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Bryan/College Station News

If you are interested in reading our local newspaper, The Eagle, click on the turning pages below. 
You will need to use the back arrow to return to the 1963 website.

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You can also check out our local television station, KBTX by clicking on the television.




To see what's happening in the Brazos Valley, click on the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce logo. 





Watch the video below to find out more about Bryan TX today........



 Long Live the Queen

Queen Theatre Shining Again in Downtown Bryan

The Crown Jewel of historic Downtown Bryan is shining brightly once again.

The Queen Theatre was lit Friday night after a long hiatus, all to kick off this weekend's Texas Reds Festival.

Folks waited in anticipation as The Queen Theatre's new neon lights, sign, marquee and 200 pound crown were restored to their full glory.

History is came alive again in Downtown Bryan at the fifth annual Texas Reds Steak and Grape Festival.

Lifelong Bryan native Myrl Sims saw it light up for the first time in 1939.

"I can remember hanging on my daddy's hand as they lit it the first time very exciting of course. The street didn't look quite the same but it was a big event for the city," she said.

In the past few months the Queen Theatre underwent a $160,000 renovation to the exterior, got a new roof, and asbestos abatement on the inside.

"Well I think it's very similar but who knows, that's a while ago," Sims said.

Others like Mike Young hung out at the Queen and Palace Theatres as a child in the 60's and saw "Cleopatra" here.

"It' really interesting because downtown had almost died and it's really nice to see the way it has come back," said Young, another Bryan resident.

It's hard not to miss it now; the Queen has regained her stately status.

The Queen will be lit each night from dusk until 11 P.M.

And the crown will start spinning each morning around 7.

The rest of the renovations are expected to be completed by 2014 to coincide with the building's 100th anniversary.


While it won't be an outright movie theater, it will be a multipurpose facility for the community complete with a theater 





Eagle Staff Writer


Editor's note: The Eagle features staff recently asked residents to help us compile a look back at the Brazos Valley during the 1950s, '60s and '70s. They responded generously, writing up their recollections and allowing us to scan their treasured vintage photos.


We received so much information that we didn't have space to include everything. But we chose to publish the following comments and accompanying photographs because we felt they offer the best insights into those decades.


Memories overall


Karen Rogers, Bryan: It was hard being a rebel in Bryan in 1972, even a childlike rebel. But it was an innocent time for us in many ways. There was a youthful optimism that Bryan would change and grow into a more cultured environment.


We thought the world was changing, and we were changing it by campaigning for [Democratic Texas gubernatorial candidate] Cissy Farenthold, growing long hair, becoming vegetarian ... focusing more on the environment and less on material things, and by living differently than our parents lived.


Burt Hermann, Bryan: I got Elvis' autograph in 1956 when he performed at the Bryan rodeo arena. I don't have it anymore. My brother-in-law took it to school to show to the girls, and some girl stole it.


Carolyn Alford, Bryan: We were a dancing crowd. We danced almost every weekend at parties which were given in people's homes or the old Bryan Country Club where the Bryan golf course is today. Some were at the American Legion Hall and Finfeather Lake club room, and most often at Miss Maggie's above where Mr. G's Pizza is on West 26th Street.


The girls wore long dresses and the boys, a sport coat. Punch and cake were the usual refreshments.


Carol Anderson, Bryan: Sometimes when we went to a formal dance we would be handed a dance card numbered 1 to 10. The guys would ask for a certain dances, and we were so happy to get our card filled up!


Jo Burley, Bryan: Downtown was a busy place back then. There were lots of great department stores, all privately owned.


Joe Poteet, Normangee: On weekends, the family usually headed for Bryan. We shopped downtown Bryan, since that was the only place there was to shop. We bought our clothes at Lester's, Waldrop's and Conway's. We bought shoes at Lewis' Red Goose Shoe Store or the Bootery.


We drank malts at Jarrott's Pharmacy and went to the Palace or the Queen for a show for less than a dollar.


Woolworth's provided toys, records, goldfish and had a great candy counter. Caldwell's Jewelry, Sankey Park's or Central Texas Hardware were great places to buy nicer gifts.


Most of us had after-school and weekend jobs, either on the family farm, mowing yards or at the various stores in town. When you earned $1.60 an hour, you tended to watch how you spent your money.


Gas was a quarter a gallon, but we had a wholesale pump on our farm, and that gas was 17 cents a gallon. Rice Pharmacy had nickel coffee, nickel Cokes and a malt was a quarter. Comic books were 12 cents. School lunches were 30 cents. Milk was 2 cents -- 3 cents for chocolate.


I don't remember seeing drugs of any kind until 1973, when "weed" first appeared. Lots of kids smoked Marlboros (49 cents), drank a little Schlitz ($4 a case) and drag-raced on OSR. That was about as wild as we got. Junior/senior prom and senior trips were anticipated events.


It was a good time and place to grow up.


Jo Ann Bairrington, College Station: Dancing at teen night at the Lakeview Club on Tabor Road on Fridays.


Charles Opersteny, Bryan: When I look back, life was much simpler as a child. We played a lot of games: Annie over, hide and seek, green light-red light and a lot of sand-lot ball. I think we learned to get along, especially with the guy that owned the bat and ball.


Regina Opersteny [Charles' wife of 50-plus years], Bryan: In Bryan, on Saturdays, the streets were crowded with people. That was the time and place for people to get together for gossip and shopping. The streets would be full.


It was difficult to find a parking place. Parking meters were installed. I got my first ticket because I over-parked by the LaSalle Hotel.


Liz Zemanek, Bryan: The 400 block of Main in the '50s and early '60s starting with our store (west side of Main) mainstays were: Zemanek Grocery & Feed; Restivo's Resale Shop; Maliska's Watch Repair, owned by Stanley and Helen Maliska; Sam's Drug Store, owned by Sam and Henrietta Downard; a barber shop; Scott's Photography; a beer joint; Jimmy Woodyard's Cream Bar; Frank Seale Electric; Mae Williamson's Used Clothing Shop; and Holliday's Grocery, owned by Juanita Holliday.


I'd help at Sam's. When customers bought items, I would pull a length of wrapping paper from the stand, tear it off, place it on the counter, place the items that were bought on it and list the prices on the paper one by one, add it up (this was their receipt), collect the money, open the register and make change, wrap the items together, and tape the package before handing it to the customer.


I went to Texas A&M on a softball scholarship at age 27-31; graduated magna cum laude and received B.S. degree in health, kinesiology in 1979. I still live in our family home in west Bryan.


Tom McDonald [former district judge], Bryan: On April 5, 1956, a tornado touched down at Texas Avenue and Coulter Drive about 3 p.m. and blew the press box off Bronco Field and sent fireballs down the electrical wires on Coulter Drive and did considerable damage.


Then there was the time we came to school one morning to find the school's old 1947 Ford Army-surplus pickup was on the front porch blocking the doors. Must have been a high wind the night before.




Ruby Urso, Bryan: My husband, Sam, and I owned Sam's Drive-In and Donut Shop on Texas Avenue in the 1960s. We were famous for "The Deluxe," an open-faced double cheeseburger with French fries.


All the high school kids would hang out there, sometimes when they were supposed to be in school. One time Willie Pruitt, the assistant principal, came in, and everybody ran into the boys bathroom and bailed out the window.


The kids were like our family. Some of them invited Sam and I to the high school reunions. Some of them called me Mom.


We had a lot of great employees. Some of the girls who worked there were Paula and Ava Regmond, Maureen Dodson, Debbie Neff and Brenda Kindt.


Bardin Nelson, College Station: The primary after-school hangout for getting sodas, cherry phosphates, etc., was Madeley Pharmacy at Southgate in College Station. The night hangout was definitely the Triangle Drive-In in Bryan (where Chicken Oil Company is now). Cokes were a staple, but their burgers were excellent. I remember we would irritate the waitresses if we had no money by ordering a "Pine Float" (a glass of water with a toothpick floating in it).


We had lots of choices for going to the movies. In College Station, there was the Campus Theater and Circle Drive-In at Northgate, and Guion Hall on the campus. Bryan had the Skyway Drive-In at Villa Maria and Texas Avenue, and the Palace and Queen theaters downtown.


Guion Hall was a favorite for high school students as it was cheap. In fact, if we would spend one Saturday morning a month delivering the monthly Guion Hall movie schedule to homes in our neighborhood, Mr. Puddy (the manager) would give us free passes to Guion Hall for the month.

Carolyn Alford, Bryan: If we hung out anywhere, it was at Jarrott's or Creamland, which faced each other across Main Street and 26th Street. 


Jo Burley, Bryan: Once I began to date, the places we frequented were the Triangle Drive-In, Texan Drive-In and The Frosty Root Beer Stand; all had carhops. A third place was the Sugar and Spice Drive-In, but we did not frequent it that much, as it was on the other side of town. There was also Schlieker's Tastee Freeze among others.


There were dances at what we referred to as the "Rec." It was a building at Country Club Lake (location of the Municipal Golf Course). There was a golf course on the property at that time, and a very popular public swimming pool. We also attended dances at the Bryan K of C Hall and the SPJST Hall in Snook.


One summer, a place opened called Jumpin Jiminy. They had dug pits and placed trampoline covers over the pits. It was a fun place, but short-lived.


Another popular place in my teens was Cargill's Skating Rink. You could bring your own shoe skates or rent them. I was thrilled when I got my own skates and still have them. It was a great wood-floor skating facility located on Highway 21, complete with the revolving mirrored ball. The Triangle Bowling Alley was new in the '60s, and a popular and fun place to hang out.


Jo Ann Bairrington, College Station: Ralph's Pizza and A&W Root Beer in College Station.


Regina Opersteny, Bryan: My group of friends would cruise up and down College Avenue. Sometimes we stopped at the Triangle or Texan Drive-In for Cokes and fries, and sit and chat and giggle. At that time, A&M was only a boys school so we liked to tease the boys. Driving through the campus, we received a lot of whistles and attention.


Liz Zemanek, Bryan: My favorite place to get a fountain drink like cherry Coke or cream soda, a malt, milk shake or ice cream cone, and/or a hamburger was Jimmy Woodyard's Cream Bar, in the 400 block of North Main. Hamburgers were 25 cents, but I ordered a "naked" hamburger, which meant only the meat, bun, and some catsup, so he sold it to me for 15 cents.


Oran Jones, College Station: In the early 1960s (I graduated from CHS in 1962) the best milk shake EVER could be found at Madeley's Drugstore at Southside. They had great sandwiches as well, and those Huff girls that worked there were gorgeous. It was THE place to meet friends after school.


In the evenings, after the drugstore was closed, you could usually find some friends at the Tastee Freeze on Texas Avenue where the Ramada Inn was later built.


In the summertime, we would go to The Grove theater on the A&M campus and watch a movie or a summer musical. It was outdoors, and it was hot, but we didn't seem to notice. If you wanted to be cooler, then Guion Hall (on campus) was the place to go.


Carol Anderson, Bryan: Favorite places to cruise were the Texan Drive-In, the Triangle Drive-In, Sugar and Spice Drive-In and A&W Root Beer stand for a root beer float. The drive-ins had individual juke boxes where you parked your car, and you could put in a dime and play your favorite song. Some of the hot-rodders would drive through and honk.


I think our favorite spot was downtown Bryan. I have great memories of going to the Palace or Queen theaters, and after the movie going to Canady's Pharmacy for a soda, grilled cheese or whatever. Canady's later became Jarrott's Pharmacy. It was a big thing if parents would let you go to the midnight show at the Palace.


Another favorite place was the drive-in movies. We loved to go to the Skyway, which is where the Tejas Center is now; some even sneaked in hiding in the trunk. There was a big neon sign of an airplane and the propellers would go around.


Bennie Pate, Bryan: We made the drag from Der Wienerschnitzel to the A&W Drive-In ... over and over during an evening of cruising. On Texas Avenue, you would pass Alfies Fish and Chips (now Fat Burger), Roy Rogers Restaurant and Burger Chef.


The best burgers, at the time, for me, was Burger Chef. They were cheap. The best deal was Wienerschnitzel. Are you ready for this? Seven chili dogs for $1.25. Mustard dogs were seven for a buck. Everyone met at either Weinerschnitzel or A&W, and you didn't have to buy anything to hang out there.


On the weekend, there was the Knights of Columbus or "KC Hall" and the Lakeview Club, if you wanted to dance or meet up with someone.


Tom McDonald (former district judge), Bryan: We used to all "hang out" at the Triangle Drive-In. Some parked in spaces, mostly the girls, and the boys aimlessly drove around and around showing off their shackled (lowered in the rear) cars with a plate hanging from the rear bumper by two chains with the name of their car club; it would drag over the speed bumps that were installed at intervals around the drive-inn to impede speed.




Bardin Nelson, College Station: The car I drove to high school was a '54 Plymouth sedan that really belonged to Dad, but he liked to walk to work if the weather was good, so I got to use the car. I was jealous of some of my classmates who had cooler cars (I remember coveting a '49 Ford coupe, and an MG-TD that classmates drove.).


Later Dad bought a '57 Chevrolet at an A&M auction. It was a dull black color, so my neighbor (Jud Rogers) and I repainted it in my family garage (turquoise and white). Jud and I were into cars, as we had restored a '27 Model-T Ford Touring Car for the A&M Tennis coach (Omar Smith). We painted it a bright coral pink, which did not make him too happy.


We also restored a '29 Packard Sedan owned by Red Cashion.


Later Dad traded the Chevrolet in on a 1959 Dodge (pink and black). It was a cool car as you changed gears by means of push-buttons on the steering wheel. My junior year at A&M, Dad gave that Dodge to me, and I promptly traded it to another student (who had married and was beginning a family) for his '58 Jaguar XK150. That Jag was the most fun car I've ever owned, but very high-maintenance.


Bennie Pate, Bryan: I moved here in 1969. Back then the Plymouth dealership was on the "bend" in Bryan, on Texas Avenue. I remember looking at the Plymouth Superbird there and thinking "WOW"! ...

I drove a 1965 2+2 Mustang [and spent] $0.25 for a gallon of gas. 


Regina Opersteny, Bryan: My family car was a 1939, two-door black Chevrolet. It was the first car made that had the gear shift on the steering wheel. I got my driver's license in that car. My brothers and I named it "Goldie" because my parents treated it like gold when it came to letting us use it.


Joe Poteet, Normangee: I learned to drive in my brother's 1954 turquoise Ford. It was a standard transmission and mastering the clutch was a major accomplishment. The family car was usually an Impala, purchased at Boney-Bass Chevrolet in Madison-ville or Corbusier Chevrolet here in Bryan.


My first car was a '74 Chevy Nova, which was maroon-and-black with tiger-paw tires (cost: $4,000 loaded).


Oran Jones, College Station: On Friday and Saturday nights, I would drive my red 1933 Ford coupe (it had a 283-cubic-inch Chevy V-8 under the hood) around the circle on College Avenue and University and head north to cruise the Triangle and the Texan drive-ins. That was where the hot-rodders, and 'most everyone else, hung out.


Burt Hermann, Bryan: Cruising down Bryan's Main Street in the spring of 1955 in a topless 1927 Model T Ford with four cute Lamar Junior High girls ... that is a ride I'll never forget. My dad gave it to me when he bought a hardtop Model A. I painted the spokes yellow and the fenders green, leaving the rest of it black. I cruised past the school and stopped to chat with the girls and asked if they wanted to go cruising. They jumped in.


Everything went all right until I tried to get the wheels to squeal when the light changed, and the engine died. I was so embarrassed, feeling so dumb to think I could make the tires squeal. Luckily I was able to crank that old thing right up and get the girls back to school in time.




Karen Rogers, Bryan: We wore frayed, long bell-bottomed jeans with halter tops and straight long hair with the associated love beads. I also had a pair of boots that rose well above the knee that looked very sporting with my mini-skirts.


Joe Poteet, Normangee: For "mod" clothes in the late '60s. There was a shop at 32nd and Texas called Sokowiki. ... Velvet bell bottoms, peace signs, incense and psychedelic posters were sold; you entered through a beaded curtain. My parents didn't really approve of that store!


For leisure suits, you could go to Manor East Mall (once it was built) and shop at Wards or Penney's. Sears was at Townshire, as was Beverly Braley's upscale shop.


Charles Opersteny, Bryan: Boys usually wore slacks (very few blue jeans) and white socks with three or four colored stripes at the top (about calf length).


Bardin Nelson, Bryan: Blue jeans were virtually the uniform for A&M Consolidated boys. The girls usually wore dresses, but pedal-pushers were popular too. There might have been a few poodle skirts worn to dances, but they were pretty rare. Jumpers and squaw dresses were more popular in College Station.


My mother was a firm believer in sales, and the two stores most of my clothes came from were Joyce's and Waldrop's in Bryan, both of which had regular sales. At one of the sales, when I was in the ninth grade, mother bought me a pair of blue suede loafers. This was before the song came out and they became popular. Later the same was true, I think, for my white buck shoes and white sports coat.


Carol Anderson: Bryan: The girls wouldn't think of wearing pants or jeans to school! We all wore skirts with lots of petticoats, white bobby socks and loafers. Also popular were little white collars we wore at the neck with sweaters. Jeans and shorts were only for the weekend, and, of course, we rolled up the legs of the jeans.

History of Stephen F. Austin

232005_42638_1.pngThe first Bryan High School was built in 1880 following voter approval of a "Graded School." The land in the Southwest part of town was donated by major Cavitt, Gen. H.B. Stoddard, Major L.J. McQueen, Col. Harvey Mitchell , Capt. E.L. Ward, T.P. Boyett, and R.L. Weddington.


Only seven grades comprised the student body that first year. By 1884, ten grades occupied the school, and the first graduating class of Bryan High in that year was composed of three girls. In 1915, the first Bryan High School yearbook was published for the student body, which now numbered over 200 students in all grades.

232005_42728_2.pngThough records are not as plentiful, a parallel history of black student education exists. In 1885, the city of Bryan purchased land for and established the "Bryan Public School for Colored," thus providing "separate but equal and impartial instruction for black children" as prescribed by the Texas State Constitution of 1876. The first building, a two-story frame structure, burned in 1914. It was replaced with a brick building at the corner of W. 19th and Houston streets.

232005_42929_0.pngBy 1917, growth in the city required the construction of a new school. Voters gave their approval for the new building, which was projected to cost $100,000. Ground was broken in August, 1918 at the location on Baker Street, the site of present-day Fannin Elementary. The school contained 40 rooms. It included an auditorium with a seating capacity of 1000, and was at that time, the largest assembling place in the city. The 35 members of the Class of 1920 became the first to graduate from the "new" Bryan High School.

232005_43416_0.pngFrom 1921-1928, there was no yearbook to record the history of the schools. The tradition was revived by the seniors of 1929. It was also in that year that City Commissioner L.L. McInnis announced that Bryan schools would have their names changed to honor the heroes of Texas history. Bryan High School became Stephen F. Austin. High School at that time. The school's enrollment in 1929 was 361 students. The black student population continued to grow as well, and in 1930, Kemp Junior-Senior High School was constructed on W. 19th Street.

232005_43450_1.pngIn less than 10 years, the student population of Stephen F. Austin had grown so quickly that another school was built. In the fall of 1939, students entered a brand new building at 801 South Ennis. A gymnasium was added in 1956.

In 1961, a new high school for black students was built 232005_43559_3.pngE.A. Kemp High School's modern campus was located at 1601 West 19th Street. This marked the first time these high school students had a campus of their own, having shared the previous Kemp building with the younger grades. As schools across the country began to desegregate, Bryan schools followed suit. The plan called for a one grade per year desegregation. That plan changed in 1971, however, when a district court ordered the immediate desegregation of all Bryan Schools. A new identity was formed for the students of Bryan that fall, when Kemp students joined those of Stephen F. Austin and became the Vikings at Bryan High School.

232005_43640_5.pngThe last 30 years has seen growth both in student enrollment and campus facilities. A two-year construction and renovation project costing some $33 million was completed in the summer of 1999, bringing together all four grades on one campus for the first time. A fine arts facility and third gymnasium were added at this time, as well. The original building became the Blue Campus for grades 11-12, while the newly constructed building for grades 9-10 was named the Silver Campus. As the new millennium dawned, so began a new phase of public education in Bryan, Texas.

Bryan High School history was researched and made available to the public by Mrs. Sandra Farris of BHS and the Staff of the 2000 Saga.