Bell Telephone - Post Office
1913: On the left side of San Jacinto Street leading off into the distance is the seven story Bell Telephone building, with the Court House further back. On the right is the newly constructed Post Office, and in the block beyond are the offices of the Houston Lighting and Power Company, Lead Pipe & Plumbing Company, Jacob Electrical Company and other businesses. A series of boarding houses completes that block, an urban plan allowing many workers of the time to walk to work. Farther down San Jacinto Street at the corner of Texas Avenue is the domed Fire Station.
The Postmaster after 1915 was Thomas W. House, Jr. who grew up at 1010 Louisiana. His sister Edith wrote a postcard in this collection, see Southern Pacific Hospital.
10 March 2005: The Telephone building has added two floors, but the contours of the edifice are basically the same. Of course, most of the electrical and wiring systems have long been replaced, at least several times. The view of the courthouse is obstructed by a newer building. The post office is basically the same, now used as a customs house and recruiting center, and although the original post office is still intact, it can only be reached by going through security, and so is seldom used. The fire station is replaced by the Dunn outreach center for the homeless by the Episcopal Christ Church Cathedral. It cannot be seen due to intervening buildings.
Postmarked: 2 August 1913
To: Mr. Raymond B. Coddou
Aug 20 1913
Darling - Received both cards so happy to learn that you are well and dandy. Am so proud to write you each & every one of us here are the same. R. M. Is here visiting all of us. He looks fine. Forwarded you a letter from Mr. Ross.
Weather here at present quite pleasant.
See dear grandma almost every day since she is so near. Will spend to-day with Aunt Adele. All send lots of love & kisses
Devotedly your mother.
The author of the postcard is Virginia Coddou, and she must have been quite anxious as her beloved son Ray traveled to Seattle. That northwest seaport was much like his home town of Galveston, but resting on a temperate sea less given to tropical tantrums. There he could still inhale the breath of the ocean and invigorate himself with the salt spray. He could banquet on the sea’s riches with less fear that the waters would rise up to smother him beneath her violent oscillations.
Virginia Marie was the daughter of Josephine Chambard and Sebastian Drouet born in France, pilot of the port of Galveston in the 1880’s. He and his brother Adolph evaded Union blockades in the Civil War to the learn the art of seamanship. She married Alexander Coddou, another Frenchman, and made their family home on the sandbar called Galveston. She was off the island on September 8, 1900 with her older sons, Charles, Ray and Gene when the ocean came up and swallowed her husband and younger sons, Claude, Edmond and Drouet.
After the tragedy of the 1900 storm, Ray became a civil engineer for the electric railway, working at Texas City before exploring what the Northwest might have to offer. He soon came back as Chief Geologist for The Texaco Company, a firm which sent him across a wider America in search of petroleum. Most of the family had fled the island after the storm, coming to Houston for safer ground. Virginia’s sister, Adele Celeste ("Aunt Adele") married William Charles Boddaker, a rice buyer, and lived on Calhoun Street. “Dear grandma,” their widowed mother, moved into a house on Hadley.
After writing the postcard, Virginia lived only another 14 months, and her mother only another year after that. Raymond Bonaventure Coddou served in WWI and died at 77, buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Houston Heights in a plot with his mother and brother Eugene.