True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 211
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HOUSTON AND HOUSTONIANS 211
N evening or two ago I dropped in' to see some moving
pictures on the southeast corner of Prairie Avenue and
Main Street. While I watched a mimic tragedy pictured
on the screen, it occurred to me that identical locality had been
the scene of more real tragedies than any other place in Houston,
or perhaps any other single point in Texas. The reason is
obvious when it is said that on that corner was located one of
the most fashionable saloons in town and that the spacious second
story was devoted to gambling and billiards.
Before the war the saloon was owned and run by a man named
Charles Harris. He was a man of good manners and considerable
polish; was known to be a "square man" and had numerous
friends. In those days the modern club was unknown,
and lawyers, doctors, bankers, merchants, and in fact everybody
went in saloons and billiard halls and thought no more of
doing so than they do today of going to a restaurant or a soda
fountain. Harris, as I have said, was popular and his place was
generally well filled, while the billard hall and faro bank upstairs
did a thriving business.
Now, when gambling and whiskey get together there is more
than apt to be trouble, and Harris' place was a shining example
of the truth of this. There were a number of very large sycamore
and cottonwood trees growing both on the Main Street
and the Prairie Street side of the place, so Harris chose as a
name for his saloon "The Shades." On one occasion a young
lawyer congratulated Harris on the appropriateness of the name,
but suggested that it would be still more appropriate if he could
have the "S" painted out and leave it "Hades." "Then," said
he, "the only objection that could be raised is that yours is the
home of imported spirits while the other is the home of exported
When I was a little fellow I remember seeing a big blacksmith,
who had a shop on Travis Street, between Preston and
Prairie Avenues, come running out of the saloon with something
that looked like an axe-handle in his hand. He was closely
followed by another man, without a hat, whose head and face
were covered with blood. This man had a big bowie knife in
his hand and just before the blacksmith reached the corner
where Dr. Robert's residence stood, but where now stands the
Lumbermans National Bank, he caught up with the blacksmith
and sank the knife in his shoulder. The blacksmith turned and
dealt him a terriffic blow with his stick, and both fell in the
street. I don't think either was killed. I know the blacksmith
was not, for on the following San Jacinto Day, I saw another
fellow chase him from the north side of market square clear
to his shop, which he reached in time to shut the door and keep
the other fellow out. This other fellow had an ugly looking
bowie knife, too, but his friends came up and took him away. I
don't remember the name of the blacksmith, but I judge from
Here’s what’s next.
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Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young., book, 1913; Galveston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/m1/211/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .