At least four
good things came out of Prohibition that we still have
today. Number one, nightclubs, unlike saloons of
pre-Prohibition days, they were called same because that's
what they were. Since they legally didn't exist, there
was no closing time. Two, mixed drinks; with real
booze going for $8 to $12 a bottle, drinking it straight
could be expensive. The smart thing to do was to
dilute it. Three of the most popular were highball,
with whiskey and 7-Up, vodka and orange juice, called a
screwdriver, and rum and Coke. Three, soda fountains.
Since alcohol was a sin, ice cream and soda pop were in.
The soda shop lowered the drinking age as it was now the
center of socialization. Four, beauty shops, since men
no longer came home with beer goggles. Wrinkles,
gravity and familiarity put the birth rate in America in
By Sunday, May 18, all three parks were open to the public.
Electric began the season with a circus. It was a
three-ringer with clowns, elephants, horses and aerial acts.
Poodles Hanneford, world's greatest riding clown, was the
featured attraction, along with Hall's Juvenile Elephants,
and Swan Ringen, lady diver. Two shows every night.
Matinee Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine.
On Saturday, May 24, the 15,000 K-12 students of the Kansas
Missouri schools, were treated to a picnic at Electric
by the PTA.
Though there was quite a wind chill, the kids didn't seem to
mind. The temperature at 6 a.m., as the line to enter
started to grow, was only 41 degrees. There was frost
in St. Joe. The circus and entrance were free, but
everything else cost money. This came as a big
disappointment, so park management gave way. One free
ticket to eight concessions given randomly. Some big
kids received tickets for the kiddie train or
Merry-go-Round, while some children's tickets were for the
roller coaster, much trading followed.
Fairyland's second season again saw Sam Benjamin the head
honcho. The Crystal Swimming Pool was given two coats
of white paint with lead. There was a new kiddie pool,
from 4 inches to a foot and a half deep. A cafe had
been added, enabling parents to keep an eye on their
children, and vice versa.
The park's first major picnic was the Campfire Girls.
The trolley line had been extended down Prospect to the main
entrance. Admittance was still ten cents, kiddies were
The work on Fairmount Park started on the first days of
painters, carpenters, and electricians and laborers prepared
for its May 17 opening. The carpenters and
electricians worked on the new stuff, like the Caterpillar,
a ride that moved up and down while flying around a track.
King Tut's Tomb, a Mysterious Knock-Out, and a pony track.
The kiddie playground was enlarged with new stuff to
entertain. Among the attractions to get a new coat of
paint for the Mountain Speedway, Over the Top, Canals of
Venice, Captive Airplane, Puzzletown, The Whip, Miniature
Railway, Ferris wheel, Fairy Swings, Merry-Go-Round and the
Motor Dome. Fifty new boats were on the lake.
The disco ball
in the Venetiani Ballroom was removed in favor of more
dignified lighting. Music will be furnished by Ray
Stinson's Orchestra. Last, but not least, were the
hundreds of newly-built picnic tables throughout the park.
The following people were responsible for the good times had
by all visitors to Fairmount Park: President A. R.
Goetz, Vice President M. L. Goetz. These men were the
sons of M. K. Goets, a St. Joseph, Missouri beer brewer.
Even during Prohibition they brewed Goetz Country Club Malt
Liquor and Country Club Pilsener. J. C. Houseman was
the Treasurer, G. C. McGinnis, General Manager; John
Wunderlich, Public Relations, Carl Carlisle owned the water.
Fairmount's first major picnic was the Jackson Count
Oddfellows' eighteen lodges and twelve auxiliaries = 12,000
The first week
in June brought the Shriners back to Kansas City. The
Shriners liked Kansas City, beer was cold and came in plain
brown bottles to go. Lots of movie theaters, pretty
girls, and three first-class amusement parks.
Fairmount announced that Thursday, June 5, was official
Shriner Day. Anyone wearing a fez or any Shriner
paraphernalia was admitted free. Sam at Fairyland went
one better, anyone with anyone that even looked like a
Shriner was admitted free. He knew that once a Shriner
came in contact with fun, price was no object.
the picnics at the "Home of Picnics" continued through June.
A record of sorts was broken when a dozen picnics were
booked for one day.
As the season
progressed, the warm temperatures drove the people from the
city to the parks and water, and soon it was time to
celebrate the Fourth of July.
amusement parks, as was the custom, had the best fireworks
in town, and thousands attended. While the Blues were
on the road many attended the 250 mile race at the Kansas
City Speedway. Many church congregations held picnics.
Swope Park was full of people too cheap or poor to attend a
real park, where you could spend a lot of money.
Missouri, finally got with the program and had a fine Fourth
of July. At 10 o'clock sharp, the Boy Scouts held a
parade around the town square. After Mayor Sermon gave
a speech on the "American Flag", followed by a double header
at the high school campus. The second game was won by
Excelsior Springs beating Independence 9 - 2. Races
for the girls and boys followed, prizes given.
Political speeches and a D. W. Griffith movie ("Orphans of
the Storm"), then fireworks. Taps was blown at 11 p.
m. Earlier, the Chief of Police, John S. Cogswell
warned juvenile delinquents to discontinue small bombs under
or in the back seats of autos, as they drove slowly through
town at 15 miles per hour, a tempting target. 1,400
autos were counted by somebody, probably a reporter.
No fires and no fingers blown off.
Sunday evening for the rest of the summer would be capped
off by set-piece fireworks, a different kind of idol.
The first were Barney Google and his race horse "Spark
Plug", cartoon characters whose popularity still is with us
as one, a very large number, two, the search engine.
Wednesday night would be Surprise Night: Mrs. H. L.
Davis of Sugar Creek drove home in a new 1924 Ford Model T.
end of July Ford Motor Company held its picnic at Fairmount
Park. Five autos were given away to employees, black
Model Ts. Many autos, especially Model Ts, were
called, "Flivvers," slang for a lemon, which is slang for a
piece of junk.
A few weeks
later Fairyland Park and the local Ford Dealers' Association
opened the park free to anyone driving in a Ford.
Prizes were given for the oldest Ford, the Ford coming the
longest distance, fattest man in a Ford, tallest man and
woman, most people in a Ford, prettiest woman, and largest
family. Dealers participated in contests consisting of
cranking, i. e., starting the Ford, slow race, tire
changing, driving fast in reverse, and towing away any
In late August
the Fairmount/Mt. Washington communities held a parade and
picnic at Fairmount Park. The parade snaked its way to
the Independence Square, and then on to Fairmount Park.
Soon after, Independence held a city picnic at Fairmount
Park. 3,000 free admittance tickets were given to
children in the Independence parade.
closed the season with "Auto Polo", which might have been
the precursor to the "Demolition Derby".
Once again the
Labor people of Kansas City picked Fairmount Park as the
place to hold their annual picnic. The main boulevard
was gentleman who came all the way from Cleveland, Ohio, to
make a pitch for Senator Robert T. LaFullette, Sr., running
for President as a Progressive Socialist, a third party
started in 1912 by Theodore Roosevelt. It went down
hill after. The Progressive Party was pro-Labor and
pro-Farmer. It was also a leftist organization with a
bunch of peaceniks. LaFullette voted against going to
war in 1917, mainly because Wisconsin had a large German
population. He received 17% of the vote, but he didn't
last much longer, dying in 1925 of a heart attack.
closed at midnight on Sunday, September 7. The final
group to enjoy the "Home of Picnics" was the "Knights of
Pythians" and the "Knights of Khorassan" of Greater Kansas
City, holding their annual picnic, after which the leaves
would fall from the trees and the lake would freeze.
1st, the Feds raided a drugstore at Linwood and Main.
By now, Prohibition was a joke, and a Carnival atmosphere
prevailed, attended by a thousand citizens, twenty deep.
They hurled verbal insults as the Eighteenth Amendment of
the Constitution of the United States of America was
enforced. The local cops, whose job was crowd control,
smiled at some of the insults, since it wasn't aimed at
them. Cries of "I want my Coke!" followed by laughter
rippled through the large, angry crowd. Sixty-seven
half-pint bottles of prescription whiskey was loaded into
the Federales' vans, along with the 18-year-old soda jerk,
and two pretty good-looking Flappers who were drinking Cokes
with added ingredients. Ten minutes after the raid it
was business as usual, without mixed drinks.
On July 27,
the Standard Oil Refinery at Sugar Creek held its Second
Annual Picnic at Fairmount Park. The September
Stand-o-Line Magazine had eight photos on five pages.
The author was not the same fellow who put together the
monthly plant gossip.
On that day,
the people with the goodies started arriving around 7:30.
Tubs of lemonade and tons of ice cream were furnished by the
company. Employees brought the rest. Food
prices, thanks to overproduction by farmers, were stable.
Smoked hams, 12.5 cents a pound; hamburger, 3 pounds, 29
cents; bread, 9 cents; butter 37 cents a pound, and brisket
18 1/2 cents.
By ten o'clock
the horseshoe pits were ready. Thousands of free
admission tickets were given away, but the kids from the
Creek didn't need tickets. They never paid anyway.
and races were held on the athletic field by boys and girls,
men and women. Virgil Lynch, the 14-year-old future
Police Judge, won two contests: first by running in
the sack race instead of hopping like everyone else, and the
three-legged race. A trick was played on some women in
the "Bottle Blindfold Race". Before the blindfolds
were applied, the ladies stood facing dozens of empty beer
bottles. After the blindfolds were on, the bottles
were quietly removed while instructions were loudly given,
and they proceeded to walk through what they thought were
bottles, when there really weren't any bottles there.
Everybody got a kick out of that. Then it was time for
chow, followed by a baseball game, the highlight of which
was when one of the sluggers hit a home run over the right
centerfield fence, missing some patrons and sticking in some
mud, well over 300 feet. The Standard Oil Band gave a
concert in the band shell. As the sun set on the
horizon, the crowd dispersed, looking forward to the third
picnic, which would have far fewer employees.
It wasn't all
roses. A week after the picnic George Moffett, the
refinery's General Manager, announced a huge layoff.
At least 250 men, 40% of the work force, would get pink
slips. The reason given was overproduction, but
Standard Oil was involved in another scandal, the Teapot
Dome. Standard owned a large piece of Sinclair Oil,
now under investigation. Shortly after the
announcement 100 men, Standard Oil employees from Sugar
Creek, crowded the City Council meeting, concerned about
their jobs and the future of the city. They were
assured by Mayor Bohemer that the company would not fire
Creekers, as there were no unions and seniority didn't mean
Truman was doomed. On Groundhog Day the "Regualar
Democratic Club of the Eastern Judicial District of Jackson
County" endorsed Robert Lee Hood (a Rabbit) to run against
him. Hood, for years, was Chief Deputy Tax Collector
for Jackson County. Soon Judge Truman was approached
by fellow "Goats" to appoint all the road overseers Goats.
To do so would have gone back on his word. To his
credit, he gave the Rabbits nine positions, the same as last
year. The Goats got 36. Fairmount Park was
accosted by the "Rabbits" on August 1st, a few days before
the primary election. Judge Truman caught hell from
Judge J. K. Wallace. Truman was called a crook,
denying that he had a surplus. Truman ran on his
Truman gave a speech just east of the Jackson County
Courthouse, exactly where there is now a statue of him.
He gave his usual speech of his accomplishments. In
the primaries, the Goats beat the Rabbits, Truman winning by
2,000 votes out of 12,000 cast. The Rabbits hated
Truman. In November the Republicans swept the county
on Calvin Coolidge's coattails. Henry W. Rummell,
banker and former Independence councilman, beat Truman,
9,679 for Rummell, 9,061 for Harry. Truman was most
cordial after the defeat, sending a letter to Rummell
congratulating him and offering any assistance his two years
on the bench would be of any help. He would now just