Sent to The Frederick Press and The Frederick Leader, January 2, 2012
Remember When… 1952
Thirty years ago, in 1982, the Frederick Arts and Humanities Council hosted a community-wide celebration called “Remember When… 1952” Planned around the annual art festival, it involved numerous community activities, a 1952 map of downtown Frederick businesses, and a Saturday night street dance.
I was on the Arts Council board in those days, and 1952 was selected as a year to celebrate and recall because, at 30 years past, it was three decades distant but near enough that many folks could remember.
I wrote a column for the “Remember When… 1952” circular. I ran across that 1982 article recently while sorting through old files, and I realized with a jolt that 1982, the year of our 1952 observance, is NOW 30 years in the past!
It seems appropriate to recap “Remember When… 1952” with a couple of columns from that 1982 circular – mine and a special “Mumbles from Left Field” column that was written for the occasion by longtime Frederick School superintendent Prather Brown. In 1982 Prather had retired as superintendent but he was writer of a weekly newspaper column.
This week in “Tillman County Chronicles” here is my “Do You Remember 1952?” column that was written 30 years ago. Next week, “Chronicles” will feature Prather Brown’s column from the 1982 event circular.
DO YOU REMEMBER 1952?
Written by Joe Wynn in 1982
It was a busy time for Frederick and Tillman County.
The year 1952 marked Frederick’s fiftieth birthday, and the special time was observed on May 5, 6, and 7 of that year with a city-wide Golden Jubilee celebration.
1952 also saw several important new construction projects.
Frederick’s First Baptist Church was building a new education facility, and the First Christian congregation was planning a new building.
|Wade Watson showed a 1952 Chevrolet Bel Air at the county fair.|
The Frederick School District took bids for building of the Boyd High School complex, and construction also began on the Tillman County Memorial Hospital in north Frederick.
Downtown, the Southwestern States Telephone Company office on North Ninth Street was constructed, and Hotel Frederick was extensively remodeled.
A fire in the Reynolds Building (Anthony’s in 1952 and 1982; Cole Pest Control in 2012) caused extensive damage in the spring of 1952, forcing the permanent relocation of numerous second-floor businesses, and extended shutdown of the Anthony’s store. Repairs were completed prior to the end of the year.
Numerous housing developments were under construction in various parts of the city.
The summer of 1952 was dry and hot. Tillman County farmers spent long days searching the skies for rain clouds, but there were few. The summer was the driest on record for Oklahoma at that time.
Median income in the early fifties (based on 1950 data) was $2,457 for city workers, and $1,466 for farmers).
Less than two percent of the population made more than $10,000 annually, and only one of every four women worked outside the home.
The largest 1952 taxpayers in Tillman County were the Katy and Frisco Railroads.
The county boasted 308 business concerns in July of that year: 10 apparel businesses; 67 general mercantile stores; six furniture stores; 57 motor vehicle businesses; 11 lumber yards; and 112 food concerns.
The Tillman County Free Fair was, as always, a big event.
U.S. Senator Robert Kerr was on hand to speak at the 1952 county fair, which was also highlighted by a barbeque in honor of Korean War veterans and their families.
Appearing in person at the 1952 fair were the Merit Feed Serenaders, as well as Dixie Boy Jordan with the Bill Mack Western Dance Band.
Prather Brown was beginning his tenure as superintendent of the Frederick Public Schools which employed a total of 47 teachers.
The Frederick High School building was new in 1952. Principal at the high school was Francy Young.
Valedictorian of the FHS Class of 1952 was Barbara Dixon Hurst. Delores Fondren was salutatorian.
Frederick’s telephone services were provided by the Southwestern States Telephone Company. Dial telephones had not come into use, and everyone was on a party line. It was during 1952 that Southwestern States’ telephone rates were raised from $2.50 a month to an ‘exorbitant’ $4.00.
1952 marked the fiftieth anniversary of both the First Baptist Church and the First Methodist Church. It was in late 1952 that the Bible Baptist Church was organized.
Local folks were still listening to the radio, but the wonder of television was on the horizon.
Channel 7 in Lawton began broadcasting in December 1952 and KFDX Channel 3 in Wichita Falls was set to begin operation in March 1953.
Hullenders in downtown Frederick advertised a 21-inch Hoffman Console TV (black-and-white variety, of course) for $409.95.
In retrospect, times were simpler in 1952. Neighbors visited more often on front porches, Saturday night shopping downtown was a real event, and the decade ahead offered great promise.”
And... Prather Brown's take on 1952Prather Brown served as superintendent of Frederick Schools from 1952 until his retirement in 1973. Prior to becoming superintendent, he served for many years as principal at Frederick High School.
Following his retirement, he wrote a weekly column called "Mumbles from Left Field" for The Frederick Daily Leader.
Following is the related column that Prather Brown wrote in 1982 for the "Remember When... 1952" circular.
Thirty Years Ago (1952)
Written by Prather Brown in 1982
Connoisseurs of wine are aware that certain years produce better wines than others.
They speak of those good years as ‘vintage’ years, and I suppose a jug of the grape produced in a ‘vintage’ year would be a tad higher in price than a ‘non-vintage’ year jug.
One of the directors of the September 25th Arts Festival asked me, “Was 1952 in Frederick a vintage year?”
You see, the Festival has adopted the year 1952 as the basis for a “30 years ago” theme for publicity and comparison with the way we (those of us who were around at the time) lived then and now.
My reply to his question was, “How do I know. I was just a lad at the time and, anyway, my memory machine timing gear has slipped a notch or two.”
So, to jog the brain cells, I researched the Frederick Leader files and found some rather startling news in the 1952 papers.
Some of the mature housewives are going to weep silently at these grocery prices.
Miracle Whip, 47 cents; 50 lbs. potatoes, $1.49; pork chops, 49 cents; hams, 29 cents; tuna, 25 cents; Treet, 43 cents; porterhouse steak, 59 cents; 10 lbs. sugar, 96 cents; Hershey bars, six for 25 cents; 1 quart strawberry preserves, 49 cents; Jello, five cents; salmon, 39 cents; yams, 13 cents.
Roblee shoes? $14.94.
Stetson hat? $10.
Corduroy coats were priced at $9.90; gabardine topcoats, $19.75.
A kitchen range plus chrome dinette, $149.50.
And so it went – prices that seem to be ridiculously low.
Trouble was – salaries were also low.
Fully qualified and experienced school teachers were paid $2,800 annual salary.
The high school principal received $425 per month and I can vouch for this.
I was the high school principal.
Frederick football in 1952?
“Boyd High School 99, Duncan Dragons 0.
’The Wildcats took a 40-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and the last two quarters were shortened to five minutes each by mutual agreement.’
Bombers 13, Altus 6!
Yards gained: Bombers 373, Altus 155.
Was 1952 a vintage year?
I can only say that the world hasn’t changed to much.
We were engaged in the Korean War to stall communism at the 38th parallel.
In November 1952 the Republicans elected their first President since the election of 1928.
In 1952, television was in its infancy – I saw no television ads in my research.
Tillman County cotton crops?
Well, we planted 129,000 acres and ginned 23,300 bales – so one can see that grocery and clothing prices were not considered so low by a cotton farmer.
1952-1982. Thirty years of unbelievable progress in medicine, science and entertainment.
I reiterate – I don’t remember too much about 1952.
I do, however, recall that “The Gong Show”, TV soap operas, and Cosell had not year been heard on national television.
And that was a blessing, indeed!
- - -
Joe Wynn prepares "Tillman County Chronicles" weekly for The Frederick Leader, The Frederick Press, and for online posting. He is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society’s board of directors.