…..life in King William in the 1930’.s . My teenage years on Guenther Street were a happy time. The intersection of Guenther and Crofton was our playground. Traffic wasn’t a problem back then, so on a summer evening all the neighborhood kids, and there were lots of them, would congregate at the “Y” to play pop-the-whip on roller skates. The boys would play touch football. We were a rowdy, noisy bunch. No one had air conditioning in those days and with all the open windows, we must have been a real nuisance but I don’t remember anyone complaining.

Helen Geyer

…..in the early 1970’s when the property bounded by Main, Guenther, Sheridan and Flores was a vibrant neighborhood, many of them families of Italian decent. There was a Baptist Church at the corner of Nathan and Johnson Streets. The government decided that it would be a good location for the city’s main post office so the property was condemned and all the houses leveled. A few years later, the post office plan was abandoned and the property was offered to the school district as a location for their cafeteria warehouse and commissary. The surrounding neighborhood, bitterly opposed to such a use of the property, mobilized and, with the support of the King William Association, managed to reach a compromise for the Housing Authority facility and the nice park that we see today.

…..when this extremely tall, very skinny man used to sunbathe frequently in the front yard of a house in my block. He paid homage to the sun wearing a loin cloth and stood to catch the rays for long periods of time several days every week. Tour buses didn’t know whether to speed up or slow down!

Carolene Zehner

. . . .back in the 1940’s when the Handy Andy that used to be on St. Mary’s was brand new. They would set up tents in the parking lot and conduct cooking classes. My mother was really into that sort of thing. She came home one day proudly carrying her winning prize – a beautiful coconut cake

Evelyn Barker

....when they were building the walkways along the river in the late 1960’s after all the flood control work was finished. Our dad would tell us kids that one day we’d have a river walk all the way to Roosevelt Park. Of course, we couldn’t imagine that ever being possible, but he evidently knew what he was talking about. It looks like it’s finally going to happen.

Marco Botello

The King William Park, bounded by Washington, Turner and King William Streets, appears to have been purposely laid out as a park, but it wasn’t. The city actually bought this triangular piece of land in 1901 from Mrs. Phoebe Groesbeck for payment of delinquent taxes. Although the city designated it as a park shortly thereafter, it was years before landscaping and trees were planted.

The park’s gazebo began its life in the 1890’s near the Commander’s House on the grounds of the United States Arsenal (now H-E-B Headquarters) across the river from Upper Mill Park. In 1954, threatened by demolition, the gazebo was moved to its present location through the efforts of the King William Area Conservation Association, the predecessor of the King William Association. Most everyone was delighted with the new addition to the park; everyone that is, except the neighborhood boys who had been using the park for their baseball field.

Dedication of the gazebo was conducted by the Merry Knights of King William, a club started by neighborhood teenage boys in 1909, but over the years having evolved into a men’s club. One of the founding members, Willard Berman, donated, in the name of the Merry Knights, an impressive solid brass eagle weather vane to mount on top of the gazebo. Werner Beckmann, another Merry Knight, delivered a touching dedicatory oration.

Unfortunately, the brass weather vane disappeared after a short time. Mr. Berman graciously replaced it with a duplicate only to have the second one stolen. The gazebo went without a top decoration for years until some inventive neighbors came up with the clever idea of using a round copper toilet float attached to a rod.

Once installed and looked at from the ground, it appeared for all the world as if it had been especially designed for just such a purpose. It remained the gazebo’s crown until a major restoration in the late 1980’s when the weather vane you see today was installed.

The park is an oasis for many neighbors who like to stop, sit, contemplate, meet with other neighbors or just stroll around the perimeter, but it is also popular for weddings, concerts and parties. The park is also, literally, the center stage for our King William Fair when it takes a real beating from the crowds.

It has been suggested that some of the Fair proceeds be set aside to refurbish the park. Not only does the grass need attention but many of the trees are beginning to die from old age and disease. We may be somewhat behind the curve for timely replacement of the park’s trees, but we’re trying to catch up.

As Maria Pfeiffer described in her July 2007 newsletter article, the Parks Department will be planting two red oaks and one Monterey oak tree this fall. You may also have read Maria’s article with photo in the August 2007 newsletter showing Bartlett Tree Experts planting a nice size Monterey Oak at the west corner of the park at Washington and Turner to commemorate Bartlett’s one hundredth anniversary. Maria will continue to work with the Parks Department on a long range plan to replace additional trees.

There is a great deal of interest in the neighborhood to further enhance the park with major landscaping – shrubs, flowers, benches, water fountain(s), improved trash containers, etc. It has also been suggested that a monument with plaque giving a brief history of our neighborhood be installed at the northeast corner of the park at King William and Washington; that location being essentially the gateway to our neighborhood, particularly for walking tourists. All that is needed are a few dedicated souls to plan and implement the park renewal program. If this idea sparks your interest, call the King William office and volunteer to be a part of the team. This park could be King William’s crown jewel. Bill Cogburn

Thirty years ago when our neighborhood was a bit rough around the edges. Soon after Joan and I bought our house in 1976, we attended our first KWA meeting at the old pool house behind the Steves Homestead. At this meeting, Egon Tausch, who lived on Madison just down the street from us, reported his encounter with a second story burglar. Egon was asleep in his upstairs front bedroom when he was awakened by someone coming through the window. He slept with a revolver at his bedside so he raised his pistol and warned the intruder that if he didn’t leave the way he came in, he’d be shot. The man continued to advance so Egon shot him and the force of the charge propelled the intruder out the window by which he had entered. Egon ran to the window and saw a prone figure lying on the ground so he called the police and they carted the fellow away. The burglar later died from his wounds. No charges were filed.

Immediately upon recounting his story, Egon was accosted by an anti-gun crowd; many of whom were in attendance that evening. There were loud, vocal demands that guns be banned from King William. Finally, Walter Mathis, who was chairing the meeting, was able to restore order. Then he proceeded to tell his own amazing story.

Walter said he was upstairs at his home on King William Street one evening when he heard someone at a downstairs window. As he came out of his upstairs sitting room onto the stair landing, he saw the intruder attempting to make his way through the window. Walter quickly got his revolver and shouted his intent to fire. The man continued to advance, so Walter shot him. He then rushed to the upstairs front porch and, seeing the man attempting to flee, shot him again. After a lengthy interview with the police, the investigating officer allowed that Walter “probably should not have shot the fellow a second time since he was running away”. But again, no charges were filed.

As you can imagine, the room became very quiet. Walter then asked if there was further discussion and there was none. The meeting continued without further interruption.

Gates Whiteley

Before the King William Association bought the cottage on S. Alamo in 1991, we rented a small apartment in the Schug’s house at 222 King William Street for our office. The apartment’s living room was the main part of the office and the bedroom was the board room. In between the two rooms was the bathroom which you had to pass through to get from one room to the other. When there were several people in the office, it was always a bit comical with folks on both sides trying to figure out when the bathroom was in use. There was also a small kitchen which doubled as storage space. This crowded space also served as our fair headquarters.

Alan Cash

Jean Alexander-Williams was the part-time office manager for the King William Association through the 1980’s until Maggie Konkle took over the job about 1990. Jean handled the entire operation by herself during those years without benefit of a computer. She was a frugal soul. To save money on postage, she sometimes delivered the newsletter to the neighbors on her bicycle.

Bill Cogburn

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