The Redbud City: It happened in spring of 1943

Clyde Wooldridge
Contributing writer
Mascot Race of First Graders at the 1943 Shawnee Little Olympics in Athletic Stadium. The starter was Riley Williamson. The runners (l-r) D.W. Sikes, Carl Wynn, Virgil Boardman, Tom Currie, Doyle Williams, James Hollis, & Bob Currie.  The race was won by Boardman, with Sikes coming in second, Tom Currie third, and Bob Currie fourth.

IRVING SCHOOL WINNER FOR 1943

The tenacious Washington grade school trackmen let go of the first-place trophy in the annual Kiwanis-sponsored Little Olympics on Friday, May 7, 1943, long enough to let Irving grab it in the 11th junior field and track competition. The Washington thin-clads, who won the meet for the past three years and had the award five times during the 11-year history of the event, fell to third place behind Woodrow Wilson.

Irving grabbed the Walter Roesch trophy by scoring 58.5 points; Wilson made 42; Washington stacked up 34; Jefferson 30; Horace Mann 26; Harrison 12; and Franklin had 9. Individual honors went to Dwaine Foster of Irving in class A; John Dockery of Wilson in class B; and Donald Hale of Harrison in class C.

CITY’S VENERABLE MULE BALKS AT RETIREMENT

It required 12 good men to retire “Booger Red,” the city’s oldest mule employee, but on Saturday, May 15, 1943, he was grazing on lush grass in a comfortable pasture near the city lake, a fitting fate for a faithful public servant.

It required 12 men, including City Manager T.E. Thompson and Commissioner Rufus Lyon, to strong-arm “Red” into an unfamiliar trailer because the big rawboned strawberry roan didn’t want to quit his job with the street department. “Old Booger” acted like a colt,” commented M. Nelson, street department superintendent, and one of the mule’s leading admirers. “He’s in the best condition he’s been in since the World War, but he’s pulled that wagon long enough.”

“Booger,” who knew city streets like a second-story burglar, won’t be dining entirely on grass. “The city manager said to give him the best of care,” Nelson added, “so the old boy will get plenty of oats.”

“Red’s” retirement came as a surprise in the city hall circles, for everyone figured he was like “Old Man River” and would go on forever. Yet it was agreed 29 years in harness dodging reckless drivers constituted a full pension. The venerable mule’s age, Nelson declared, was 35 years, but he said he would hate to have to produce a birth certificate to prove he’s that young. “Red” became city property when he was purchased from John Critz as a six-year-old. He worked steadily throughout the first World War and never had a serious accident while easing his wagon along city streets. However, there was absolutely no truth to the rumor, Nelson countered, that “Red” tugged settlers to homesteads in the run of 1889 or hauled supplies for the Union Army at Vicksburg.

Before street signals were removed on Main Street, “Red” would stop or go unerringly as the bells designated. Some authorities credited him with writing part of the traffic ordinances. If there was anything the big red disliked with a kicking hate was reckless drivers. Police Chief F.A. Budd probably would have signed him up as a patrolman if he hadn’t been a fixture with the street department, his first and only love.

SHAWNEE’S LAST BOOTLEGGER PUT OUT OF ACTION

Despite the rain that dampened the town all day, Shawnee on Saturday night, May 29, 1943, was as dry as the Tunisian sands after county officers immobilized 35 pints of whiskey in a raid that afternoon. What was thought as the last remaining stronghold of liquid weekend cheer was put out of the reach of prospective customers when Sheriff Terry Owens and Deputies Bill Chandler and Jim Herrington took over the stock.

The cache of bottled refreshments was discovered on the back porch of a local residence and the man in whose possession it was found was put in the county jail. He was released on bond Saturday night.

The search warrant was issued by Tully J. Darden, justice of the peace, on complaint of Claude Hendon, county attorney. Hendon said charges would be filed against the man the following week.

HEART ATTACK FATAL FOR WYATT

Tom C. Wyatt, 43-year-old former state legislator and county attorney, died of a heart attack early Tuesday morning, June 15, 1943, in his home at 42 east Drummond Street. The veteran attorney first suffered an attack about 11 P.M. on Monday and died following another at 7:10 A.M. on Tuesday. He recently underwent examination at a clinic but was believed in an improved condition.

A member of the law firm of Wyatt, Wyatt & Green, in the American National Bank building at the time of his death, had been a prominent figure in county politics for 10 years. He served as county attorney from 1935-41. Wyatt was elected to the legislature in 1940 and took office in 1941. He did not file for re-election at the end of one term and returned to private practice.

Prior to his three terms as county prosecutor, he was assistant county attorney under Clarence Tankersley from 1931-35. He graduated from Shawnee High School in 1924 and entered law school at Cumberland University in Tennessee. He entered private practice upon his graduation in 1927.

Born in Tennessee, he came to the Wanette community from Dyersburg, TN, with his parents in January of 1903 and moved to Shawnee in 1916. He was a member of the Pottawatomie County Bar Association and the Shawnee Elks Lodge. He was a member of the First Christian Church, where he was active in church affairs and taught the Berean class.

These stories appear in Volume Two (1930-49) of the history of the City of Shawnee. The first five volumes, from 1830 to 2009, are now available for purchase at the Pottawatomie County Historical Society. They are now open, and you may visit them, or you may order them online at their website, or by calling (405) 275-8412. Each volume is $35, but a purchase of two or more volumes can be obtained at $30 each. We are offering a special deal. If you purchase any other volume, you may obtain Volume One (1830-1929) for just $20. Volume Six, (2010-2021) is at the printer and should be available around the first of the month.