By Myra Lee Adams Goff
Imagine that it’s the 1920s and you have reservations at Camp Placid at Landa Park in New Braunfels, Texas. Camp Placid was a two storied summer resort on the banks of the spring-fed Pool at Landa’s Park. It was called Landa’s Park because it belonged to Harry Landa(Landa Estates was also part of Landa’s Estate. Get it?).
Of course there was no air conditioning in Camp Placid, but no matter, the building was all screened and one could jump into the pool anytime to cool off. The pool didn’t look too much different than it does now, except for the extras. Back in the 20s there were high dives and three platforms down the center just like now. There was a trolley on which you hung from a rope and rode down a cable and dropped into the pool. There was a water wheel that you could walk on. Lifeguards Kearney Starr, Noyes Starr, Frank Opryshek and Claude Platz would be there entertaining you with their trick diving and, of course, they would rescue you if you need to be rescued.
Manager Edwin Scholl, assisted by Arthur Kessler, would welcome you to one of the 86 resort rooms. What? You forgot your bathing suit? Never mind, you can rent one of those stylish black wool suits for 25 cents.
An added bonus to your stay at Camp Placid would be to watch the New Braunfels Tigers baseball team across the street. You wouldn’t even have to go into the bleachers, you could watch from your room. The NB Tigers were organized in 1909 by Ernst Stein and for almost 43 years they were a big attraction. They played teams from all over Texas and it’s believed that the rivalry between NB and Seguin sports started with the Tigers. Crowds filled the stands to see the arguments and fist fights that regularly occurred between the rival teams.
The biggest name player was major league Hall of Famer Jerome “Dizzy” Dean. The one time St. Louis Cardinal and Chicago Cubs star pitched for the Tigers while he was stationed at Ft. Sam Houston. Tigers baseball was formed by a group of men that loved the game. My dad was on that team with Dizzy Dean and he talked about it the rest of his life.
Here’s how Landa Park began: William Merriwether bought the 480 acres from Maria de Veramendi Garza in 1847. He sold it to JosephLanda in 1860 for $14,000.
Joseph Landa’s son Harry took over his father’s business ventures in 1890. In 1897 he entertained Helen Gould, daughter of Jay Gould, largest stockholder in the International and Great Northern Railroad. She loved the natural beauty of the park and encouragedLanda to open it to the public. Helen Gould was instrumental in getting a recreational ground on its line. A year later, excursions to the park from San Antonio began for 75 cents a round trip. Landa opened his Landa’s Estate to the public as a result of this excursion train. He did vast amounts of landscaping and building in the park and many events were held there.
When Harry Landa’s mother died, her will stipulated that all the properties must be sold in ten years. Landa sold the entire operation to investors. These investors went bankrupt and in 1933 the park was closed and surrounded by a twelve-foot barbed wire fence.
Under the leadership of E.P. “Pete” Nowotny, the Jaycees negotiated for the City to buy Landa Park in 1936.The price was $80,000 and when the bonds were issued, an estimated 1,000 citizens showed up to clean the park.
Camp Placid is gone, Sunday afternoon baseball is gone, but the beauty of the park is still there just like it was in the 1920s.