Out With the New and In With the Old

As clocks everywhere start signaling the New Year, I’ve been a little preoccupied with an old year, 1922. Newspaper Archive has a pretty good run of the Brownwood Bulletin, but the search function doesn’t work all that well. It seems that the pages were OCRed, but many of them are in such bad shape that no words are intelligible to the search engine. Have to do things the old fashioned way, one page at a time. Luckily, like the movie listings, the sections of the paper I was interested in are pretty much in the same place every issue.

Why 1922? Well, I’ve become slightly obsessed with Howard’s time in Brownwood, and, as we all know, in September of 1922 Robert E. Howard and his mother moved to Brownwood so that he could attend Brownwood High School. So, 1922 seemed like a good place to start.

The first thing of interest I came upon was this notice from the Thursday, September 21st edition:

Personal Items: Dr. I. M. Howard of Cross Plains is here today for a visit with his family who are here to spend the winter and take advantage of Brownwood’s school facilities.

It has been noted elsewhere that the good doctor spent every weekend in Brownwood while his son was attending the school. The newspaper doesn’t back that up, but I wouldn’t expect them to run the same note every weekend.

When I reached Saturday, September 30, I found a nugget in the “Society” column. Under the heading “Winnie Davis Chapter, U. D. C.” is a report of officers for the chapter. Guess who was selected as “second vice president”? That’s right, Mrs. Alice Day. Who’s that? According to the 1923 Worley’s Directory, Robert and Hester had rooms at 316 Wilson. That same directory shows that the property belonged to Mrs. Alice Day. She was the Howard’s landlady and possible house-mate. Day being a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy is interesting on several levels; of course, we all know that REH’s essay, “What the Nation Owes the South,” won the U.D.C. medal for best essay when he graduated. I wonder if Mrs. Day nudged him to participate. Heck, I wonder if she was on the selection committee.

More U.D.C. information appeared on October 30th under the heading “Brief Report of U.D.C. Meeting in Fort Worth.” Near the bottom of the column, the Winnie Davis Chapter lists off some of their accomplishments. It appears that they awarded medals in an essay contest during the previous school year, 1921-22, as well. The topics for that year were “Our Southland” and “What the Ku Klux Klan Did for Reconstruction.” I wonder what Howard would have done with that. There was, apparently, some Klan activity near his Cross Plains home, just across the county line in Rising Star.

The Friday, September 29th Bulletin carried the following article, lifted from the Rising Star X–Ray:

Last Friday night the Ku Klux, about 150 in number, paraded in Rising Star—but to say so in print is not news because it seemed that all the people of this entire community were on the streets and saw the entire performance. The word was anonymously received a day or two ahead that the parade would take place and, of course, everybody heard about it.
     At about 10:00 o’clock, just after the crowd reached the business section from the entertainment at the school building, the lighted cross was seen approaching from the west on College Street. The paraders in their white robes and masks gathered at the band stand where one of them made a speech telling of the principles and purposes of the organization, after which they disappeared in the direction from whence they came.
     Very close attention to the address was given by the large audience and there have been many expressions on the street during the week that any law-abiding citizen could heartily subscribe to all that the speaker said but that they could see no excuse for getting under a mask to stand for such principles. The supposition is that there is an organization of the Klan in Rising Star, but it is believed that all the paraders Friday night were visitors. Over thirty cars were seen driving into town and gathering at the baseball park from whence the parade started.

According to the “Little Items of Local Interest” column in the Bulletin mentioned above, the editor of the X-Ray, W. T. Curtis, was in Brownwood the previous Thursday, “having come down to attend the barbecue at Lakewood given by the Men’s Bible class of the Baptist church to the Women’s Bible class.” Readers of “The Magic Name” (included in “So Far the Poet . . .”) will remember that this Curtis was the father of Claude Curtis, and that Tevis Clyde Smith toured the X-Ray’s facilities during the time he was publishing The All-Around Magazine, just before he met Robert E. Howard.

But I digress . . .

The Monday, October 2, 1922, paper carries a second notice of Doctor Howard’s travels:

Personal Items: Dr. I. M. Howard of Cross Plains spent the week-end in Brownwood with his family, who are attending the Brownwood schools.

And that’s the last Doc Howard notice I’ve found, up to November 9th, but Mrs. Day appears again. On Saturday, November 4th, it is reported that she is part of the U.D.C.’s “Membership Committee.” I wonder if she hooked Hester.

Enough. I’ve rambled plenty for this year. I’ll leave you with one more nugget, this one from the October 7th issue:

Little Items of Local Interest: Miss Novalene Price has sufficiently recovered from an appendicitis operation to be moved to her home.

See you in 2011.