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 
  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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