Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Scenes from the past

Sent to The Frederick Press and The Frederick Leader, December 27, 2011

The Streets of Frederick

This photo, dated 1912, shows downtown Frederick from the 200 block of West Grand Avenue, taken from a second-story window. Below is a current ground-level photo of the same location (December 29, 2011)
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Printed on front of this old postcard is “Auto Club, Frederick, Okla. 1915”. The scene is the 100 block of West Grand, in front of what is now the former Hughes Jewelry Store. The Bank of Commerce building was later called the Dillingham Building. Below, a current photograph shows the location of the 1915 photo (December 29, 2011).

Photo taken at 400 North Eleventh Street circa 1910 or earlier, shows development of the residential areas. Sidewalks and a fire hydrant were in place, but streets were unpaved. The house at 400 North Eleventh (left) no longer exists today, but some of the neighboring houses do. Below is a current photograph taken at the same location (December 29, 2011)
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This view of North 11th Street, taken from Grand Avenue, was used as a postcard in 1911. The First Baptist Church is on the right. One block further north, on the right, is the First Presbyterian Church. Below is a current photo taken at the same location (December 29, 2011)

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Postcard photo, dated 1928, pictures a thriving Frederick downtown area. Picture is taken from middle of the street, looking eastward, from the 300 block of West Grand (west of the Frederick Leader building). Below, a current photo shows the same location (December 29, 2011)


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas as it used to be...

Sent to The Frederick Leader and The Frederick Press, December 20, 2011

Share your Christmas Memories

Christmas is a special time of the year, filled with family traditions and precious memories.

I encourage you to share your memories of Christmas with your family and loved ones. You can do that by telling stories from your past Christmases or by putting those memories in writing.

My mother was born in 1914, and as a kid I remember asking her about Christmas when she was a girl, living on the farm southwest of Tipton. She was one of eight kids, and part of a big extended family with many cousins.

She told about the family gathering at her grandmother’s house in Tipton at Christmas, and one of her uncles always dressing up to play the part of “Santee” for the kids. The children received an apple and an orange (special treats for Oklahoma farm kids), a candy cane, and one or two simple, inexpensive gifts. Christmas in those days was not the commercial extravaganza that it has now become.

Today, every Christmas, I think about my mother’s stories and imagine what it must have been like to be a child at those family Christmases in the 1920s. Even though those Christmas celebrations happened long before I was born, my mother’s sharing them made them a meaningful part of my Christmas experience.

That’s why it is important to share your Christmas memories.

You can simply tell your stories, but I really encourage you to put those memories in writing. When you sit down to write, you’ll be surprised at the flood of memories that will come to you.

What were the Christmas traditions when you were young? Where did your family gather?
Write about a particular Christmas that particularly stands out in your memory.
Were church services or church programs part of your holidays?
How did you celebrate Christmas at school?
How did your family decorate, and where did you get your Christmas trees?
Which gifts stand out in your memory?
What smells, sights, and tastes from Christmas in those days do you remember even now?
Who were the people who made your Christmases special?

Many of those friends and family members from your Christmases past are probably no longer living, but tell your children and grandchildren about those people who were important to you.

Sharing your memories of Christmas is a gift that won’t cost a dime – but it may be one of the most special, lasting gifts that you can give during this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Give History for Christmas

Sent to The Frederick Leader and The Frederick Press, December 13, 2011

History books make excellent gifts

Looking for a great gift?
Consider a book about history.
The Tillman County Historical Society sells a variety of books at the Pioneer Townsite Museum, and all proceeds from the book sales go to a great cause – the upkeep and operational expenses of the museum.
The museum’s most popular book is Bud and Me, the true-life account of Bud and Temple Abernathy’s adventures, written by Temple Abernathy’s wife Alta Abernathy. Bud and Me can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, but it makes a particularly good gift for young people. Cost of Bud and Me is $22, which includes tax.
My favorite book at the museum is a large book titled Struggles in a New State. Written by Oklahoma City attorney Larry Lewis, the book begins with the 1905 Roosevelt-Abernathy wolf hunt and the 1910 exploits of Bud and Temple Abernathy, but it also encompasses all that was happening in Oklahoma during the first decade of Oklahoma's statehood – politics and state government, new technology, transportation, women’s rights, and much more. It is a fascinating read, and well worth its $35 price.
Another strong seller at the Pioneer Townsite is a large paperbound book called The Greatest Wolf Hunter that ever lived: The Story of ‘Catch’em Alive’ Jack Abernathy, by Ronald J. Ward. It’s the life story of Jack Abernathy, from his days as a young cowboy and saloon piano player in Texas, his life as a settler in Oklahoma Territory, his 1905 wolf hunt with Theodore Roosevelt, and his adventures as a U.S. Marshal. Cost is $27.
Many other books are also available at the museum’s general store, including One Man in his Time by Tipton native Richard McCullough. The book is a biography of Richard’s father, Herbert Lorance McCullough and is fascinating not only for its stories of the McCullough family but also for its look at early Tipton and Tillman County history. The book sells for $16.
Richard McCullough is currently working Vol. I of a two-book Tipton area history that will be titled Peaceful Valley: A Portrait of a Prairie Town, and the Legacy of Small Town America. Vol. I will cover the late 1800s to the year 1950, and will be more than 400 pages of historical photos, stories, and research. It will not be available until summer of 2012, but Richard is taking advance orders now and will provide a custom designed gift card that can be presented for Christmas. Peaceful Valley will sell for $55 this summer, but can be pre-ordered now at $46.75 – a 15 percent discount. Orders can be sent to Richard McCullough, P.O. Box 517, Perkins, OK 74059. Ordering information is also available at Richard’s website
Tillman County’s history was published in two volumes in the late 1970s, and those books are always in great demand. The historical society currently has a set of both books (Vol. I and II) that are in perfect condition. Cost of the two-book set is $400. The books will make a great Christmas gift.
The Pioneer Townsite is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Monday, December 5, 2011

1922 America

Sent to The Frederick Leader and The Frederick Press, December 6, 2011

Radio was a new-fangled device in 1922

World Was Different in 1922
“If these walls could talk…”
As the walls of Frederick’s 1922 school building come down, many folks are caught up in memories of years past and the way things used to be. Certainly, if the walls of that old building COULD talk, they’d have a lot to say – about the generations of people who studied there, taught there, played sports and performed there, and gathered there as a community center.
Frederick and the world were far different in 1922 than today.
Exactly 89 years ago, in December 1922, the then-magnificent school building was approaching completion. It would be ready for students in January 1923 when classes started the school year’s second semester.
It was built at the exact spot of the city’s old community auditorium which had been removed for the new construction. City voters had approved a bond issue for the new school. Cost was in excess of $150,000.
World War I was a recent memory, and many Tillman County boys had gathered at that very location during the war years for send-off to basic training and the war.
Only a few city streets were paved in 1922, and not every city home had electricity. Power in Frederick was generated at the old Foster and Harris power plant on West Gladstone Avenue. The new school building would be wired for electricity, but in those days that primarily meant electric lights. There were few electric appliances of any kind.
J.O. Shaw served as superintendent of Frederick Schools when the school was built, a position that he held from 1917 until 1941. Frederick school enrollment in 1922 was 1,100 students – approximately 250 of them attended the new high school.
Radio was a new sensation that was sweeping the nation in 1922. In June 1922 President Warren G. Harding was the first president to speak on the radio. He was also the first president to have a radio in the White House. Many radio stations were licensed across the country that year, including WKY Radio in Oklahoma City.
Life was hard in the 1920s, and lives were often cut short by illness. It was before the miracle of antibiotics, and infections were often deadly. A flu epidemic had swept the world in 1918 killing more than 20 million people.
One too-common ailment was “consumption” or tuberculosis. The Western Oklahoma Tubercular Sanitarium opened in Clinton in 1922 to treat patients with tuberculosis.
In January 1922, insulin was used for the first time to successfully treat diabetes. A immunization was also developed to control the deadly disease of diphtheria.
In Frederick, the only hospital was the privately operated S. A. & M. Hospital established in 1921 by Dr. T.F. Spurgeon, Dr. J.E. Arrington, and Dr. L.A. Mitchell in the 100 block of South 9th (next to the current Pioneer Telephone building).
“Reader’s Digest” was published for the first time in 1922 and it became a common magazine in many American homes.
In 1922 women’s rights were a relatively new issue. Women had been allowed to vote for only two years.
Frederick High School students could take in a movie at the Majestic on South 9th Street or the People’s Theatre on West Grand Avenue, but the movie palaces were silent – pre-talkie. Movie titles in 1922 included “Robin Hood” with Douglas Fairbanks, “Blood and Sand” with Rudolph Valentino, and “Dr. Jack” with Harold Lloyd.
The movie silence was broken that year, though. The year 1922 marked the first movie with sound – “The Jazz Singer” starring Al Jolson.
Director Hal Roach released the first of many short features called “Our Gang”. In the 1950s “Our Gang” would be renamed “Little Rascals” when it aired on television.
FHS students might have cranked Victorolas to dance the Charleston in 1922, a dance that swept the country after being danced on Broadway in New York City. Popular songs included Al Jolson’s “April Showers”, Fanny Brice singing “Second Hand Rose”, and “I’m Just Wild About Harry” by Marion Harris.
In Washington, D.C. the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated. It had been under construction since 1914.
1922 was an exciting year of firsts in aviation. Lillian Gatlin was the first woman to fly across the continent, and Jimmy Dolittle was the first to make a coast-to-coast trip in one day.
Amendment 18 to the Constitution in 1919 had established Prohibition, banning the manufacture, transport or sale of intoxicating liquor. Bootleg liquor therefore became a risky but huge business.
Almost all men and a few women smoked. Cigarette sales in 1922 were a $43 billion business.