2007.03.28 The year was 1937

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

There’s that old saying about “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” but I don’t know. Things have really changed in the past 70 years.

Jean Oberling brought in an Observer from 1937 and it was interesting enough that I went to the archives over in the corner and brought out the entire year. Now I’ve been lost in the past this morning.

There is a lot staying the same. My grandfather was publisher of the paper in 1937 and my father was a freshman on the junior varsity football team.

School events, bowling leagues, shows at the Rex Theatre, church programs and local tragedies—they’re still a staple of small-town newspapers in 2007, but even these events are different.

Here’s a description of “Cain and Mabel” showing at the Rex: “The picture is said to be filled with catchy musical airs and gigantic specialty numbers in which one hundred and sixty beautiful chorus girls take part.” What kind of a crowd would that show draw today?

The high school basketball team defeated Addison 19-11 and not a single basket was scored in the first half. One of the reporters from the school newspaper (Mary Adelaide Kellogg, editor) wrote: “In the last quarter, many tempers were stirred up.”

The town bowling team competed against Hudson, car/train accidents were rather common, and the Boy Scout troop numbered 28 kids.

Dic-a-Doo was selling for 23¢ a pound at Mac’s Grocery & Market (“Cleans like magic”), Wheaties were priced at two for 25¢ at Murphy’s Market and Swaney’s offered the new Ford V-8 60 for $595.

Morenci chief of police Pete Stetten earned $9 a week, the same as W.H. Murray who served as Riverside Park caretaker. O.C. VanFossen, the cemetery supervisor, was paid twice that amount.

Bus service from Morenci to Detroit opened in 1937. The Extension Service gave a class in Medina about hitching an unbroken horse for the first time.

City council voted to buy shotgun shells for citizens to shoot at the invading starlings. A three-year-old girl was injured when her right arm was caught in the wringer of her mother’s electric washing machine. Petitions were collected in Medina Township for REA to set up electrical lines.

The Taft Highway tourist route from Michigan to Florida was nearly established all the way south, but there was talk of an east-west route from Toledo to Elkhart that also would pass through Morenci.

This would follow the old Vistula Road (Territorial Highway) that was thought to be the oldest road in the Midwest. There were records of French Jesuits taking the route in 1710.

Morenci’s school board wanted to build a new school with the help of a federal grant that would cover nearly half the cost. Voters said “no.”

Otis Harrington, who lived northwest of Fayette, put his team of horses to pasture and they disappeared over night. Finally they were found at the bottom of a 12-foot pit—an old well that had been sodded over 20 years earlier at a former cheese factory.

The oddity continued in the next week’s paper when a person at the fertilizer company noticed the horses had also been struck by lightning.

In February, a 90-year-old man married a 51-year-old woman. The old Civil War veteran said he preferred marrying a much younger woman than himself “as it costs money for funerals.”

In March, the city shook for about 12 seconds from an earthquake centered somewhere to the south. A salesman at Hart Hardware in Seneca said there was no jarring in the store, but there was a roaring sound like a heavy gust of wind.

One week later, a second quake rattled buildings in town.

Optimism was running high in small town America and a front page article reprinted from another paper made fun of a prophet of doom who predicted the decline of the small town.

Morenci was still growing and boasted of several car dealers and grocery stores and a variety of other merchants. There was little need to leave town.

“Rural America will continue to grow and prosper as long as civilization endures,” wrote the columnist.

We’re still here, but so much has changed.

    – March 28, 2007 
  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.soccer.balls
    BEVY OF BALLS—Stair District Library Summer Reading Program VolunTeens, including Libby Rorick, back left and Ty Kruse, back right, threw a dozen inflatable soccer balls into the crowd during a reading of “Sergio Saves the Game.” The sports-themed program continues on Wednesdays through July 27.

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