Saturday, February 2, 2013

The New House: "There was nothing elegant about it."

After the term at the Coronal Institute ended in the spring of 1896, Ima, Mike, and Tom were once again back in Austin in the clutches of the redoubtable Aunt Fannie. But they were in a new house: Jim Hogg had bought a two-and-a-half story house on a large lot on the northeast corner of Rio Grande and West 19th Street (now Rio Grande and Martin Luther King Boulevard). As Ima remembered this house, "There was nothing elegant about it, but [it was] in an excellent neighborhood and plenty of ground for a small orchard, a barn for horses and cows and chickens and ducks and a flower garden." Across the street the Hoggs could watch the construction of an impressive Classic Revival mansion, completed in 1899, by Dr. Goodall Wooten, the brother of their family physician Dr. Thomas Wooten. (The Hoggs’ house site is now an apartment complex, but the Wooten house is now The Mansion at Judges Hill, an Austin boutique hotel.)
Streets around the house were still unpaved, but a trolley car ran past it on Rio Grande Street. Just up the hill from the University of Texas campus, the house was a prime Austin location. As Ima wrote years later: “Father was so busy at his office downtown on Congress Avenue [that] he knew little of what was going on in the house.” To get to his office from his new house on 19th and Rio Grande, the ex-Governor took Joe, the Tennessee walking horse, and the buggy, or he used the streetcar which ran on Rio Grande Street and made a circuit South and North going over to Lavaca. The younger Hogg children did not often ride the streetcar, as Ima recalled, because it was “a tedious trip” and they “had rather use the car fare for chili or tamales after school.”
Now that they had a home in Austin again, Ima, Mike, and Tom began attending school there in the fall of 1896. Will was a student at the University of Texas, just down the hill.
As for Aunt Fannie, as Ima recalled, she “did her best to keep house—but that was not her forte." She moved in with "a number of canary birds to sing for her" and she "looked after them religiously."
She also taught Ima to sew, and to make her own clothes.  As Ima remembered: The only compensation for that was, I was free to select my own materials. Mother’s example had given me a taste for pretty fabrics. I can’t speak for my creations, but I studied the pictures on the old “Bon Ton” fashion magazines and did the best I could until I was ready to graduate from Miss Carrington’s school. Then I protested . . . . I went to Father and asked him if I could have my simple white dress made by a good dressmaker for my graduation. Of course I could, so that ended my own dressmaking.

Jim Hogg could not deny his only daughter anything. 

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