2016 - 2017 Oral histories
Ada Anderson is a civic leader and philanthropist who is highly acclaimed for her civil rights work. She was born October 2, 1921 in Austin, Texas. In 1937, Anderson graduated from L.C. Anderson High School which remained segregated until 1971. She went on to Tillotson College, graduating with her B.S. degree in home economics in 1941. In 1951, she finished coursework for a M.S. degree in library science. However, due to her race, the school refused to allow her to do required fieldwork at the state library. This experience enforced Anderson’s commitment to civil rights. Anderson is the recipient of many accolades including her entrance in the Texas Black Women’s Hall of Fame and the African American Women’s Hall of Fame both in 1986. In 1999 she co-chaired the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force for the Austin Independent School District.
Gene A. Burd, PhD was born in the Missouri Ozarks, and moved to East Los Angeles with his siblings and father after his mother passed away during childbirth. He attended one of the highest rated high schools in Southern California and shares with us his path in higher education and the opportunities he had along the way, from majoring in political science at UCLA, to getting his masters in journalism at UCLA through a scholarship from the Los Angeles Times, all before being drafted to Germany for the Korean War. Dr. Burd obtained his PhD while working at iconic newspapers like The Kansas Star and The Houston Chronicle. His career, and the economy, led him to Austin, where for the next 30-40 years he taught journalism with an interdisciplinary mindset, pushing his students outside of their educational comfort limits. Dr. Burd was also a major proponent of minority rights, especially on campus.
Caswell Family/ Claire Caswell Cunningham reminisces about the Caswell family in Austin and their homes in the Judges’ Hill area. Daniel Haskell Caswell Sr., at age sixty, brought his entire family to Austin in 1895. He built homes for his children and expanded his already successful cottonseed oil manufacturing business. Claire, Daniel’s great granddaughter reflects on the five generations of Caswells as she identifies family members in photographs from the late 1800s until the present.
B. Brooks Goldsmith, DDS was born in 1934 and has spent over eighty years of his life in Austin. Brooks shares his memories of a fortunate life: growing up in Aldridge Place, youthful experiences at Wooldridge School and Austin High School, his dental practice of 50 years, his leadership of Young Men’s Business Association and other civic activities, good times at his cabin at the Pearl Lakes Trout Fishing Club in Colorado, his retirement years, and his family. He is currently an At-Large Board Member of the Austin History Center Association.
East Austin Breakfast Club / Richard Arzola, Tony Castillo, and David Ruiz Villasana Sr. recount their youth in East Austin, their education and their families. East Avenue, Spanish Village Restaurant, 6th Street, Pan Am Rec Center - this was the neighborhood in which they grew up, played sports, discovered art, worked their first jobs, and formed life-long friendships held together even now with breakfast and family gatherings. They talk about the changes in the Hispanic culture, politics, social influences, and the gentrification changes to East Austin.
Dr. Pat Hayes spent her childhood in New York, attended St. Rose college in Albany NY and graduate school at Georgetown University in Washington DC. She went on to work at St. Rose, moving to Texas when she became President of St. Edwards University. Her accomplishments include Main Building restoration, a recreation facility, and nurture of the migrant farm worker program and the Dallas Cowboys summer training camp. After 14 years, she went to Seton Hospital Administration and greatly expanded hospital sites and satellite offices during her time there. Pat, long known for participating in civic activities, since retiring has been busy with her family, her Maine property and volunteering at Foundation Community.
Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby recalls highlights during his 24 years serving as lieutenant governor, as well as early memories of Austin. He comments on his relationships during his time in Texas state government and what each of those relationships meant to him, along with a few stories on each. Hobby comments on his advocacy for public education and healthcare, as well as higher education. Guests included in the speaking list shared their favorite memories of Bill Hobby while in office.
Mary Morris Hornsby, born in New York City, moved to Austin where her parents, both from well-known families, originated. Her father, Dr. Morris, delivered thousands of babies over a sixty-year period. Mary grew up in Austin, attended Austin High, married Michael Hornsby, a Navy pilot and had two children. The Hornsbys, original settlers of the Austin area, helped create and settle Waterloo, later Austin. Hornsby Bend is named after their land on the Colorado River. Mary’s mother, the Drakes, founded Calcasieu Lumber Company, her aunt, Katherine Drake Hart, helped found the Austin History Center. She has contributed all her life through the Junior League, the Austin Settlement Home, Special Olympics and other activities and philanthropy.
Dr. Emma Lou Linn talks about her public and private life, interests and impact on Austin. She was born in Rocksprings TX and attended UT Austin, where later she got a doctorate degree. Her involvement in historical preservation, as well as women’s movements, led to being elected to the Austin City Council in 1975, where she embraced and supported human rights for all peoples. Since, she has been a full-time faculty member at St. Edwards University, contributing to preservation of the historical Main Building, women’s athletics and the psychology department.
Ramiro “Ray” Martinez provides animated memories of growing up in Texas and northern Mexico, and his college years in Austin in the late 1950’s, his time in the military and his experiences with discrimination in searching for a job upon his return to Austin. He describes his early duty with the Austin Police Department and then recounts his historic participation in the Tower sniper event of 1960. Ray also tells about his important work as a Texas Ranger fighting graft in south Texas.
Ada McElhenney takes us through the decades of her life, with memories as colorful and bright as her paintings, from age 5 to the present, encompassing downtown Austin, her arts education, her youth and marriage to Austin’s first allergist, their collection of Latin American art, her involvement with the Austin arts scene, Laguna Gloria Museum of Art and the University of Texas. She tells about her garden and her friendship with Lady Bird Johnson. Ada talks about her time in New York City, her paintings, the arts, her travels and her children and grandchildren.
Clift Price M.D. arrived in Austin with his mother and siblings in 1940 to begin his freshman year at U.T., attended medical school, and returned in 1953 to practice as a beloved pediatrician and serve in various medical positions until his retirement in the nineties. He shares memories of family and early years in Austin, his medical career, his crucial role in introducing fluoridation, his thoughts on and about practicing medicine, his involvement in childrens’ organizations, his retirement and children and grandchildren.
Joseph Pearson Quander, Jr. M.D. was born in Washington D.C. in 1934. After Yale and Howard Medical School, he served as an Air Force surgeon. He was the first Black physician at the University of Texas Health Center and had his own OB-GYN practice. Very involved in the community since he moved here in 1969, he includes interesting information about the effects of the Roe versus Wade Supreme Court Case in Austin, as well as the gaining for African-Americans to live where they chose in Austin of the 1970’s.
Julian Read, public relations guru, was literally an “Eyewitness to History” as he rode in the White House press bus behind President John F. Kennedy’s limousine in Dallas that fateful day in 1963. He had more than a passing interest since his long-time client, popular Texas Governor John Connally, was in that same car. Connally survived and Read became the man to tell the world that the President had not. Representing a wide variety of public relations clients from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to the Las Vegas spectacle of illusionists Siegfried and Roy, Read cut a wide swath in Texas politics and show business as he adroitly presented his clients to the world.
Connie Wilson Roberts was born to a family with strong Central Texas roots, moved to Austin when she was very small, and after observing her mother and grandmother in the family wholesale produce business, she majored in business at the University of Texas, where she met her husband. They moved to Washington, D.C. in 1942, and while they visited her parents in Austin often, Connie did not move back here until almost seventy years later. Connie and her brother were main child characters in a 1930 second-grade reader, the first to use photographs; this book and her information about the homes and people in the photos is an unique resource about Austin’s past. With her two children, her wonderful memory, and her precious laugh, she shared many memories of her youth and life in Austin in the early 20th century.
Neal Spelce’s childhood education and love of books propelled him to the University of Texas at a young age, resulting in three Bachelor of Arts degrees. He spent most of his life in Austin, where he delivered news from the original television station, was co-owner of radio stations, had a successful advertising and public relations firm, was involved in television production and contributed to Austin in his civic activities. He is also well known for his association with LBJ and the Johnson family. Neal shares all of that and more about famous people he had the opportunity to meet and know.
Walter Timberlake was born and raised in Austin, and thanks to his amazing memory, he shared a wealth of detail about the Austin of his youth. He recalled his work and life experiences, including his involvement in unions and in Austin, Travis County, and Texas politics. Additionally, he recalled his dedication to serve the disadvantaged, his church, and various nonprofit organizations.
George Wunderlick grew up in Dallas developing a life-long love for tennis. He volunteered for the Army in his junior year of college at A&M and served in WWII in the Pacific Arena. His multifaceted career led him back to Austin, and in retirement he assists veterans with PTSD, is “Mr. Somebody” with the Boys and Girls Club, serves his church, St. Ignatius Martyr, in many of their outreach services, and has been a part of a prayer group named Carmelite for over seventy years.