MEMOIRS OF SAMMIE (MRS. EWELL E.) QUARLES
A Compact Disc Recorded By Bill Quick at 1232 Boston on April 29, 1990
I go to the Seventh Street Baptist Church. My church group is small, but good, only seven in my Sunday School class. I came from old pioneer families of Orange, Texas -- the Harris, Smith and Delano families. My father was Will Harris - the Harris family came to Orange in 1856. My mother was Tessie Smith. (Ed.'s Note: It is unclear exactly which Harris family Mrs. Quarles meant, but he presumes the V. N. Harris family. According to the 1860 Orange County census, there were three Harris families living there, all of them farmers, and perhaps kin, perhaps no relation at all to each other, namely: Res. 139, Anthony Harris, age 45, born in Louisiana; Res. 140, Travis Harris, aer 49, born in South Carolina; and Res. 181, Victor N. Harris, age 58, born in Tennessee. V. N. Harris had close family ties with the Delano families. A. P. Harris, son of Anthony, was founder-editor of the Orange Tribune in 1875--W. T. Block)
My husband, Mr. Quarles, was from Louisiana. Both of our families had been in Orange for a long time. I attended the old Curtis School there. We were married in 1926. Mr. Quarles at that time was an insurance agent. Quarles left Orange in 1929 and went to work for Pure Oil Company (Unocal). We moved first to Port Neches and then to Nederland. My first two children were born in Orange. In Port Neches, we lived across from Dr. J. L. Chiasson at the intersection of Dearing and Avenue C. In Nederland we moved first to Jim Goodwin's rent house (320 15th). We first moved into our present home 53 years ago (1936).
Our house was one of two buildings built here by Coryell Freeman -- built to be a saloon, but Nederland went dry. The buildings were sold to the Peveto (First) Baptist Church. They had moved both houses from the corner lot, and when we moved here, they were already building the big, two-story, wooden white church. We attended the First (Peveto) Baptist Church back then.
Nederland was first incorporated in 1940. The streets were shelled, and were pretty bad, just wide enough for two cars to pass. There were deep ditches in front here, with a wooden bridge across the ditch. We had plants, called elephant ears, with big, wide leaves growing in front. In back was an outside toilet. (W. N.) Carrington put in a water systen then (1938). Later we had a ceptic tank for sewerage, and then after 1940, we hooked on to the city sewer lines. Ollie Lee was the city marshal in those days - we didn't really need any police. Our children all graduated from Nederland High School.
My husband (Ewell Edward Quarles) died seven years ago (in June, 1984). My son died in 1962 - 28 years ago. Our oldest daughter is a teacher in Austin. My youngest son is a school principal in Orangefield. There were no buildings this side of the street in this block except my home and the old (M. W.) Oakley Hotel. Across the street were the Rackley Cleaners and the Jack Fortenberry home. In the next block (at 1304 Boston) was the George Yentzen home. Yentzen was still baking bread here then, across the street (1203 Boston) in the old First National Bank building. Evelyn Mullins on Avenue H is George Yentzen's niece. The first bank here back in 1902 - the building, that is - is where he baked his bread. Then the second bank here (Nederland State Bank - now NCNB at 1304 Boston) was built across the street from me, where the fish store now is.
I always had my own car. We banked at first in Port Neches in those days. I bought my car in 1937. I remember the Ingwersen family, the Merediths, the Stickers (all of whom were Baptist).
She then spoke of her children - Elsie born in Orange; Sammie born in Warren. I had an uncle living in Warren then. She remembered the local political speeches, particularly before World War II - they used to speak in the street in front of her house. Candidates mostly were local or county. And there was lots of football rivalry in those days too.
I remember the picture shows (movies) here at night. Rats all over the place. Our oldest daughter said they ran all over the floor. Once she was so frightened by them that she froze up in her seat, and we couldn't get her to come home. Nolia Barnett could tell you all about that. Dr. Haizlip was the doctor here then. When the kids started to school, it was in a wooden building. The old Langham School was here then. The new Langham School on Helena had not been built yet (built in 1940). (Ed.'s Note: Mrs. Quarles must mean a wooden building on the Langham campus. The writer went to school at the high school on South 12th in 1936, but cannot recall any wooden building there.)
We had no telephone at first. Our first number was 375. You had to get operator assistance in those days -- the operator manually connected one phone to another with a plug at a switchboard. Mrs. (R. L.) Jones and Mrs. (Emily) Wallace ran the telephone office in those days in a house that once stood on the side of the Davis (Schroeter) Funeral Home (actually at 403 Twelfth, now a vacant lot). Our oldest daughter worked there. My daughter has a 1926 paper showing Nederland Pharmacy when Gussie Collins first started to work there. Gussie (Augusta Collins Bly) wasn't but twenty years old then. I used to stand there on that corner and watch the cars passing on Twin City.
The old Andrew Johnson home used to be at the deadend on Boston - it had to be torn down in order to extend the street to Seventeenth. There weren't many airplanes when I first came here. (Ed.'s Note: Dr. B. H. Hall, the dentist, bought one of the first airplanes in Midcounty about 1937 and learned to fly it. His plane became a common sight, circling above Nederland, at that time, yet so far no one has mentioned that in his/her memoirs.)
There were lots of church revivals. The Baptists built their parsonage on the vacant property behind the bank - that is, Loveless Theriot built his home there, and later sold it to the Baptists for their parsonage. We lived in Jim Goodfwin's house then, near the Kaper and Ingwersen homes. Crissy Kaper was still single then - that was before she married Bevis Newton. I remember the (E. E.) May home on (520) 15th before it was torn down. I remember when my children all had whooping cough - I had six children. Dr. Hines would come out then to make house calls. He had his office in back of the pharmacy. Dr. Hall (B. H., the dentist mentioned earlier) had his office there (1120 Boston) too. There were no lawyers in Nederland then. I had no time to belong to clubs or such. There used to be the Kimler Grocery (1204 Boston) then, before Albert and Dick (Rienstra) opened the Roger-Byron Dry Goods Store.
Bill Quick asked about her canning food. Yes, I still can my mayhaw jelly. You used to could pick blackberries all over Nederland. My husband used to keep bees too. One, a queen bee, went up a gutter pipe into the new Baptist Church alongside my house. Later, when they tore down that church, it still had a big hive of bees in it. I've lived to see four different post offices in Nederland, first the old wooden building that for a time became the city hall after it was moved to 13th Street, then the brick building that replaced it at 1144 Boston, then Dick Rienstra's building between the furniture store and the bank (1220 Boston), and the present building at 223 Fourteenth. I have had old post office box 88 here for all these years. (Ed.'s Note: During my 25 years as acting postmaster and assistant postmaster, I worked in three of those buildings. Other post office sites were in Nederland Pharmacy, 1906-1918, when C. X. Johnson was postmaster and druggist; at 1155 Boston in the old wooden, two-story Wagner building (later Gardner), 1918-1921, when Klaas Koelemay was postmaster; at 123 Twin City and 1148 Boston, 1921-1932, when Johnny Ware was postmaster and where he burned out twice; and in the old King Mercantile Company, in the middle of the odd side of Boston, around 1901-1902. There is a space in there between 1903 and 1906 when I don't know where the post office was located-W. T. Block, ed.)
We bought groceries at McNeill's. Bill Haizlip and his brother had a grocery too (Neches Company at 1152 Boston). We got gasoline across from Nederland Pharmacy (Albert Rienstra, later Goody Griffin's Texaco station, in a wooden building, cater-cornered across the lot, its front facing the depot). I didn't drive back then. I had the Cub Scout pack here for 13 1/2 years. Every kid in Nederland was in my pack. The kids got their hamburgers for 5 and 10 cents over at the Home Sweet Shop (operated by Matt Giebelstein at 1154 Nederland Ave.), where the doughnut shop is today. It was run by the M. Giebelstein family. Their son Albert was in my pack. Their oldest daughter (Caroline) married (F. A.) Peveto.
Could not remember any high water in Nederland. (Ed.'s Note: The editor in 1936 recalls riding a horse on what is now South 1st, 1 1/2, and 2nd Streets in water so deep that it came up to the horse's stirrups, caused by a 14 inch rain, poor drainage, and low land up against the old abandoned rice canal levees.) I evacuated my home once during a storm (Carla in 1961). We lost power lots of times during severe thunder storms and high winds. I remember a lot of the old-time school teachers -- Misses Ruth Hansbro, Anna Rienstra, Mollie Williams, and Mrs. Emma Risinger, who roomed at the Spencers. Asked by Bill about "Granny" Quarles. Yes, she had her own dairy out near the airport, bottled her own milk, and took it to town. My children helped her out whenever they could. There were a lot of dairies here then. E. T. Smith and John Henderson were on Koelemay Road (Helena at 27th). You turned right there then and the John Koelemay dairy was where Koelemay Road intersected Viterbo Road (now 27th and Canal). And the Streetmans -- Kirtis had his dairy on Wagner Road (1600 Ave. H) and his daddy (F. A.) was on Beauxart Gardens Road.
Bill Quick asked, "Do you remember the Willis family?" Yes, David Willis' dad and mom (George and Cora Willis at 820 Atlanta). Our boys were in the 4-H club with him. We had a milk cow in those days that we staked out between here and the Oakley Hotel on the corner (1204 Boston). And we had chickens in the back yard. Our youngest girl had her chickens in the 4-H club.
I remember Dr. Joe Stoelje who was here about one year in the McNeill building in 1940 before he relocated in Beaumont. And Dr. (P. T., 1946-1949) Weisback and Dr. (R. J.) Seamons (who replaced Weisbach). And being only one and a half blocks from the railroad tracks, we had to put up with a lot of loud steam whistles in those days. One long freight train came through going to Beaumont every morning at 5:00 A. M., and the engineer kept the steam whistle open for thirty minutes while he was passing through Nederland. There had been some bad and fatal train-auto wrecks, both at the S-curve and Sun Station, around 1930. You know, our kids had never ridden a train. So one day we took them to Port Arthur, put them on the train, and let them ride to Nederland.
Do you remember the justice of the peace here? Yes, it was Judge Elmer Moye, who was Eustace Moye's brother. Do you remember any celebrations? Well, they were church celebrations mostly - no parades and such. We had only one Baptist, one Methodist, and one Catholic churches in those days. (Ed.'s note: While the editor cannot speak for Nederland in the era of the late 1920s-early 1930s, Port Neches did have huge July 4th celebrations that had most of the Nederland residents in attendance. Those celebrations had no parades, but did have massive barbeques, pavillion dancing, bands, and dozens of politicians speaking, for in those days the Democratic primary was in July. Usually two beeves were barbecued on open pits about 50 feet long. My father, Will Block, furnished about 200 water melons for each event. Also Nederland, as well as the entire county, turned out in mass for a huge Red Cross picnic in Port Neches park on May 24, 1918, during World War I. See pp. 202-203, of Sapphire City of The Neches.-W. T. Block)
Don't forget the Caldwells across the street (Caldwell Sewing Center) - it started in her home first. Mrs. Caldwell taught all of my girls to sew - more than they ever learned in school. Do you still want to live in Nederland? When my husband died, I wanted to move back to Orange, but already I had been gone for more than fifty years. I changed my mind. My great great grandfather settled there in 1856, you know. One of my great great grandfathers was killed during the Civil War, and I also have a great great grandfather buried in Orange. All of them buried in Harris Cemetery. I was eleven years old there during World War I. I remember the men working in shipyards there then and wrapping their legs in newspapers to fight off the mosquitoes. I came down with the flu then (Spanish flu was endemic in the fall of 1918). There was a false alarm there about the Armistice (November 11, 1918), everybody believing it had already took place a week before it actually happened. I remember the old wooden ships being built in Orange and the old Weaver Shipyard there. (In most of the remainder of this tape, Mrs. Quarles' voice in inaudible and incomprehensible because Mr. Quick apparently held the microphone near himself and too far away from Mrs. Quarles. Later when he handed her the microphone, it was near the end of the tape and she was still talking about Orange history, not pertinent to these volumes.) The End.