Boy how time has flown by. I was thinking the other day about how my little hometown of Blanco has changed. When I was about 7 years old, I can remember going to downtown and being allowed to wander through all of the wonderful stores that Blanco had to offer.
I will start at the traffic light that is now there—but was only a yellow caution light back in the day. That would have been 1959. There was a gas station on the west corner and, if memory serves me correctly, Foy West had that station and I think it was a Sinclair station with the big red flying horse.
Next door, across 4th from the station, was Lindeman’s Grocery, which had a great meat market along with grocery and dry goods to sell. Mrs. Lindeman helped me pick out dish towels, which I would buy, and the embroidery patterns to go with them. You would iron the decals on to the material and then embroider them with threads. Back then, you made a towel for every day of the week. I still have many of those hand-sewn items, which I still use in my kitchen. I loved visiting with all of the wonderful people in the stores.
Next to that was the Blanco Theatre. Many of us watched many a movie in that wonderful old theatre building. There was a huge Billy Graham night that I remember quite well. The people came together from all religions and listened to his preaching. God makes you a better person and having a good upbringing with love and honesty and respect is what I feel makes you a good person. What you do while you are on this earth will make a difference.
Next to the theatre building was a small store I remember being Oleath’s. It too was a dry goods store. She sewed a lot and I can still remember all of the hand-made doll clothes she made and what a difference she and her husband made in my life.
Then there was Byars Cafe. Ya’ll know my uncle W.L. Byars and Gertrude Artz Byars ran that business for many years.
Next door was the barber shop run by Mr. Wolfe, and then a beer joint and pool hall. In the early 60s, it became the senior citizen’s gathering place.
On the next corner was the old building that was part of the Old Mill where your grains were milled and farmers sold their crops for all of their hard work. The Mill Nursing Home also sat on that very same spot. Unfortunately, some of our family members spent their last days there. It was a godsend for when you needed that kind of care when you get older and can no longer take care of yourself.
Across Main, I can’t remember what may have been there but the next building was Dick Knoll’s welding shop. Then the Bindseils’ Red & White Grocery and Feed Store. They also had a meat market. The best part that I remember was the concrete slide that went to the basement; that is where the empty boxes were taken after all of the groceries were put on the shelves. Many of us young kids got to slide down that concrete slide. Cora and Hilmer and Mr. Walter ran the meat market and another brother also helped run the feed store.
On the next corner was the City Hall office. I can remember Mrs. Bobby Page as the clerk there. Behind that building was the wonderful Blanco Library, where I spent many an hour reading and checking out books. On Saturday mornings, Mrs. Elmer Dale did readings to the children and I was there as much as possible. The tower was also there that held the siren that blared every day at noon and 5pm. It was also the fire whistle wherever the fire department was called to service. In my day, Roy H. Byars, Jimmy Hauck, Aaron Posey, Col. Forseyth, and many other people came to answer the fire siren when needed.
Next to City Hall was Old Dry Cleaner’s store, which my uncle W.L. Byars ran for many years before going into the Byars Cafe. The Fisher family took it over after Uncle Dubbs (Dubbs was uncle W.L.’s nickname).
The old retired telephone office building was next door. That is where my grandmother, Sybbie Byars, and her daughters, Pearl, Ruby, and Lucille, took charge of all the phone calls back in the day. That is a part of history which I am most proud of. My grandmother came to Blanco from Rosebud, Texas, back in 1918 in a wagon with her 7 children, a milk cow, some chickens, and a mule. She had to sell the family farm after the sudden death of her husband and move to Blanco where she would have help from family to raise her children. She was one very strong and remarkable woman to have taken on the adventure for her family. That will also make for another story sometime.
Next door to the telephone office was the Blanco Post Office. Then a store, which I remember being Eisenhauer’s TV & Repair Shop, and then Fulcher’s Drug Store was on the corner. I also have some memories of that store.
Across 4th, on the next corner, was Baker’s Garage. I can still smell the grease and oil — and the most famous Blanco Bowling Alley and Cafe. My Aunt Mammie Galbreath owned and lived in the house next to the Bowling Alley and Dale’s Antiques was next to that. Going back around the Square, where the post office is now, was the beautiful Cage House.
The Blanco Lumber & Hardware Store was next to that, where I got to grow in, so to speak. My dad, Roy Byars, ran that store when he came home from the war back in 1945.
Then there was Yancey’s Soda Shop. Mr. Charlie Yancey was the man who served lots of people ice cream sundaes, banana splits, and more wonderful treats that so many of us kids grew up on. The comic books, magazines, and things in the store were his livelihood. The memories we all experienced are wonderful. You can’t buy that kind of happiness.
Next to the soda shop was the Blanco Bank and then Mrs. Wall’s furniture store. That is where we Byars girls were given this little red wooden chair which all of our dolls sat in while we were growing up. Mrs. Wall kind of adopted children because she never had children of her own. Mrs. Wall was also our funeral director in Blanco.
I can’t remember what building was next to hers, but I do remember taking knitting lessons there when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I still have the first pair of slippers I made while taking those knitting classes.
Going north was the lumber yard, where I was allowed to climb around on the lumber when I was a small girl. The things I got to explore as a child was something that money cannot buy. Living in such a safe town where all of the parents looked after all of the kids. If a kid was misbehaving, the nearest adult would correct that kid — and you got whatever was coming to you. To this day, I truly believe that we are all responsible for our own actions.
Blanco had great people and produced some pretty good people. We all knew each other and kids were raised to respect their elders back in that day. Please forgive me if I left out any more important people in our community, but I just decided to write this story with the hopes of writing more about what it was like to grow up in a small town such as Blanco. I also grew up in Johnson City because that is where my mother’s family was. I am related to most everyone one way or another throughout Blanco County.
Now that I am 58 years young, and have grandchildren and one great-grandchild, I want my grandchildren to experience what I did as a child growing up in Blanco. I have taken five of our grandchildren to the dinosaur tracks in Blanco River on the Smith property, which most of us have seen. Then there is Peanut’s Jones River Bottom, where we all used to go and drive our vehicles on the river bed and wash our vehicles and watch our children play in the beautiful Blanco River. The Blanco State Park was another place I have taken my grandchildren, and we have walked around the Blanco Square. These are the things that I do not want to let die. We all need to tell our stories and give readers something to think about.
Blanco has not progressed much in my 58 years, but we do now have a Dairy Queen and a Sonic Drive-In, along with some great eating places that we have all enjoyed over the years. I wish Blanco could have grown a little, like Boerne or Marble Falls. If we had more growing businesses, some of us would not have to drive to Austin or San Antonio to make a living for our families. We love to drive to Fredericksburg to go shopping at all the unique shops and Blanco had its fair share of those. But keeping it so small is often not the answer. Maybe someday we will grow, but yet keep the necessary things that make it Blanco.
I am hoping other people will share their stories like I have. If we don’t keep the old stories alive, they will be lost, like the story about the bank robbery that Jeanie Latham told at the historic celebration of Blanco National Bank. Join me in the reliving of Blanco from back in the day. Call the newspaper office and tell them if you did or didn’t enjoy this article. If we don’t tell people, then this was written in vain. Please help me to make a difference! As they say, write to your State Representatives if you want a change in your government. Well, this is the same situation!
I hope I have made a difference in my story telling and may the good Lord watch after each and every person reading this article. Make someone laugh or smile daily. If life gives you lemons, squeeze the dickens out of them and make something good out of something sour.
Patty Byars Haas is the youngest of the three Byars girls. Her parents were Roy and Marie Crider Byars. Her family has helped to make Blanco such a wonderful place to live and they hope more stories will be told. Her husband’s family, the Haases, have had give generations to help keep the Twin Sisters Dance Hall a fun place. Patty’s Aunt Pearl Byars wrote for the paper for many years.