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80 years ago: basketball, electricity, water tower, and an amazing contest

As November 1938 eased toward December, many -- not all, not most, but many -- Americans began to see or at least sense an easing of a crushing double trough: the 1937-1938 recession within the Great Depression, the latter then in its tenth year. Unrest stirred in Europe, fomented in the main by Hitler, but war there remained some ten months in the future, and America's plunge into the global conflict lay almost exactly three years away.

But meanwhile, back in The Shire. . .


By Jim

In that late November eighty years ago, the Taylor County Rural Electric Cooperation reported power poles had been set from Campbellsville to the monument at Tebbs Bend. From that point then, the line would extend into Cane Valley, with completion slated before late winter.

In Green, Taylor, and Adair counties combined, 154 miles of line would bring electrical power to 427 farms. The project employed 50 men and would bring a total of nearly 25,000 much-needed hours "of direct labor alone" to the area.


County Superintendent of Schools C.W. Marshall announced that Adair teachers were expected to sell Christmas Seal stamps; the teachers were asked to call at his office to pick up the "little stickers."

Hebert Howell, water plant manager, did an outstanding job of keeping water flowing in Columbia while an out-of-state company spent eight days giving the city water tower atop Lindsey Wilson hill four coats of paint -- two within and two without; and on November 27, Rives Kerbow, founder of Columbia's Dr. Pepper plant, married Miss Hazel Horton in Greenville, Texas.

Also up on Lindsey Hill, Coach Arthur Gullette's Blue Raider hardwood quintet, led by team captain and Adair County basketball coach legend-to-be John Burr, walloped tarnation out of an alumni five in an exhibition game. When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard showed 63 points for the current Blue & Whites while the alums failed to break the double digit mark. Observed the News in an awkward compliment, "The collegians' brilliant passing at times was troublesome to spectators, who experienced difficulty in determining who made the last goal."

A handful of businesses, including Lany Bray & Co. and Paull Drug Co., ran Christmas-themed ads in the paper, and two grocery stores, George Hancock's Corner Grocery and Baldwin's Cash Market, offered their wares. At the former, astute shoppers could get three cans of orange juice or six bars of laundry soap for a quarter and a dozen ginger snaps for a nickel. Deals at the Cash Market included a can of salmon for a quarter and 24 pounds of Elk brand flour for fifty-five cents.

The most stunning announcement, however, came in the form of an interior ad splashed across two pages and a front page article with a double top-of-the-page screamer headline. The News announced an eight-week subscription drive in which anyone could participate. Each new or renewal subscription guaranteed twenty cents to whomever obtained it, but the top two prizes were jawdropping.

First place was a 60 horsepower, eight cylinder 1939 Ford Tudor sedan, valued at $695. The second place winner would receive a 15-tube Zenith radio (or a Zenith Farm Radio, "with Charger and light plant" should the winner live in a rural area), valued at $199.

(The 15-tube Zenith, a top of the line multi-band console model, was described as "superheterodyne with Transcontinental Automatic Tip-Touch Tuning; auxiliary motor tuning; receives American, foreign broadcasts / police, amateur, aviation, ships; 12-inch speaker; Radiorgan, triple bass compensation; big black "Robot" dial; acoustic adapter; 44-1/4-inch high; fine walnut finish."

When the smoke cleared and everything got tallied up at the end of January 1939, the News had almost six hundred new subscribers, Mrs. Sallie Kelley claimed the radio, and Mrs. Mary C. Loy drove away in the Ford.


This story was posted on 2018-11-25 11:37:02
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