Written by Lewis M Smith, Ret. Navy Captain, Past Post 6441 Commander
Linda Allen’s research in the book, “Wimberley – a way of life,” was used for this article.
When Wimberley’s young men returned home from WWII, they had
something in common with many of the old men that they had not had when they left; service in a foreign war. It was the kind of experience that worked to foster whatever patriotism grew in the heart, and it was an experience that made the men appreciate home with a fervor they might not have felt had they never had to leave it. What they had protected on foreign soils, they now wanted that chance to nurture on their own turf.
Back in Wimberley, the young veterans joined with the older veterans to form one of Wimberley’s first and most enduring civic organizations – the Oldham Cummings VFW Post 6441. The post was named after Charles Oldham, Jr., and James Cummings, two Wimberley men who had lost their lives in World War II.
The purpose of the VFW Post was to be of service to the community.
With 35 charter members, the post claimed as some of its earliest members – Chester Franklin, Curlo Morris, Bill Smith, Joe Saunders, Bill Saunders, Bob Saunders, Kermit Seabrook, Jack Oldham, Hayden Hunt, Lewis Hunnicutt, Tim Harris, Owen Jones, Frank Davenport , and Day McCuistion.
A Ladies Auxiliary, made up of the wives, daughters, and sisters of
servicemen was started at about the same time and carried the same goal of community service.
Most of the men in the post, having grown up in or near Wimberley,
knew how to handle a horse. Some of them, like World War I veterans Lewis Hunnicutt and Day McCuistion, fit the description of cowboy pretty well and had been responsible younger men were at war for keeping the tradition of the Wimberley rodeo alive.
When the VFW Post held its first few organizational meetings and
began casting about for a fundraiser that would help them meet some of the needs of the community, it was suggested that the post take over the Wimberley Rodeo.
The rodeo originated and run for years by the Wimberley Rodeo Association, of which Hunt and McCuistion were active members. The first rodeos were held on the grounds of Camp Wimberley, now Rio Bonito Resort, and were moved to Carl and Adelia Scudder’s Twin Mountain Ranch in 1935.
The rodeo grounds included a racetrack for quarter horses, and the whole affair drew some of the best times and skills for amateur rodeos in the state.
The location was ideal, says Chester Franklin, one of the charter members. Near the current main entrance to Woodcreek Resort off of Ranch Road 2325, the grounds were situated close to a spring where the veterans could draw water, and in a natural bowl where the crowds could sit on the slope of the bank on one side or in the bleachers on the other side.
During its four years at the location, the post was able to raise between $18,000 and $20,000 from the rodeos and barbecues. It was money the men planned to use for building a post hall, but community service called first.
In November of 1951, when the elementary school burned to the ground, the VFW post gave that money to the building of a new school, and they turned their efforts towards fundraising to help pay the considerable cost the initial money wouldn’t cover. “We could put off building our building,” says Franklin, “but we couldn’t put off educating our children. ”They poured a slab for their hall in 1958, but did not finish the building, itself, until 1966 or ’67.
The post worked with the Booster Club, the PTA, and the rest of the community to raise money through raffles. They raffled off a Santa Gertrudis bull and a television set for a total of around $5,000 to $6,000.The money was used to refurnish the school with new desks and furniture,
The same year the school burned down, the VFW lost its rodeo arena. Ed James, with an eye toward developing the land where the rodeo arena sat, arranged for the VFW to move their rodeo activities onto six acres of land, which he gave them on Ranch Road 12 north of town.
The post stayed at that location until 1985 when they moved to the present location on the Jacob’s Well Road. The post acquired new members as more people began to move into town and as veterans of the Korean War filtered into Wimberley.
In the 1970’s the post saw a concentrated growth, with the younger Vietnam veterans joining the ranks with the older veterans. The post also welcomed
members of the Dripping Springs Post, which had dissolved in the 1970’s.
Over the years, the post has continued its generosity to the community with donations to needy citizens and help transients. Most of the donations have been made with little or no fanfare, respecting the privacy of the individuals receiving the help.
The post has given scholarships to graduating high school seniors, and in 1985 finished its new post hall and rodeo grounds, which have been offered to the town for use as a community center until Wimberley was able to build a facility for that purpose in 2006.