By Keith Whitson
“As the old saying goes, ‘All a mule can do is try.’”
This was a comment in the first issue of a small publication on July 12, 1935 called “The Erwin Tri-Weekly.” I recently discovered a copy of this newspaper and enjoyed looking through the eight pages of content. The newspaper was published under the effort of Wayne Bannister and Doran Ingram every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning.
Erwin has had a handful of newspapers over the years, with The Erwin Record as the longest running, being established in 1928. Local publications intrigue me and, in many ways, contain the historical puzzle pieces to our past.
I am not sure how long the Tri-Weekly was in existence or how many copies are tucked away out there. However, there is at least one copy remaining with some interesting tidbits.
The front page notes that the newly organized chamber of commerce had elected officers. With the majority of its 46 members present, the chamber chose R.E. Stack, A.R. Brown, Frank T. Gentry, P.M. Britt, T.R. Keys, H.L. Montroe, W.H. Wright, R.W. Lawson and W.J. Helm.
In sports, D.E. Bullington was leading all contenders in the tennis ladder being conducted by the YMCA. The three leaders for the boys were Ernest English, Bill Moore and Johnny Lawson.
I am always amused by the society news in the older publications. “Miss Elaine Riley, of East Liverpool, Ohio, is enjoying an extended visit with her aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. C.R. McKinght on Ohio Avenue.”
Another one read “The younger social set of Erwin and Johnson City, consisting partly of present and former members of Teachers College, had a delightful swim and picnic at the Willow Park Swimming Pool Tuesday afternoon. Among those present were: Misses Virginia Boyd, Elsie Price, Beatrice Yelton, Pauline Dugger, Armeta Morely, Ruth Westall, Maude Shull, Helen Smith, Evelyn Stack, Irene Stultz, Lucille Stack, Ruby Stultz, Beatrice Rice, Elizabeth Lundy, Thelma Bergendahl, Margaret Tucker and…” The list went on to name the young men who attended as well.
“Mr. and Mrs. E.L. Gaby, Bill Gaby and Motelle Gaby will leave Monday for Virginia Beach, where they will spend one week.” Obviously crime was not a worry by announcing you would not be home to any tempted burglar. Possibly they owned a big dog that wasn’t going on the trip.
“Miss Louise Updike is entertaining with a house party at Unaka Springs this weekend.” The article went on to list the “invited” guests. I assume after that all of her friends knew where they stood as to whether they made the list or not.
One article of interest to me was about Erwin getting a new theater. “The Parrott & Hendren Amusement Co., Inc. has signed a lease for a period of five years on the Ten Cent store building now occupied by the J.B. Dick Co. This building will be remodeled into a first class theatre house as soon as the J.B. Dick Co. can vacate. This will be a first class modern theatre in every respect, seating between 500 and 800 people and will be the last word in comfort and convenience. Arrangements call for a small store located on each side of the theatre lobby. Contracts call for completion of this theatre by September 1, 1935.”
It is always entertaining to look back at some of the advertising and prices available years ago.
Ladies could get one of the advertised “Bargains in Beauty” from Elite Beauty Shop, owned by Miss Maude Tucker, by calling 274. Evidently there were lots of “waves” available. Frederic Waves were $5; Super Oil Wave, $3; Combination Spiral and Croquingole Wave, $3.50; Shampoo and Finger Wave, 50 cents; Finger Wave and Dry, 35 cents; and Wet Wave, 25 cents.
Willow Park offered Summer Dance for Fun. Music was going to be provided by Buddy Dean and his orchestra. “Here’s sweet rhythmic music, a good floor, refreshments and a regular crowed to take your mind off hot weather and your troubles.”
You could swim for 10 cents, get a private locker for a nickel and a towel for a nickel.
The years have seen businesses and entertainment venues come and go. Memories have been made and are still being documented in The Erwin Record for current readers and future generations to remember.
An editorial in the newspaper read “We are proud of our work. We are proud of our advertisers; business men in this town who thought enough of us and our ideas to give us a chance. We are far from satisfied, however, and hope to do better in the future.”
That holds true for The Erwin Record as well.