Saturday, November 27, 2021
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alamo museum vintage dressesBy Herb Moering

Running a business, especially a large operation, is not without complications in these times. Bob and Dana Huck’s Tropical Star Nursery in Alamo is just one example.

The couple was slated to be recognized at a City of Alamo Museum reception on Feb. 25 for the donation of vintage women’s dresses from the era of the 1900s to the 1920s. Wouldn’t you know it, a business emergency cropped up requiring the Hucks to transport 15,500 seedlings of watermelon, tomatoes, and cabbage to Houston truck farmers when their normal hauler couldn’t guarantee delivery due to the huge backlog caused by the winter storm.


That was just their latest problem, after having scrambled to move 1.5 million outdoor watermelon seedlings into the company’s nearly full 38 greenhouses to save them from the winter freeze of the previous week.

That storm has wiped out many of the crops and farmers are besieging the company with calls for any seedlings available. Tropical Star currently provides 30-million transplant vegetables a year to local farmers and others in west Texas and Oklahoma. That marks a major expansion since 1998 from growing Asian spinach for Houston stores and an orange juice operation.

While the Hucks could not be at the reception in person, a close friend, Doris Taber, of Alamo, spoke of how she had met the couple. She and her late husband, Albert, just stopped in at the nursery one day and it led to a long friendship. Albert often helped at the nursery over many winter seasons.

It was possible to have Bob speak to the Alamo city officials and Friends of the Museum members at the reception via phone from Houston. He shared the story about the dresses, which was a surprise add on when he went to buy an antique 1914 Model T touring sedan.

Huck said he was living in Seattle at the time when he found the owner of Bob Allen American Motors dealership was selling the old Model T. The story in selling the car was to have the money to paint the Allen house, which the wife was insisting upon.

When Huck finished with the vehicle transaction, Allen’s wife came with several bags that she said he had to take with the car. Well, Huck finally agreed, not even sure what exactly was in the bags he was being given. When he got home and spilled out the contents, he had a pile of dresses dating from the turn of the century, 1900s, to the 1920s flapper era, along with some high button shoes and a corset or two.

He was not sure what to do with them, so he stored them in a trunk for many years along with a few hats from that time period. Last year he found that the City of Alamo Museum was very interested in the dresses and decided to donate them.

Alex Oyoque, the museum director and curator, created a mannequin exhibit of the stylish, lacy outfits that are currently on display.

Perhaps the most interesting dress is one quite similar to a large photograph on display taken in 1918, with one of two women wearing a look-alike cotton bobble and pin tuck dress. What was also unique was both women in the photo were wearing face masks as they walked down a street. The face coverage was worn to try and ward off infection from the Spanish flu pandemic of a century ago.

To conclude the evening reception, a pair of antique Coca Cola glasses were unveiled as an added donation of the Hucks to the museum along with a boater straw hat from the distant past.

Photo 1: Standing in at the City of Alamo Museum reception for Bob and Dana Huck at the reception was Doris Taber, a close friend from Alamo, who mentioned the long friendship with the nursery owners.