Stephenville Centennial Oct. 27-31, 1954

Joyce Whitis

There are many reasons to remember the date that Stephenville’s population celebrated 100 years and counting. Our daughter, Barbara, was born on the 27th and is naturally the number one reason for me to remember. I also remember Dr. Young, who delivered her, looking at her and saying, “Honey, you broke the drought” because the moment she was born, the rains came to a very dry Erath County.

“Mine Eyes Have Seen” is a souvenir booklet put together by the Centennial Committee in ‘54. Leafing through it gives me pleasure remembering how it was 53 years ago in Stephenville. Leonard Fenner was the fair chairman, other officers were Clinton Cox and Dick Spradley. Roy Stafford was president of the board and met with Jack Teddlie, Dr. Vance Terrell, Reecie Jones, Oren Ellis, J.T. Mays, W.N. (Boone) Brown, Paul Higginbotham, and J.W. Clements. None of those men are living today but when with us, they cut a wide swath through these parts.

My personal memories include numerous ventures involving Dr. Vance Terrell, my doctor and good friend. Dr. Vance was interested in helping others and promoting the community. His interest in dairying and breeding outstanding cattle was also our family’s interests although he favored Brown Swiss while we stuck with Holsteins. He provided a $50 award to the young 4-H showman lucky enough to win at Huckabay’s Dairy Show each year and Barbara was the lucky winner at her first show. In 1963, $50 was a lot of money for a nine year old.

On September 23, 1972, we put Moola on her pedestal and Dr. Vance was the keynote speaker along with Col. David Montgomery and County Judge, Blackie Martin. When we petitioned the city council to put an end to the over-paving of Stephenville’s historic brick streets, Dr. Vance stood with us at the council meeting where spectators jammed the room and spoke for the measure. I remember that he told about standing in front of the hospital that he and his brother, Jim owned and watching the workers lay the bricks on Belknap Street in 1929. The council listened and passed a resolution that there would be no more over-paving Stephenville’s brick streets.

“Boone” Brown, owner of Brown’s Hardware, and I met on many occasions, sometimes in agreement, other times clashing, however we always remained friends with respect for each other’s opinions. Boone was president of the local Lion’s Club in 1972 when we asked for permission to put Moola on the square. Approval was given by the Commissioner’s Court, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Lion’s Club. Several members told me of the fine speech that Boone made before the club. Members responded to that speech with a unanimous vote in favor of Stephenville’s cow.

The time that Boone and I got on opposite sides of the fence was the afternoon that he decided to shoot the birds that were upsetting his life. When he opened fire on the offending birds doing a number on his parked automobile, a neighbor called me and I called the police. Shortly after that the city council passed an ordinance against using firearms inside the city limits or something like that. Boone called me up over that and vented awhile about my love of worthless animals but he didn’t shoot anymore birds and we still spoke to each other and remained friends until he passed away.

Clinton Cox was the general centennial chairman. The business news this week is that the Stripling-Cox-Dunlap stores are all closing. That’s especially sad when we remember that Cox’s Department Store originated here in Stephenville. It was across from the Courthouse in the building now remodeled by Northcutt, Johnson & Parker. R.E Cox owned a modern store that was a credit to Stephenville. The cashier sat at a desk on a balcony and clerks put your ticket and money in a little metal tube and sent it flying up to her by a wire carrier. She made the change and sent it flying back down to the clerk. It operated sort like a ski-lift and was fascinating to children.

Paul Higginbotham managed a store on the corner where the courthouse annex is today. They sold everything from kitchen stoves to men’s suits, to hammers and also owed Stephenville Funeral Home where your remains were prepared for the hereafter. Reecie Jones sold Chevys and Roy Stafford sold Buicks. Stafford Motor Company had a stuffed horse in the showroom that was the wonder of all the kids in town. The last I saw of that horse, it was in the Stephenville Historical House Museum. And after all these years, he still has his hair.