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South Texas Living

Replacing a wood stove in 1940

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Rainy Days and Starry Nights
May 18, 2010 | 2,705 views | Post a comment

Willis and Vivian Wauson were living in North Pleasanton in 1940. After going through the Depression for more than 10 years, Willis was beginning to work more hours for the Missouri Pacific Railroad.

He got very few hours on the “extra board” during those years. Vivian had to bake bread to sell in town, and do laundry for people, in order to feed her family. But now things were beginning to look up. Willis was going to buy her a new cook stove!

Vivian was tired of cooking on the wood cook stove and having to buy wood for it, so they set out for San Antonio to buy a new stove. They didn’t have a car, so their good friends and neighbors across the street, the Fredericksons, took them to the city. It was June 19, 1940. They went to the Schultze Stove and Hardware Co. at 115 Goliad Road.

They bought a Quick Meal Oil Range for $44.79. As they looked around, Vivian kept looking at a set of dishes longingly. Her dishes at home had dwindled to just a few pieces. It was the set someone had given them for a wedding present in 1918. With five boys in the family, the dishes had nearly all broken over the last 18 years!

So Vivian and Willis bought the 32-piece set of dishes for $5.50, a corn stick pan, a set of forks, and an aluminum teakettle for $3.14. Willis paid $30 down and promised to pay the rest in two payments: the first payment to be paid on July 1, in the amount of $18.60, and the rest on July 15, for $3.14. I have the Retair Chattel Mortgage to prove it.

They went back home to Pleasanton, where Vivian anxiously waited for Schultze to deliver the stove. It was June and hot in South Texas, but she would no longer have to endure the heat with a wood cook stove heating up the house. She would have a brand new oil stove and new dishes to serve her family a good meal.

I found out that the Schultze Hardware building is still standing in San Antonio. It is 119 years old! It was used as a tour center and tourist travel information center and for films during the 1968 HemisFair. The Hilton Hotel restored the building and used it for a conference and dining events center and has leased it until late 2011.

Some say the Schultze Co. was founded in 1864, but not at this location, perhaps. The building is a two-story building constructed in 1891 by Hermann Schultze, a native of Berlin, Germany, with handpicked lumber from the first lumberyard in San Antonio, the Steves Lumber Yard.

The building has cast-iron columns from Alamo Iron Works. All tinwork on the Victorian, metal-front building was done by Schultze. It is a two-story masonry building with parapet walls and flat roof. The first floor served as a warehouse for the stove and hardware business, and the second floor contained rooms and apartments.

The Hermann Schultze family home stood in back of the store, but was torn down by the HemisFair Corp. It was rebuilt and still stands on the HemisFair park grounds. The stone was not reused, but the house retains the original decorative metal trim. Rectangular, and Classical Revival in style, it has cornices and “Greek” metal columns.

When my father- and mother-in-law purchased the oil stove, cooking utensils, and dishes from Hermann Schultze in 1940, the store was a busy stove and hardware store in San Antonio. Mr. Schultze was willing to sell a woman from Pleasanton new things for her kitchen, part of it on credit. It is 70 years later, and I would love to thank him for that.

And for my father-in-law, I say, “I love you, Dad, for buying the things, because it may have cost you a week’s pay, and you had six kids to feed at that time. Mom loved her new stove and dishes. She still had them when we married in 1950.”

Lois Zook Wauson is the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century. After many years living in other parts of Texas, she now lives and writes in Floresville. Her two books are available from the Wilson County News office. E-mail her at

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