A “Fair” Time in the Autumn of ‘36

Miss Weakley County 1936 – Virginia Vaughan

The fall of 1936 had a host of headlines that graced the Dresden Enterprise; one notable highlight was the beginning of the county fair.

In the week of September 18, 1936, “Fair Weather for Fair Week in the Offing,” it was announced the different happenings of the county fair.

On the front page, it was reported that the fair week began with the largest crowd in attendance in 25 years. Teachers were authorized by the board of education to dismiss class early so that students could attend. By doing this, it was noted that, “children by the hundreds will throng the fair ground today.”

Many booths also set up for the fair with notable mentions in the article such as, “… Boy’s 4-H Club, general display, CCC Camp, Wayne Peery’s Maytag, Brooks Hatchery, Weakley County Health Unit, Levister’s Willing Workers, Chestnut Glade, Girls 4-H Club, and Old Salem.”

It was also mentioned the fair had two Ferris wheels, Loop-o-loop plane, merry-go-round, a circus show with elephants, an athletic show, a “man who pulls a standard auto by his eyelids,” a penny arcade, and Hawaiian dancers.

There was a show of might costing 25 cents and the gate fee for the fair was only a dime.

Rebecca Real, daughter of Rev. and L. N. Real of Greenfield won first place in the children’s beauty contest and her prize was $10. There was a tie for the ugliest contest, where J. O. Alexander and Rev. L. N. Real split the $5 prize with each receiving $2.50.

In the Miss Weakley County pageant, Dresden’s Craddock Vaughan claimed the top spot.

The full article notes:

“Miss Vaughan had the honor of being selected the most beautiful girl in Weakley county at the fair Wednesday night. She will be given a free trip to the Texas Centennial. Miss Craddock is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Vaughan, Jr., and has been selected as ‘Miss Dresden’ twice.”

In the following week, September 25, 1936, it was reported on the front page, “Welch School Burning to be Investigated.”

In Dukedom, the Welch High School burned and fire marshals were looking into if the building had been set on fire after it burned Saturday night and no one had not been in it since Friday afternoon.

It was reported the loss of the building was $15,000 and had only $4,000 in insurance coverage. The Welch school was one of the oldest schools in the county and was built soon after the Civil War as a one-room school. At the time that it burned, it had eight rooms, being built onto when necessary and five teachers.

At the time, Welch school officials stated that they had plans to build a new and modern building.

Also featured on the front page was, “Nursed Yellow Fever Patients in Martin.”

“Old Uncle Shep, aged Martin n****, passed out the past week, being nigh onto 100 years of age. Uncle Shep was one of the familiar characters about Martin for nearly three-quarters of a century. During the yellow fever epidemic in the early ‘70’s (1870s) Shep nursed many of his white friends attacked with the terrible plague which almost depopulated that area, as well as others in West Tennessee. Later he was employed by the I. C. railroad company, being retired some years ago on a pension. We noticed that his grave Sunday was covered with many floral wreaths, some of which placed there by admiring white friends, for Uncle Shep enjoyed a full measure of esteem and confidence among Martin’s older citizens who loved him for his strict honesty.”

It was also reported that more polio cases were revealed in an article, “New Cases Infantile Paralysis Reported.”

“Four New cases of poliomelitia (infantile paralysis) have been reported the past week to the county health department. Two of them are in the home of Lester Landrum at Hyndsver, one is at the home of Douglas Vincent, Sharon, and one at Everett Adams, a mile southwest of Sharon. The Sharon cases developed Friday. The health department is taking every precaution to percent a spread of the malady, and there is little occasion for alarm, but the nose spray is advised where there are small children. One of the Landrum children, according to a report from Hyndsver, is in a serious condition.”

In the first week of October, “Arizona Holds Jas. Mansfield for Tennessee” was on the front page with the story following as, “Nashville – James E. Harris superintendent of the state prison bureau of identification, said today that a man identified as James Louis Mansfield, long hunted by Tennessee authorities, had been arrested in Tucson, Ariz.

Harris said he was taken into custody there under another name but that ‘identification is positive.’ The man was arrested in Tucson on a charge of counterfeiting.

Mansfield, Harris said, is under indictment in federal court at Jackson, on a charge of burglarizing a post office safe at Palmersville. The safe was blown open. The same man, Harris said, was also charged with blowing open and looting a safe in a store at Latham in August 1934, about a month after the Palmersville burglary. Following the Palmersville crime Harris reported, Mansfield was arrested, but soon escaped jail. He was recaptured and placed in jail at Jackson, where he broke out after four days. He had not been heard of until the Tucson arrest.

The above appeared in the daily press last week. Mansfield was arrested near Latham by Sheriff Dunn. Arriving at the jail late at night. Dunn was waiting in the dark outside for the jail door to be opened. As fleet footed as a deer, Mansfield broke away from the sheriff and was soon swallowed up in the inky darkness. Later he was apprehended in Arkansas by federal officers and was being held in jail at Jackson to be tried in federal court upon an indictment charging blowing the safe at Palmersville post office. He broke jail there and was not heard of until last week, when arrested at Tucson, Ariz.

He will be brought back to Memphis and held for trail on the old charge. While there are several indictments pending against him here, one for the Palmersville job, another for robbing Brundige’s store at Latham and one for wife and child desertion, Sheriff Grooms does not think he will be brought here for trial. The sheriff received notice Friday of Mansfield’s arrest. He had previously confessed to both the Palmersville and Latham jobs, implicating Stanley Means, who was taken by federal agents some weeks ago.”

A bazaar article was on the front page of the Enterprise for the week of October 9 with the following headline, “Supposedly Extinct Snake Found.”

“Dave Darnell was in town Saturday with what many people call a ‘cabbage’ snake. The ‘Snake’ was about the size of a coarse sewing thread and white and something like a foot long. Dave sates that his wife found it in water that she had just washed cabbage in, and it is bound to have come out of the cabbage. It is useless to say that Dave carried the cabbage head and fed it to the hogs after finding the ‘snake.’

Another story found in that week’s issue was titled, “Care of Children Rewarded; Farmer Probated to Them.”

It was reported that a farmer was in court in Jackson, Tennessee, and was charged with manufacturing liquor. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year and a day. However, one of the farmer’s girls spoke in court on behalf of her father. She told the judge that during the depression, her father had lost their family farm and instead of letting her and her sisters go without an education, went to making liquor instead to help provide for them. The judge was moved by this information and changed the sentence from a year and a day in prison to three years of probation.

Local downtown Dresden business, Brasfield Hardware Company, launched a display ad campaign in The Enterprise that included sale prices of products and “Did You Know?” historical snippets that included some of the following information: John Calvert was the first sheriff of Weakley. William H. Johnson was the first county clerk, with an annual salary of $40. Pulaski Bell was the first trustee. Ex-Presidents James K. Polk and Andrew Jackson each had owned real estate in Weakley county. The maximum penalty for playing marbles on Sunday in Dresden in 1869 was $5.

On the day before Halloween in 1936, the October 30 issue was abuzz regarding upcoming elections. One top story that featured a headline on the front page read, “Ballots Carry Candidates or Five Party Sets – Democrats and Republicans, Communists, Socialists, Prohibitionists.” Battling that year for Tennessee governor was Gordon Browning with the democratic party, with Kate Bradford Stockton from the socialist party, and P. H. Thach with the republican party.

Another notable headline involved death of a local business owner. Frank Mangum was known in the area as a station operator and Chevrolet dealer, and died suddenly in his home in Dresden. He was 46 years old. He left behind a wife and three children: Billie, Katie and Barbara. It was planned that his business would close the day of the funeral in his honor.

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