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Nothing sad about these sacks at the Sophienburg

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

What a great response from last column’s photo! By far the “earliest bird” was Rose Marie Zipp who identified all the people. They are:Bottom L-R Hazel Tolle (Taylor), Myrtle Voigt (Clark) and Judy Baetge (Leick). Top L-R Lee Kohlenberg, Karon Thorman (Haas), and the one on the right is none other than Fred Baetge, whom you saw leading the Community Band on the Plaza July 4th. Myrtle Clark told me that the picture was of the NBHS Orchestra officers in ’54. Kohlenberg was the director.

There are so many collections at the Archives. We have an “almost complete” set of yearbooks from New Braunfels High School, Canyon High School and Smithson Valley High School. Paging through the NBHS Unicorn I came across a faculty picture. Does anyone remember Hallie Martin? She was an English teacher at New Braunfels High School when it was down on Mill Street. She taught the first Journalism class at NBHS in 1947, the same year she learned to drive a car. I’m guessing she was about 55 or 60 years old. The reason I remember her driving so well is because I went to a Journalism convention in Austin with her. The trip is engrained in my brain because she got lost and made a U-turn in the middle of Congress Avenue! I have to say that she did a good job of convincing me that I should follow in the footsteps of the cartoon character, Brenda Starr, reporter. What I found out in college is that journalism is hard work. One does not become an eternally beautiful woman chasing around after exciting stories and being wooed by a mysterious, handsome man with a black patch over his eye. Are we all told those glorious tales about the occupations we pursue?

I wandered over to the collection building on the Sophienburggrounds, walked up the front steps and walked inside like I used to do when this tiny building was the first library in town. There I met volunteers Gena Sevick, Jean Dorbandt, and Connie Olsen going through a large box appropriately named “Sacks”. Inside this box was a collection of (guess what?) sacks of all sizes and patterns. There were more Dittlinger sacks than any other kinds. There was Perfection Flour, Minihaha Flour, Peerless Fancy Flour, Lily White Flour and Amapola Flour. Then there was Dittlinger Hen Scratch, White Cornmeal and Stay Great Chicken Feed. There were some of those colorful patterned sacks that Dittlinger bought from Planters and Merchants Mill (later Mission Valley Mills) during the “lean years” of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Dittlinger bought Bluebonnet Ginghams, as they were called, from the textile mill to sack their products. By doing that, more flour was sold and mothers all over Texas sewed everything that could be sewed out of this brightly colored material. The picture shows the inside of the weaving room at Planters and Merchants Mill in the early 1920s (The mill began operation in 1921). The “find” of sacks spurred on Sophienburg employees Keva Boardman and Dorothy Constable to look for some of those clothes, and of course they found some. The insert picture shows Nicole Dietert (Brandon) and son Trevor in the Museum’s General Store display wearing original clothing made from flour sacks.

Finally, close your eyes and picture popular, handsome Walter Fellers riding his horse at the head of the Comal County Fair Parade. If you can’t picture him, you’re probably too young or hadn’t moved to town yet. Anyway, on this very day in 1952 Fellers was elected sheriff of Comal County, a position he held for the next 36 years. This fact was discovered by another long-time volunteer Alice Oberkamp when she was researching for the NB Sesquicentennial. Alice, along with Ralph Koch and Marlena Schlather, now works on cataloging items as they are donated. Alice’s cousin, Pat Hillert Dodd, is presently sorting through the papers of the late historian Oscar Haas.

Next time learn about how Clemens Dam turned into Stinky Falls, and finally became the Tube Chute.

The picture shows the inside of the weaving room at Planters and Merchants Mill in the early 1920s. The insert picture shows Nicole Dietert (Brandon) and son Trevor in the Museum’s General Store display wearing original clothing made from flour sacks.