As we start the new year, I want to thank all the readers who have sent letters, e-mails and told me in person that they have enjoyed The Archivist.
We hope to continue to entertain and inform, as we find items that are odd, interesting, amusing and/or serious, as we revisit the history in the pages of The Oklahoman.
Now that we are recovering from the Blizzard of ’09, let me take you back 100 hundred years to New Year’s Day, 1910.
While the story was regulated to page 6 on Sunday, January 2, 1910, The Oklahoman reported that spring weather had welcomed in the new year on Saturday, with a temperature that reached the high of 74 degrees and was described as “one of those warm, balmy kind that bring people out of their homes and into the streets.” The streets were described as packed with crowds walking, driving automobiles and carriages and horseback riding as they enjoyed the unseasonable weather.
But we live in Oklahoma, where the weather is as changeable as a politician’s mind.
On Sunday, the temperature never made it out of the 20′s and on Monday, January 3, a “fine drizzling sleet” fell to make the sidewalks and streets as treacherous then as those of Christmas Eve 2009.
I wish a happy, safe and healthy New Year to all.
Oklahoma became a state in November of 1907 and on Wednesday, January 1, 1909, the front page of The Oklahoman carried this description of how the new year was rung in.
“The old year is gone. Today is New Year Day. “Turn over a new leaf” is working again.
On the first second of the new year bedlam broke loose in Oklahoma City. Street car gongs clanged, whistles shrieked, church bells tolled and mill whistles howled a greeting to the new year, 1908.
New Year Day in Oklahoma City will be observed as a half holiday. Nearly all the stores will be closed for the afternoon. The public schools of the city were dismissed last evening until tomorrow morning.
Sunday hours will be observed at the post office, the general delivery window being open from 9:30 to 10:30 o’clock. No mail deliveries will be made.
Banks and federal offices of the city will be closed for the entire day, while a part of the city and county offices will be closed all day, others will be open during the morning hours.
Watch parties were being held in all parts of the city last night, in churches and homes. Members of many secret orders awaited the coming of the new year at the club rooms where refreshments were served and various forms of entertainments were provided.
Short sermons by the pastors of the churches, readings and programs of music and song were the features of entertainment at the churches.
The Outlook of State and Church was the subject of the Rev. Dr. Thomas H. Harper, pastor of the Pilgrim Congregational Church, Noble and Harvey. The pastor told of the opportunities of the new state in the new year and the plans of the church for increasing its membership and general work for the church cause. A program of readings and music followed.
A short sermon by the Rev. Dr. W. H. B. Urch, and a program of song and music were features of the watch party of the First Methodist Episcopal church, Fourth and Robinson, last night. More than 200 person gathered to watch the “Old Year out and the New Year in.”
Members of the congregations of Methodist Episcopal Church, South and White Temple gathered in joint observance of the entry of the New Year in the parlors of the White Temple, Third and Broadway. A program of music and readings were given.
Visiting members and local members of the Oklahoma City aerie of Eagles met at the hall to observe the passing moments of the year of 1907. A short program was given and the remainder of the evening was spent in social session.
The birth of the new year was observed by the members of the First Christian Church, Third and Robinson. The evening’s watch was opened by a general conference of the officers of the church. Yearly reports were submitted and plans for the coming year were discussed. A program of music and song followed. A social session and old fashion watch party continued until the arrival of the new year.”
Notice that the school holiday was a day long and the post office still offered Sunday services.
Now days we celebrate New Year’s Eve with “Opening Night” and fireworks have replaced the gongs of streetcars and the whistles of celebrants, but many churches offer New Year’s Eve programs to usher in the new year.
On Dec. 25, 1917, The Oklahoman’s front page included stories on the Christmas membership drive for the Red Cross, 14 women killed in a holiday traffic accident in Pennsylvania and numerous stories relating to the war.
This ran on the editorial page and is as true and appropriate now as it was then.
“THERE IS REJOICING in many homes because soldier sons were permitted to come home on a Christmas furlough, complete the family circle and get their feet under a regular table once again. And for the many who couldn’t come, here’s wishing them a Merry Christmas, too. They have been kindly remembered as a million gifts from friends, relatives and sympathetic strangers will testify. It is hoped they are not too lonely in cantonment or trenches, or sailing a dangerous sea on the way “over there.” Wherever they are, by land or sea, the heart of America goes out to them, with a feeling which the simple tokens sent cannot fully express.
“And how well they deserve the gratitude and good will of the nation and all Christendom. For theirs is in its finest sense a holy war; a conflict to make safe that freedom, democracy and brotherly love which were part of the teachings of the lowly Nazarene; to save that civilization which is based on Calvary from the ruthless hands of ultra-savagery and the base philosophy of crass materialism. So in this season, dedicated to peace on earth, though war is raging, may the soldiers of our service and the armies of our allies know, amid all their martial surroundings, something of that inward peace which comes from knowledge of duty done; unselfish duty in behalf of a worthy cause.
“When some blessed day, the engines of war are stilled and the world is made safe to humanity, may they come back again, to a better Christmas in a brighter land. That is the civilian’s Christmas wish for the army, but whatevever the fates may hold or the fortunes of war bestow, those boys in khaki shall live in the hearts of their countrymen while human gratitude shall last.”
The major change today from the editorial written so many years ago is how the soldiers reached the areas of conflict.
The sentiment above is what we wish for all the military serving at home and abroad.
As readers of the newspaper know, rarely does a week go by that there isn’t a police chase reported.
This story was published in The Oklahoman, June 22, 1914.
“LIQUOR TRANSPORTER RACES WITH POLICE”
“Charley Clift, liquor transporter, matched a race Saturday night between his fine driving horse and the police auto. He lost the race, a barrel of beer and $51.
The race began near Walnut Grove when Detective Charles Farris and Police Chauffeur Dale Smith, in the auto, saw Clift appear from beneath the Frisco railroad trestle on East Reno avenue. Clift saw the officers about the same time they saw him and turned from the road across a plowed field near Riverside Park.
Lashing his horse into a gallop, Clift began the race with a lead of a block. Opening the engine throttle wide Smith turned his car and bounced after the fleeing “booze hauler.” Farris stood up in the flying car and yelled warnings at Clift to stop while 300 negro spectators cheered and screamed.
For ten minutes clouds of dust arose and enveloped the eastern end of California and Grand avenues. From the whirling sand came yells and the chugging of the auto. Some of the most exciting parts of the race were missed by the hundreds of shouting negroes because the dust was to thick to see through.
Back to the starting line Clift dashed and gave up. His horse was winded and the auto had crept up to rear wheels of his buggy.
“Alright Charley let’s go to the station now, commanded Farris as the race ended. Clift gave up his barrel of beer and $51 bond to the desk seargeant and passed on.”