was one of the last places where a town crier might be needed or even
wanted, but the last town crier in the country is widely thought to
have been Julius Myers of San
Antonio. Though Texas has never been known for its town criers,
some believe that Myers was the last town crier in the whole Western
Myers came to Texas from New York in 1886 when he was 20 years old
in hopes the climate would cure his respiratory ailments. He settled
first in Luling where he
operated a small grocery store with a fruit stand out front, a lunch
counter in the back, and beer for sale.
He also started a business called the Southwestern Advertising Company
to distribute posters and hand bills advertising not only his business
but any other business willing to pay the fee. This was at a time
when most towns had, at best, a weekly newspaper. Myers operated as
sort of an early day advertising agency.
By 1912, Myers, his wife Emily and their five children were in San
Antonio where Julius reinvented himself as a town crier. Now,
instead of distributing posters and hand bills, he harkened back to
a time when the town crier was an entertainer, newscaster and advertising
shill all in one.
Dressed in a costume and usually ringing a bell to attract attention,
the crier would call out, "Hear ye, hear ye…" The phrase "Hear ye"
means "shut up and listen for a minute" and harkens back to deep European
history when the masses were illiterate.
This means of communication had outlived its usefulness by the twentieth
century, but Myers and his horse Tootsie were familiar figures on
Houston and Commerce Streets in downtown San
Antonio for more than 10 years. If the rodeo was in town, Julius
dressed as a cowboy. For the circus he wore a clown costume.
For a while, San Antonio
people thought it quaint thing to have this gentle man and his equally
gentle horse plodding through downtown San Antonio with news of the
day like "Baseball at the park today, Buffaloes and Bears will play."
Then it got sort of annoying. Julius and Tootsie weren't moving along
any faster than they ever had but downtown San Antonio was zooming.
People were in a hurry.
Myers didn't get rich doing what he did but he gave freely to milk
funds for hungry babies, the Red Cross, members of the military and
victims of a big flood in 1921. His is the record of a man who liked
people, and it's clear that people like him in return.
The notable exception would be a new kind of citizen the motorist.
San Antonio hadn't actually needed a town crier for a long time, if
it ever did, but by the 1920s the idea had outlived any practical
use other than as a means of slowing traffic. The mayor ordered Old
Julius and Tootsie off the street in December of 1926, just in time
A dozen or more people showed up at city hall to apply for the position
after Myers and Tootsie were put out to pasture. The Galveston
Morning News editorialized that by taking Myers off the street,
San Antonio had lost a unique tourist attraction.
Julius got his old job back briefly in 1928 after friends and supporters
filed petitions and lobbied to get him and Tootsie back on the streets
but he was gone for good the next year, along with an occupation that
never really existed in Texas except for him.