TGIF: Blast from the past: The Bulletin on this day in 1921

Brownwood Bulletin
Gene Deason

“Observing readers will note that this issue of The Bulletin is labeled Volume XXII, No. 1, and understanding readers will deduce therefrom that The Bulletin is going through the process of observing another birthday.”

That’s the first sentence of a story in the October 15, 1921, issue of the Brownwood Bulletin — an article published 100 years ago today, headlined simply “Another birthday,” and printed on Page 4 of a six-page newspaper.

The point of the story then, and the point of it now, is that October 15 is the “birthday” of the Brownwood Bulletin.

There had been a weekly Bulletin for a couple of decades before October 15, 1900, but that is the date when its publishers embarked on an experiment — a daily newspaper. While “daily” meant six issues a week for most of the years since 1900, there was a period beginning in 2004 when the Bulletin was printed seven days a week. The newspaper continued as a “daily” product until a few years ago, when the schedule dropped to three days a week.

That saddened me, but today, we’re celebrating a birthday.

The “happy birthday to us” article in 1921 explained how the newspaper appeared as a daily periodical 21 years earlier, before comparing its growth to that of a young boy who, at age 21, has attained maturity. That’s reaching to make a comparison, given how some folks celebrate their milestone birthday, but the article goes on to thank its readers and advertisers for their continued support. Such words of appreciation cannot be repeated often enough. That was true when the Bulletin began its 22nd year of operation, and that remains What’s the rest of the day’s news from 100 years ago?

—The banner story offered the latest developments on a threatened October 30 railroad strike, and the (unnamed) president of the United States had gotten involved in the negotiations. In 1921, most readers probably knew the president’s name, but for the record, it was Warren G. Harding.

—Work was continuing on a winter natatorium at Brownwood Hot Wells, promising to make it an outstanding attraction for tourists and, according to the story, the finest such facility in the Southwest.

—President Harding (the story names him this time) issued an executive order granting military veterans an extra five points on their scores when applying for post office positions.

—It was a Saturday, and Boston College was scheduled to play Baylor in Dallas. While this wasn’t mentioned either, it was at the State Fair. The Boston players outweighed Baylor’s by three pounds per man, the story revealed.

—A man who was in the Army had surrendered at the Brownwood police station, saying he had deserted his camp in Maryland a month earlier.

So much for that day’s front page. What do we see when we look inside?

Since it was Saturday, there was a column promoting Sunday religious services at local churches. First Methodist had a revival starting. First Baptist Pastor George Green provided a long list of events including youth group meetings throughout the afternoon.

Other churches also welcomed visitors and listed Sunday activities, submitted by First Christian Pastor C.E. Moore; St. John’s Rector Jno. Power; E.L. Neve, minister of the Church of Christ on Austin Avenue; and R.R. Rives, minister at the Austin Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Other churches were more insistent. Coggin Avenue Baptist Pastor W.R. Hornburg invited everyone to attend and bring a smile, but to “leave your grouch at home.” Wouldn’t that actually hurt attendance? Then, First Presbyterian Church Pastor W.R. Gray invited the public but went as far as to say, “All members are expected to be present at the Sunday school service.”

The advertisements are almost as interesting as the articles.

—The largest ads included one for the new and improved Essex motor car available for purchase at W.R. Scrimgeour & Son. The cheapest of four models cost $1,375. Sweet ride. Also, men’s fall suits were advertised by Roussel-Robertson as being “priced as low as good clothes can be marked.”

—The Southern Hotel Dining Room reminded the city that “to dine here is truly a delight.”

There are some still familiar Brownwood institutions represented. Weakley-Watson-Miller had an ad titled “Hardware,” and readers could call the store by dialing 42. Also, the Lyric Theater had a movie double feature playing that day, “The Bell Hops” and “The City of Silent Men.” Of course, they were silent. We didn’t have talkies yet.

Perhaps I’ve saved the wildest for last. It’s a preachy “Parson’s Column“ written by a man who referred to himself only in the third-person, namely “The Parson.” No wonder he preferred anonymity. “The Parson” harshly criticized the local American Legion for hosting a carnival to raise funds because of the gambling that is the “evitable accompaniment of such affairs.”

He went on to decry the public’s disinterest in worldwide disarmament talks “in view of the fact that the next great war will mean the end of our civilization.”

He wrapped up with some reading recommendations, and an observation that “the printing trade represents the aristocracy of intellect” — even though his work failed to provide evidence of such claims. In closing, he urged readers “not to swell up and pass by The Parson with haughty scorn” the next time you see him on the streets of Brownwood.

While he never gave his name, his photo was printed right there, just as mine is exactly 100 years later, so people just might recognize him.

Or maybe they won’t.

Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column “TGIF” appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at tgifcolumn@yahoo.com.