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22 April 1922: The patriotically festooned Interurban Railroad Station on Texas Avenue was the departure point for hourly trips to and from Galveston. It was the Interurban that made Galveston a resort destination like nothing else in middle America.
2015: The vacant lot here shown would soon be replaced with a 48 story tower completed in 2017, 609 Main at Texas, with the parking structure facing Texas Avenue here.
Postmarked: 22 April 1922
Stamp: 1c Green George Washintgon #405
To: Mr. W. M. Combs
Okla Box 91
Message: Dear Mother This is one Great trip there is 200 of us & all stay togeather
I. A. C.
What event brought the author with a group of 200 visitors to Houston on 22 April 1922? The Houston Chronicle and Houston Post reveal that the 1922 San Jacinto Day celebrations on April 21st brought members of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars to the opening of the Galveston causeway, including a parade down Broadway and festivities on the beach.
“Extra cars to accommodate the anticipated crowd will be run on the regular 2 o’clock Interurban. An extra train will be operated to the causeway at 2:30. The cars will be on hand to convey the crowd back to the city after the ceremonies are over. All of the cars will stop at the first arch on the island side of the causeway, where the ceremonies will be held. A barbecue will be given in the afternoon by the Veterans of Foreign Wars at Roger’s old location down the island. It is expected that between 1000 and 1500 former servicemen will be present.”
The author of the card writes his mother in Blackwell, Kay County, OK to express his enthusiasm, and scrawls his brief message in a nearly illegible script. The picture side depicts the Interurban Station adorned with patriotic banners from which he may have departed for Galveston Island, and it is tempting to speculate that the postcard may have been issued to commemorate San Jacinto Day that year.
The Interurban postcard presented here was written is such a hasty manner that the closing initials are hard to interpret, but there is a way to compare handwriting from official documents available online. Before World War I American males were required to register for the draft, and the forms were signed by the registrants. There were 13 men complying from Kay County, OK, and only a single one was living in Blackwell in 1918: Irving Albert Combs, working at a flour mill and married to Flora Combs. Further researches revealed that his father was, in fact, William M. Combs. Comparison of the signatures is not entirely conclusive, but nonetheless, it seems quite likely that Irving Albert is the author of the postcard.
The first record of Irving Albert Combs was in 1900 when “Irvin Combs” was a 19 year old servant living in the household of William Jones as a farm laborer. Somehow he makes his way to Hartford, Connecticut where on 28 February 1906 he married Flora Lyon, who in 1900 had been a servant living in Windham County, CT, a 17 year old girl born in the state. What brought Irving Albert to Connecticut cannot be determined. Nor is it known whether he was a soldier or veteran. He was a bit too young at 17 to have served in the Spanish American conflict in 1898, and he does not seem to have served in World War I.
William M. Combs and Nancy Elizabeth “Lizzie” Morrow had five children: John Franklin Combs (1875); William H. Combs (1878); Irving Albert (1881); Frederick Francis (1882); and Lulu (1891). The family had lived in Coffee County, KS in 1880; Jackson, Lyon County, KS in 1895; Emporia, Lyon County, KS in 1900. In 1910 William M. Combs was in Enid, OK with his wife Nancy Elizabeth, daughter Lulu and her husband George A. Lee and their son Lamont. Irving Albert and Flora were also in Enid at the time, but by 1920 they had moved to Blackwell, Kay County, OK while his parents remained in Enid. The postcard was written in 1922 to Irving Albert’s parents in Blackwell, OK, so apparently they had moved there to be closer to their son. Irving Albert addresses the postcard to Mr. W. M. Combs, then “Dear Mother,” so this implies that both were still living, but no further record of them could be found.
Irving Albert and Flora had three children: Ernest Lucius (1908); Harriett Anita (1910); Robert Irving (1916). About 1925 the family moved to Wichita, KS, where they remained until Irving Albert died in 1938 at 57 years of age. Thirty four years later Flora died in Honolulu, Hawaii on 10 April 1972 in her 89th year.