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  • Laura Bray

The World of “Springs:” News of the World

"Tanja&Nikita Wedding" by Wineblat Eugene - Portraits is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

East Texas can be rather an insular place, and many east Texans largely—then and now—keep to themselves. Small-town newspapers in the 1920s and 30s featured front page articles about the local oil and agriculture businesses, obituaries, and news of local notables (along with front-page ads for haberdasheries and banks).

In fact, according to a paper published in the East Texas Historical Journal (a publication of the East Texas Historical Society), the stock market crash of October 1929 barely made a blip in local consciousness. “Other than a brief story about the crash, most East Texas newspapers ignored the stock market…..Editorials explain[ed] that the crash should not be of great concern to people in East Texas…The panic would be short-lived and all would be back to normal soon.”

Nevertheless, certain national and world events made it through the thicket of the “pine curtain” and into local homes, even if only via radio broadcasts. Some notable events of the era:

· In April 1933, sales of beer in the US became legal with the end of Prohibition. But not in Rusk County, Texas. It didn’t allow alcohol sales until January 2012. (Really! Not a typo!)

· On May 23, 1934 in Bienville Parish, LA (about 150 miles east of New London), Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and killed by a posse led by Texas lawman Frank Hamer.

· In the summer of 1936, Germany hosted the Summer Olympics in Berlin. Amidst growing tensions in Europe with Hitler’s rise to power, Jesse Owens won four gold medals.

· On the day before the school explosion, Amelia Earhart made her first attempt at her circumnavigation of the globe with an initial flight from Oakland, CA to Honolulu.

(Unfortunately, the plane had mechanical problems and they were forced to abort. They made their second attempt in June. She and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the Pacific in July.)

· On May 6, 1937, the airship Hindenberg exploded and crashed over Manchester Township in New Jersey. The dramatic radio broadcast by Herbert Morrison (“Oh! The humanity!”) and famous newsreel footage completely eclipsed any remaining coverage of the school explosion, partially explaining why so few people know of New London’s disaster today.

Don’t forget the Boerne Book and Arts Festival THIS Saturday, October 5.

Order your copy of Through Layered Limestone: a Texas Hill Country anthology of place today.

That’s all she wrote…….Laura

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