The Year Was 1948: Norris and Morris, Randall and Robert and Reddy

The year was 1948. Laurence Olivier’s movie Hamlet opened in America. President Truman signed Executive Order 9981, which ended racial segregation in the military. Orville Wright died. Samuel L. Jackson was born. And readers of the Fort Worth Press read these ads with familiar names and faces:

norrisJ. Frank Norris had been in the pulpit of First Baptist Church since 1909. Norris was to be the guest preacher at a church on White Settlement Road. His topic: “Is the end of the world approaching?”

philip morris“Call for Philip Morris.” “No cigarette hangover.”

robert hallRobert Hall would suit you to a T (T for “Tropic-Hall”).

porter randallPorter Randall’s 7:30 a.m. newscast on KFJZ radio was sponsored by Renfro Rexall Drugs.

reddyReddy Kilowatt was the high-voltage spokesman for Texas Electric Service Company and other electric companies. See the Reddy Kilowatt song sheet music. Hear a Reddy Kilowatt TV commercial.

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A Century Ago Today: When Arrow Was a Collar and a Car

Readers of the Star-Telegram on September 15, 1914 read these articles and ads:

1914 chocolate

When World War I began on July 28 thousands of Americans had been caught in Europe. (America would not enter the war until April 6, 1917.) A group of Fort Worth residents told of some anxious moments while trying to get out of Germany after one member of the group threw a chocolate to a soldier.

1914 armoredIt was a war in which two new technologies—the automobile and the aeroplane—would be drafted and adapted with armor and armament.

1914 joy rideBut old technologies still had their appeal. J. B. Fuller hotwired a horse and buggy and took them for a joy ride. He could not explain how he started out in Grapevine and ended up in Dallas but added that a quart of whiskey had been riding shotgun.

1914 federal leagueThe Federal League was an “outlaw” third baseball major league that existed in 1914 and 1915.

1914 jailbreakThey came, they sawed, they conquered (briefly): Four men sawed their way out of jail, one of them for the second time in two days.

1914 arrest and notifyThis ad was a 1914 version of the Amber Alert.

1914 arrowThe maker of Arrow detachable shirt collars had a new model called the “Norman.” Two for a quarter. The Paul Waggoner who ordered a custom Pierce-Arrow car ($144,000 today) surely was E. Paul Waggoner, twenty-five-year-old son of millionaire W. T. Waggoner. Note that the “Heard Along Automobile Row” column artwork was drawn by Jay Plangman.

1914 striplingStripling Department Store gave a preview of fall styles for women. Note that the ad says that all streetcars pass the store. W. C. Stripling had opened his department store in Fort Worth in 1893.

1914 central highPrincipal Paschal announced that Central High School would have a football team come autumn. In 1914 Central High was located on South Jennings (now Homes of Parker Commons) after Fort Worth High burned in 1910 and before the high school we call “Green B. Trimble Tech” opened in 1918. (More on the complicated history of these schools and their buildings here.)

1914 sawyerOut on South Main at Sawyer’s grocery store, for thirty-five cents you could pick a peck of potatoes.

grocery sawyerThe Sawyer Building today.

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St. Ignatius Academy Opens “for Young Ladies”

On September 14, 1885 the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur, a Belgian order, opened St. Ignatius Academy boarding school “for young ladies” at 1222 Throckmorton Street with three teachers and twenty-six students.

FB ignatius to open 9-14-85 ddFrench-born Father Jean Marie Guyot of the adjacent St. Stanislaus Catholic Church on Throckmorton Street had asked the sisters to come to Fort Worth to teach the parish children. On August 14, 1885 the Gazette ran the St. Ignatius announcement below an ad for Add-Ran College in Thorp Spring. Addison and Randolph Clark in 1873 had founded the college that became TCU. 

Since 1876 the 1200 block of Throckmorton Street has been the center of Catholicism in Fort Worth. The Fort Worth parish was organized that year, and Father Thomas Loughrey was assigned as the first resident priest. The parish quickly built a wood-frame church and dedicated it to Polish Jesuit Saint Stanislaus Kostka. No longer would the city’s Catholics have to hold services in private residences, led by a circuit-riding priest, such as Reverend Vincent Perrier of San Angelo. Oliver Knight writes in Fort Worth: Outpost on the Trinity that Perrier as early as 1870 made two trips a year and then one trip a month to Fort Worth to hold services in private homes.

ignatius 10-30-76 first massOn October 30, 1876 the Daily Fort Worth Standard reported that Father Loughrey had held Fort Worth’s first high mass in the new church building.

ignatius 10-30-76 first mass 86 wellgeIn 1884 Father Jean Marie Guyot replaced Father Loughrey. This 1886 Wellge bird’s-eye-view map shows the 1876 church, labeled “C” on its roof.

ignatius to build 12-16-88On December 16, 1888 the Gazette reported that a contract to build a new building for St. Ignatius Academy had been let.

ignatius cornerstone 1-30-89On January 29, 1889 the cornerstone of the new St. Ignatius Academy was laid. J. J. Kane, who designed St. Joseph Hospital and St. Patrick’s, was the architect. Clip is from the Gazette.

ignatius opens 9-3-89On September 2, 1889 St. Ignatius Academy opened in its new home. The September 3 Gazette report indicates that the school was now open to boys. In 1910 the sisters built their Academy of Our Lady of Victory on Hemphill Street, designed by Sanguinet and Staats. OLV was a boarding school. St. Ignatius became a day school.

cemetery sisters namur oakOakwood Cemetery has a section for the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur.

ignatius 1891 american publishing coThis 1891 bird’s-eye-view map by American Publishing Company shows St. Ignatius to the left of St. St. Patrick’s. What? You say there is something “not right” about that depiction of St. Patrick’s? Indeed. The building was still under construction in 1891, but the map projects how the church was expected to look when complete: crowned by twin steeples. Those steeples were never built.

ignatius st pat stone laid 10-15-88 dmnOn October 14, 1888 the cornerstone for a new church building was laid. The new church would stand just a few feet north of the old St. Stanislaus church. Among the stone masons working on the building was Andrew Gilchrist. Clip is from the October 15 Dallas Morning News.

ignatius st pat dedicated 7-11-92 dmnAlmost four years after the cornerstone was laid, on July 10, 1892 the new church was dedicated. The church was named “St. Patrick” by vote of the congregation. Clip is from the July 11 Dallas Morning News.

ignatius guyor dead 8-3-07 teleFather Guyot, born in 1845, died on August 3, 1907 and is interred in a crypt in the church basement. Clip is from the August 3 Telegram.

ignatius spires 8-4-07 teleThe caption indicates that even into the twentieth century the congregation of St. Patrick’s had not forgotten about those twin steeples. Clip is from the August 4, 1907 Telegram.

Some views of St. Ignatius and St. Patrick:

1880s st. ignatiuswindow st ignatius

spire st ignatiusgilchrist st pat

church st pat's insidewindow st pat's 4door handle st pat with handglass st. pat's

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“Greatest Tragedy of the Century” (Part 2): “Martial Law”

On September 12—four days after the hurricane struck (see Part 1)—the headlines about Galveston in the Fort Worth Register remained horrific:

galveston 12September 12.

12 letterSeptember 12.

galveston 13September 13.

galveston 14By September 14 there was some light amid the dark headlines: “Crisis Has Passed,” “Galveston School Houses in Good Condition,” “The Lawless Element Are Now Under Full Control.”

galveston 14 new siteAlso on September 14 the Register reported there was talk of rebuilding Galveston in a safer location.

galveston 14 fwCities around Texas and around the country responded to the needs of Galveston. Local newspapers also reported on the status of friends and family as it became known.

galveston 14 death listThis grim list was a recurring part of Galveston coverage in the Register. Note that entire families were killed. At an orphanage near the beach ten nuns and ninety children were killed. People continued to find bodies into the next year.

It is human nature to try to enumerate the innumerable, to try to quantify the suffering, to count the people killed, the people displaced, the financial loss wreaked.

Before the hurricane Galveston was a handsome, progressive seaport of thirty-six thousand people—fourth-largest city in Texas (1. San Antonio, 2. Houston, 3. Dallas). The hurricane killed an estimated eight thousand. Most of those who survived were rendered homeless.

Financial loss: $104 billion in today’s dollars. Hurricane Katrina, for comparison, was $113 billion.

The Galveston hurricane of 1900 remains America’s deadliest natural disaster.

I have a copy of the book The Complete Story of the Galveston Horror, rushed into print before the end of 1900. Some of its illustrations:

galveston book crematinggalveston book burial at seagalveston book debris 2galveston book debris 1galveston book 2-panel

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“Greatest Tragedy of the Century” (Part 1): “Dead Outnumbers the Living”

It is not, in a technical sense, a Fort Worth story. But it is a Fort Worth story in the same sense that it is a Waco story or a Denison story or a Texas, a United States, or even a world story: During this week in 1900 all of America read the newspaper headlines day after day and tried to comprehend the incomprehensible:

Galveston was a graveyard.

The hurricane hit the island on September 8. The highest measured wind speed was 100 miles per hour just after 6 p.m., but the anemometer of the Galveston office of the National Weather Bureau was blown away soon after that reading was taken. Maximum winds were later estimated to have been 120 to 145 miles per hour. The eye passed over the city around 8 p.m. By 11 p.m. the wind was diminishing, the water covering the island was receding. And the damage was done.

galveston 8In 1900 the science of meteorology was primitive. For a week the weather bureau had known that a storm was approaching the Gulf coast from northwest of Martinique. But the trajectory and strength of the storm were not predicted with the accuracy possible today. In the Fort Worth Register of September 8, these clips on inside pages are the extent of coverage of the hurricane that day. New Orleans reported winds of forty-eight miles per hour and some loss of life and property damage.

galveston 9The next day, September 9, these headlines were dire but still tucked inside on page 2. The storm was not yet front-page news.

galveston 11The Register did not publish on Mondays (September 10). So, by the time Register readers got the September 11 edition on Tuesday, the news from Galveston was front page and catastrophic: “Galveston Is Greatest Tragedy of the Century.”

galveston 11 thousands killedThe scene in Galveston was indeed apocalyptic. The highest point on Galveston Island was only 8.7 feet above sea level. The hurricane packed a storm surge of more than fifteen feet. The ocean washed over the island from south shore to north shore. The surge swept buildings off their foundations; the surf pounded them into kindling. More than 3,600 homes were destroyed. The largely wooden city was flattened. Some of the sturdy mansions along the Strand survived.

J. L. Cline recalled: “The water rose at a steady rate from 3 p.m. until about 7:30 p.m., when there was a sudden rise of about four feet in as many seconds. I was standing at my front door, which was partly open, watching the water, which was flowing with great rapidity from east to west. The water at this time was about eight inches deep in my residence, and the sudden rise of 4 feet brought it above my waist before I could change my position. The water had now reached a stage 10 feet above the ground at Rosenberg Avenue [Twenty-Fifth Street] and Q street, where my residence stood. The ground was 5.2 feet elevation, which made the tide 15.2 feet. The tide rose the next hour, between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m., nearly five feet additional, making a total tide in that locality of about twenty feet.”

When the water receded, the dead and injured lay everywhere. Bodies were even washed out of graves. To prevent disease, bodies were buried at sea but washed back ashore. Then they were burned in pyres.

galveston communication 11At a time when people got their news from newspapers, and newspapers got their wire dispatches from just that—wire, news was slow coming out of Galveston at first because the hurricane destroyed bridges and blew down telegraph and telephone wires to the mainland. In some cases, messages were taken by boat from the island to the mainland and then overland to the nearest telegraph station. Train travel was disrupted across south Texas.

galveston missing 11As in many other cities, people in Fort Worth fretted over the safety of friends and family in Galveston.

As Galveston suffered “the greatest tragedy of the century,” many heroes stepped forward. So did the predictable scavengers. Some merchants began price gouging. People with boats charged exorbitant fees to ferry people to the mainland. Bodies and property were looted. As martial law was declared, looters (the estimates range from 75 to 125) were shot and killed.

Tomorrow: “Greatest Tragedy of Century” (Part 2): “Martial Law”

These four photos are from the Library of Congress:

galveston-Relief_party_working LOCgalveston_Negro_High_School_Building LOCgalveston carrying bodies LOCgaleston seeking valuables_in_the_wreckage LOC

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Up a Lazy Liver: Snake Oil, Celery, and Feeling No Paine’s

Ads for patent medicines in the Fort Worth newspapers of a century-plus ago show us that if you weren’t feeling poorly back then, you just weren’t trying.

ad men for men only 1895From 1895. A favorite ploy of patent-medicine advertisers was to prey on men because of their insecurities. Do you suffer from “weakness of mind and body”? That phrase is just general enough that many a man might read it and find himself nodding in recognition. Erie Medical Company of Buffalo, New York, offered “for men only” an unnamed “home treatment” that was “a positive cure” for “effects of errors or excesses in old or young.”

ad women cardui 1896From 1896. Another favorite ploy was to prey on women because of “derangements” of their “menstrual and generative organs.” Wine of Cardui cured “the troubles resulting from derangements” of those organs. This ad was loaded with scattershot: It reminded women readers that “such derangements are shown by many different symptoms.” Got a headache? That’s a sure sign of derangements. Have some Wine of Cardui. Got a backache? Another sure sign of derangements. Have some more Wine of Cardui. Got fainting spells? A sure sign of derangements. Take another swig. Got a ticket for being drunk on your bustle? Well, no wonder, woman: Wine of Cardui was 20 percent alcohol.

ad 1902 swamp root 1From 1902. This ad for Swamp-Root is an example of the opposite ploy of patent-medicine advertisers: Instead of warning readers that an illness has many symptoms, warn readers that an illness has no symptoms. “Did not know she had kidney trouble. Thousands have kidney trouble and never suspect it,” this ad says. Thus, if your kidneys feel fine, that’s a sure sign you have kidney trouble and need a bottle of Swamp-Root. Alcohol: 8 percent.

ad paines celery 1896From 1903. Paine’s Celery Compound was ten grains (.02 ounce) of celery seed and 19.8 percent alcohol. “People are surprised at my vigorous appearance and activity, which I believe is the result of my using Paine’s celery compound,” said Mrs. Emyle Hyde Grinnell. I think you will agree that Mrs. Grinnell’s expression virtually shouts, “Party at my place!”

ad lazy liver 1907From 1916. Folks, do you have a lazy liver? Do you have trouble getting your liver to do even a single sit-up or squat-thrust? Does it refuse to take out the trash, mow the lawn, or whitewash that picket fence? Is your liver a bad influence on your other organs, encouraging them just lie around your thorax and watch Oprah? Then you need Cascarets, the candy cathartic.

ad snake oil 1916 2From 1916. There really were snake oil patent medicines. Good for the grippe (flu), croup (respiratory condition), neuralgia (nerve pain), lumbago (low back pain), the ad says. This brand contained serum harvested from snakes raised on a 750-acre farm in Brazil.

Yes, these ads of long ago tell us something about the people who wrote them, the people who read them, and the time in which they lived. I, for one, say thanks every night that those days of shameless misrepresentation in advertising are behind us.

But then the next morning I look at the spam in my inbox.

Other posts about early newspaper advertising:

Once Upon a Nostrum: Of Snake Oil and Lip Service

Once Upon a Malady (Part 1): Of Cod and Continence

Once Upon a Malady (Part 2): Of Mandrake and Maltobeef

Once Upon an Electrode: “Now This Won’t Hurt a Bit”

Once Upon a Potion: “To Your Health (Hic)”

Near-Beer, a Steer, and “Better Take Something for That Cough, Dear”

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“Re Ray, Re Ray, Re Ray, Rix! We’re the Class of Naughty Six!”

What do you get when you cross a panther with a parrot? You get the yearbook of Polytechnic College, the Panther City Parrot. Here is a seven-pack of pages from Volume 1.

PCP coverThe Panther City Parrot was first issued in 1906, its title evoking the panther legend of Fort Worth and playing on the similarity of the college’s name to the “Polly” name often given to parrots.

PCP wild westIn the class of 1906 most of the student body (including members of the Wild West Club) was born in the late 1880s, about the time of the Short-Courtright shooting. These teenagers had grown up under the presidencies of Cleveland, Harrison, McKinley, and Teddy Roosevelt.

PCP headlinesWithin the previous six years these teenagers—who today are someone’s ancestors—had read these headlines.

PCP main buildingThe main building. Note an automobile in the left foreground and a streetcar in the left background. The Polytechnic streetcar line began in 1891 to serve the new college and the new Manchester cotton mill.

PCP sensabaughThe Polytechnian was a publication for the college’s literary societies. Polytechnian exchange editor Leona Sensabaugh was daughter of Rev. Oscar F. Sensabaugh, presiding elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Fort Worth. In 1910 Leona would marry a fellow Polytechnic College graduate, Eric Muenter, aka Frank Holt. In 1915 Muenter would plant a time bomb that damaged the U.S. Capitol building, shoot financier J. P. Morgan Jr., and plant a time bomb on a ship carrying munitions to England.

PCP senior officersSenior officers and senior class yell: “Re Ray, Re Ray, Re Ray, Rix! We’re the Class of Naughty Six!”

Posts about other local school yearbooks:

The ’24 Parrot: Buncha Hundred-Year-Old Teenagers 

Poly Parrots of 1930: Familiar Faces

Papa Parrot: The Man We Called “Mr. T”

North Fort Worth High School, 1915: “Brackety Cax, Co-ax, Co-ax!”

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Posted in Downtown, All Around, East Side, Life in the Past Lane | 2 Comments