Saturday, November 9, 2019

1978 Historical "Eyesore" article is Proof Positive that C.o.B. Repeats Mistakes

Here's a treat from the Brownsville Herald archives our friend Juan Montoya (Rrun Rrun) wrote in 1978 when he was pulling double-duty as writer and photographer for the local newspaper.  The most earnest / curious researcher might tell us more about who built the house and other fun-facts if they might be so inclined.  I spent some time on it by adding a few tidbits of of related items after the article.  That's all I'm going to do for now but will repost if I ever decide to update this post.

Location of house shown in red in this overview merged from several digitized Sanborn Maps (1930-1949)

c1949 E Adams & 7th St

Who was George Willman?  Click THIS and find out!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

A. Rogers Photography Studio - Brownsville, Texas

The name Robert Runyon is associated with photographs of Brownsville, Texas and surrounding cities of the Rio Grande Valley during the early 1900’s into the 1920’s.  There were others but they are not as well remembered since much of their work has lost to time.  A fraction of Runyon’s work  survived but has been an invaluable resource to preservationists and historians.  They give a glimpse of a prosperous Brownsville experiencing an economic boom of expansion and development of businesses.  Robert Runyon eventually gave up his successful career as a photographer to devote more time to his interest of botany and local politics.  The 1930s would herald a new generation of photographers who adapted to new technologies specifically developed to ensure that the record of their work would have a better chance of survival.
The era from the 1930s to early 1960s was filled by a few photographers and as of this writing, there is no living person who can name who they were and worse yet, what happened to all the photographs they took.  This article will examine the work of one who up to today, was only known as “A. Rogers.” Manuel J. Morales, a contemporary of Robert Runyon, was still in business by 1950 but much of his work has been lost or stored away in private collections which may perhaps never be seen by the public.  Photographers still in operation by 1950 were:  Rogers Studio, Burgess Studio, Holm Studio, K. Welch Studio, Alex Studio and Morales Studio.  Old family portraits from the era might have a stamp on the backs of old photos to identify where they were made.

Bronsbil Estacion was shown a collection of 4” x 5” film negatives which were found by a collector in Austin, Texas when she made a chance visit to a storage business which was selling off items stored away by customers who forfeited their possessions by not paying overdue rental charges.  We’ll take a brief look at who A. Pat Rogers was with future articles about the subjects of his work taken from the collection which, for now, we’re calling the Brownsville Treasure Collection of Photographs from the A. Rogers Studio (late 1940s- early 1950’s).

Waldron, Arkansas was the birthplace of A. “Pat” Rogers in either 1902 or 1904.  He took an interest in photography at an early age and gained ten years of commercial experience in Greenville and Dallas before arriving in Brownsville, Texas to start on his own in 1931.  It took him a month to scout the lower Rio Grande area before deciding on Brownsville and opened a studio on the second floor of the Putegnat Building (1140 ½ ) E Elizabeth St.  While portrait photography was the mainstay of his business, he also offered services in commercial photography, photo restoration, aerial photography and expanded his talents as he adapted to newer technologies over time such as motion pictures.  In 1935 he was credited with having filmed the “Tarpon Rodeo and the Brownsville shots of Flying the Lindbergh Trail for Pan-American.” 

Rogers was civically active in the community as a member of the Methodist Church and local Lions Club.  He enjoyed hunting and fishing in Mexico with his best friend Bob Burns who was also from Arkansas.  He and his wife had one child; a daughter.  He quickly adapted to advances in photography and joined the boards of the Southwestern and Texas Professional Photographers Association as an advisory member and was elected as vice-president that same year for the states organization based in Fort Worth.  By 1940 he relocated to E Levee St and expanded his services to include blueprinting and selling of photo supplies to amateur photographers.  By 1942 he became president of the Texas Professional Photographers Association and was also a member of the Civil Air Patrol, having learned to fly under the instruction of Les Mauldin who we know built the first municipal airport and private landing field in Brownsville, Texas.  By 1945 he purchased a building at 1336 E Elizabeth St and used it to open a music store.  Out of his own studio, Rogers offered to produce sound recordings on phonograph records for his customers by late 1946 and by 1948, the studio was serviced by John H. and Earl Hunter, names synonymous with air conditioning.  Next door to the music business he had a new building erected to lease office space on the second floor and house a men’s clothing store on the first floor.  Many new downtown buildings came about during this era after building restrictions were lifted following World War II.  By 1957 he discontinued the portrait department and added the sales of greeting cards and small electronics.  Selling cameras and supplying materials to the growing number of amateur photographers sustained his business while the demand for portrait photography was met by other local photographers.  His professional staff was invaluable to him and able to continue the business a few years after his sudden death in October of 1963.

This brief overview covers what we need to know about A Rogers Studio for the time being.  Future posts will focus on his work and include additional details about the times and brief histories about the businesses which will include H-E-B downtown, Fisher’s CafĂ©, Cisneros Rocket service station No.5 on West Elizabeth St, to name a few.  The majority of the source information was derived from (you can gain free access from your local library), Brownsville Historical Association archives, Ebay  and the “Brownsville Treasure” collection which includes some aerials, commercial photographs of businesses and street scenes from 1948 to the mid-1950s.  We are eternally grateful to Nora Vasquez of Junk –N- Treasure antique store in Brownsville, Texas for rescuing these precious images.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

1953 - Brownsville Compress and 421 neighborhood

 The following aerial photos were taken by Rogers Studio in 1953.  Most were scanned from 4x5 negative film with the exception of one which was scanned from a photograph.  The negatives were scanned in 2014.  A method had to be devised to digitally develop them by scanning them in sections and assembling the sections using a basic Photoshop Essentials program.  There may be some scan lines (note red arrows) but anyone can download these photos and produce a pretty clear 8x10 or 11x17 print from these.

 Scanned from photograph

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

1951 Rio Court 781 Central Blvd. Brownsville, Texas

actually it was W Jefferson.  Thanks Brownsville Stationer Pricilla Abbott

 oops ...  year is actually 1951

Saturday, August 17, 2019

1960-61 Service with a Smile

With a heartfelt thanks to contributors of Brownsville Station Facebook page.

 While searching the Brownsville Public Library’s online “Access” newspaper archive Brownsville Station stumbled upon what might be a treat for those of us with long-time family ties to Brownsville, Texas.   In 1961  “Four Corners” was considered the outskirts of town which you would pass by if on your way to the municipal airport, Boca Chica beach, the Port of Brownsville or Padre Island.  El Centro Supermarket was closer than the H-E-B on Boca Chica Blvd and Paredes Line Rd.  There may be a small snippet of personal history to discover on the full-page ad published by El Centro Supermarket thank its employees for their courteous service to the community.   Add to that a long list of names to fit on the (perhaps) pseudo list of “Courtesy Club Charter Members” we’ll thank the Brownsville Herald for compiling the list for us to enjoy nearly sixty-years later.  The truly earnest person might find a recognizable name in these lists.  If not, enjoy some of the previously published photographs seen on the Brownsville Station Facebook page taken from (mostly) 1960-61 school annual ad sections and others from contributors to the page.  

 Ninfa Guzman Cavasos - Fisher's Cafe employee in downtown H-E-B parking lot.  Photo by Del Kuebke.
Ninfa Guzman Cavasos - Fishers Cafe - shared by Cyndi Benavides

Sam Perl was also known as Mr Brownsville.  Bill King was the son of William Abraham "Snake" King who wrote Rattling Yours about Snakeville wild animal farm in Brownsville, Texas.

 Downtown H-E-B image courtesy of Nora Vasquez at Junk N Treasure 
 Is this the famous Vermillion's Dan Davidson before the beard??

  Photo courtesy of Junie Mauldin - colorized by Brownsville Station.