The event at Gilmer’s Fox Stephens Field had such treats as World War II standouts — two P-51 Mustang fighter planes, a B-25 bomber and a Navy DC-3 transport. These were available for close inspection on the ground, and of course there was a variety of other planes featured in flyovers.
To me the most unexpected participant was one of the classic autos that paraded out to the tarmac near the reviewing stand.
This was a 1926 Rolls Royce that had been converted into an “estate car” with wood panel sides that, in this country, would make it a station wagon.
OWNERS OF this unusual vehicle are Kenneth and Evelyn Godden of Winona. I learned from Mr. Godden, a native of England, that he found the Rolls Royce in 1964, stored in a garage in Glousectershire in southern England.
He said that the owner of a large estate had taken a Rolls Royce sedan and had a carpenter customize it with wooden sides and racks inside for fishing tackle and guns, since the vehicle was used for hunting and fishing on the estate.
In the 1920s, he noted, this was a car in limited production, mostly for use by the royal family.
He brought it to this country and once drove it across the U.S. to San Francisco. With no air conditioning, the Rolls passengers suffered inferno-like heat in crossing the desert, he recalled.
IN MORE THAN 40 years of ownership he has had to replace the distributor and the wood paneling, and the front seat needed new leather upholstery. Outside of that, he said, it’s been fine.
Mr. Godden enjoyed showing off the pristine 6-cylinder engine to interested Air Show guests. He brought it on a trailer to the Gilmer airport. The 45-mile-an hour speed at which he drives it provides a dangerous irritant to today’s drivers, he said.
At least one Packard from the 1930s was among the group of classic cars that came to the Airshow. Old-timers will remember that the Packard’s vertical grill was similar to the Rolls Royce’s. But when you see them driving by in sequence, as at the airport Saturday, the Rolls is unmistakeable.
ON ANOTHER historical topic, we appreciate being brought a copy of the March 16, 1934 Gilmer Daily Mirror by Perry McCoy of the Gilmer Muffler Shop.
These four yellowed pages were at least five inches wider than the current Mirror, which measures about 12.5 inches, in line with today’s industry standard.
Ads on the front page touted living room suites sold by J. W. Croley Hardware Co. and fresh bread (“It tastes GOOD”) from Gilmer Sanitary Bakery. Magnolia Service Station, managed by Malcolm Smith, offered to clean spark plugs for 5 cents per plug.
THE CRYSTALTheatre was showing Fashions of 1934, starring Willliam Powell and Bettie Davis and featuring 40 gorgeous models and 200 glorious girls. (Movie making costs were so low in those Depression years that actors, including dancers, could be hired for peanuts. For a real nostalgia trip, check out the 1930s musicals that are regularly rerun on the Turner Classic Movies channel.)
The Strand Theatre, located where the Gilmer Cable TV office is now, was showing Clearing the Range with cowboy star Hoot Gibson. The weekly serial and a comedy short subject were extra treats for Saturday matinee attendees, whose average age was probably about 12.
GILMER ROTARY Club, meeting at the Jefferson Hotel, heard a discussion of the appalling frequency of serious highway accidents around Gilmer. John A. Brogoitti was appointed by President Edwin Aldredge to confer with highway officials relative to anything that could be done to make travel safer.
Not so coincidentally, another page one story told how O.T. Thrasher, prominent Mount Pleasant businessman, was mortally injured south of Gilmer when his Chevrolet crashed into a concrete bridge. “In the uncertain dusk” he was trying to turn out for a truck being towed ahead of him — hurrying home from business in Tyler to attend a 7 p.m. dinner.
“Circling the Square” was a regular feature. In this issue the reporter saw “Leo Hart, one of the town’s most elgible bachelors, saying he would send his son to Texas A&M College — if he had a son.”
A society page story described a 16th birthday party for Bob Epperson that was hosted by his aunt, Mrs. Hilton McClelland. She was assisted by Miss Euinice Roberts, who had moved here to teach at Gilmer High School.
THOSE OF US in the know can appreciate that Leo Hart and Eunice Roberts were subsequently married; that their only daughter, Rose Ann, became an honor graduate of UT-Austin, and then went to law school.
And I personally am glad to know that Rose Ann, married to Paxton Littlepage and herself the mother of two daughters, lives in Mart and still reads The Mirror.
Dr. Hugh Ragland had completed his medical internship in Fort Worth and had joined his father and brother, Drs. T. S. and Madison S. Ragland, in practice at the Ragland Clinic-Hospital.
A PERKINS BROS. store ad on the back page offered one-day specials at prices that seem remarkable even considering subsequent inflation: silk hose for 49 cents a pair (the supply of those dried up in World War II, never to return since nylon was a superior alternative); full-sized double thread Turkish towels for 17 cents each; men’s silk ties for 39 cents and percale fabric for 10 cents a yard.
The Mirror masthead included the double-eagle insignia of the National Recovery Administration, which included the motto, “We do our part.” Many stores around the courthouse square also displayed the NRA emblem.
This early effort of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to lessen unemployment and mitigate the Depression had less than two years to run. The death blow came in 1935 when the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that NRA codes were an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power and also violated the Constitution by regulating commerce within sovereign states.
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