Well, it appears that my attempt to celebrate the Cross Plains Centennial Year by posting news stories from old copies of the Review got sidetracked this spring. Given that I’m flying off to the “hometown of my heart” tomorrow for Howard Days, at which we will be celebrating “Howard History” as well as the Centennial, I thought a quick buzz through some June papers would be in order.
June 23, 1916
Cross Cut Items: Dr. Howard gave the young folks a party Saturday night all present report a nice time.
June 1, 1923
Gas Fire Takes Heavy Toll at Cross Cut; Man Severely Burned: Fire originating from gas breaking out between the 8 and 10 inch casing at the McDonough No. 5, of Crabb & McNeel and Tom Bryant, Saturday, completely destroyed the rig and tools and seriously burned James Hecht, tool dresser, working on the well.
Robert Howard, who has been in Brownwood High School, is back home after graduating.
Cleanup Campaign Gets Cooperation of Citizenship: The Clean-up campaign which is scheduled to start next Tuesday, is going to have the support of the citizenship. All are interested in the movement apparently, and many have so expressed themselves. The Mayor has issued proclamation that the business houses would close on Tuesday morning during the next two weeks, in order that all may take part in the work.
Atticus Webb, well known as “one of the leaders in the state against the liquor traffic,” was scheduled to speak at the Methodist Church on Sunday. The other churches were not holding services, so that everyone could go and hear Dr. Webb.
June 22, 1923
Dr. Howard, wife, and son returned Saturday from a two week trip to Marlin, Texas.
The Cross Plains Motor Co. was offering a Ford One-Ton truck body for $380.
June 7, 1929
Sad Death of Geo. B. Scott: George B. Scott, cashier at the First State Bank (later Citizens Bank, now Texas Heritage), was fishing with a friend in the Philpeco Country Club Lake, midway between Cross Plains and Rising Star, when the boat they were in capsized and Mr. Scott drowned. [Scott was the father of Jack Scott, known to REH fans as the long-time newspaperman who first reported the death of Robert E. Howard. Jack, who also served several terms as Cross Plains mayor, was a very good friend to the Howard community.]
Robert Howard is visiting relatives in Brownwood this week.
Dr. Howard who has moved to Spur visited with his family here past week end. [Dr. Howard’s residence in Spur did not last very long.]
Dr. S.E. Shoultz, “Magnetic Masseur,” was offering free examinations at his office, first door south of the Piggly Wiggly store.
Lotief’s Dry Goods was offering “New Wash Frocks” for $1.95 and silk dresses from $4.95 to $6.95.
At the Howell theater in Coleman, you could see “The Barker,” starring Milton Sills, Dorothy Mackail, Betty Compson, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Thursday through Saturday, and then an “All-Talking Super-Special,” “Strange Cargo,” a thrilling South Seas adventure, Monday and Tuesday. Coming June 13-15, “Hearts in Dixie” (see Robert E Howard Goes to the Movies), and soon — Jolson’s “The Jazz Singer.”
June 14, 1929
Jack Scott was recently elected editor of the Brand, student newspaper at Simmons University in Abilene (now Hardin-Simmons).
Lewis T. Nordyke, of Cottonwood, was the editor-in-chief of the Grassburr, yearbook of John Tarleton Agricultural College in Stephenville. Nordyke went on to become a successful journalist and author. Anyone with an interest in life in Callahan County during Robert E. Howard’s era should read Nordyke’s Nubbin Ridge, a memoir of his life on the family farm near Cottonwood.
Several persons were arrested in the Cross Cut and Blake communities of Brown County for selling liquor, including a deputy sheriff.
June 21, 1929
Extension of Katy Branch to Abilene: From the time that officials of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad (MKT, or Katy) decided to run a spur line from DeLeon to Cross Plains, there had been interest in extending that line to Abilene. This is another lengthy article boosting the idea. Nothing ever came of it.
June 28, 1929
Cross Plains The City Where Dreams Come True
Editors Note: No better picture of the type of man and womanhood that first settled Cross Plains could probably be sketched from an artist’s pen than the following editorial clipped from the Cross Plains Review, February 24, 1911. It breathes of the spirit that prompted those sturdy pioneers of more than a score of years ago to match their strength and wits against adversities of this then inhabited West. It is published herein because of the encouragement that it should be to us to Carry On in times such as these.
If a thousand years are but as a watch in the night, the great heart of the ages has hardly throbbed a beat since the Indians left the Cross Plains country. Yesterday we had the cowboy, the coyote and long-horn cattle. Tick tock, goes the great clock, and we have the thriving railroad town, and a country thickly dotted with nice farm houses and people with happy and prosperous farmers. What a country of dreams we have. Not idle unreasonable dreams, but beautiful dreams come true. God said let there be light and there was light. He smiled and there was Cross Plains. [The article continues, but that’s enough for you to get the gist of it.]
June 3, 1932
Norris Chambers was running a “Children’s Bedtime Story” series in the Review every week; this week’s offering was “The Paradise Beyond.” [Norris was the son of Solomon Chambers, one of Dr. Howard’s best friends, and is well known to Howard fans as a font of information on REH and his family.]
In a listing of Professional services, Dr. I.M. Howard was “Giving Special Attention to Stomach and Intestinal Diseases.” He had an office over the Citizens State Bank (where the Staghorn Cafe is now).
The Liberty was showing Buck Jones in “The Fighting Sheriff.” Coming Monday and Tuesday, “Business and Pleasure,” with Will Rogers.
June 10, 1932
Norris Chambers’ offering this week in “Children’s Bedtime Story” was “The Razenian Genius,” Chapter IV, “Danger Threatens.”
June 17, 1932
Farrow Case Is Set Wednesday: Case of Walter Farrow, Cross Plains cafe man billed for murder in connection with the fatal shooting of Archie Davidson, 29, here Saturday night, will come up in district court at Baird Wednesday. Judge S.M. Long set his bond at $3,500. [REH fans should be familiar with this shooting. He mentioned it in a long list of shootings described in a letter to August Derleth, July 4, 1935: “And there was Arch Davidson, the last man killed in a fight in this town – he was warned to keep out of Walt Farrow’s place, but he kicked open the door and lurched in, in his bravado – and there he froze suddenly, with the knowledge of death on him, in the glare in Farrow’s eyes, in the sixshooter in Farrow’s lifted hand. Then the gun crashed and the bullet tore his brains out and hurled him headfirst out into the crowded street, where women shrieked suddenly to see that limp shape lying with the shattered head in a slowly widening pool of crimson.”]
Court of C.C. Rules Against Jerry Kent: Jerry Kent, Cross Plains youth who is under 40 year sentence for the slaying of his grand uncle, Bob Ensor, has again seen his dim ray of hope to evade “prison walls” fade starkly before him. The court of criminal appeals at Austin, which affirmed the case in May, Wednesday over-ruled the appealant’s motion for rehearing. [Another case mentioned by REH in the letter to Derleth: “I remember the last time I saw Bob Ensor – coming out into the road out of the hills where he had lived for more than fifty years, he and his wife in single file like Indians, and he tall and lean and dark and silent, with much of the Indian in him – a brave and dangerous man, quiet, decent, whose record as a deputy marshal was without a stain. A week later he was dead not far from where I saw him last – shot down from the brush in an old feud that had smoldered for thirty years.” Judging from the news accounts, I’m inclined to agree with Jack Scott’s assessment of Howard’s relating of these stories as “hyperbolic.”]
Queen of Sky Sails Over Cross Plains: The silvery sided dirigible Akron, mightiest airship aloft, sailed majestically past Cross Plains Sunday afternoon, shortly before seven o’clock. The elevation is said to have been approximately 5,400 feet. Hundreds of local people saw the giant dirigible, which remained in vision more than 20 minutes. Its speed was reported by the Associated Press to have been 50 miles an hour average. The ship was enroute to Lakehurst, NJ from San Francisco.
The ad for Smith Drug Store and Cross Plains Drug Store was headed “Just Selling Drugs.” “I ain’t mad at nobody,” it declared, “because I don’t meddle in other people’s affairs. I simply mind my own business — and that is to sell you the best Drugs, Toilet Articles and Sundries that money can buy.” You could get a 10 cent bar of Palmolive soap for only a nickel, or a four-ounce jug of imported olive oil for 29 cents.
Dr. and Mrs. I.M. Howard and Robert left the first of the week for Marlin. Dr. Howard will do special observation in the Marlin clinics, where he is accorded exceptional fraternal privileges.
June 24, 1932
Jury Out On Farrow Case: Excerpt: “Farrow appeared cool in the courtroom until he took the stand. he was nervous under the rapid fire questioning of the district attorney. He testified that he was so nervous and excited the night of the killing that he could not exactly remember things that happened in that connection.
“‘Archie had a wild look in his eye and I thought he was coming over the counter after me,’ Farrow stated.”
The jury’s verdict was not available at press time. (Farrow was convicted of “murder without malice” and given a three-year suspended sentence.)
In an article about the hiring of a new agriculture teacher for the high school is this: “Announcement was made to the board, while in session Monday night, by Superintendent Nat Williams that Cross Plains high school had regained state affiliation in fourth year English, a credit which was lost two years ago. Work done by Miss Enid Gwathmey and English students during the past school term received commendation from the state department.” [Enid Gwathmey was a cousin of Novalyne Price; she and Williams figure prominently in One Who Walked Alone.]
Norris Chambers’ “Children’s Bedtime Story” was “The Razenian Genius,” Chapter VII, “Loop the Loop.”
June 2, 1933
‘Wire Artist’ Here Saturday: Bunny Dryden Will Walk Wire 40 Feet In Sky Tomorrow: Bunny Dryden, theatrically called ‘The Great Lafayette,’ will walk across Main Street on a high wire, 40 feet above the pavement, here Saturday. His exhibition is being brought to Cross Plains by local merchants.
Norris Chambers took over the “Cross Cut” news column in the Review. He wrote “It remains to be seen whether we can successfully keep up this news column. It seems as if we have always done things backwards. We tried to write bed-time stories, and we turned out Gothic Romance without a particle of realism; we attempted to produce a few novels, they were only extended bed-time stories, so don’t be surprised if this column turns out to be a regularly kept DIARY instead of a chronicle.”
At the Liberty, you could see “Somewhere in Sonora,” starring John Wayne. Monday and Tuesday would bring Will Rogers in “Too Busy To Work.” Admission was 10 cents or 15 cents.
June 9, 1933
Highway 36 Is Now Designated To Here From Gulf Coast: Highway 36 from the Gulf Coast through Comanche has been designated to Cross Plains. [Unfortunately, my copy of this is difficult to read. But at the time, there was no Highway 36 coming into Cross Plains from the east (from Rising Star) and continuing on to Abilene (past the Howard House). This was the earliest news of the highway’s coming.]
The Liberty was showing “Speed Demon.” Monday and Tuesday would bring Warner Baxter in “Dangerously Yours,” with Zane Grey’s “Robber’s Roost,” starring George O’Brien, scheduled for the following Friday and Saturday.
At the Palace Theatre in Cisco, the feature on Sunday and Monday was “Peg O’ My Heart,” with Marion Davies, followed on Thursday and Friday by Maurice Chevalier in “A Bedtime Story.”
June 16, 1933
Highway 36 Looms As A Reality: Temporary surveys on highway 36, from the Gulf Coast through Cross Plains to Abilene, began Thursday morning and those familiar with the project informed the Review yesterday at noon that possibilities of the road actually being constructed were highly probable. A recent law passed by the federal government would pay for the road. The only obstacle facing local citizens is that of securing a 100 foot right of way from here to the Western portion of the county line.
Great Britain Publisher Asks Cross Plains Author For All Manuscripts
The writing of Robert E. Howard, of this place, have reached across the ocean, invading England with a storm of popularity.
One of Great Britain’s largest publishing concerns recently made request for his future works and even offered premiums on scores of articles and stories that had been published in this country.
Dennis Archer, Publisher (The Search Publishing Company) at London has asked the Cross Plains author to submit a collection of his stories formerly published in various magazines, with the view of bringing them out in book form. This company is incorporated under the Royal Charter of England and includes in its advertising catalogues the works of Anton de Bruyne, Michael Arlen, Brandon Fleming, Lord Dunsany and Countess of Warwick.
Robert Howard, who is the son of Dr. and Mrs. I.M. Howard, of this place, has been writing successfully and profitably for more than eight years. Stonestreet and Smith, publishers of no less than a dozen largest selling magazines on American newsstands, have printing his manuscripts as fast as they are turned out and are pressing him for more.
Almost every month he is featured by one of the publications on its cover page.
Despite the renown success with which the Cross Plains author has already met, the recent offer of the England publishing company is perhaps the bright spot in his career of letters and bids fair to win him international prominence.
It has been a tradition among writers for decades that the hardest publications ‘to crack’ — sell stories to — were those in England. Robert Howard’s recent success in this line and because of the fact that the Great Britain company solicited his articles places him in a class by himself. Other American novelists and freelance writers regard his recent achievement as accomplishing the impossible and will perhaps watch his career anxiously.
[Whew! What a dazzling feat of press agentry! The true story is somewhat more prosaic, and has a less glorious outcome — Howard did send them a short story collection, they returned it saying that such collections weren’t going well at the moment but encouraging him to send a novel, which he did (The Hour of the Dragon), only to have the company go into receivership.]
The Liberty had “Robber’s Roost” with George O’Brien, to be followed on Monday and Tuesday by Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell in “Tess of the Storm Country.”
Gaynor was also the lead in “Adorable,” at the Palace in Cisco.
June 23, 1933
Juakana Westerman and Jack Scott Are Wed Thursday Noon: [Jack and “Kanie” would be married for 67 years, until her death in 2000. Jack passed away three years later.]
The annual picnic this year would be the 50th anniversary event, and was scheduled for July 26.
At the Liberty: Buck Jones in “White Eagle.” Monday and Tuesday, “Second Hand Wife” with Sally Eilers and Ralph Bellamy.
That’s all there’s time for in this installment: gotta pack our bags for Cross Plains, where I hope we’ll see a bunch of you!
If you’d like to learn more about Cross Plains and its history, check out Ann Beeler’s delightful new book, Footsteps of Approaching Thousands. It’s available from the Cross Plains Public Library, which will be the beneficiary of all profits from the book.