12 February 1907: Houston Lyceum and Carnegie Library was opened March 2, 1904 adjacent to the First Presbyterian Church, a wing of which can be seen to the right. The first librarian was Julia Bedford Ideson (1880-1945), operating with just an errand boy and a janitor as staff. Julia was an 1899 graduate of Houston High School with a 1902 BA in library science from UT Austin, and she soon became a singularly progressive voice in Houston culture. Longtime resident of the Rossonian Apartments, she likely walked the 2 blocks from home to work. As Houston grew the building became inadequate to Houston’s expanding population and she assisted in the design of a new building which opened in 1926 and now bears her name. The old building was left behind, and when the 1st Presbyterian Church burned in 1932, the lot was leveled. In 1949 F W Woolworth bought the site and erected one of their largest outlets there, becoming a staple of downtown shoppers until it was demolished in 1999.
8 April 2015: At street level to the left sits the parking garage for The Bank of the Southwest Building, 24 floors, 1956, filling the block bounded by Milam, Walker, Travis and McKinney. Visible just behind is The Mellie Esperson Building at 815 Walker, 19 floors, 1941, the first in Houston to be built with air conditioning. Built by and named for Melvina “Mellie” Keenan Esperson Stewart (1872-1945), Houston’s most successful businesswoman of the time, it adjoined her earlier building, the Italian Renaissance Niels Esperson Building at 808 Travis (here out of view to the right), 32 floors, 1927, built to honor her first husband Niels Peter Esperson (1857-1922), one of the pioneers of the Humble Oil Field. Further back a sliver of the prismatic Pennzoil Place, 36 floors, 1975 can barely be made out. The multilevel parking structure occupying the rest of the frame is McKinney Place, 12 floors, 2002, with various businesses on the street level, prominently here, Jason’s Deli, and the office of Platinum Parking to which complaints about the garage could be brought.
Postmarked: 12 February 1907; Houston, Tex. “D”
Received: 16 February 1907; Bern[ardston], MA
Stamp: 1c Blue Green Ben Franklin #300
To: L. M. Fisk,
Thanks for the pretty card. Yours in C.E.
“Thanks for the pretty card” is almost a mantra used by participants in postcard exchange clubs, so it seems very likely he was a member of a postcard exchange club. When L. B. signs off as “Yours in C. E.” he may refer to such a club, perhaps the one mentioned by another Houston postcard writer in this series, Oscar Heavin, as U.S.C.E, most likely an abbreviation for the United States Card Exchange.
The author of the card, L. B, did not leave any clues to her identity (presuming a feminine hand, which cannot be confirmed or rejected with the available evidence).
Leon Miner Fiske was the 20 year old son of Levi Lincoln Fiske and Jessie Eugenia Miner, oldest brother of Walter L. (19), Harold E. (14) and Mabel A. (12). He seems to have had a technical bent and a few years after receiving this postcard (1910) he worked as a surveyor while his brother assisted their father on the farm. Leon moved from the farm to Waterbury, CT, some 100 miles from Bernardston, probably to find work. There on 15 October 1914 he married Gertrude M. Fox, 22 year old daughter of Arthur H. Fox and Edith C. Porter, the eldest daughter of Albert M. Porter (1844-1894) and Loranda E. Clinton (1846-1888) of Stratford, CT. Edith married Arthur Fox about 1888, a wagon-maker in Westville, New Haven, CT. Albert and Edith Fox had only two children, Lorinda (1890), named after her grandmother, and Gertrude (1892) who had been working as a teacher in New Haven, CT when she met Leon.
Leon found work as a toolmaker in at brass manufactory, and they had two daughters, Edith Jesse (1915) and Marjorie Gertrude (1918), and one son, Leon Miner, Jr (1927). Shortly before 1930 they moved to Pittsburg where Leon ran a gas station, but by 1935 the Fiske family returned to Leon’s home state of Massachusetts, settling in Greenfield, a few miles south of Bernardston where he had grown up. Leon switched careers again, working as a chiropractor as Gertrude treated clients in Swedish massage. They brought to Massachusettts Gertrude’s widowed mother, Edith Fox, who had been a Registered Nurse in a private practice in Waterbury, CT about 30 miles north of New Haven.
Leon and Edith remained in Greenfield where Leon died in 1976 and Gertrude died in 1981; they are buried in East Shelburne Cemetery near Greenfield in Franklin County, MA. Edith Fisk married Warren Facey and had 2 children; she died 2016. Marjorie married Byron Russell Hall and had 2 children; she died in 2014. Leon, Jr. married Gaynelle Dyer and had 4 children; he died in 2019 in Dallas, TX. The final resting places of Arthur Fox and Edith C. Porter Fox have not been identified.