Many current and past Venus citizens gathered Saturday to celebrates its 125th birthday.
The day was filled with many events similar to celebrations, as well as games and entertainment for all ages. It was also a time for city leaders to reflect on the past while keeping a hopeful eye on the future and potential for development across the bustling town.
With all anniversary celebrations, the day was as much of a reunion remembering days past and meeting old school friends and remembering the day.
“Needless to say, I’ve seen a lot of changes in and around Venus,” resident Nelda Frederick said. “I came here 70 years ago as a young bride, and I’ve lived year all these years.”
Frederick explained her husband was born and raised in Venus and had a business — a Texaco station — on US Highway 67 until the roadway was widened and the land lost. The service station was one of five owned by the Fredericks, which were all eventually sold.
As she reflected on seven decades of changes, Frederick said, “When we first married, there was only one place in town to go out to eat. Now, there are several. Also, when I came here, everybody farmed cotton, and it was good cotton. There were cotton fields surrounding the town. Now there are homes and buildings where those cotton fields were.”
Life-long resident Jeannie Prazak remembers growing up in Venus, as well as being active in its growth. She helped open the doors of the post office in 1994, served on the board of the Venus Chamber of Commerce and is currently on the city council.
Prazak was one of seven children but was almost one of nine. She was supposed to be born a triplet. Sadly, she was the only of the three to survive birth. All of her other six brothers and sisters all grew up around the Venus area.
Prazak remembers stories told by her parents and recalled a fascinating research paper written by her daughter about her grandfather, Doctor C.E. Russell.
“He was a doctor here in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He went to peoples houses on horseback to tend to his patients. Instead of being paid, he would barter. He might get eggs, chickens or something like that,” Prazak recalled. “My mom’s dad, G. C. Singleton, he has a grocery here. All of my family helps raise many Venus residents. Growing up in the 50s and 60s in Venus was different than what is today for a teenager.”
She continued, “There were six in my graduating class. Back then we had a grocery store, my mom had a beauty shop, my dad has a drug store, my aunt and uncle ran the grocery store. We didn’t have a lot, so we made our own entertainment. We appreciated stuff more back then. We lived about a mile out of town. My family had about 50 acres of land, and we lived out there until I was about fifteen and moved to town then. If you would have asked me 10 years ago if Venus would have the growth and potential has now — I would have told you ‘no way.’”
Entertainment during Prazak’s youth years involved hanging around the town square park or at a roller skate rink where the civic center is now. “If we wanted to go to the movie, we drove down the road to Alvarado,” Prazak added.
On Saturday, the walls of the civic center were lined with photos throughout the years, ranging from the town center, high school sports teams and sights around the town that showed the growth.
One of the photos was the town barbershop. Buster Wilson, from The Woodlands, examined the images, seeing relatives of his and pointing out each one to a friend from his days growing up in Venus.
As the days of the past, many of the residents and guest continue to look toward the future and all that it might hold for Venus.
Recent resident and city council member, Laura Guidry Shaw, said the “small-town feel” and potential for growth are what caught her eye a little over 18 months ago.
“I see a lot of commercial and personal property growth,” explained Shaw, who moved from Plano. “I would love to see the education system grow. I would love to see homes built, businesses move in. I see the same growth potential in Venus that I saw in Plano 25 years ago.”
Echoing Shaw’s feeling of growth was newly hired economic development director, Zach Goodlander.
“We are in a very good place between Dallas and Fort Worth,” he said. “Having Highway 67 and State Highway 287 at our doorsteps, and when the Highway 360 extension is completed, will give us great access to the Dallas and Fort Worth area.”
At present, Goodlander sees most of the growth in being in residential housing. Describing his role in the city’s development, Goodlander explained, “We want to make sure it is good growth for the city of Venus.”
While games were played, a snow cone stand combined with a wading pool set up by the fire department helped cool visitors, activities continued inside the civic building.
A benefit lunch of barbeque was held to support the cemetery association. There was a pie baking contest that was judged by the mayor and the fire department, and even an old-fashioned cake walk with the prizes being homemade cakes.
“This is my home,” Venus Mayor James Burgess added. “I was born and raised here and have been here all my life with the exception of the tears I was at college. I’m really proud of this city from where it’s been to where it will grow to.”