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Reflections program keeps history alive in the retelling

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

The recording room at the Sophienburg has been out of order for almost three months. Badly in need of an upgrade, Carl Nowotny and Chris Hildebrand brought the equipment up-to-date and several volunteers replaced the deteriorating walls. Joel Erben, who originally donated the sound room in honor of his mother, Joline Staats Erben, once again contributed to the upgrade.

The Reflections program is back in order and the first program with the new system has been recorded. Longtime interviewer Herb Skoog interviewed 85-year-old Robert Ernest Lee Scholl (Ernie).

Ray Martinez and I sat in on the interview.

Skoog did the very first Reflections interview with Herald editor Fred Oheim. (See Sophienburg.com Feb. 19, 2008.)

Ernie Scholl grew up in New Braunfels and has fond memories of his boyhood on the rivers and other entertainment like riding on a cotton wagon. He went to school at Carl Schurz Elementary and his first grade teacher was Linden Anderson. He graduated from NBHS and remembers an assignment he had in a Civics class – to pick a story, do research on it, and make a presentation. He chose the murder trial of Chief Red Wing. (See Sophienburg.com Sept. 7, 2010 for the Red Wing story.)

When Scholl graduated from high school in 1942, he had two choices – to wait to be drafted or to enlist. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy. While he was in the South Pacific, he ran into his first grade teacher, Linden Anderson, who was with the Red Cross. A year or so ago he attended Anderson’s 100th birthday party in New Braunfels.

Coming back to New Braunfels after the war, jobs were scarce.

Scholl got lucky and took a job working for Hilmar Staats at his service station. Many of the veterans took advantage of the G.I. Bill that paid for their college education. This is when he decided to become a police officer. The G.I. Bill paid for his training. He would be the third generation in his family to be in law enforcement – his grandfather, Robert Scholl, his father, Walter “Doc ” Scholl (Sheriff) and finally Ernie.

Thus began a career with the Department of Public Safety with 22 years in the narcotics division. Scholl and three others actually started the first narcotics unit for the Department of Public Safety.

Ray Martinez, New Braunfels resident and retired Texas Ranger, said that he first met Ernie when he was in his unit for five years.

In the early days, narcotics units were only stationed in larger cities. Criminals who dealt in hard drugs such as heroin were there. After the early ‘50s, the drug abuse spread to younger and younger people. His career took him as far away as Mexico and Jamaica.

Ernie retired in 1975.

The Reflections program and this column are designed to spur you on to revisit your own past and to learn something about old New Braunfels. People say to me often, “When I read your column, I remember …”

Here’s something I learned from the interview with Scholl, Skoog, and Martinez: Long ago when my phone number was 542, the police had no radios in their cars and Dick Tracy hadn’t invented the two-way wrist radio.

They drove around and watched for two beacons to light up – one at the end of Texas Street and the other on the west end of Coll Street on top of that big tower that still stands. If there was a police matter that needed to be taken care of, the beacons were turned on and when the police saw the light on, they went to the nearest phone to take instructions from the police station.

You are guaranteed to learn something interesting from the Reflections program on Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. on KGNB.

Call the Sophienburg at 629-1572 to make an appointment for an interview. We need your memories.

New Braunfels Herald editor Fred Oheim was the first person interviewed for Reflections, a local oral history program that began in 1976.

Robert Ernest Lee (Ernie) Scholl was interviewed by Herb Skoog in the newly renovated oral history studio at the Sophienburg.