Wednesday, November 28, 2012

MEMORIES OF THE SOMERSET STATE BANK ROBBERY OF 1933 & THE 1948 BULLDOGS


By Bernard Pyron
Somerset HS Class of 1948

     A few people who were alive in the late twenties and early thirties, that lived in or near Somerset, Texas, and were old enough then to know what a bank robbery is, have some memories of a bank official being involved in a swindle to take the deposits and perhaps also the Somerset Bank Bonds of the people of the area. Most, however, do not know the details of the robberies/swindle. My older sisters both remembered the robbery or robberies and one wrote about a Mr. Owens, a bank official, being involved. My second cousin, Patricia Kenney Anderson, described for me on the phone this summer how she and her younger sister were playing in the parking lot between the Will Kenney store and the Somerset Bank when a black car pulled up by the bank and two men got out with guns. The two young girls ran back inside the grocery store and told their father, Billy Kenney, who got his gun and went outside. Patricia also said that Owens, the bank officer, was sent to Huntsville, Texas for his role in the robbery or robberies and was released from prison a few years before he died because he had TB. He died in 1940. At present I do not know exactly what the role of Owens was in the robbery/swindle or how and who found out about his role.  It is possible also that the embezzlement of funds by a bank official was not related to the robberies of the Somerset bank, but was a different event.
      A newspaper article in the San Antonio Light says one of the robberies of the Somerset State Bank was on July 20, 1933, the newspaper report says "Descriptions of the three men were said to tally with those of the trio who robbed the bank of about (word not clear) last summer. So, there may have been two robberies of the Somerset Bank in 1933, one in July and another, perhaps by the same robbers, in the Fall.
  Bandits got $700 in loot in holdup. Intensive search started. Trio is believed in San Antone. San Antonio, November 17th - Three who held up and robbed the First State bank of Somerset of approximately $700 shortly after noon Friday are being sought in San Antonio by deputy sheriffs and police.
     An intensive search was started in the belief that the robbers are in hiding here. Descriptions of the three men were said to tally with those of the trio who robbed the Bank of about (word not clear) last summer.
     While one man remained at the wheel of an automobile at the curb. the two others walked into the bank brandishing pistols. All three men wore dark glasses. One of the men who walked inside also wore a cardboard mask.
     Miss Lois Owens, 21, assistant cashier of the Bank, set off several electric tear gas bombs when she saw the pair enter. One of the bombs exploded (word not readable). Whereupon both men fired, one of the bullets splintering a window sill, (near) which Garland Owens, the girl's father, cashier of the Bank, and Dr. T.P. Ware, Somerset physician, were standing..
     Although the gas fumes filled the room, quickly the robbers marched the girl and the two men into the vault and ordered Miss Owens to open the safe. She protested that she was unable to do so as the time lock was on.
     The two men tried unsuccessfully to lock the two Bank employees and the doctor in the vault, but the lock failed to catch. They then took the cash in the cashier's cage, estimated at $700, and fled."
     Owens was indicted by a Bexar County Grand Jury in 1936 for embezzlement of funds from the Somerset State Bank. Apparently federal charges were also filed against him for the same crimes.
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     In the fall of 1947 I went out for football on the Somerset Bulldogs team then coached by the Superintendent James Box. He didn't let me play, and so I dropped out.
     But by the fall of 1948, which was to be my senior year, a local guy, Bill James, took over as the Superintendent of the Somerset School and he hired Ray Martin as coach. Martin put me in the line as the starting left tackle.
     For some reason I can remember more of the specifics of the 1948
Somerset Junior versus Senior football game that I can remember the
regular season games we played against other High Schools. Because our senior class was unusually small we had only four seniors who were on the starting line up for the football team. The Juniors and Sophomores together always played the seniors and Freshmen. Since there were no Freshmen, that I can remember, on the football team, we were obviously short on players.
     I got Lamar Miller and Melvin Schupp to suit up and play for us, though Lamar had no experience at all in playing football, and Melvin had gone out for football one year as a substitute and didn't play much. That was back when the Superintendent, James Box, was also the football coach. In 1948 we had a real football coach, Martin.
     The four seniors, including myself, all played in the backfield. Charlie Guzman, the regular fullback, ran the team, and he was our best player. We also had in the backfield Joe Rodriguez, who had been our left guard, in the line, and David Casais, our right end. I had been the starting left tackle, also a lineman. Our big problem was that the Junior-Sophomore line was made up of many regular Somerset linemen, so that our Freshmen lineman who had never played football before and Melvin at center and Lamar also in the line, were no match at all for them. Which meant we could not run plays through the line; all our plays had to be end runs, Rodriquez, myself and Casais were pretty fast.
     And they had Glenn Hoffman and Roger Huizar, the outstanding little Somerset halfback, who weighed about 135 pounds, in their backfield. Glenn and Roger could easily get through our line and we as linebackers and guys back on safety. had to do almost all the tackling. We got tired and Ol Roger kept coming. He was an expert at squirming about sidestepping and dodging tacklers. He scored the one touchdown they made that way and got in the same way for the extra point. We only scored one touchdown, probably by Guzman. They beat us 7 to 6.
      I found a site that gives the game scores for many years and looked at the 1956 and 1957 seasons and compared them to our 1948 season when I was the left tackle. We were beaten by Sabinal and by Bandera. The
lone Star Football.net site has the score in the Bandera game wrong, they beat us 7 to 6, not 12 to 6. I have it written down on the game program. We didn;t have a kicker on the team who could kick extra points. We usually ran Roger Huizar for the extra point and after not being able to get a hand on him on several long gains, the opposing teams ganged up on him. Martin had specialized in making touchdowns on the first play of the game to demoralize the other team. Roger was the guy who carried the ball over tackle that worked at least for many games.
     The season record of 8-2-0 means that the 1948 Somerset Bulldogs won eight games, lost two games and did not tie any team.
     In 1948 Coach Ray Martin developed and had us practice again and again a play over tackle with Roger Huizar carrying the ball, designed to make a touchdown on our first play of the game to discourage the opposing team. It worked in several games. Usually I was on the ground after Roger went through the line and I might see him running down field, dodging tackles right and left, and then going over the goal line. He was not the fastest guy on the team, but in open field he was very hard to get a hand on because he could turn quickly and dodge tacklers.

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