“Happy New Year!” a Century Ago

As the year 1922 began, readers of the Star-Telegram read ads and articles such as these:

The first front page of the new year announced the deaths of a U.S. senator and a former Russian ambassador to the United States. Elsewhere, a treaty was expected to outline the attitude of the Pacific powers toward Russia and China, and west Texas bankers predicted a prosperous new year.

The front page also included reports that a worker strike at the two North Side packing plants continued, that “several hundred” members of the Ku Klux Klan, at the height of its influence in the early 1920s, had marched in a parade in Cleburne, and that fifty-nine African Americans and four whites had been lynched nationwide in 1921. (One of those fifty-nine African Americans was packing plant strike breaker Fred D. Rouse, who was lynched, possibly by Klan members, on December 11, 1921.)

Elsewhere in crime, Cowtown mafiasa Ma Beland and two of her daughters went to prison for narcotics violations. Sons Joe Jr. and Charles already were in prison.

As 1922 began, nationwide prohibition had been in effect two years. The Star-Telegram reported a decline in liquor consumption at New Year’s Eve parties. But northwest of Mansfield hogs tipped off county lawmen to two barrels of buried mash used in a still.

America may have gone dry, but at Mineral Wells the mineral wells still flowed.

In fact, “daily auto service” was offered from the Terminal Hotel (1616 Main Street) to Mineral Wells.

Volunteers of America on Avenue J in Poly had seven babies awaiting adoption. Volunteers of America had opened its adoption agency in Fort Worth in 1917 in the tradition of children’s advocates such as Belle and I. Z. T. Morris, Belle Burchill, Edna Gladney, and Lena Pope.

Meanwhile firefighters extinguished a fire on the Jennings Avenue viaduct.

“How can a viaduct catch fire?” you ask. Answer: When it’s paved with wood. The 1,300-foot-long viaduct (1903) carrying Jennings Avenue over the Texas & Pacific tracks south of downtown was paved with blocks of bois d’arc wood. Not until 1931 would the overpass be replaced by the current underpass.

Major theaters included the Rialto, Majestic, and Palace.

The Fain-Bender Motor Company on Commerce Street sold a five-passenger Essex Coach for $1,345 ($21,100 today).

But in 1922 not everyone owned an automobile, and city bus service was in its infancy. Thus, real estate agents in their housing ads stressed the proximity to the main form of intracity mass transit: a streetcar line.

Meanwhile intercity mass transit between Fort Worth and Dallas was provided by the interurban electric trolley. Stops along the interurban line were both numbered and named. For example, the Rand Street stop in today’s Meadowbrook area was also called “Stop 6.” The area was outside the city limits in 1922 when the Star-Telegram reported Stop 6 news in a column. The Stop 6 neighborhood today is bounded by Rosedale Street on the north, Berry Street on the south, Loop 820 on the east, and Miller Street on the west.

Likewise, the Sycamore Heights neighborhood was outside the city limits as the year 1922 began. Sycamore Heights would be annexed on January 31.

In 1922 the department store founded by Henry Clay Meacham had not yet moved uptown.

The Knights of Columbus sponsored a night school for veterans at Laneri College, founded by pasta prince John Laneri on Hemphill Street.

The front page of the society section as the year 1922 began.

Who knew? In 1922 Columbia University in New York City had club for students from Texas.

One hundred years ago women wore corsets; men shaved with brush and soap.

The Star-Telegram published a pattern for a paper airplane.

As the west Texas oil boom continued, J. W. (“Hog Creek”) Carruth placed big ads in Texas newspapers to promote his new oil company. Carruth falsely claimed to have discovered the Desdemona oil field. In 1923 Carruth would go to prison for “dispersing stock-sales revenues as dividends, claiming income from non-producing wells, and otherwise misrepresenting the company’s position.”

The promises made by slippery oilmen were no more farfetched than those of makers of patent medicines. This ad for Korex Compound promises: “It acts naturally in restoring the vital forces in man or woman. It revives in you the power of youthful vigor and vitality. More certain than monkey or goat glands. It strengthens and renews your nerve tissues. You need not be handicapped by physical weakness resulting from breaking nature’s laws from whatever cause.” Note that the ad speaks only in abstracts (a form of the word vital appears eight times), says nothing about the active ingredients of the tablets or how those ingredients act upon the body.

The Journal of the American Medical Association wrote in 1925 that the company that manufactured Korex Compound employed no chemists or physicians. Most of the company’s operating budget went for advertising. JAMA wrote: “Korex Compound is . . . a crude, mail-order swindle operated mainly by Harold Melton Stunz” . . . and “sold for the treatment and cure of lost manhood . . . Stunz  admitted . . .  that he did not know what ‘lost manhood’ is, did not know how to cure it, and did not believe there was a cure for it. He also admitted that he knew nothing about drug therapy and did not know what effect his medicine might have in any particular case.”

But fraud aside, as the year 1922 began, “The world is mine!” was the sentiment expressed in this editorial cartoon. And indeed there was reason for optimism: The world war was over, the flu epidemic ended, the Great Depression and another world war years in the future. Popular songs in 1922 would include “Toot Toot Tootsie” and “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise.” Popular movies would include Lorna Doone, Bing Bang Boom, and One Glorious Day (starring Will Rogers and Alan Hale Sr., the father of Gilligan Island’s “Skipper”).

Happy new year one century later!

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