And Now You Know: Orange News in 1940 Style

Published 12:14 pm Saturday, April 7, 2018

By Mike Louviere

The Monday, May 6, 1940 edition of the Orange Leader was the first paper in a week to not lead the headline with the word “Nazi”. Lead news had been about the German army sweeping through France and the rest of Europe. World War II had started the prior year and the world was waiting to see what Germany would do and which country would be the next to be invaded.

Monday, May 6, 1940, in Orange different news was being reported. One storyline read “Yankees lose again and fans cry for Joe (Dimaggio).” The Yankees had loaded the bases three times against the Detroit Tigers, but only managed to score one run. Detroit ran over the Yankees by a score of 6—4. Oddly, there was no mention of why “Joe” was missed.

In politics, local candidates for the May primary were listed. Frank W. Hustmyre and R. Lee Davis were squaring off for County Judge. Sid J. Callavet was unopposed for Commissioner, Precinct 1. R.E. Hankamer had no opposition for Commissioner, Precinct 2. Attorney Graham Bruce was listed as candidate for County Attorney. Mrs. W.A. Gunning was asking to be elected County Clerk. The race for Sheriff was between George A. Jett and C.H. Meriwether. J.P. Swain and J. Monroe Colburn were candidates for Justice of the Peace.

Roy Greenwood, local Sinclair dealer located at Tenth and Park would give a free wash and grease job if you spent $12.00 at his Greenwood Service Station.

“Three tourist cabins and a Michigan automobile were destroyed by fire at the Hughes Tourist Camp on West Park in the western part of the city at 2:30 o’clock Monday morning, entailing a loss estimated at $1,000 to buildings and contents in addition to the car.

L.G. “Jam Up” Hughes one of the tourist camp owners dragged out the sleeping occupants of the three tourist cabins “before they were cremated.”

The fire was thought to have started from a cigarette left in a Dodge Car owned by J.T. Downs, a late arrival at the camp.

The local fire department was assisted by visiting firemen who were in Orange for the East Texas Fireman’s convention being held in town.”

The fire could not have happened at a better time. The Orange Volunteer Fire Company and the City of Orange were hosting the 25th Semi-Annual Convention of the East Texas Fireman’s Association. The convention was being held at the Starlight Theater. The Bengal Guards “attired in snow white coveralls with brilliant equipment of musical instruments glistening in the sunlight of an early May morning”, had preformed the opening ceremonies for the estimated 400 fireman in Orange from about 30 cities in the East Texas region.

A “Fistic Attack” was reported. Harry D. Wheeler, owner of Wheeler Funeral Home filed assault with attempt to murder charges with County Attorney Bill Sexton against Everett Fuller, owner of Ortmyer Funeral Home. The charges stemmed from Wheeler being knocked down by Fuller as the result of an attack Saturday May 4. Sexton said the complaint would be turned over to the Grand Jury for investigation.

Fuller appeared at Orange City Police Court and paid a $10 fine for simple assault.

It was reported, “Fuller knocked Wheeler down at the Frances Ann Lutcher Hospital with his fists after Wheeler had carried an injured man into the emergency room from his (Wheeler’s) ambulance. The injured man was picked up at an accident on Park and Tenth Streets that had occurred a few minutes earlier. Fuller, who had arrived at the scene of the accident shortly after Wheeler followed him to the hospital.”

In those days, the funeral homes operated the ambulances in Orange. It was another source of income for the funeral home. The first ambulance on the scene made the pickup and got the fee for transporting the injured to the hospital. Evidently Fuller felt he had been cheated out of an ambulance fee by Wheeler.

Things often got interesting in Orange…

“And now you know”