Talk of Wilson County TX Historic Towns

by Barbara J. Wood
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Remembering the Schraub Store
LA VERNIA NEWS | Sept. 13, 2023
By Susan Duelm Richter, La Vernia Heritage Museum
The Harry Schraub Store that stood at the corner of Chihuahua and Seguin streets in downtown La Vernia is no more.
More than a century after the red brick building was constructed by Edward Tewes, it was razed Aug. 25, 2022 after being deemed unsafe. (See "Schraub Store falls into history, and dust" Aug. 31 La Vernia News.)
When word got around about the planned demolition, the sole surviving Schraub daughter, Vernelle Schraub Richter, 91, and all the available Schraub descendants, decided to meet under the faded "Harry C Schraub General Merchandise Store" sign on the side of the building for a last photo before the building was gone. Vernelle was joined by several other Schraub descendants, including some of Harry and Annie's grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Vernelle Schraub Richter is one of the four children of Harry and Annie Koepp Schraub. The other siblings, now deceased, were the late Harry Jr., Donald, and Gladys.
Sweet memories
Vernelle, asked about her special memories of her father's store, said, "Tun Rechts, und Scheuen Niemand!"
She explained the German phrase: "Daddy meant that we should always do right and don't shun anyone. He encouraged us to be kind, honest, and respectful of all the customers.
"I was always so proud of my Opa that he had his own grocery store, and feeling so special when we were given permission by him to go pick out our favorite ice cream, which was push-ups or ice cream sandwiches," she added. "My favorite candy was Sixlets or Pixie Stix from the candy case. I was grateful!"
Harry Schraub leased the right side of the building in 1942 from Herman Brause and continued his general merchandise store there for almost 30 years, until the early 1970s. Over the years, several locals worked in the Schraub Store, including Elsie Witte Ferry, Frieda Rawe, Gloria Gutz, Walter Brause, Ferdinand "Sonny" Lenz, and Harry Schraub Jr.
To one side of the store was Mary Knoll's Saloon and La Vernia Café until the mid 1940s; then it became the Ervin Lenz Café, with the famous enchiladas that many locals remember to this day, with cooks Renie Rodriguez and Annabel Jachade (the famous tamale lady)!
Granddaughter Connie Schraub Terry recalls that "Papa" had a special pricing system that kept the customers from knowing how much profit he made. His system was based on a secret word, wanderlust; each letter had a corresponding number, which meant that if an item cost Schraub's $123, then the tag had WAN listed on it. It was a very sophisticated system for the 1940s!
Tobacco and cold meat
Other grandchildren, Duane Richter and his sister, Melanie Richter Wehmeyer, recalled the big wood stove in the back of the store and the sacks of chicken feed that came in colorful fabric sacks and the tobacco cutter to the right at the front of the store where the plugs of tobacco were cut for customers. Melanie also remembers going into Opa's office to pretend she worked there! She described how she enjoyed the big whiffs of bacon and salami when she walked by the meat case in the store.
Grandson Dennis Richter talked about riding with his Opa Schraub to San Antonio to pick up merchandise and other things for the store each week. He would watch Opa each evening after the store closed and see that he took the store money pouch to his home and safely put it in the "night depository" where it was tucked under a huge piece of petrified wood. Opa said he put it there "in case there was a fire" so the store's money "wouldn't burn." Dennis remembers there was a large wood stove in the back section of the store where the older men sat and talked German.
The town switchboard operator at that time was Myrtle Shafenberg. Dennis said he could remember how it sounded when she would come up the back door steps from the little house close by and yell out, "Mr. Schraub, you have a call." A single door on the east side of the building led out to a tiny covered porch, which held an all-important generator that supplied power to the ice cream box. This was significant to note, because all were in total agreement that Harry Schraub was a very generous man, especially when it came to handing out ice creams to all the kids who came in!
Written by Susan Duelm Richter, with information provided by Schraub descendants.
COURTESY/ La Vernia News