True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 99
HOUSTON AND HOUSTONIANS 99
way any day and any time of day and find enough of it to last
him for a week or two, or until he could get his eyes sufficiently
open to see to get back for more. The fights were all fair and
square, too; no doubling up or having a big boy jump on a
smaller one. A boy had to tackle "a fellow of his size." The
rules of the game were simple, too, and no deadly insult or loudly
proclaimed challenge was necessary. The simple fact that a
big boy from another part of town had dared to show himself
at their favorite swimming' hole or town ball games was taken as
all sufficient casus belli and active hostilities were at once
The Fourth Ward was the best equipped of all for warfare,
for a larger number of big boys and good fighters lived there,
but what is now the Third Ward but which then was in two or
three divisions, was not far behind. There were three gangs
in this territory, but none of them had brilliant leaders. There
were too many of them nearly evenly matched to admit of anything
like leadership. I remember many battles royal that took
place down at the arsenal swimming hole, which was a favorite
battle ground, between the Howard boys, Mag and Vic Rogers,
Bud and Prat Mathews, Henry and Jif Thompson, John and
Milt McGowan, Joe Wills, Hiram and Bily Church and a number
of others whose names I have forgotten. I was a little fellow
and therefore immune from attack, being protected by my size,
but occasionally, quite often as a matter of fact, they would
produce a boy of my size and I would have to fight for the
privilege of remaining there.
Those who remember the quiet, good-natured gentleman that
Dr. James Blake grew up to be will no doubt be surprised to
hear that he was one of the greatest scrappers of his day when
a boy. He was terribly handicapped by his size, for he was a
great big boy for his age and always had to fight up hill, that
is, go against boys of his size but who were much older than
he. If no such material was at hand he would take on two
boys smaller than himself, and I remember on one occasion he
became over zealous and took on three with the result that he
got beaten nearly to death. As I remarked, those were fair
fights. No knives, sticks, bricks or other weapons were used
and the strange part was that very little anger or temper was
ever shown. Five minutes after a fight the boys were as good
friends as ever and never bore ill will or resentment toward
It was really a painful and trying thing for a Houston boy to
have to go to Galveston or for a Galveston boy to have to come
to Houston, for in either case the visit was simply a continual
round of fights. Then as now the Galveston boys were "sandcrabs,"
while the Houston boys were "mudcats," though the ue
of such names was considered a deadly insult then and alway
resulted in a fight.
I understand that it is not considered the proper thing for
school boys to fight now and that there are any number of them
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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/m1/99/ocr/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .