Congress at Travis
1904: The corner of Congress and Travis was one of the busiest corners in Houston, situated between Main Street one street down and Market Square to the right. The domed Big Casino to the right at 908 Congress was owned and operated by Emil Clede and Henry Koenig as a seafood market and restaurant. They could cater family meals at private homes for a fee of 25 cents, but whether gambling took place there is a question that could not be answered. The Sweeney, Coombs, and Fredericks Building at 301 Main Street and Congress Avenue was built in 1889, but here is devoid of the turret. For a later view from the same intersection but directed down Travis to the south, see Congress at Travis.
22 February 2004: The Big Casino is now the Okra Bar, an eating and drinking establishment in which a percentage of the profits are donated to rotating charities decided by patron votes.
To: Darinka Draskovic
ulica F. Josiah 99
Sarajevu bosnien Austria
Postmarked: Dec 6, 1904
Stamp: 2c Carmine George Washington #319
From: M. Lazic
Darinka. čestitam bozicne [blagdane]
[Translation from Croatian] "Miss Darinka Merry Christmas M. Lazic"
Sometimes finding senders and recipients of postcards is made difficult by language barriers. M. Lazic wrote in Slavic to Sarajevo with a simple message, “Merry Christmas,” in 1904. This was very early for postcard communications, which had only begun to catch on in America, although Europeans had pioneered their use as brief communications.
M. Lazic left little in the way of traces of her passage through Houston. The single data point that could be found is a city directory reference in 1905: Lazic, Marie (widow of Anton), residence 13 Colby Place. The short street still exists on the East End between Commerce and German (now Canal), and her tiny place was mid-block on the west side of the unpaved street in an area now occupied by warehouses. It was a firmly working class neighborhood then, with a mixture of blue collar whites, blacks, browns, and foreigners. Mount Zion Baptist Church, a “Negro” congregation was in the same block on German Street, and behind the church a series of “shotgun houses,” a style of housing from post-slavery housing for freed blacks consisting of a single long room from which a shotgun at the entrance would penetrate to the back wall. Langston Public School with a “Negro” student body, was across from the church. Neither still exists.
Sarajevo seems to have been a troubled place a century ago as now, stamped with a military seal upon receipt. Darinka Draskovic may have been a relative or friend, the message is too generic to make a judgment on matters of relationship. Nothing further has yet been discovered regarding Marie or Anton Lazic. It seems probable that she remarried and was lost to the records.