The city of Killeen is located next to Fort Hood, first built in 1942 to feature a new Tank Destroyer Tactical and Firing Center. In the late 1980s, Killeen officially adopted the slogan, “Tanks for the Memories,” to attract military tourism. The line is similar to the 1938 song “Thanks for the Memory,” a signature song for entertainer Bob Hope (who often entertained military personnel).
Wikipedia: Killeen, Texas
Killeen is a city in Bell County, Texas, United States. The population was 112,434 at the 2000 census. It is a “principal city” of the Killeen–Temple–Fort Hood Metropolitan Statistical Area. .
Killeen is directly adjacent to the main cantonment of Fort Hood, and as such its economy is heavily dependent on the post and the soldiers (and their families) stationed there.
Killeen, Burnet and Lampasas counties are represented in the Texas House of Representatives by the semiretired veterinarian and rancher Jimmie Don Aycock, a Republican first elected on November 7, 2006.
Until the 1940s Killeen remained a relatively small and isolated farm trade center, but this changed drastically after 1942, when Camp Hood (re-commissioned as Fort Hood in 1950) was created as a military training post to meet the demands of the Second World War. Laborers, construction workers, contractors, soldiers, and their families moved into the area by the thousands, and Killeen became a military boomtown. The opening of Camp Hood also radically altered the nature of the local economy, since the sprawling new military post covered almost half of Killeen’s farming trade area. The loss of more than three hundred farms and ranches led to the demise of Killeen’s cotton gins and other farm related businesses. New businesses were started to provide services for the military camp. Killeen suffered a recession when Camp Hood was all but abandoned after the end of the Second World War, but when Fort Hood was established as a permanent army post in 1950, the city boomed again. Its population increased from about 1,300 in 1949 to 7,045 in 1950, and between 1950 and 1951 about a hundred new commercial buildings were constructed in Killeen.
By 1955, Killeen had an estimated 21,076 residents and 224 businesses. Troop cutbacks and transfers in the mid-fifties led to another recession in Killeen which lasted until 1959, when various divisions were returned to Fort Hood. (Elvis Presley even lived in Killeen for a time during his stint in the army.) The town continued to grow through the 1960s, especially after the Vietnam War led to increased activity at Fort Hood.
Wikipedia: Fort Hood
Fort Hood, named after Confederate General John Bell Hood, is a U.S. Army post located halfway between Austin and Waco, about 60 miles from each, within the U.S. state of Texas. The main cantonment of Fort Hood is a census-designated place (CDP) in Bell County, Texas that as of the 2000 U.S. Census had a total population of 33,711. Some portions of the base lie in Coryell County.
During WWII, tank destroyers were developed to counter the German blitzkrieg. These were mobile anti-tank guns on armored halftracks. Wide-open space was needed for the tank destroyer testing and training, which Texas had in abundance. A.D. Bruce was assigned to organize a new Tank Destroyer Tactical and Firing Center. He chose Killeen, Texas for the new camp. The War Department announced the selection on January 15, 1942. An initial acquisition of 108,000 acres (437 km²) was made, and it was estimated that the camp would cost $22,800,000 for the land, facilities, and development of utilities. The date of completion was set for August 15, 1942.
Handbook of Texas Online
KILLEEN, TEXAS. Killeen is on U.S. Highway 190 in western Bell County about forty miles north of Austin. In 1881 the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway, planning to extend its tracks through the area, bought 360 acres some 2½ miles southwest of a community known as Palo Alto, which had existed since about 1872. Soon afterward the railroad platted a seventy-block town on its land and named it after Frank P. Killeen, the assistant general manager of the railroad. When the first train passed through the new town in May 1882, about forty people lived there. Before the end of that year the town included the railroad depot, several stores, a saloon, and a school. Many of the earliest residents of Killeen moved to the site from smaller communities in the surrounding area, while others were attracted by a national promotional campaign sponsored by the railroad. By 1884 the town had grown to include about 350 people, served by five general stores, two gristmills, two cotton gins, two saloons, a lumberyard, a blacksmith shop, and a hotel. As it became an important shipping point for the cotton, wool, and grain produced on local farms, Killeen continued to expand. By 1896 it included six general stores, three cotton gins, three blacksmiths, two hardware stores, and a jeweler; around this time telephone service was introduced. Some 780 people lived in Killeen by 1900, virtually all of them white Protestants, since the community openly discouraged blacks and Catholics from living there. The First National Bank of Killeen was incorporated in 1901, and the town’s first electric-light system and power plant was installed in 1904 and 1905. About that same time local boosters helped to convince the Texas legislature to build bridges over Cowhouse Creek and other streams, effectively doubling Killeen’s trade area. A public water system began operating in 1914, and by that year the town had two banks, and its population had grown to about 1,300.
Until the 1940s Killeen remained a relatively small and isolated farm trade center: about 1,300 residents were reported there in 1925, and about 1,260 in 1931. Though the Great Depressionqv caused much hardship for Killeen citizens and area farmers, local economic problems were offset to some extent by federal New Deal programs that helped to provide jobs and sustenance. By 1939 projects funded by the Works Progress Administration (later known as the Work Projects Administration) had also helped to improve the community by paving its streets, by installing a new water and sewage system, and by widening a number of local bridges. During the depression federal funds also constructed U.S. Highway 190 through the area. The number of businesses in Killeen increased from 55 in 1931 to 71 by 1940, when the census counted 1,263 people living in the city.
Killeen would never be the same after 1942, when Camp Hood (recommissioned as Fort Hood in 1950) was created as a military training base to meet the demands of World War II. Construction workers, soldiers, and their families moved into the area by the thousands, and Killeen became a military boomtown with an acute housing shortage; some newcomers found themselves paying rent to sleep in henhouses, and at one point about 1,000 workers lived in a tent city raised to deal with the unexpected influx. The opening of Camp Hood also forced a fundamental change in the nature of the local economy, since the sprawling new military base covered almost half of Killeen’s trade area. The loss of business from about 300 closed-down farms and ranches led to the demise of Killeen’s cotton gins and other businesses related to farm supply. New businesses were started to provide services to the military camp, but henceforth Killeen’s prosperity would be closely tied to the fortunes of the military base. Killeen became a boom or bust city that expanded and contracted depending on the size of the military presence in the area. For example, Killeen suffered a severe recession when Camp Hood was all but depopulated after the end of World War II, but when Fort Hood was established as a permanent army base in 1950, the city boomed again. Its population increased from about 1,300 in 1949 to 7,045 in 1950, and between 1950 and 1951 more than ninety-five new permanent commercial buildings were constructed in Killeen.
By 1955 Killeen had an estimated 21,076 residents and 224 businesses. The establishment of the base and the subsequent new boom strained city infrastructure, as there was a need for new schools and hospitals, additional water and sewage facilities, more police and firemen, and an expanded road and street network. In 1955 the municipal government drew up a master plan for the city in response to public demand for more amenities, such as street improvements, parks, and recreation centers. Troop cutbacks and transfers in the mid-1950s led to another recession in Killeen; this one lasted until 1959, when the First Armored Division was returned to Fort Hood. Despite its recent recession, Killeen by 1960 reported 275 businesses and 23,377 residents. The town continued to grow through the 1960s, especially after the Vietnam War led to increased activity at Fort Hood. By 1970 Killeen had developed into a city of 35,507 inhabitants and had added a municipal airport, a new municipal library, and a junior college (Central Texas College). Though the cycle of booms and busts continued into the early 1990s, the city continued to grow, as Fort Hood survived periodic cutbacks and transfers. By 1980, when the census counted 49,307 people in Killeen, it was the largest city in Bell County. In the late 1980s the city launched a public-relations campaign designed to entice tourists to the area by redefining the popular image of a military town: “Tanks for the Memories” became Killeen’s official slogan.
Wikipedia: Thanks for the Memory
“Thanks for the Memory” is a 1938 song composed by Ralph Rainger, with lyrics by Leo Robin. It was introduced in the 1938 film The Big Broadcast of 1938 by Shep Fields and his orchestra with vocals by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross.
In the film, Hope and Ross’ characters are a couple who were married briefly and then divorced, and after other failed marriages, meet and sing poignantly about the good times of their failed relationship.
The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and became Hope’s signature tune, with many different lyrics adapted to any situation.
16 August 1990, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, pg. A18:
Take the Killeen Convention and Visitors Bureau, for instance. ... [C]ame up with to attract tourists to the Fort Hood area, is this: Tanks for the Memories.
Texas Monthly (July 2004)
Killeen’s official slogan, “Tanks for the Memories,” was created in the eighties to gain public support and attract tourists.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Tuesday, July 29, 2008 • Permalink