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Across the Fence was a weekly feature from the Hamilton Herald News written by Arvord Abernethy. This is a compilation of several Christmas pieces by Abernethy. — DH

Hello! Remember last week I was telling you about how some of our people remembered their Christmases in the years past? Let me tell you a little more today.

I wondered how Christmas was celebrated out Indian Gap way, so I called Lester Roberts who spent most of his boyhood days out there. He reported that their celebrations were very similar to other communities.

The school would have one of the best cedar trees that they could find and have it all dressed up with popcorn garlands and candles. There would be the program given to a room full of proud and gloating parents. Now the recitation given by some timid little boy might have been so low one could hardly hear it, and some girl would come out, stand as stiff as a poker and speak so fast you couldn’t get all the words, yet it was a “real good” program.

Lester’s fondest memories were centered on the home. As a youngster they would hang their stockings on the foot of the bed. There was the thrill of jumping out of bed and exploring the gifts, fruit and candy that were in the stocking. As the boys grew taller and their stocking got shorter, Mrs. Roberts would always have a little box of presents beside the bed on Christmas morning for each one as long as they were at home.

Lester told of the first year that he had gone off to college. They had driven late Christmas Eve night from Texas Tech. It was real cold so he jumped right into bed. When he awoke the next morning and looked beside the bed there was not the usual Christmas box, and he couldn’t keep from having a small feeling of disappointment. He then realized he was not a littler boy any more.

The Christmas season has always meant much to the German people and the Lutheran Church. To get some memories of their Christmases, I talked to Martin Schrank and Mrs. Ermin Bottlinger.

Mrs. Bottlinger remembers when they would have three days of celebration and worship at the church. The Christmas tree program would always be held on Christmas Eve night. There would be the program given by the children. The little girls all dressed up in their nicest dresses with braided pigtails crowning their heads. The boys would be in their knee length knickers, often straight legged and supported by colorful suspenders. And the boys often wore bow ties.

There was also group singing, and of course it always included Stille Nacht, which we know as Silent Night. This favorite of all favorite carols is one of the many contributions the German people have given to our world of music.

After the program and gifts and bags of fruit and candy had been given to everyone, families would return home to find that Santa had visited their home and had left toys and goodies for all the good little boys and girls.

There would be services at the church on Christmas Day and then again on the following day. All these services at the Aleman Lutheran Church were held in the German language, and continued that way until World War II. Even now the Fifth Sunday services are conducted in that language.

The Christmas Day dinner was an occasion much as most of us have, except on the big platter on the table would be a goose rather than a turkey, the turkey having served his purpose back at the Thanksgiving dinner. The goose would be so rich and fat that many other foods would have to be eaten to tone it down. One of these dished would be sweet potatoes prepared in some way.

May your memories of Christmas be very happy ones, but may this one this year be one of your brightest ones.

Shared by Roy Ables

ACROSS THE FENCE

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Across the Fence was a weekly feature from the Hamilton Herald News written by Arvord Abernethy. This is a compilation of several Christmas pieces by Abernethy. — DH

Memories are wonderful things to possess, if they are pleasant ones. It seems that the farther we travel down this life way, the more we look into our rear view mirror.

The memories of Christmas season probably stay with a person more than any others, as it was at that time of the year we would have our fondest dreams. Not only would there be thoughts of the toys we wished Santa would bring, but there would be school and church programs, and most of all a family Christmas dinner at Grandmother’s.

Some time before Christmas, out teacher would make the outlines of holly leaves and berries and Santa Clauses with her jelly pan, and we would get to color them during drawing class. We would then glue all the leaves and berries together to make a wreath to put in each of the classroom windows. The Santas found a place along the top of the blackboard.

The first Christmas tree I remember was when I was in the second grade. Out in western Oklahoma you hardly got to see a tree, much less a Christmas tree. The teachers found a dead peach tree and covered all of the limbs with cotton, and to me it was beautiful. We had drawn names in class and all of us had put in a nickel to buy the teacher a present, so the last day before the holidays was a high day in our lives.

Christmas at home was also a time of anticipation and good times. It had been a year since any of us had received a toy of any kind, so anything we received found a glad welcome. No one out there had a fireplace, as there were no trees for wood, so we would imagine that the sewing machine looked like a fireplace and would hang our stockings on it. The next morning they would be filled with an apple, an orange and candy and nuts.

One year one of my brothers received a fire truck and one of the ladders was missing. Dad suggested that Santa might have lost when he came through the yard gate. We ran out there and sure enough it was there, and the reality of a Santa was strongly fixed in our minds.

There is a lot of difference in toys then and now. A rubber ball or a top was about as mechanical as anything you got. A little red wagon would have wheels that would turn. If a girl got a doll that would close her eyes when she was laid down, she got the latest in mechanical development.

Have you noticed what kind of toys and games they are advertising this year? Many of them have little computer units in them. They say those units are about the size of your thumb nail, but can do nearly as much as a human brain can do. The units are called chips. We had chips when I was a kid, but it was something you got out in the cow pasture to burn in the stove.  Them wuz the good ole days.

My sincere wish for each of you is that you will find the true peace and joy that Christ came to bring on that first Christmas Day.

If you need something to get you into the true mood for Christmas, attend the singing of the cantata “The Glory of Christmas” at the First Baptist Church on Wednesday, December 17, and Sunday, December 21, at 7 p.m.

Over 40 adult singers from different churches are in the choir along with a children’s choir.

This is a very spirited piece of music that you will enjoy and get your Christmas off to a good start.

If you happened to look to the eastern sky after five o’clock last Tuesday evening, the fourth, you saw a sight that seldom occurs–three stars (I should say planets were real close together with the old man in the moon standing nearby.

At the top was Jupiter, the largest of the planets, large enough to swallow 1,300 earths.  Next in line was Saturn, the one that wears the hula hoops around its waist, the largest one being 170,000 miles in diameter. Next was Venus, brightest of all planets due to the reflective quality of its surface.  Since Venus was named after the goddess of love and beauty, why shouldn’t she be the brightest?

The waining moon stood nearby, but had his back turned to the beauties as though eh was a little embarrassed to be in such famous company.

Wish I had time to drop by and wish to each of you the merriest of Merry Christmases. Remember that feeling of happiness we had at Christmas time when we were kids? May you find it again this year.

We often measure the happiness of Christmas by the number of gifts we receive. Some of the dearest gifts we receive are not always wrapped in colorful paper and fancy bows which will soon be tossed in the wastebasket, but may be wrapped in a warm, friendly smile and greeting or a sincere handclasp.

A small gift you may receive, and you can also give, yet is measureless in value, will be those three little words, “I Love You”, when wrapped in the arms of the giver. Another gift suggestion: a few “Thank Yous” all wrapped and tied with sincerity will let others know of your appreciation of kindnesses and favors of the past year. It might be appropriate to wrap an “I’m sorry” in a package of love and give to someone. The joy could be boundless.

Many of you have had a cloud of sorrow to darken your blue skies during the past year, but may it have passed away to where you can feel the warmth and brightness of the Son-the Son of God, whose birthday we are celebrating.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

ACROSS THE FENCE

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Last week, November 19th, Hico, Texas said farewell to hometown hero lance corporal Shawn P. Hefner.  He died Nov. 13 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He scheduled to return to his home base at Camp Lejeune, N.C., within a week. Hefner who was a 2006 graduate of Hico High School enlisted in the Marines in 2008.

Heffener’s flagged draped coffin was returned to Waco, TX on Thursday November 19th,   The Patriot Guard Riders of North and Central Texas led the procession Waco to Hico. As the procession wound its way along Texas 6 through Valley Mills, Clifton, Meridian and Iredell citizens lined the highway many waving American flags as a sign of respect. The entire town of Hico, all 1300, lined the streets to welcome home their hero.  According to the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram Hico School Superintendent Rod Townsend even had all of the students from 3rd through 12th grades bused downtown.

“I wanted the children to see how important he was for this nation,” Townsend said. “I wanted them to have a lump in their throat, just like I did. Some things you can’t teach without seeing it. And you know what? You could have heard a pin drop in this town when those police lights came over that hill.”

This video tribute by USFallen.org shows the return of a fallen hero LCpl Shawn P. Hefner. It is about 10 minutes long but worth the time to watch.

Update: The Stephenville Empire-Tribune posted a video of the actual procession entering Hico.

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Harold Blair beside the patch machine.

Harold Blair beside the patch machine.

Originally published in the Hamilton-Herald News 19 March 2009.

Harold Blair has reopened his boot and shoe repair shop.

Harold Blair is back in business. At 90s something, he has reopened Blair’s Boot and Shoe Repair.

Blair purchased Crain’s Shoe Repair in the mid- 1980s. The business was originally operated by Robert

Verne Crain, who opened in January 1954. Crain was the father of E. C. Weathers of Hamilton, who provided a history of her father’s shop.

By January 1954, Robert Verne Crain was ready to launch out on his own in the shoe, saddle and combine canvas repair business, she wrote. “Within a 24-hour period, Mother, Daddy and I drove to Celina, purchased a shoe repair shop, loaded it on Bill Stephens’ truck and returned to Hamilton.

Crain’s Western Shop opened at 205 N. Bell, which in 1954 was the north end of the building now occupied by Floral Designs by Jill. Within a few years, the front part of that building became available, and Verne, with the help of his older brother, Edwin, rolled the shoe repair equipment on iron pipes up the street to 123 E. Henry St., which was its location when the city flooded on April 26, 1957.

On that day, Pecan Creek went on a rampage, causing an estimated half-million dollars in damage to the city’s business district. The square was submerged in water, and many stores on the north and east sides of the square had serious damage. The City Drug building had three feet of water inside when its back door disintegrated. Several cars from Paul Gilliam’s Used Car lot on North Rice were washed away. Gerald’s Feed Store, which had folding doors across the front and back, flooded throughout, damaging almost all of their inventory.

Next door was the shoe repair shop. “I was a senior at Mary Hardin-Baylor College in Belton… we spent the evening in the darkened first floor parlor of our dorm”, Weathers wrote. “Occasionally when electricity came on, we heard about floods throughout Central Texas.” Weathers said she wasn’t concerned when news was broadcast about floods in Hamilton, because she was sure that her parents were either at their farm at Blue Ridge or at the home on West Grogan Street. But they were not. They rode out the storm from their shop.

“I will never know why Daddy had sandbags in his shop, but he did,” Weathers wrote. The Crains sandbagged the front door, which was slanted across the southeast corner of the building, reducing the force of the water and preventing their building from being flooded.

Mrs. Jewel Workman Hughes Parrish purchased the building in 1958, and the Crains moved their shop across the street to 210 N. Bell, a building that had only a dirt floor, and later to 206 N. Bell, its final location.

Illness caused Verne to close the store in 1974, but Ray Weathers, Elreeta’s husband, reopened in 1975 and operated the business for 10 more years. He sold all of the shoe repair equipment, supplies and furniture to Blair in 1986.

Blair will be open 9 a.m. to noon and 2-6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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It is my conclusion that the Atkinson Hotel was originally called the Misener Commercial Hotel, because:

  1. Chester Clay Atkinson died in December, 1956. According to his obituary from a Hamilton newspaper, the Atkinsons sold their hotel to First Baptist Church in August, 1955.
  2. The obituary says that the Atkinsons bought the “Hamilton Hotel” in 1925. The 1934 article said that they “built up an attractive and superior small hotel patronage” rather than saying that they erected the building in which the hotel was located.
  3. Edwin Ruthvin Misener moved to Dallas in 1922.
  4. When Edwin Ruthvin and Sarah E. Misener celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in 1911–they lived on South Bell
  5. The shape of the roof, location of chimneys, second-floor railings, and 2nd floor windows and door are too similar for it not to be the same building.
    The Atkinson Hotel after it had been purchased by First Baptist Church in 1955.

    The Atkinson Hotel after it had been purchased by First Baptist Church in 1955.

    The Misener Commercial Hotel c. 1900-1922

    The Misener Commercial Hotel c. 1900-1922.

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An historical marker will be unveiled and dedicated on Sunday, April 19, at 2 p.m. at the home built by Col. George R. Freeman on the corner of Main and College streets–immediately west of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Hamilton.

The marker will commemorate the builder of the house, Col. George R. Freeman (1830-1910), who was a Confederate officer during the Civil War.

The Texas Historical Commission places historical markers and designations as tools to be used to interpret, promote and protect historic and cultural resources that are worthy of preservation.

On June 11, 1865, in Austin, Col. Freeman interrupted the robbery of the Texas State Treasury preventing bankruptcy of Texas.

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Blue Ridge Church with the Tabernacle to the left.

Blue Ridge Church with the Tabernacle to the left.

Annual Blue Ridge Homecoming & Blue Ridge Cemetery Association Meeting will be next Saturday, April 18, 2009. Business meeting will begin at 10:30 a.m and will be followed with a picnic lunch, visiting, and cemetery decorating. Any donations for upkeep would be greatly appreciated. If you are interested in donating leave a comment and we will email more info to you.

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