Gillespie County changed quite a bit in its first century, but most of the time the pace was gradual, even predictable. Then on Nov. 22, 1963, an assassin killed President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, and Lyndon Johnson from Stonewall, Texas, became President of the United States. From that moment, the tempo of change in Gillespie County picked up considerably.
Before that day, Fredericksburg was a sleepy Hill Country village of between 4,000 and 5,000 people. Traffic was light. Parking was no problem at all.
Main Street businesses catered to locals, not tourists. People who regularly parked on Main, between Washington and Adams streets, parked on the north side in the mornings and on the south side after lunch. That way their cars were always in the shade.
Speaking of cars, a motorist could drive from Elk Street to Cherry Street and back again without seeing a Mercedes or a Lexus. Not even a Volvo.
Citizens never locked their cars — or their houses for that matter. Some houses had no locks and some of those that did had no keys.
There were few apartments in Fredericksburg and hardly a B&B to be found anywhere. A teacher new in town or a young couple had a hard time finding a place to rent.
Fredericksburg still had a European flavor. People spoke Town Creek German in casual conversation.
They never worried about the proper wine to pair with Schwartenmagen or Leberwurst. Beer went with everything.
The only grapes in Gillespie County grew wild on a barbed wire fence.
For more on this story, read this week’s print and online editions of the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post. If you are a print subscriber, your full online subscription is free. All you need to do is call 830-997-2155 to get a password. If you are not a subscriber, call 997-2155 or click on the ‘Subscribe’ button on the left side of the home page and sign up today!