As I sit here on a Wednesday afternoon in the Archives Department of the beautiful El Progreso Memorial Library building, filled with the musky yet intriguing smell of literal history in the form of scrapbooks and newspaper clippings, I find myself newly invigorated for our Chamber and our community.
1958 wasn’t very long ago, and in the mind’s eye of a millennial such as myself, commerce and community without the constant instantaneous connection of buzzing cell phones and pinging computers may seem dull, but on these pages of history it is evident that they were vibrant and almost reverberating with growth and expansion during that time.
In the short time span of one week in 1958 the Chamber saw a 33% increase in membership with the addition of 82 members - the efforts of which were due from a friendly war of the genders. Also during this time all Chamber Directors and Staff were male, John Nance Garner celebrated his 90th birthday (of which the Chamber had a special committee designated to planning this event, with Dolph Briscoe, Jr., then a former State Representative for districts 77 and 79, serving as chairman.), there were 12 different committees including: Retail Sales, Summer Activities, Membership, Industrial, Soil and Water, Tourist, Publicity, Financial, Farm and Ranch, Civic, Civic Center, and Garner Day; and there was a weekly chamber column in the Uvalde Leader News titled “The CC Sees...”by then Manager, Tom Purdum.
There is so much that can be gleaned from history, and while fascinating I’m not just sitting here perusing the pages to broaden my personal understanding of our Chamber and community, I’m here on a specific mission to provide a detailed historical timeline of our Chamber history from inception in 1920 to date which will be presented at our Centennial Chamber Banquet on Friday, February 7th, 2020.
It’s likely that you, or someone you know, has served with the chamber in some capacity, whether as an Executive Director (previously called a Manager), a Director on the Board, President of the Board, Award Recipient, or member of the many committees. If you, or that someone you know, have stashed away in a dusty filing cabinet any chamber information - whether it be photos, newsletters, newspaper clippings, or meeting notes, agenda, or minutes – I beg of you to email them or drop them off to our Chamber office! They will greatly aid us in detailing our unique and colorful history – and if you don’t know where you’ve been, you can’t know where you’re going!
While there are some aspects that are best left in the past (I’ll let you ascertain them), there is much to be learned from our history as a Chamber and as a community! So look out Uvaldeans and Chamber members, cause you may see some history start to repeat itself!