Countdown To Hurricane Carla
With Its Largest Population Ever
Palacios Awaits The Oncoming Storm
(First In Series Of Articles)
The Summer of 1961 was mostly like any other summertime in the Palacios area, with little thought about a hurricane. After all, it had been 16 years since the area had suffered any major storm damage.
Earlier in the year, the final 1960 Census had been confirmed and Palacios was listed with its largest ever population--3,676. That was a gain of 877 from the people count in 1950. (Census figures never included the thousands of soldiers at Camp Hulen and their families in Palacios during the 40s)
Businesses in town included the John F. Grant Lumber Co., Capitol Drug, City State Bank, "Y" Cafe, Runyon Chiropractic Clinic, East Bay Co., Palacios Pharmacy, H & H Cafe, K. Wolens, Hunt's Food Market, Cooper's Ben Franklin, Smokehouse, Rogers TV & Radio Service, Campbell-Huitt Insurance, Petersen's Restaurant, Murphy Hardware, Pal-Port Brick Co., Palacios Florist, Brandon's, Oldham's of Palacios, Hill Top Service Station, Wynn's Jewelry, Kana Upholstery & Furniture, Stewart Cabinet Shop, and of course, the 54-year-old Palacios Beacon.
The June 15 edition of the Beacon reported on the U.S. Weather Bureau's announcement that June 16 was the official opening of the 1961 hurricane season. The article included a statement from the National Board of Fire Underwriters (NBFU) that: "Adequate warnings of a storm's approach is given so that precautions can be taken to prevent injuries and damages."
The NBFU pointed out that Hurricane Donna had struck the East Coast in 1960, destroying more than a billion dollars in property. The article concluded with a long list of precautions citizens should take in event a hurricane headed their way.
On June 29, the Beacon published a page one story about the Sept. 8, 1900 storm and winds that killed 6,000 people at Galveston.
The article called the Galveston tidal wave one of the three "most dreadful natural disasters" the United States had ever experienced. The other two were the sinking of the Titantic, that claimed 1,517 lives after the ship hit an iceberg in 1912; and the Johnstown, Pa. flood of 1889 that claimed 2,200 lives.
Other than those two news stories, there were no reports in June and July of any local level preparedness or contingency plans for the hurricane season.
Dedication of the new Palacios Post Office, at Fifth and Commerce, was held June 18. Mayor Marvin Curtis gave the welcoming address to the crowd that included local, area, state and federal dignitaries. Tom Friery was the local postmaster.
Another dedication was held. This one on July 1 for the new $5.5-million Port Lavaca Causeway Bridge, the longest bridge in Texas. After the dedication, the causeway was closed so that the $620,000 approaches could be completed. The approaches were expected to be completed by early Fall.
A big crowd showed up on July 4 when the Lions Club staged its 12th annual Community Carnival on East Bayshore, complete with boat races. The Volunteer Fire Department sponsored a chicken-sausage BBQ at the event, to help raise funds for a fire truck. Other events included games, concessions and kiddie rides.
The Palacios roundhouse Pavilion was a busy and popular place with its dances. The Lions Club sponsored a dance on July 15 featuring Les Blum and his orchestra. Other bands appearing at the pavilion in June and July included The Moods, The Jokers, Melody Ramblers, and others. A "battle dance" was held July 19.
Farmers were hit by bad weather in early July, with at least 8.5 inches of rain over a couple of days, causing tremendous damage to crops. The Beacon said: "Cotton farmers, expecting one of their best crops in years, were left hopelessly in doubt on reaping any harvest."
Still, C.C. Ramsey brought in the season's first cotton bale, a 563-pounder. The bale was bought in the traditional public auction at the Palacios Chamber of Commerce on July 27 to local attorney, Eli Mayfield, for 42-cents a pound.
In sports, the Palacios Buffs, with a 12-2 record, won the Port Lavaca Teen-Age Baseball League championship.
Ninth District U.S. Congressman Clark Thompson, in his weekly column, wrote about his enjoyable face-to-face meeting with President Kennedy.
Also in July, Garner Seaquest and G.T. Brooking announced the opening of Gulf Breeze No. 1, a new subdivision with 10 large restricted lots.
The newly formed Wagner General Hospital Auxiliary, organized with 50 charter members and Mrs. G.G. Hope as president, began its service at the hospital on July 24.
As July came to a close, City State Bank announced a contract had been awarded for construction of a new bank building at Fifth and Main.
Next week: Final four weeks before Carla. CLICK HERE