'A brilliant mind'
Temple grad played key role in Apollo success. Plus, a look at the Interurban rail line between Temple and Belton, and an expanded events calendar!
MONDAY NOVEMBER 22, 2021
BOOSTING AMERICA TO NEW HEIGHTS
Temple High and University of Texas graduate Clea Myers Jr. helped perfect rocket-booster engines that lifted Apollo missions toward the moon.
THS grad helped man reach moon
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Clea Myers Jr. grew up in a two-room shack with a dirt floor on Cedar Creek Road between Temple and Moody. But despite these humble beginnings, the former Wildcat football player helped America soar to new heights.
Myers, a member of the University of Texas’ first aerospace engineering class in 1959, was part of a team that developed the rocket-booster engines that put Apollo missions into space and eventually landed men on the moon.
“I’ll never forget the day of Neil Armstrong’s moon walk,” Clea’s daughter, Cindy, said this week. “We were living in League City, which is very close to NASA’s Johnson Space Center. I was about to turn 6. Dad woke me, and the family gathered around a very small black-and-white television.”
“As we watched, Dad explained what he had been working on for a long time,” she said. “It was an exciting time in Houston, in America and around the world.”
“Later, Dad took us outside and showed us the moon — it put everything in perspective,” she said. “He showed me where the astronauts were.”
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Clea L. Myers Jr. — born July 31, 1937 — had a storybook career that took him around the world.
After graduating from UT, young Clea took a job with Lockheed in Orlando but after a year he returned to Texas and married Jane Hawkins Myers in 1960. The couple headed to Redondo Beach but before long, a new Myers was on the way.
“Dad didn’t want me to be born in California,” Cindy said with a smile. “So, they moved to McGregor and he went to work for Rocketdyne (now SpaceX). He tested rocket fuel and helped develop booster engines.”
In 1967, Boeing invited Myers to join a team of engineers working at Johnson Space Center. The team developed booster engines to efficiently lift a rocket off the ground and propel it into space. The team did their job so well, NASA and Boeing began to reduce engineering staff.
“Dad always had an interest in the petroleum industry, so he decided that was the direction he needed to go,” Cindy said. “He went back to California and attended UCLA to get the education he needed to become a petroleum engineer.”
With degree in hand, Clea headed to Houston where he landed a job with Offshore Company. The company was a pioneer in offshore oil exploration.
Once offshore rigs were constructed and floated into the Gulf of Mexico, it was Clea’s job to design a platform using submersible jacks to attach the rig to the gulf floor, allowing the rig to begin drilling for oil.
Clea’s petroleum engineering job took the Myers family around the world.
“We lived in Brazil for a while,” Cindy said. “We were in Belem, a small village at the mouth of the Amazon. My brother and I attended a missionary school that was operated by a strict religious group. No make-up for a 15-year-old girl! It was that strict.”
According to Cindy, the quest to find oil in the Belem area came up zero so the family returned to Texas.
“I moved to Temple at the start of my junior year,” she said. “Dad took a job in Houston, and he drove back to Temple on weekends.”
The long-distance relationship was a strain on the Myers marriage, and they eventually divorced. Clea’s work would take him to Alaska, Scotland and Argentina before health problems slowed him down.
“Dad was in Temple during Christmas 2002, and I remember he was reading a newspaper and mentioned that he was having difficulty comprehending the stories.
About six weeks later, he was driving to Houston and stopped in Caldwell. He knew where he was, but wasn’t sure if he could find his way home. He was very confused, so he called Christopher.”
A visit to the hospital revealed Clea had an inoperable brain tumor. He slipped into a coma and died Feb. 7, 2003.
“He came from such poor, humble beginnings and developed a brilliant mind that helped put man on the moon,” an emotional Cindy said. “It’s so ironic that he died of brain cancer.”
Christopher Myers (left) sits with his sister Cindy (right) and dad Clea on Father’s Day 2002. Clea passed away the following February.
FLASHBACK: The Temple-Belton Interurban
Interurban railway tracks can be seen down the middle of Avenue A in the early Temple photograph.
Electric trolley kept cities connected
By DENISE KARIMKHANI, special to Our Town Temple
The heyday of the interurban railway was in the early 20th century when it met the needs of small towns not served by the steam railways.
Interurban lines developed primarily in north and central Texas. The first service linked Denison and Sherman and soon added McKinney and Dallas. Two companies, the Texas Traction Company and the Southern Traction Company merged to become the Texas Electric Railway Company and, as the largest railway company in the south, operated more than 200 miles of track. Lines served Waxahachie, Corsicana and Waco.
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The interurban in Temple-Belton got its start when J.C. Houser, a Pennsylvania lawyer, visited the area for health reasons. He convinced investors in Pennsylvania to build and operate an electric railway line between the two towns.
Belton was the county seat of Bell County, and by the 1880s had become a regional hub for the cotton trade. Temple, founded in 1881 to serve the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway, had quickly surpassed Belton in population and offered opportunities for increased economic growth. The residents of Belton also sought to expand their markets southward via the railroad.
Temple and Belton purchased stock and construction bonds, and within a few months the work was completed. The line included about 12 miles of track, with spurs, switches and sidings and a loop through the main residential areas. It was one of the earliest interurban railways in Texas, and it allowed commerce to flow easily between the two towns.
Chartered as the Belton & Temple Traction Company in 1904, the company’s board of directors included the investors from Pennsylvania, A. F. Bentley of Temple and N.K. Smith of Belton. Another director was H.E. Ahrens, the contractor who built and equipped the road. J. C. Houser was the manager.
A number of prominent Central Texans rode the railway on its inaugural trip between Temple and Belton. Interurban railway travel was a form of luxury travel, and excursions were offered at special rates.
Interurbans known as “Limited” had carpeted floors, lounge chairs, rest rooms and spittoons for the convenience of travelers. Cars were designed for use in all types of weather — open cars for summer and closed cars for winter. Extra cars were coupled on when needed for luggage and additional passengers.
Overhead cables supplied with electricity from electric power stations along the route powered the cars. As an interesting side note, in 1907 property owners in Belton brought a lawsuit against the Southwestern Telegraph & Telephone Company and the Belton & Temple Traction Company to recover damages for the loss of horses that were killed by contact with a downed trolley line on Pearl Street in Belton.
The Belton-Temple Interurban developed a park for tourists at Midway, halfway between the two towns. A summer theater existed at the 38-acre tract known as Midway Park. When this venture proved unsuccessful, the Bell County Fair Association operated its annual exposition there. It was eventually sold to the Ku Klux Klan as a meeting place.
Information obtained from Mrs. W. A. Means and Mr. T. E. Sanderford verified the route of the trolley in Belton. It entered Belton at what would be 14th Avenue if extended; crossed 14th Avenue at Beal; went south on Beal to 13th Avenue; west on 13th Avenue to College Street; south on College Street to 10th Avenue; east on 10th to Penelope Street; south on Penelope to Central Avenue; west on Central to Pearl Street; north on Pearl to 7th Avenue; west on 7th to College Street; north on College to 13th Street and out of the city limits as it came in. The trolley alternated its direction on each trip, and in this way, was able to service passengers in different parts of Belton.
In Temple, the route took in Santa Fe Hospital, Avenues G and H, 8th Street, Avenue A, 5th Street, Central Avenue, 9th Street and French Avenue. The car barns were located on 8th Street in Temple.
W. G. Haag built the north loop of the trolley lines along French Avenue in 1905 when there were only three houses in existence along the street.
In 1918, the Belton-Temple Traction Company was re-organized as the Southwestern Traction Company with Albert Bentley as its president. Unfortunately, improved roadways and the rise of the automobile industry led to the gradual decline of the interurban railways in Texas.
Although residents of Belton were able to file a Writ of Injunction through the courts to stop the destruction of the Belton-Temple Interurban line in 1918, service was ultimately terminated by the Southwestern Traction Company in 1926. By 1948, virtually all Texas interurban railways had ceased operation.
The last vestiges of the Temple-Belton Interurban Railway connecting the two towns have been paved over and buried forever.
An early colorized photograph shows a street car on Central Avenue in Belton. The trolley was part of the Temple-Belton Interurban line.
WHAT’S HAPPENING, CENTRAL TEXAS?
Central Texas largest and most complete calendar of events:
Temple Public Library
Ongoing events at Temple Public Library:
TEEN CRAFT CORNER: Every 4th Monday at 5 p.m. Join us for Teen Craft Corner! Take a break from the stresses of school and life, and create something fun during our monthly craft program! Our crafts will include projects such as string art, painting, learning about artists and their techniques, mixed media, and so much more! All supplies provided. (254) 298-5557
GREAT BOOKS ADULT BOOK CLUB: 2nd and 4th Mondays at 6 p.m. Seminal texts of Western civilization, pre-20th century philosophers, scientists and novelists. Readings span from Homer and Plato to Nietzsche and Freud. (254) 298-5557
BABY BOOKWORMS (Ages 0-12 months: Every Tuesday at 11 a.m. A half-hour of book sharing, rhymes, songs, exercises and parachute play. (254) 298-5557
SCHOOL-AGE STORY TIME (K-3rd Grade): Every Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. A half-hour of short films, stories and constructive play. (254) 298-5557
PRESCHOOL STORY TIME (Ages 3-5): Songs, stories, and a variety of literacy activities. (254) 298-5557
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS (Ages 12-18): First Thursday of the month at 5 p.m. Looking to explore the world of D&D but not sure where to start? Join us at the Library for our Beginners Dungeons & Dragons Program!
Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum
FACING THE INFERNO: THE WILDFIRE PHOTOGRAPHY OF KARI GREER: Colorful, intimate, and intensely dramatic images that capture the work of wildland firefighters are featured in this new exhibit that runs through Jan. 15. Amazing photography.
November 24, Wednesday - Comedy Open Mic at Corkys. Up-and-coming comics, humorists or regular Joes can get 5-minutes to try our their set, work on jokes, or just try to see if they can make the crowd laugh. This is adult humor and intended for mature audiences. 8 p.m.
November 25, Thursday - Thanksgiving Outdoor Movie Night at Barrow Brewing in Salado. “A Christmas Story.” 6 p.m.
November 26, Friday — Kenny Orts (ABOVE PHOTO) & No Chance Band at Bo’s Barn. 8 p.m.
November 27, Saturday — Dave Jorgensen at Bo’s Barn. 9 p.m.
November 27, Saturday - Beer Run 5K at Fire Base Brewing Co. Ever wanted to run for beer? Here's your chance. It’s a friendly little 5k right here in Downtown Temple. $10 entry fee gets you your first beer upon completion. Route and more details to follow, but we're working to keep it relatively simple and safe.
November 27, Saturday — Small Business Saturday in Temple. Businesses will be offering specials throughout the day.
November 27, Saturday - Wreath Laying Ceremony (ABOVE PHOTO) at Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery. 10 a.m.
November 27, Saturday - Name That Tune Bingo at Fire Base Brewing Co. We've all got Friends in Low Places so come on down to Fire Base Brewing for Name That Tune Bingo: Country Music Edition! YeeHaw!!! $2 gets you started for chances at prizes, drinks and brewery swag! Family Friendly! 7:30 p.m.
November 27-28 - Kris Kringle Mart presented by KC Council 3444, 2218 W. Avenue D, Temple. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
November 28, Sunday - Margarita Madness at Corky’s. Four types of margaritas and more. 2-6 p.m.
December 1, Wednesday - Comedy Open Mic at Corkys. 8 p.m.
December 2, Thursday — Die Hard at The Beltonian. It IS. a Christmas movie!. 6 p.m.
December 2, Thursday — Teen Dungeons and Dragons for beginners at Temple Public Library. 5 to 7 p.m.
December 2, Thursday — Taproom Trivia at Fire Base Brewing Co., 7 p.m.
December 3, Friday — Mark Richey at Bo’s Barn. 8 p.m.
December 3, Friday - Christmas and Holiday Season First Friday downtown Temple. 5 p.m.
December 3, Friday - Sammy G’s Toy Drive Block Party at Fire Base Brewing. 7 p.m.
December 3, Friday - Clint Walker Blues Band is back at O’Briens Irish Pub. 9 p.m.
December 3-4 - Christmas on the Chilsom Trail, Central Avenue and East Street in Belton. 6 p.m.
December 3-5 — Disney’s Aladdin Jr. at Temple Civic Theatre.
December 3,4,10,11 — “A Christmas Carol” at Tablerock Amphitheater in Salado. 7 p.m.
December 4, Saturday - Todd Snider (ABOVE PHOTO), Cultural Activities Center, 7:30 p.m.
December 4, Saturday — Marcus Lindsey at Bo’s Barn, 9 p.m.
December 4, Saturday - Preschool Story Time at Temple Public Library. 10:30 to 11 a.m.
December 4, Saturday - Barrow Brewing Christmas Market, Salado. Noon.
December 4, Saturday - Santa at the Depot, Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum, 5-8 p.m. Put on your jammies, grab your favorite stuffed animal and come enjoy a magical evening with Santa at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum. Visitors can marvel at the sights and sounds of the holiday season as they wander through the winter lights on the Santa Fe Plaza and enjoy Christmas music. Enjoy delicious hot chocolate available for purchase from Kona Ice while waiting to see the man in the big red suit! TICKETS ON SALE at https://bit.ly/3CfFHFE. ALL tickets are ADVANCE purchase only. Tickets are required for admission. Limited ticket quantity is available. Tickets are $5.00 per person, children 2 and under are free. Ticket includes visit with Santa and a gift bag for children. General museum admission will be closed on December 4th to prepare for Santa's visit.
December 4, Saturday - Temple Symphony Orchestra Holiday Concert featuring soprano Priscilla Santana and tenor Brian Joyce. Temple High School. 7:30 p.m.
December 6, Monday - The 75th Annual Christmas Parade and City Christmas Tree Lighting will begin at 6:15 p.m. This year's theme is “The Magic of a Traditional Christmas." Details will be made available on templeparks.com.
December 6, Monday — Belton Lake Parade of Lights at Dead Fish Grill. Watch boats on the lake decked with Christmas lights. Hot chocolate and chocolate bombs filled with marshmallows. 6 to 9 p.m.
December 7, Tuesday — Baby Bookworms ages 0 to 12 months at Temple Public Library. 11 to 11:30 a.m.
December 10, Friday - TISD Jazz Band – Merry Christmas and All That Jazz at Meridith-Dunbar Early Childhood Academy Auditorium, 5:30 p.m.
December 10, Friday — Vista’s Jingle Jam 2021 at Vista Community Church. Join us for the most fun, biggest, Christmas party of the year for your whole family. We'll play games, sing Christmas songs, have Christmas cookies and cocoa, and hear the Christmas story in a way kids can understand. And it is totally FREE! We’ll have a Jingle Jam session at 5:30pm and 7pm.
December 10, Friday - Bone at O’Briens. 9 p.m.
December 10, Friday —Branded Heart at Bo’s Barn. 8 p.m.
December 10-12 — Disney’s Aladdin Jr. at Temple Civic Theatre.
December 10-12, The Texas Nutcracker, performed by Classical Ballet Conservatory of Lisa's Dance Connection, performance at the Cultural Activities Center.
December 11, Saturday — Adult Lego Club at the Temple Public Library. Creative building as well as conversation about our favorite bricks.
December 11, Saturday — Downtown Temple Holiday Market & Food Truck Frenzy. Its Holiday Season! We are excited to partner our market series with another Food Truck Event! Come join us in Downtown Temple and spread some holiday joy by supporting local businesses in our area! We will have plenty of vendors, food trucks to satisfy anyone's cravings, live music and activities for kids! Come find that perfect gift for your loved ones - whether it be a new piece of jewelry, some unique bath products, or a fun knickknack. 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - 5th annual Holiday Extravaganza at the Troy Community Center. Shop with local small businesses. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - Tucka Texas Takeover with LJ Echols, Fat Daddy and Mr. Smoke. VFW Post 1820, Temple. 7 p.m.
December 11, Saturday — 35 South at Bo’s Barn. 9 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - Holiday Laser Light Show at Barrow Brewing Co. in Salado. Part of the 61st annual Salado Christmas Stroll. 7 p.m.
December 12, Sunday - Temple High School Band Winter Concert in the THS Auditorium, 2:00 p.m.
December 13, Monday - Temple High School Orchestra Christmas Concert at THS Auditorium, 7 p.m.
December 14, Tuesday - Temple High School Choir Holiday Gift at THS Auditorium. 7:30 p.m.
December 19, Sunday – When Harry Met Sally… (1989), free movie at Cultural Activities Center. Boy meets girl, boy sees other girls, and girl sees other boys. Maybe boy and girl should have seen each other. “I’ll have what she’s having.” The event will include a pre and post-movie discussion with Dr. Joseph Taberlet. 2 p.m.
December 18, Saturday - Shinyribs, Cultural Activities Center, 7:30 p.m.
LIST YOUR EVENT! Email info to OurTownTemple@gmail.com with “What’s Happening” in the subject line. Keep it short and sweet — what, when and where. You may include a short description. You must include a phone number for verification purposes. The phone number will not be published unless requested by submitter.
POSTCARDS FROM THE PAST
Central Grammar School was built in 1895 on Main Street where the current U.S. Post Office now stands. Within a few years, Lanier and Vandiver schools also popped up but soon all three developed structural problems. In 1928, a relatively new organization — the Parent-Teacher Association or PTA — headed up a drive to replace all three schools because of structural issues and a massive bat infestation. Vandiver and Lanier were replaced, but only the top floor was removed from Central.
Temple Lanes bowling alley and Burger Chef were located at 57th Street and General Bruce Drive for many years, making this a popular part of town for young residents. Temple Lanes eventually became a recording studio and museum for Grammy Award-winning Tejano singers Little Joe Hernandez y La Familia. Last year, a 7-Eleven convenience store was constructed a the location.
First responders, families will get free admission Nov. 27 to Dec. 3 to Museum’s wildfire exhibit
First responders and immediate family will receive free admission from Nov. 27 to Dec. 3 to Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum’s new exhibit, “Facing the Inferno: The Wildfire Photography of Kari Greer.”
“These courageous men and women put their lives on the line for our communities, and this invitation is a token of gratitude for their work. Although we hope everyone finds the photography fascinating, we know first responders will have a unique appreciation for this exhibit,” said Museum Manager Michael Hicks.
Greer, former firefighter turned editorial photojournalist, accompanies crews on attack lines to examine heightened fire activity in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming during the Western fire season.
Firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians and paramedics are required to provide proof of identification for admittance during this time frame.
The public can visit the exhibit from Nov. 19 to Jan. 15, 2022, with the purchase of a general admission ticket. Active-duty military personnel receive free admission to the museum year-round.
The Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum is located at 315 W. Ave. B. For more information, visit templerrhm.org or call (254) 298-5172.
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