Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Good Old Days

October is the “Fair” season in N. Texas, when folks gather to enjoy fairs and festivals - today’s post features an excerpt from a “History of Hagerman” written by Annette Morrison Catts, whose family lived there, and generously shared with the Friends of Hagerman NWR:

The town of Hagerman developed several fun traditions which helped its citizens bond in friendship. For one thing, the Merchants Association of Hagerman stimulated their already good business by sponsoring Trades Days. Show windows were given a special shine, and the best merchandise was displayed. A big rodeo was usually the principle feature with local boys roping and riding for prizes offered by the merchants. Also, the Woodman Hall on the second floor of the Bean Brothers General Store was the scene of community gatherings, box suppers, beauty contests, dances and programs. Another big event was Election Day, which was always a red-letter day because the people on the route always came to spend the day, shop and visit with “the folks in town.” The post office and train depot were places for daily visits as well.

It was also exciting when before the 20’s the first automobile came to town. Two gas stations sprung up in response, Otto Dutton’s and Ma & Pa Black’s, which became Moore’s Service Station. Otto also had an Auto Parts and Repair shop. But people had to learn to drive their new horseless carriages. Someone accidentally ran into the vertical pipe that made the Artesian Well flow high enough to drink from and fill a bucket. They broke it off at the ground! That pipe was never replaced. The Artesian Well had been the focal point for many community picnics on the grounds of the Cotton Gin. It makes you wonder how TV and computers could have improved on that! Former residents were coming back for water until about 2005 when it quit flowing.

And, just as the headlines report crimes and wildfires today, Morrison continues:

There were other less pleasant sources of excitement, too. In 1917 bank robbers cut all the phone lines, dynamited the bank and shot up the Hunt Smith home, escaping with $3,000. And in 1926 and 1938 there were fires which destroyed several businesses. But since there was no fire department, the men just had to use a bucket brigade system to put out the fires. Tom Smith died of a heart attack after pumping water from the well and carrying a bucket to fight the last raging fire, when he was 74.

Photo: Main Street, Hagerman, Texas, circa 1910 (from Refuge files).

You can learn more about the town of Hagerman in the new exhibits at Hagerman NWR, and ironically, with the lake level so low, you can now walk about in the area where much of the town was located before Lake Texoma was filled.

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