Peter Monroe Mansbendel (Peter & Clo’s Son) (5-5-1920—12-23-2006)
I had the pleasure of meeting Peter’s son at UT Medical Nursery Home in Johnson City, TX . Even though his health was not good, he was kind enough to answer my questions. I conducted this short interview with Peter’s son Peter Monroe Mansbendel on December 15, 2005 at the UT Medical Nursery Home in Johnson City, TX.
Have you viewed the web site that I built dedicated to your father?
Yes, thank you for doing this. Modern people need to learn about my father.
Please state your full name and what is your birthday?
My name is Peter Monroe Mansbendel and I was born on May 5, 1920 in Austin, Texas (Travis County) and my parents were Peter and Clotilde Mansbendel.
Was Austin always your home?
No, but the majority of my life I lived in Austin. I was married to Helen White in 1955 and was employed for over 30 years at the UT College of Engineering Registar office. I was in the UT office the day when the tower shooting occurred in 1965.
Did you ever carve wood?
No, unfortunately I have no artistic talent. I can’t even draw a straight line.
What are your memories of your boyhood?
I had a wonderful childhood growing up in Austin in the early days. We were free to do lots of things in those days. My mother and father were very involved in my life as well as Valerie. We were in involved in church and social things.
Tell me about your father?
He was born in Basel, Switzerland in 1883 and was trained as a woodcarver in Switzerland. Later he went to England and France and studied wood carving and art. He came to American around 1907 and lived in Boston then New York. He taught clay modeling at Coopers Union in New York. When he got to Texas he joined the german singing group and sang in the choir at St. David. We were a religious family and very close. My dad was a handsome and dapper man and some people said he looked like Rudolf Valentino.
Tell me about your Mother?
Her name was Clotilde Shipe and she married my father in 1911. She was a quiet and reserved women and a good mother to Val and me. She and my father liked to entertain, and she was very musically gifted and studied voice in New York. That is were they met. She had a wonderful singing voice, and would often sing me songs.
Can you describe your father’s personality?
He possessed a very bright and buoyant personality. He knew everyone it seemed, and was very well liked by lots of people. I remember that he was small person but strong. He had lots of tools …gouges, skews. He was in a parade and play that I remember and knew several actors including Randolph Scott. My father was fond of beer and wine. He brewed his own beer and wine during prohibition. I did not like the beer because of the hops. He also liked to tell jokes.
What kind of father was he?
He was a good father to me and my sister. He loved children and always treated them well. He kept goats for me because I had allergies to cow’s milk. He sometimes would make goat’s milk ice cream and share it with the neighborhood children.
How did your Father market his work?
He went to architects offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Some people just walked into his studio on Congress. He also knew several people at UT that got him work there. He worked with Hugo Kuene, the first UT architect professor. Hugo was a close friend to my dad and I was friends with his son. The Kuene’s lived in a pink stucco house on 30th.
What were some of your father’s favorite subjects to carve?
He liked to carve all kind of things, I really don’t remember anything that stood out.
Do you remember your father’s carving shop on Congress? Can you describe it?
Yes, it was located on Congress Ave near 7th street, in the old Swedish Consulate building. The studio had a scrolled sign out front that said “Mansbendel Studio” and it was hot inside, I do not recall much else.
Did he have other carvers working for him at his studio?
No, he was the only one that carved. He worked long hours in those days.
Did he have people that worked as woodworkers, jointers and installers?
Yes, sometimes up to 10 people.
What is your favorite carving that your father executed?
Probably, The cassione chest.
I have read that music was one of your father’s passions. What kind of music did sing? Of course at church he sang hymns, but at home he sang songs of the day. He also sang lots german songs while he worked. He and my mother liked the Opera and Classical music.
Who were some of your fathers closest friends?
Probably Fortunat Weigl and his sons. Willie Dieter and Godfrey Flury were also close friends.
What was your favorite home that your dad carved for?
Our home on Ave F.
Would you go with your dad on carving installs?
No, I was too young.
What did your father die of?
Cancer of the larynx in 1940, he smoked a pipe.