Saturday, February 25, 2012

On Location #15 - Boys Don't Cry in Greenville, TX

We showed you one small town that was used in the filming of the film "Boys Don't Cry" and now we have another. Although this town is significantly larger...Greenville, TX:

Hilary Swank's character walks around the downtown square on the way to the court house. You can see that the "Sabine Trading Post" isn't there anymore but remnants of the sign are.

And then up the stairs of the Hunt County Court House which is yet another great looking Texas courthouse and soon-to-be the topic of an upcoming "Marking Time" entry.

The camera tilts up to show off the rest of the courthouse and even though the film (which is based on a true story) doesn't take place in Hunt County they didn't make any effort to hide the giant "Hunt County Court House" carving at the top of the building:

I didn't go inside so I have no idea if the interiors were shot inside the actual court house. Guess I'll save that for my next trip to Greenville.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Roadside Highlights: Tyler, TX

If you are anything like us then you agree that it's the odd roadside attractions that make a trip go from good to great. The weirder and more arbitrary, the better. But, like us, you might not think that they all deserve their own blog entry. If that's the case then you might group several geographically approximate roadside attractions into one blog entry.

What a coincidence, so did we!

And since we're currently in Tyler, TX, we'll start here with our first "Roadside Highlights" entry. On our last visit we checked out the historical markers and memorials in downtown's courthouse square but there was one we missed. It is under this unassuming tree on the southeast corner of the square:

And it memorializes Tyler's most beloved squirrel, "Shorty."

Shorty was the beloved courthouse mascot and upon his tragic passing he was honored with this tombstone.

And if dead animals are your thing you can find plenty at the Brookshire's World of Wildlife Museum:

I was going to go on and on about the seemingly endless displays of exotic taxidermy but there is clearly one stand out:

Yes, "Monkeys Playing Monopoly" is truly a work of art and is eerily reminiscent of a recurring childhood nightmare I used to have quite a while ago. Take a moment to soak in all the elaborate details from each player's individual name takes to the one monkey brandishing a "Get Out of Jail Free" card.

If that's not enough animal hi-jinks for you then stroll down Teddy Bear Lane in the Children's Park to see two giant wrestling teddy bears.

It's a nice little park that's hidden away yet relatively close to downtown...and it has wrestling teddy bears. Can't beat that.

Lastly, when you are on your way out of town you can stop and get some coffee at Kickerz. It's easily identified from the road because...well, you know.

This one is technically in Whitehouse, TX which is just south of Tyler but the draw of a giant hat shaped coffee shop is easy motivation for the 5 minute drive. I recently learned that they are hoping to start a franchise so I'm sure that cowboy hat shaped buildings will soon start popping up everywhere.

And that would be awesome.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Marking Time #20 - Bergfeld Park

Another trip to Tyler means another excuse for a new "Marking Time." This time we'll stop by Bergfeld Park.

As you probably guessed, Bergfeld Park was named after someone called "Bergfeld." Rudolph Bergfeld, to be exact...and he not only did he get a park named after him but he got his very own historical marker:

The marker reads:

"Entrepreneur and property owner Rudolph Berfeld was a significant figure in the development of the city of Tyler. Bergfeld was born in Wisconsin and as a youth apprenticed at his uncle's jewelry business in Germany. He returned to the U.S. in 1874 and worked as a bookkeeper in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1878, Bergfeld moved to Tyler, where he opened a saloon. In 1880, he married Caroline "Lena" Pabst, moving into a house he built for her.
By the 1880s, Bergfeld opened a second saloon and began to work in real estate and railroad ventures. In 1887, he helped to open the Grande Opera House. By the 1890s, Bergfeld had turned his interest to banking, opening Bergfeld Loan & Trust, which merged with City National Bank to create Citizens National Bank in 1900. That same year, the newly created Tyler Chamber of Commerce appointed him Director. In 1901, he opened a second Bergfeld Loan & Trust, which in 1905 consolidated with Farmers & Merchants National Bank.
Bergfeld's real estate activities were also notable. He actively developed property throughout the city, including the historic Azalea District. Bergfeld also sold land to the city for use as a park, which was named in his honor.
Besides Bergfeld's positions on banking boards, he served as chair or director of several different companies and organizations. He was also a member of the Board of Education of Tyler Public Schools (1906-1924) and of fraternal organizations. Rudolph Bergfeld died in 1930 and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. Today, he is remembered as a community leader whose business activities contributed greatly to the growth of Tyler. "

The park is full of neat stuff like this dolphin statue (that I assume is a fountain during warmer weather), a tennis court, an amphitheater that is frequented by the East Texas Symphony Orchestra and, of course, playground equipment:

And just like our last Tyler edition of "Marking Time," this place also has a double dose of historical markers:

This one recalls an old Confederate weapons factory that was near this location and reads:

Near Site of C.S.A
Ordnance Plant

"Founded 1862 by J.C. Short and WM. S.N. Biscoe (both gunsmiths) and Col. Geo. Yarbrough. In 2-story brick main building, on 125-acre site, contracted to make for state of Texas 5,000 rifles for the arming of troops in the Civil War. After trouble obtaining men and material, plant was sold in October 1863 to the Confederate government. Short and Biscoe stayed on with the plan to continue making guns.
With machinery and men evacuated from areas under siege in Arkansas operated under command of Lt. Col. G.H. Hill. Plant included leather shop, tin shop, dry kiln, carpenter shop. The 150 to 200 man workforce had (besides gunsmiths and guards) butchers, tanners, blacksmiths, draftsmen, carpenters, harness makers and coal burners. Guns made were .45 calibers long and short hill rifles, long and short Texas rifles, Austrian, Enfield and Tyler rifles with barrels 27 to 37 inches long. Some were equipped with steel tipped bayonets invented by Short during 3 months of 1864. Products made were 394,156 cartridges, 411 rifles and 3, canteens. 160 guns were repaired.
Many Tyler rifles were sent to troops fighting North and East of Red River to prevent federal invasion of Texas."