My, how the neighborhood has changed!
By Robert Martin
As a youth growing up in PJ, better known as Pierce Junction to outsiders, during the period from mid 20's to mid 40', we had the advantages of a small compact community located near a big city. It was home to about fifty families. Houston, with a population of about 150,000 in 1940, was five miles away since their city limits were at Braes Bayou adjacent to Hermann Park.
PJ covered about four square miles roughly defined by Holmes Road on the north side with Almeda Road running north to south through the center. Drilling for oil around a salt dome was the reason for development of the community.
Since Houston was such a long distance away, numerous oil producers built housing for their employees. There was little infrastructure in this unincorporated community. The discovery oil well, Taylor #2, was completed on February 19, 1921 at a depth of 3,490 feet by Gulf Production Company. By the end of that year over 1.4 million barrels of oil had been produced. By 1938 over 32 million barrels had been produced from 77 wells. An interdenominational community church was established. The Henry Wallace family operated a small restaurant/grocery store/filling station on the SW corner of Almeda Road and what is now called Feldman Street. Adjacent to and behind this store was a facility owned by Joe D. Hughes to prepare drilling rig sites using mules and fresnos. After this operation became mechanized, the facility was used for the training of show horses.
The Wallace family moved to Hastings about 1938. About the same time the Roy Davison family established a new café/grocery store on the NW corner of Almeda and Feldman, the current site of Tweety’s Motel.
A photo of an ash tray from the Pierce Junction Café.
A close friend acquired it from a flea market many years ago and presented it to me because of my fond memories of those days. Any significant grocery shopping was done in Houston with the nearest "super market" being on Main Street and Holman. The only concentration of homes was in the Gulf and Humble camps with over twenty homes together. The remainder of the homes were scattered throughout the oil field. At some point the Almeda schools were consolidated with the Houston schools and the older Almeda children rode busses with the PJ children. There are NO recognizable buildings remaining in PJ.
Why all the reminiscing? A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to tour PJ and part of Almeda with my sister. The portion of PJ where we lived in the Rio Bravo Oil Company camp is likely under twenty of sanitary land fill and the Wildcatter Golf Course. This camp had three homes, a group of bachelor rooms and a mess hall.
The four to five mile drive from PJ to Almeda now has a heavy concentration of housing developments and mom and pop businesses on the west side and industrial plants on the east side. In some areas there is a dense growth of ten to twenty foot high trees. In my day this was nearly all prairie with weeds about knee high. The old Almeda school has been replaced or revamped. Only one commercial establishment was recognizable in Almeda, Parker’s Hardware. It was a pleasant sight and I started to go inside and see if they still have some of the same merchandise. I bet they do.