Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kingsville, Texas and the Louis S. Curtiss Mystery Urns

On my recent trip to South Texas my father wanted to stop our caravan and visit the King Ranch, which is the largest ranch in the world with over 1 million acres of land. The next two bus tours were full, so we browsed the exhibits and read about the ranch in a small museum that they have on the property. We decided to see a twenty minute film about the King Ranch, the King family, their Santa Gertrudis cattle and Triple Crown winning race horses. Near the end of the film the narrator documents the King family donating the land and platting the new town of Kingsville, Texas to be a new rail hub and headquarters for the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railroad. Vintage photos were shown of an imposing railway station and headquarters for the fledgling railroad.

EUREKA, I thought that I had found a lost Louis S. Curtiss building! I recognized the structure as a Louis Curtiss building right away. And knowing that Curtiss had designed several railroad stations reinforced my resolve. I immediately asked the Museum personnel for the location of the train station, which they showed me on a city map. We drove there, family caravan in tow, and much to my disappointment there sat a rather conventional brick train station with wide overhangs. Not the building that I had hoped to find.

BUT there was one clue there that mad me think that I was not completely off base. There in front of this rather unremarkable train station sat a series of unusual Prairie Style Urns. Unusual, in that they were vertically proportioned... They were almost in the style of Arts and Crafts, Teco art pottery and very eclectic. Eclectic is the word most often used to describe the work of Louis S. Curtiss. Maybe I was on to something.

More to come....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Old KC Images- Part Two

This video has some of the same images as the previous one...I thought it was worthwhile just because some of the images are different...Click on the link below and Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Old KC Images-Part One

This film features places of interest in the Kansas City area from the 1950's into the 1990's. If you grew up in the area or were around during this time, you'll definately recognize some images. We've never posted a video before but felt this would be fun for those who have not seen it... This is just under six minutes just click on the link below, sit back and enjoy the memories ( when is the last time you saw that many cars at Metcalf South Mall)...a big thank you to

Monday, January 18, 2010

Everyone Loves a Good A-Frame and a Hamburger - Whataburger

I remembered the venerable Whataburger chain of restaurants decked out in University Texas Longhorn colors from a week of college debauchery in South Texas in the 80's. We had even stopped at one of the famous A-frames on a return drive from Spring Break and then listened to one of my back seat travel companions complain, OHH-WHAT-A-BURGER, from a raw onion induced stomach ache for the next 500 miles.

On my more recent trip, I was not prepared for the lack of the landmark, tall A-frames, which were once as common as Longhorn cattle in Texas. You could usually spot one of the distinctive narrow orange and white striped roofs and the gigantic W logo signs from a mile away, a testament to it being a true "Roadside Architectural Wonder." Any Texas town over 2000 people seemed to have one. These days the Whataburgers are just as common, but the buildings seem to come in a more conventional toned-down, quasi-A-frame design. A shorter, squatter mini A-frame-hybrid with ranch house roof side appendages is how I would describe it. And the orange and white stripes are much wider, with a less aesthetic commercial metal panel roof replacing the standing seam metal. Really the newer designs are quite dissappointing.
If you are a true roadside food aficionado, then you can imagine my delight when my daughter latched on to the clever name and the distinctive color scheme and began demanding, "I want to eat at a Whataburger!" She convinced the family patriarch that this would be a better choice than a quick stop at a Burger King. Soon the whole family of fourteen would agree. WHAT-A-TREAT! I quickly became enamored with the #5 bacon cheeseburger with onion rings instead of fries. After three more stops over a week we waved goodbye to our last orange and white roof as we headed north out of Oklahoma City.

I am starting a campaign to demand that the Whataburger chain expand to the north just one more state to include Kansas.

KCMODERN friend Debra Jane, aka Agility Nut, has photographed many Whataburgers, which you can see here.

It also appears that the hamburger chain has started to recognize the historical and marketing significance of their little A-frame buildings and has posted a fun section to the Whataburger A-frame website, which I recommend you check out.

You will also note that the more recently built, flagship location in Corpus Christ, Texas, dubbed the "Whataburger by the Bay," has made a weak nod back to the high A-frame and the narrow orange and white stripes.