Kyle’s fire: monuments lost, history remembers

Before it was Jack’s Axes, and before it was Desperadoes Night Club and before it was Center Grocery, some oldtimers may remember the downtown Kyle building that burned down as Tenorio’s grocery store, owned and operated by Blas Tenorio and his brother Sam for over 30 years. 50 years ago this week, the town of Kyle proclaimed January 21, 1972 Blas Tenorio Day for his lifetime achievements. After Mr. Tenorio died in late 2015, the city reiterated the proclamation, which read:

A resolution from the City Council of the City of Kyle, Texas, honoring the life and contributions of Blas Tenorio, a resident of Kyle, Texas, whose life has been dedicated to making the City of Kyle a better place for all; and determine that the meeting at which this resolution was passed complied with the requirements of the Open Meetings Act; make other findings and dispositions related to the subject; and declare an effective date.

“I worked for my uncles, then later for Mr. Chung.

When I worked for my uncles, I worked at the meat market. Before I started, I had no idea how much meat was sold there! It was a lot. Not only were we selling what was in the crate of meat, but customers were buying a quarter or half a cow at a time and we were processing it. We also filled bulk orders for local restaurants.

The big difference between a large grocery chain and a small store, like my uncles’, was that the owners and employees knew the customers and interacted with them. You knew each other’s name and you were friends. This is why so many people fondly remember the store. The building was a place where you formed relationships. Yes, they are sad that the building is gone, but what is really difficult is that it is the place where they had friendships and connections with their community.

–Willie Tenorionephew of Blas and Sam Tenorio, former employee of Tenorio Grocery and former school board member of Hays CISD

Whereas the Kyle community lost a strong, forward-thinking leader and a generous and valued citizen on December 26, 2015 with the passing of Blas Tenorio.

Keyeoung Chung bought the Tenorio Grocery from Blas Tenorio, which it remained until it became Jack’s Axes.

While Blas Tenorio served his country honorably during World War II in the 320th Infantry, where he earned two Foreign Service Bars, a Victory Ribbon, an American Theater Campaign Ribbon (European Campaign , African and Middle Eastern) with 5 Bronze Stars and a Good Conduct Medal.

Whereas the 5 bronze stars represented the five campaigns or battles Blas Tenorio bravely fought in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe. Considering that Blas Tenorio was a prominent businessman in the town of Kyle where he bought and sold property. and also owned Tenorio’s grocery store with his brother, Sam Tenorio.

While Blas Tenorio was the first Hispanic elected to public office in the town of Kyle, serving as an alderman from 1965 to 1972.

While Blas Tenorio made significant contributions during his tenure on Kyle Town Council, playing an instrumental role in community improvements such as the first sewer system and street lighting.

Photo by David White
The landscape of downtown Kyle will never be the same. Here is a photo of downtown Kyle in the 90s. All of these buildings succumbed to fire except the building on the far left that says Custom Woodwork. This building is now Centerfield. Bon Ton Grocery, on the right, burned down in 2002. The Jacks Axes building was the oldest building in the city center, built in 1884 as the Schlemmer Store and then Young Brothers Lumber Yard. They stored all the wood in the back. Papa Jack’s was Bordeaux’s Cajun restaurant for many years, and before that it was a burger place and a textile place.

While Blas Tenorio was a member of the local Lions Club, a member of the PEC advisory board, a faithful member of St. Anthony’s Church and a member of the Knights of Columbus.

While Blas Tenorio was a loving man from a loving family. He was married to his lovely wife for 53 years, had four children Gilbert, Gerald and twins Ofelia and Olga Tenorio. He also had four granddaughters and great-grandsons. Her family was her highest priority in life.

While Blas Tenorio often greeted you with a smile, and if you asked him: “How are you?” – Blas would come back with….. “Lovely, it couldn’t be better.”

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the 2016 Kyle City Council, on behalf of its members, appreciate the many accomplishments that Blas Tenorio has made to the City of Kyle and to the United States of America, and that Be it further resolved that the Kyle 2016 City Council, on behalf of its members, pay tribute to the life of Blas Tenorio and acknowledge with great admiration and appreciation Blas Tenorio’s many contributions during his lifetime to our community.

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