Saturday, November 29, 2014

Will Hogg, where are you when we need you?

      While we don’t yet know all about Ima Hogg’s adventures in Germany, we know what her elder brother was up to, and we shall not see his like again. Who in his right mind would seriously argue for a “fool-proof and sensible city zoning plan” in Houston? Will Hogg, that’s who--in 1927. And that was when Houston had only 250,000 people. But we remained, then as now, resistant to any zoning plan, sensible or not.
       Will did what he could on his own. He bought land just northwest of downtown’s business district for $260,000, because he thought we needed a civic center. He then persuaded the city to purchase the land and pay for it with a bond issue. That area is now occupied by City Hall, the Jesse H. Jones Center for the Performing Arts, Wortham Center, Hobby Center, and the Houston Public Library.  Largely because of Will Hogg, we have Memorial Park, one of the largest city parks in the nation. Will named it to honor Houston soldiers who died in World War I. With his brother Mike and his old UT chum Hugh Potter, Will bought land 3 miles out in the country, west of downtown. That would become River Oaks.

      More about that later.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ima leaves Germany in 1908, and returns, and returns...

     What was Ima doing in 1908 in Germany? She returned to Houston late that year, or perhaps early in 1909. We know that she was in a friend’s wedding in Lampasas in April 1909, and she began to give piano lessons to a small, select group in Houston that year.
       But in the summer of 1910 she returned to Europe with her brother Mike. She kept a journal of their tour, describing cities and sights she wanted Mike to see. The two of them went first to Berlin. They stayed there a week--but there is not one word about what they did or saw there. Ima had lived in Charlottenberg, a suburb of Berlin, for over a year, but she does not mention anything about her stay, or about people she knew.
       Why--when she describes every other stop on their tour in some detail?
       When Ima Hogg had a secret, she kept it.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

1907:Ima plans to stay in Germany

On January 4, 1907 Ima went to the American Consulate in Berlin, and signed a "Certificate of Registration" allowing her to reside in Germany "for the study of music," as she wrote.

She signed her name with her distinctive signature, always making her first name illegible.

What other secret was she keeping?

(Research in progress!)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ima in Germany: A diary begun--and suddenly ended.

         Ima was ever the dutiful tourist on her “grand tour” of Europe in 1907. She was twenty-five years old. Every museum, every painting, every cathedral, every building, filled her travel journal in guide-book detail, from June to October.         
         Then, for reasons still undiscovered, she suddenly decided to stay in Germany. She said she wanted to learn German and work on her music. With the help of a “Mrs. Cranberry” (Grandberry?) she took a room in a house (Mrs. Cranberry’s?) in Charlottenberg, a suburb of Berlin, then a neighborhood for Jewish artists and intellectuals.
         Ima acquired a Bechstein piano, and a famous music teacher, Xaver Scharwenka. She went to operas and concerts and practiced her German and her music. She played checkers with “Buddy,”a handsome young man who  lived in the house and played the violin. (Was he a family member? A tenant?)
     Ima began a diary on January 1, 1908, and abruptly ended it on February 29.

         Mystery upon mystery.