After a photo taken in 1958 on East Sixth Street by Hans Beacham ran in newspaper on Feb. 5, we received two calls.
Geneva Campbell Perius and Bill Campbell, both in their 70s, separately identified the man in a hat — turning and putting his right hand into his back pocket — as their father, the late Heber Campbell.
Previously, reader Doug Dawson had quipped: “That fella looks like he’s fixin’ to draw …”
“He was reaching for his billfold,” Geneva admonishes. “Not a gun.”
Turns out that the elder Campbell, a stone and brick worker, loved walking the lengths of Sixth Street and Congress Avenue on the weekend.
“My mother would go shopping at Scarbrough and Levine’s,” Bill says. “My sister and I would go to a movie.”
Geneva says the movie theater was probably the Cactus, located across the street from the Ritz and owned by entertainer Cactus Pryor’s father.
She also names the young man walking into a bar as her brother, Arthur “Bubba” Campbell.
“Daddy knew everybody on Sixth Street,” she says. “They’d go to Jo Jo’s place or Freddy Jabour’s.”
Bubba and his father laid rock and brick. Bill did too, for a while.
The Campbells lived not too far from North Lamar Boulevard and the kids went to Ridgetop Elementary School.
“Mom was born and raised here,” Geneva says. “Her parents were from Belton. Daddy’s parents were from San Antonio and they met here in Austin. His daddy worked for the railroad and got killed in an accident in Cleburne when my daddy was 7.”
In a reminder of the times not so long ago, neither Bill nor Geneva attended high school. She went to University Junior High and he to Fulmore Junior High, when the family lived for a while on South First Street near Barton Springs Road.
“Oh yes, I was allowed to go up and down Sixth Street,” Geneva recalls. “I liked the movies. I’d eat at Grace and Sam’s restaurant, which was right next to the Triple J Bar.”
How long did it take her to realize the man in the picture was her father?
“I knew right away!” she says. “He was 51 at the time. He was born in 1907.”
You can’t understand New Austin without delving into Old Austin. One digital avenue for that quest is Austin Found, a series of historic images of Austin and Texas published at statesman.com/austinfound. We’ll share samples here regularly.