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Shadows of the Past

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The city of La Feria is celebrating its 100th year anniversary and to commemorate the occasion we are digging deep into our archives each week to bring you images and stories from La Feria’s colorful past.

The following is part of a series of historical articles written by Michael Lamm that originally ran in the La Feria News in 2003. They are being reprinted with the author’s permission.

Someone asks me where I’m from, and without hesitation I answer, “La Feria, Texas.” Then I tell them, “You’ve heard of La Feria, haven’t you?” And they say, “No.” So I explain where La Feria is, more or less, but I can never explain what La Feria is. Nor was. Nor what it meant to me.

It’s the “was” that I’ll write about in this series. I grew up in your town, my ex-town, some 60-odd years ago. To me, the memories are still vivid. I’ve been back, yes, on several occasions, and a few archeological reminders of growing up still exist. Yet it’s always a bittersweet return. Revisiting, I feel like a cat in a room full of furniture that’s been moved around.

Heinrich and Annie Lamm moved to La Feria in 1939,  fleeing Hitler’s Germany, when the author was only three years old. His parents would set up medical practice in La Feria and he would spend his formative years growing up here. This photo is of the author in college in Portland, Oregon, 1957. Photo: Michael Lamm/blog.hemmings.com

Heinrich and Annie Lamm moved to La Feria in 1939, fleeing Hitler’s Germany, when the author was only three years old. His parents would set up medical practice in La Feria and he would spend his formative years growing up here. This photo is of the author in college in Portland, Oregon, 1957. Photo: Michael Lamm/blog.hemmings.com

I truly don’t know what it’s like to live in La Feria today, but back then it was idyllic. What a great place to grow up. Like being Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer and Andy Hardy headed toward becoming Holden Caulfield. La Feria, for me, turned out to be a wonderful experience–warm, tranquil and supremely innocent. It’s the innocence that I miss most.

My parents moved to La Feria in 1939, when I was three years old. My mom and dad were both doctors, and I suspect a few of you might remember them: Heinrich and Annie Lamm. I went through all 12 years of La Feria’s school system, start-ing in first grade in 1942 and graduating along with 31 classmates in 1954. I then went away to college in Oregon and New York, and although I did return to La Feria for holidays and on other occasions, my life there effectively ended after high school. And yet the town has continued to be my geo-graphic and emotional center, and I’ve always realized that I owe it more than I can say.

In writing these columns, I’ve decided to throw chronology to the wind. So figure on coming in at the middle of some-where between about 1942 and 1954; no telling where. In the end, my ramblings might make a little sense, but they’ll tend to be impressionistic. More next week.

 MichaelLamm3ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Lamm’s family moved to La Feria in 1939, when Mike was three. Both his parents practiced medicine in La Feria. Mike grew up here and went away to college in 1954, first in Oregon and then in New York. He and his wife, JoAnne, and their three sons live in California, where Mike publishes books about cars. His company website – www.LammMorada.com.


Do YOU have any photos, books, or stories that might help us piece together La Feria’s storied history? If so please email us or call our office at 956-797-9920 and let us know!

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10 Responses to Shadows of the Past

  1. Bernice (Pitcock) Tipton Reply

    April 18, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    I went to LaFeria High from 53-54 school year until mid-term of 56-57.
    I was born in Brownsville,Texas on July 10, 1938. I was one of 7 siblings. We lived in Harlingen, SanBenito, and LaFeria. When we moved to LaFeria from SanBenito We lived in a house behind the Fruit Stand west of LaFeria, there was a canal behind our house and East of the fruit stand. Lots of orange trees that we helped ourselves to.
    From there we moved to a house owned by Dr Moot then we bought a house, I think it was on Magnolia, next to a retired teacher named
    Bond. We knew the Wenke family on Main, well. Karl played football
    and I understand Butch Wenke was an educator…principal and superintendent.
    Your parents were our doctors. Annie delivered my first child in May 1958 and Heinrich did an appendectomy on my husband the same month.

    My brother Bobby Pitcock is our historian. He has so much information to share. He recently had a stroke but thank God his memory was not
    affected and he has no trouble speaking. It left him paralyzed on his left side, but therapy is helping. He had a heart transplant 25 years years ago and is 75.

    Our Dad drove for Valley Transit Bus Co from 1944 until 1956 and told many stories that Bobby can repeat. I’ve tried to get him to use a tape recorder and leave the info so I can write a book.

  2. Charles Murphy Reply

    April 27, 2015 at 2:32 am

    I grew up in LaFeria from 1947 on. I was a patient of Dr. Lamm on several occasions during my child hood. He had an office in the building that faces main street, south across from the street where the old CPL building was. The LFISD used the building for administrative offices for many years in recent history.

    Thanks

    Charlie Murphy

  3. jack scogin Reply

    April 27, 2015 at 5:05 am

    Still looking for La Feria news article written by Tommy Wiseman, the girls coach, in mid to late 1969. Any records I can look up or any other articles she may have written. This one involved me jack scogin in Viet Nam.

    thanks

    jack

  4. Del Reply

    April 27, 2015 at 10:58 am

    I find it interesting that Michael writes about “town characters”, sometimes in an unflattering light, and there is no mention of his father being the Alan Shepard (First American In Space) of fiber optic technology in medicine.

    https://www.google.com/search?as_q=&as_epq=heinrich+lamm&as_oq=&as_eq=&as_nlo=&as_nhi=&lr=&cr=&as_qdr=all&as_sitesearch=&as_occt=any&safe=images&tbs=&as_filetype=&as_rights=&gws_rd=ssl

  5. Peter Llewellyn Reply

    April 27, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Just a minor memory about Mike and his father, Dr. Lamm.

    Mike and I were in a small five piece Biergarten band that was available to entertain any and all of La Feria’s service clubs (gratis, but if we were lucky, a lunch or two might have been thrown in–perhaps the latter being why this quintet was called a “Hungry Five”). Mike’s dad took us under his wing to educate us about traditions of this kind of music (mostly polkas and/or fast waltzes) prefaced and/or followed by corny jokes. But, what I remember most vividly was Dr. Lamm’s demonstration of how to best set the beat for each piece: In his thick, heavy, resounding German accent we heard “Ein, Zwei, Drei, Spiel” (One, Two, Three, Play) Dr. Lamm loved music in all its forms: He sat up front at our band concerts; he played French Horn with uninhibited gusto; he travelled hundreds of miles to take cello lessons; he organized a string quartet that played for ladies’ teas (my father was member, and I can still remember Dr. Lamm attempting to teach him both the basics of the viola and the rudiments of counting); and he even took me to hear a Civic Concert Series production of Beethoven’s 5th by the San Antonio Symphony. And, true to form, he’d brought along the complete score which he shared with me as we experienced the grandeur of Beethoven.

    Mike played clarinet and his sister, Miriam, the French Horn. I think they both have lot of their father in them, and that’s about as good as it gets.

    Peter Llewellyn, La Feria Class of 1956

  6. Peter Llewellyn Reply

    May 11, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Thinking back to Mike’s and Miriam’s father, his professional relationship to my family was one of complete “physicianship”: He removed my brother’s appendix; removed my father’s kidney stone and patched up his ulcerated stomach; regularly cleaned out my clogged ears; and was a favorite doctor of my mother, an RN who had a professional relationship with him at Valley Baptist Hosp. On one occasion, when I was floundering as to what vocational path I was to choose, he even counseled on that—the essence of this was to follow one’s dream. He was an ENT doctor, urologist, surgeon, psychologist, family doctor, and friend: A one stop source for almost any ailment. His kind of medicine is missed in this day of ever increasing specialties.

    Peter Llewellyn

  7. Ralph Newcomb Reply

    May 11, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    My Dad Ellis (Tex) and Mom Jessie Newcomb and 4 of us boys moved into the La Feria area in the spring of 1940 on the North White Ranch Rd. I Ralph Newcomb the oldest of the 4 left there in the spring of 1948 at the age 19 after the tomato packing season was over. I now live in Nevada. I have two questions for you if I may. Where in California do you live and how many years have you lived in California? I lived in California all together about 36 years.

    Ralph Newcomb

  8. Candy Cain Reply

    July 10, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    I am one descendent of Jake Cain, and J.T. Cain who lived, and served in La Feria in the early to mid 1900’s. Having many early memories of La Feria, and then returning to graduate High School in ’71. I am enjoying, very much, the tributes to the Centennial celebration, and stories of the early families. Thank you for giving tribute to those who served in working to make La Feria the happy place most of us remember! Jake and J.T.Cain were “Bigger than Life” to me, and soon after J.T. passed (Too early) we moved away. Any personal stories, and/or pictures shared will be gratefully enjoyed, and passed on to their descendents. 🙂 Thanks for the consideration.

  9. Gene Seibert Reply

    April 22, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    Does anyone no anything about Mr Kister house built way back in time off fm 506 1 mile north of the express way north of Dr Martin home .It has a large 2 acre pond in the back yard with a rock wall around it. We are buying the old Kister home.

  10. Heather Holder Reply

    September 3, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    My grandfather was from LA Feria. He was born in 1928 and was raised there. He ended up getting into oilfield business and was working in Louisiana when he met my grandma, and lived out the rest of his life there. I live in Beeville now with my husband, who also is in oilfield coincidently, and hope to make a trip down that way eventually to see the town. My grandfather is my only lineage to Texas, and I love having just that little bit. My grandpa loved Texas, so much that he even grew Bluebonnets in his yard in Louisiana. Now I’m blessed by the Lord to live here, too. I love that he was from a small town, too. I truly feel those are the best. God Bless. Oh, and just for notes, he was a Schwab.

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