A Century Ago Today: War, “Moral Purity,” and Snake Oil

Here is a sample of what our parents or grandparents were reading in the Star-Telegram one hundred years ago today:

America had been at war just three weeks, so naturally World War I dominated the front page. In Chicago one hundred thousand people lined the streets as Teddy Roosevelt drove from the train station to his hotel. In a speech he urged America to “strike hard and aggressively at Germany.” In Washington the Senate passed a measure authorizing Roosevelt to raise a division of infantry volunteers to fight in France. The Senate and the House passed bills allowing conscription.

But on that grim front page was a glimmer of good news: The city was about to open a municipal bathing beach and bathhouse at Nine Mile Bridge at Lake Worth. People entering the water would be charged a quarter “whether they bring their own bathing suits or not.” Park officers at the entrance would keep out “undesirable characters.” Note that the story, published on Sunday, April 29, says that the beach and bathhouse would open on May 19 but that a contract to build the 208-foot-long bathhouse would not be let until Monday, which was April 30! Folks neither dillied nor dallied in days of yore.

That beach and bathhouse, of course, would evolve into Casino Beach.

And to boost morale of Navy sailors, the Star-Telegram began a campaign urging girls to “adopt” a Navy recruit. A recruiting officer would give each girl the name of a sailor who would welcome “letters and any other little pledges of friendship that she may send.”

Appearing in Patria on the screen of the Strand Theater at 710 Main Street was Mrs. Vernon Castle (“the best dressed, best known woman in America”). Within months her husband would be appearing live and in person in Fort Worth: training pilots at Camp Taliaferro.

A century ago Fort Worth lived by whistles. People went to work by whistles, went to lunch by whistles, went home by whistles. People were even patriotic by whistles. When employees of the Rock Island railroad raised a huge Old Glory 178 feet off the ground, locomotive whistles “blew salutes.”

At J. Frank Norris’s First Baptist Church, Alvaretta Bowman would speak to women on “moral purity.” “None under fourteen permitted.”

In the Texas League the Fort Worth Panthers defeated the Houston Buffs 3-1. The Panthers were sometimes called “Atzmen” because John Jacob Atz was the team’s manager (and second baseman). Under Atz in the 1920s the Panthers would win a league record six consecutive championships (1920-1925).

The Dort Motor Car Company was one of many that fell by the wayside during flivver fever early in the twentieth century. ($725 would be $13,800 today.)

Patent medicines continued to sell in 1917 despite the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which was designed to outlaw medicines that were unsafe or ineffective.

A new system of brick paving—without a cushion of sand—was being used on the Dallas Pike (Lancaster Avenue).

Ever heard of Edward Seibold? He owned a loan company and the Seibold Hotel at 7th and Rusk (Commerce) streets. The building originally housed the medical college of Fort Worth University. Seibold added two stories and converted the building into a hotel in 1907.

Ever heard of Seibold Addition? Nor had I. And yet, come to find out, I spent a lot of my youth nearby in Sycamore Park and Sycamore Creek in Poly. Seibold Addition was platted south of Vickery Boulevard and west of the interurban track to Cleburne through Sycamore Park.

Today the surviving housing in Seibold Addition is along the west side of Sycamore Terrace between Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway and Sycamore Park. Yellow line shows the path of the Cleburne interurban line across Sycamore Creek toward Mitchell Boulevard. According to Tarrant Appraisal District, all the surviving houses in Seibold Addition were built in 1947 or later.

These are what the well-dressed heads were wearing in 1917. (A man’s negligee hat was worn on casual or recreational occasions.)

This is how people listened to recorded music before the iPod. ($100 would be $1,900 today.) See that “L. 175”?  When the phone company adopted the exchange system in 1910, the first two exchanges were Lamar and Prospect.

This is how people recorded images before the iPad.

This is how people made telephone calls before the iPhone. Cartoonist George McManus also created the comic strip Bringing Up Father (Maggie and Jiggs), which ran eighty-seven years.

And this is what passed as “cool” before Steve McQueen came along. Fort Worth Power & Light sold buzz fans for $12.50 ($238 today).

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One Response to A Century Ago Today: War, “Moral Purity,” and Snake Oil

  1. Chandler Slater says:

    I was born in an apartment complex on the Westside of town. We only went to the Southside during visits to my (now deceased) grandmother’s house.

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