Another report on the road to Cross Plains:
Continuing east on Interstate 10 from Junction, the next stop was Kerrville, which was mentioned in my first “road post.” That same August 1931 letter to H.P. Lovecraft has a bit more to say about Kerrville:
Then from Junction I went to Kerrville, a rather noted health-and-pleasure-resort among the mountains about fifty miles southeast of Junction; after a couple of days stay at Kerrvillle I went on to San Antonio, seventy miles to the south [. . .]
Hmm, I’m not aware of Howard’s mom ever going to Kerrville for treatment of her tuberculosis, but I can’t imagine another reason for Bob to spend more than an hour in the “noted health-and-pleasure resort.” Better investigate.
As with all these towns, you can’t just pull off the freeway and expect to find anything. Usually, all an off-ramp will have to offer is gas stations and fast food; these are usually on the outskirts of towns. To find the areas that Howard might have visited, you usually have to ask someone where the local courthouse is located. In Junction, the gas station attendant first told me that there were no old buildings around, but after I asked if there was a courthouse downtown, she changed her story.
Anyway, a few miles from the off-ramp, downtown Kerrville is quite a sight. Unlike Junction, this place is still thriving, with many local businesses occupying and restoring the original town structures. It’s easy to get a 1930’s vibe while walking down the streets. In a bookstore (yes, an actual bookstore), I asked the aging proprietor about health resorts in Kerrville. She directed me to Joe Herring, the general manager of a local print shop.
Herring had a wealth of information about the town, including thousands of photos. He told me that there used to be plenty of “health resorts” in town as a result of the natural hot springs. He said that many people came seeking relief from tuberculosis. When I told him that Howard’s mom suffered from the disease, he nodded and said, “That makes sense.” He also told me that, without a name, it was virtually impossible for him to help me with a location; however, only one of the old resorts was still standing.
The postcard above (sorry for the poor quality, I was miles down the road before I realized my camera was out of focus) was once a TB sanatorium; today, it is part of the State Hospital in Kerrville. The old building is located on a hill behind a newer structure. The guard in a guardhouse refused to let me take pictures of the building, saying something about patients’ privacy. If I hadn’t needed to hit the road, I probably could have gone over her head, but Howard Days waits for no one, and I had things to do down the road in San Antonio.
More later, maybe.