Looking back at the Roaring 20s from the perspective of the current 20swebmaster January 9, 2020 0 COMMENTS
By Gail M. Williams Muleshoe Journal Correspondent
As we settle in to the new decade, it’s interesting to look back on another decade, also called “the 20s” and often referred to as “The Roaring 20s,” when hair was bobbed, skirts were short and people rebelled against the 18th Amendment to the Constitution by importing or distilling their own particular brands of liquor. The city of Muleshoe was founded in 1913, but would not be incorporated until 1926. Nevertheless, the Muleshoe Journal was up and running by March 8, 1924. An archived copy of the Journal found online is dated March 8. In its pages, the reader can glimpse what was going on in the busy and growing city of Muleshoe and surrounding communities. Famous styles of the 20s were part of the Muleshoe consciousness at the time, showing up in advertisements and news copy. An ad for Jackman’s in Clovis describes “jaunty, mannish tailored styles,” what we now call pantsuits, from $25.00 to $45.00. In the news section is a photo of a woman wearing “the latest in silk coats,” showing the Egyptian influence. For the less style conscious, Jackman’s offered “new spring dresses, hats, flat heels and dress heels from $4.95 to $11.00.” However, J.C. Penneys in Muleshoe devotes its advertisements to patterned and plain cloth material. It seems that many women had not lost the art of making their own dresses. Speaking of J.C. Penneys, a headline reveals a mystery that police were unable to solve. It reads, “Clovis Police Are Baffled Over Robbery of J. C. Penney Company Store.” The robbers made off with both money and goods. Another crime story buried inside the newspaper garnered about 1 ½ inches of copy. The headline reads, “Post Merchant Shot to Death.” According to the story, a Garza County stockman shot a dry goods merchant five times with a 45-calber pistol before noon on a Thursday, then surrendered to authorities. He was released on a $10,000 bond. The story concludes, “No words passed between the men before the shooting. Neither man had a family.” The story is immediately followed by another headlined “Lubbock Kiwanis Club Will Enter Attendance Drive.” The paper has a section for Fairview News, which reports that two little girls had contracted the measles. It was reported that in the case of one little girl, “it settled in her head. She is some better at this time.” The Fairview News notes that people were breaking sod at a great rate. We can conclude that methods used in 1924 were much more primitive than today, with digging done by hand or with the help of horses. Yet the report states, “Every one in this community is busy breaking sod. There is some ten or twelve newly improved places in this community and this makes sod breaking the main employment.” Another sign of growth was the use of fences. “Our community is building up fast and speaks well for Bailey county. One farmer says he has fenced and is fencing something like two thousand acres off into farms which were in grass last year and several other farms have been fenced.” Keeping young people in the area was a topic of discussion that took the form of finding shelter for them. A story about an upcoming lecture on building homes carried the subhead, “Homes of the Type Shown in This Design Would Stop the Wholesale Exodus of Young Folks to Crowded Cities.” Cities are regarded with skepticism, as shown by one of the “filler” statements sprinkled throughout the paper. “A small town can generally size up a man a lot quicker than a large city.” “Scandal may be all right in its place, but it has no place in a respectable community,” another filler declares. The 20s economy was booming, but there are glimmers of a pending downturn. Foster’s Weather Forecast states, “Another Teapot Dome oil explosion is due … of wheat next time — unless our economics show better balances.” Teapot Dome was a 20s scandal involving the secret leasing of federal reserves by Albert Bacon Fall, Secretary of the Interior under President Warren G. Harding, to oil tycoons. Harding was president from 1921 until his death in 1923 when he was succeeded by then Vice-President Calvin Coolidge. Another scandal was foreshadowed by the item, “Launch into Soldier Bonus Proposition: House Ways and Means Committee.” “A snag was struck when the form of payment was discussed,” the item declares. According to Wikipedia, the World War Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924 awarded veterans bonuses in the form of certificates they could not redeem until 1948. In 1932, a group of 43,000 soldiers with their families and supporters gathered on the White House lawn, demanding early payment. An attempt to remove the group failed, and two soldiers were shot. President Herbert Hoover then ordered the soldiers’ camp to be cleared, and Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur drove the protestors and their families out using infantry and cavalry supported by six tanks. If the people of the time found the future at all troubling, they were able to distract themselves with a brand new game. “Mah-Jong is taking the country by storm,” an ad proclaimed. A complete set was available for $1 and table covers for $2.