tucker," and when he was grown, he changed his middle name to Harold. His military records, however, still carry his name as Thomas Tucker.

He moved to Beaumont from Georgetown, and later he met and married Florence Emma Reid. He was working as a detective for the Beaumont Police Department at the time, and she worked for Rosenthals's Department Store on Pearl Street. During the 1920s, Rosenthal's was one of the three most important clothing and department stores in Beaumont.

Florence was born in Anderson, Grimes County, Texas, on October 12, 1893, the daughter of James E. Malcom Reid and Martha Evelyn Kendall. Her family moved to Beaumont by train when she was about ten years old. She always recalled that it was her responsibility to hold the large bowl of gold fish on her lap, and she had trouble keeping the water - as well as the gold fish - from sloshing out on the rough train ride from Navasota.

Tom and Florence lived on Magnolia Street in Beaumont, and both of their boys were born in that house, which is still standing not far from the Magnolia Cemetery. Thomas Harold, Jr. was born in 1919 and James Jacob in 1923.

When they first moved to Nederland, the water supply came from two cisterns and a deep well in the back yard. The water from one of the cisterns was piped into the bath room. The other plumbing was a "little house out back." The home was first heated by coal stoves, and later they had gas piped into their home. Their telephone number was 34W.

They kept a cow as nearly all the early Nederland families did, and Tom had a garden out on the canal banks. Sometimes he also kept pigs down near the canals, and he butchered them and cured the meat on his back porch.

Tom liked to hunt and fish, and usually he kept bird dogs. One of his frequent hunting partners was his neighbor, the Methodist minister Rev. J. L. Ross. He also liked to play dominoes, most often with J. L. Black and J. B. Cooke. Most of all, he enjoyed his family, and he kept up with his many aunts, uncles, and cousins who lived near Georgetown. Much later, when both of his sons were in military service during World War II, Thomas in the U. S. Naval Submarine Service and James in the Air Force, he was very proud of them and like to talk about the war news and their participation in it.

He became ill during the early 1940s and was diagnosed as having cancer of the larnyx. He grew progressively worse, despite having had his larnyx removed, and he was in and out of veterans' hospitals until he died on November 9, 1948. He is buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont.

Florence, who was a wonderful cook and homemaker, made her home into two apartments after she became a widow, and she managed very well until she had a stroke late in 1951. She was in a nursing home in Beaumont for two and one-half years until her death on April 15, 1954. She is buried beside her husband in Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont.

A HISTORY OF THE THOMAS

HAROLD HOUSENFLUCK, JR.

By Mrs. Martha Housenfluck

Thomas Harold Housenfluck, Jr., was born on April 6, 1919, in the family home on Magnolia Street in Beaumont. His first school years were at the old Junker School in Beaumont. After the family moved to Nederland in 1928, Tom attended for the remainder of his school years the "old high school," located on the present YMCA property at South Twelfth Street and Avenue A.

As a small boy in Nederland, his assigned chores included staking out the family milk cow on nearby vacant lots (most often somewhere on the Methodist Church property), milking the cow, delivering milk in the area around his house, and picking and selling figs.

When he was a little older, his first paid job was with Mr. Edmund Dohmann, helping to unload coal from a railroad car and into Mr. Dohmann's truck, after which it was delivered to homes around town. He also helped Mr. Dohmann move furniture in his truck, the only "moving service" that Nederland had in those days before World War II. One summer he worked moving dirt with a big scoop drawn by mules when the Memorial Highway, the "new highway" between Beaumont and Port Arthur, was built in 1938. He also worked as a helper for Frank Slaughter, a local brick mason, who lived next door to the Housenflucks. Like so many other high school boys, he worked as a car hop for Nederland Pharmacy, and later was promoted to "soda jerk;" and he also delivered the Beaumont Enterprise to Beauxart Gardens, riding all the way, regardless of the weather, on his bicycle.

He also found time for Boy Scouting and enjoyed many activities and camping trips to Camp Bill Stark on Cow Creek with Scoutmaster Jack Fortenberry, Assistant Scoutmaster "Coach' Johnny Konecny, and the other boys.

Tommy graduated from Nederland High School in 1937, and then went to Chenier's Business College in Beaumont, taking a course in radio. (It was around that time that he became involved in his lifelong hobby of amateur radio, he, Jim Radford, and W. T. Block being the first three ham radio operators in Nederland.) Later he operated a small radio repair shop in a building attached to the family garage.

In 1939, he joined the United States Navy, and after boot camp in San Diego, he was accepted into the submarine service. He was assigned to the submarine, Norwhal, and he advanced through the radioman ranks.

On December 7, 1941, he was stationed aboard the Narwhal at Pearl Harbor on the Sunday morning of the Japanese attack. He had duty that weekend, and he was on deck and saw the first Japanese planes fly over on their way to the battleships, which were directly beyond the submarine base. Later that busy morning, while he was engaged in delivering a radio message to the Officer of the Day on the bridge, he saw the battleship Arizona blown up.

He also served on the submarines S-28, Gunard, and Hardhead. Except for one tour of duty in the Atlantic and the North Sea off the coast of Scotland (where he was the coldest he has ever been), all of his wartime activities were confined to the South Pacific area.

At the end of the war, he was in Tokyo Bay on the submarine-tender Proteus when the Japanese surrender was signed, thus being present at both the beginning and end of World War II (the American part).

After his discharge near the end of 1945, he went to work at radio station KRIC in Beaumont as an engineer.

There he met Martha Ann Swafford, who had come to Beaumont to teach school in 1941, and then went to work for the radio station when so many men going into the military services opened up new opportunities for women. She was continuity editor, and she also had a full shift as announcer until the war was over and men began returning home. A native of Rockdale, Texas, Martha was the daughter of Dr. Edward A. Swafford, for many years the town's only dentist, and his wife, Locha Sutphen Swafford.

Tommy and Martha were married on July 12, 1947, and they moved into an older home in Wagner Addition in Nederland. Martha worked at the radio station until their daughter, Florence Anne,was born on September 30, 1948. At that time Tommy had a radio shop on Boston Street in downtown Nederland.

In October, 1950, a few months after the start of the Korean War, Tommy, who had been in the Naval Reserve, was recalled to duty in the submarine service.

He was assigned to the submarine Segundo, then in San Diego harbor, and was given temporary additional duty and assigned to the submarine-tender Sperry to teach radio school for the remainder of the Korean War. Later Martha and Anne joined him and they stayed in San Diego until his discharge in 1952.

An interesting thinhg happened early in his time in San Diego. Tommy had been active in the Junior Chamber of Commerce in Nederland, and they wanted to present him with the Outstanding Young Man award at the banquet in January, 1951. Since Tommy could not get leave to go home for the banquet, the Nederland Jaycees and the San Diego Jaycees arranged for a telephone hookup. At the banquet in Nederland at Tom and Skeeter's dining room, Clark A. Matthews made the presentation speech over the telephone, and Tommy, in his Navy dress uniform and with about fifteen San Diego Jaycees and his wife and daughter present, listened in by telephone and accepted the award.

His discharge at the end of the Korean War meant starting all over again, and he went to work for the Gulf Refining Company (now Chevron) in Port Arthur in the Light Oil Department in October, 1952.

In July, 1954, they moved into their present home at 2112 Gary Avenue in Nederland. Their son, Thomas Edward, was born on December 4, 1954.

Their next two decades were spent being busily involved with school activities, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, Methodist Church, shift work at his plant, etc. Even in those busy times, Tommy and Martha always managed to get away together each fall for their annual deer hunt.

Martha had several part-time jobs during those years. She was the first secretary for the Nederland First United Methodist Church. She also worked at the Midcounty Review newspaper and at the KPNG radio station in Port Neches. She was also involved with the Nederland Windmill Museum, was in the small group that began Nederland's participation in the Texas Folklife Festival in San Antonio, and she helped put together the 1973 and 1986 Nederland history books.

At the end of 1981, Tommy retired from Gulf Oil (which had just become Chevron). He and Martha enjoy their retirement, traveling to Submarine Veterans conventions, Pear Harbor Survivors, and amateur radio conventions, and other trips, hunting and fishing, and being with their children and grandchildren.

Their daughter, Anne, is married to Daniel Surovik, a banker and farmer in Bellville, Texas. They have a fourteen-year-old son, Darren. Anne works as a Respiratory Therapist.

Son Ted lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife Dianne (Matta) and five-year-old daughter, Casey. After ten years as a Boy Scout executive, he has recently become associated with Standard Life Insurance Company.

Jim (James Jacob) Housenfluck, Tommy's brother, made a career of the Air Force, and since retiring from that branch of military service, he has made his home in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Copyright 1998-2016 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
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