professional historians, 1925 is called, "The Year When
Nothing Happened," because there was very little world
strife. Corporal Hitler and his girlfriend, Rudolph
Hess, were released from a cushy prison where the Fuhrer
wrote a book dry enough to absorb half the water in
Fairmount Lake. The Great Commoner died two weeks
after winning the Scopes Monkey Trial. A debate
between himself and Clarence Darrow, who was representing
the American Civil Liberties Union. One of them was
heard to say, "We didn't mean to kill the S. O. B."
A Mrs. Darwin, daughter-in-law of Charles Darwin, commented
about the trial, "I think men are beginning to make monkeys
of themselves." Former Harry Truman was
unemployed, but not for long.
had 9,460 head of horses, 3430 mills, 19,800 milk cows,
16,300 hamburger/steak/roast cows, 15,690 sheep, 60,440 hogs
and working around the clock for the last nineteen years,
the 250 human moles at the Portland Cement plant at Cement
City had dug five miles of tunnels and turned three million
tons of limestone into powder. Prohibition of alcohol
was a pain. There weren't many raids because to be
busted in Jackson County there had to be a snitch. On
February 7, three houses were raided, two west of
Independence and one in Sugar Creek. The "Whitney
Place" on Cunningham Road, when raided, four guys were found
throwing craps, four quarts of beer, two bottles of whiskey
were seized along with a hypodermic needle. A young
lady and the drunks were taken into custody. Bond was
$100 for the lady, 4 drunks, 300 each, two Whitneys, $1,000.
George Patillo of the Sugar Creek Patillos was visited the
same night, because then cops could just walk in, catching
George and a still. He denied knowing anything about
the brass knuckle by the still, in fact, claimed to not know
what they were. His bond was $300.
On March 7
deputy sheriffs walked in on Eva Butkovich, mother of young
Matt, on Chicago Street in Sugar Creek at 6 a. m. The
washtub and a coffee pot containing whiskey was brewing.
George Butkovich was arrested and bond was set at $1,000.
A neighbor, Joe Spallack, was also busted. He was
found to have four gallons of hooch, 150 empty bottles, and
75 gallons of grape juice that had not yet fermented.
That was given back to him so that it could ferment.
In October the Sandbar that doomed Wayne City was now an
island in the middle of the Missouri River, a mile
downstream from the refinery, was raided. A 100 and a
50 gallon still were discovered. The raid was led by
Edison L. Watson, constable, four county cops and two feds.
Big time. Bottles of finished stuff were found in
gunney sack, tied with rope, hidden among vegetation in the
river. Two pressure cookers and a 35-gallon tank; two
hydrometers and several funnels were found. On the
island was a dead cow and hundreds of dead rabbits.
Sugar Creek had a rat.
Park's mens' bath house was torched on May 6. The 100
ft x 45' structure, with 3,000 lockers, was badly damaged on
the north end. To the rescue came the newly formed
Fairmont/Mt. Washington Fire Department led by chief C. S.
Hunning. The call came in about 1:30 a. m. by C. G.
McGinnis, Park Watchman. The fire was out by 3:30.
Damage to the premesis was set at $10,000. The area
not only had Feds and rats, it had a pyro.
opened on Saturday, May 16. Work was progressing on
the new men's bathhouse, bigger and better. With 5,000
lockers it would be ready by Memorial Day.
18 high-diving horses and girl riders dressed in red, fresh
from working the Southern circuit. Two plunges daily,
4:30 and 9:30 p. m.
Boys and girls
under 16 were offered free season passes if they would
register with park management opening day. They lined
up between 10 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon.
The kids were given numbered buttons, which gave them free
access to the beach for the season, but they still had to
pay a dime to get in. Was it Mr. Carlilse's idea?
Probably. Suits extra.
attractions at Fairmount Park were a mechanical miniature
city. Minona, Minnesota, a city along the Mississippi
River, with scaled buildings, working street lights, and
cars that moved about the town. The new ride was
called the "Dodge-Ems", bumper cars. Aeroship, which
Al Carlisle said was probably just one of the old rides
re-painted, and a water toboggon.
Park's 27th season began on Memorial Day Weekend. The
feature was a staged Vaudeville review called, "Broadways of
1925." Some of the cast were, "The World's Specialist
Roller Skating" "The Unusual Duo Novelty Dance," "Acrobatic
Dancers," "Comedy Dancers," "Prima Donnas," "Juvenile
Dancers," and a "Chorus of 18 Lovely Young Ladies."
dinners and a "Colored Dixie Land Blues Band". New
features included "Cave of the Winds," "China Town," and
"The Kick", soon to go up in flames. A 500-specie
aquarium that couldn't burn, also was the new admission
price of twenty cents.
In May the
Guinotte Dam on the Blue River, between 12th and 13th
street, was dedicated, backing the water to 19th Street.
The project was accomplished by the "Blue Valley Business
Association", and the Kansas City Parks Board. What
now is a dry slab of cement then had water, with big plans
for its future. The west bank, or the Kansas City
side, was pristine, with a boat house and a path running
from the dam to 19th Street. The west bank was
littered with junk.
On the 17th,
because of inclement weather, only 500 spectators showed up
for the regatta. The local Navy Reserve had
parked a small steamship there, which led the parade of
smaller craft down to the dam, then traversing a large body
of deep water. There were more people in the show than
on the shore, almost 100 watercraft. Races were held
and politicians spoke of future improvements; today the area
is a disaster.
the last park to open this season. A high-wire act,
working 102 feet in the air, with nothing between the
acrobats and the light. They performed all kinds of
crazy things, hand balancing, swinging around on a trapeze,
and rings, singly, in pairs, and all four at once, followed
by a high-diving act. New this year was the
Crystal Cave and the Missouri Mule.
Fairmount, June brought loads of company and organization
picnics, like General Motors, Allied Railroad Employees,
Irish-American Society, Montgomery Ward, Proctor and Gamble,
Missouri Pacific Boosters, National Zinc Company,
Loose-Wiles, Ford Dealers, and Commerce Trust Company.
On Saturday, July 4, America celebrated 149 years of
existence. There was a one-day break in the heat wave
that had settled over the town. Friday was 97 degrees
hot, and Sunday would be 95, so 90 degrees and a cool breeze
made for perfect swimming weather. The beach at
Fairmount was packed, because of the booming local economy,
and the confidence that it would go on forever, how sad.
An ad in the
local papers pointed out some of the reasons why, with parks
going, everyone should visit Fairmount. The beach,
swim, dive, big natural lake fed by springs, invigorating,
cooling, new bath house, water toboggan, and floating
pillows. Dancing in the Venetian Ballroom, there's a
real snap to O. A. Smith's orchestra. You'll slide
across the dance floor. Fun. A score of
thrilling rides and concessions, never a dull moment,
there's amusement at every turn, it's a big natural
playground; rides a-plenty, attractions galore. Harvey
Kessel sings in the ballroom every Wednesday and Sunday
nights. Club dance every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
evenings. Massive shade trees, a well kept lawn, ice
water, benches, ovens, it's a great place to picnic.
Dr. Carver and
his two girl riders and horses spent half the summer
thrilling the crowds. No one seemed to get tired of
it, and everyone took a stroll down the Midway, where you
might win a Teddy bear or a Kewpie Doll. Like any
modern park, there was plenty of free parking for a
hodge-podge of vehicles. The place to be on the Fourth
of July was the racetrack at 95th street. Two steam
locomotives had a head-on collision. A lone track a
few hundred yards long was laid. $500 was paid to the
engineer who was the last one to jump. No one died.
In the first
game of a double-header at the Chrisman campus celebration,
the Sugar Creek Standard Oil team beat the Knights of
Pythians, 14-12. As soon as the sun went down, a fire
fight developed between some white and black boys on
Lexington street, just north of the Independence Square.
The kids shot Roman candles, rockets, and threw firecrackers
of all sizes at each other. Some kids left to get more
ammo. It was all in good fun, and when there were no
more things to throw or shoot, they met in the street to
laugh and jabber. Next morning, Lexington looked like
Bourbon Street Mardi Gras morning.
The crowd at
Fairyland on the Fourth was the biggest ever, estimated at
30,000. By 9 a. m. the parking lot was already full of
autos. At closing time there were so many people in
line for the rides that the park didn't close until early
the next morning.
traffic to Fairmount Park was bumper to bumper most of the
though, prefer the open road. 40 and 50 highways were
linked coast to coast, and were nearing completion.
The roads in the county were getting better, thanks to
future President Truman. Some families drove until
they found a good spot for a picnic. Some just drove
till they had to head back. Many could now easily
visit friends out of town; twenty and thirty miles an hour
was fast in 1925.
Springs, the Ku Klux Klan had a Fourth of July picnic.
10,000 people showed up, including many ladies with
children. A preacher spoke about the purpose of the
"Man in the Klan", and Mrs. So and So spoke of the women's
role in the Klan. They also swore in several hundred
new Klansmen, at $10 a head. It was lucrative
business, with a business model similar to Amway's.
also had a fire. An arsonist was being paid to burn
the parks. Flames could be seen from miles around.
Most everything burned: The Midway; the theater was damaged,
but was repaired for Broadways of 1925 and Rory Mack's
Summer Show, which featured the Charleston, which was new to
Kansas City. Soon every woman under 30 made it the
dance of the Roaring Twenties.
the Fourth, a young man from Kansas City jumped off the
20-ft high dive and drowned after getting stuck in the mud
at the bottom of the lake. His clothes were discovered
in a locker after closing time around 10:30. A search
with lights soon found him lodged so tight that divers
couldn't budge him. He was finally freed about 2 a. m
with the help of ropes. After more than three decades
silt was filling in the lake. Nature was
reclaiming the land.
July 18, the Allied Railway employees held their second
annual picnic at Fairmount Park. Railroad men came
from as far away as 800 miles, they didn't have to pay.
Music was provided by three railroad company bands, the Rock
Island, Missouri Pacific, and Frisco. Athletic events
with prizes was held in the afternoon. Afterwards a
baseball game between the Kansas City Terminal and the Rock
Island Railroad people ended in the office getting beat 25
to 2. The Kansas governor was a keynote speaker, but
failed to show. Representative E. C. Ellis and Manager
Gordon of Kansas filled in. Electric Park's picnic
were the WWI Disabled Veterans. One thing that would
have been discussed would have been the promise of a bonus;
they would have to wait till 1936 when they finally got it
over FDR's veto.
On August 1,
J. J. Heim and some local VIP's opened a playground at the
site of the old Electric Park, Montgall and Rochester
avenues. More than 800 attended the ceremony.
Until recently, the abandoned park was a dump. Six
bathing suits were awarded to boys who had carved dead trees
into something. Wednesdays will be known as "Pet
Night." Prizes will be awarded to children with the
largest, smallest, and the most deformed dog.
The next day,
Sunday, Dr. Carver, his diving horses, and two pretty
drivers, dressed in red, made their farewell performance.
Harry Kessel was now a radio personality, a device that as
yet couldn't be plugged into a wall socket. O. A.
Smith's orchestra was still there, and there were fireworks
on the lake at 9:30.
horses, "Zimmy the Half Man" was booked as the main
attraction. Born with no legs, he held the world's
record for staying under water, 4 minutes and 17 seconds.
He could eat, drink, and smoke (?) under water.
Fairmount Park on Sunday, August 16, was hosting the huge
and wet Irish American picnic, with speaker/senator James A.
Reed, Electric started its Coin Carnival. It was also
celebrating its swan song. Electric Park was closing.
Mr. Heim was selling the land. It would eventually
become The Landing, a shopping center, but in its last
summer the park became a long, hot party. Mardi Gras
Kansas City style. Flappers and confetti fights,
patrons dressed like people from every time period, and corn
stalks six feet tall were everywhere, many covering the area
that burned. Many, many companies and organizations
held picnics at the doomed icon. There was an
industrial exposition, showing some of the technological
miracles of the early Twentieth Century. At 10 p. m.
September 1, Electric Park ended with a huge fireworks
display which rivaled the fire which was the park's demise.
Fairlyland didn't have a fire, and both fires were set,
surmises the conspiracy theorist. On Thursday,
September 3, a hot day, with temperatures near 100, the Mt.
Washington, Fairmount and Sugar Creek boosters held the
second annual Home Community Parade and Picnic. At 2
p. m. the 150 decorated automobiles, a steam calliope and
the Standard Oil Band left at the Independence road and
Arlington avenue for Downtown Kansas City. Once in the
city limits of Kansas City the parade got a military escort
from the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. Once
downtown the autos were judged, but not told the winners
until the parade had wound its way back to Fairmount Park.
donated by merchants from Kansas City, Independence, Mt.
Washington, Fairmount, and Sugar Creek, to be given out as
prizes for the zany contests: Boys and girls' races,
Married Women's dash, Fat Women's dash, Wheelbarrow race,
women's Ball Catching event, Boys' Obstacle Race, Roping
contests, Monkey Race, Kangaroo Race. The oldest man
and woman present received a prize, along with the oldest
resident, person coming longest distance, couple married
longest, largest family. A tug-of-war between the
married men and the single men, and a rock-the-boat contest,
etc. etc. A basket dinner was served at 6:30, followed
by three comedy films at sunset.
By Labor Day
the temperature was in the 80s. The annual parade
downtown by the local labor unions was held, followed by a
trip out to Fairmount Park. Things for now were pretty
mellow between labor and management. The two main
speakers were George Berry, president of the Printing
Pressman's Union, and Mrs. Harriet Hyland, president of the
Railroad Carmen's Union. Kansas City, Missouri Police
Band furnished the music, and the park closed its gates for
another long cold spell.
Things at the
Standard Oil Refinery were going well. If you were a
good employee and well liked, and always came to work, a
person could come and go pretty much as he pleased.
One young man like that was John "Pee Wee" Pavola. He
had a chance to go to Madison Square Garden in New York to
indulge in the sport of boxing, where he "held his own."
After he returned to work at the oil plant, he traveled
around Missouri and Kansas, beating up guys in small towns
for money. His mode of transportation could have been his
lifelong friend, my dad, Honest John, who had just bought a
1925 Ford touring car. They were $350. He was
also a good pinochle player, being on the refinery team that
won the championship, beating the smart ones in the office.
Creek, the trolley line into the Creek was discontinued by
January. Most everyone working at the refinery could
now afford an automobile, since there were no saloons.
and Charles Wesner, the town radio buzz, filed and received
a broadcasting license. Sugar Creek had a 5-watt radio
station, "AWT". Morse Code was heard in New Zealand,
and voice signals were received in several East Coast
states, like Massachusettes, Maryland, New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, and many southern states.
In May, an new
newspaper, "The Jackson Herald," published by John S. Dickey
and N. R. Smith, was started. The object of the paper
was to report on small communities like Fairyland Heights,
Harrison's Meadow, Harrison's Park, Maywood Park, Mt.
Washington, Fairmount, Fairmount Heights, Sugar Creek,
Maywood, Englewood, South Englewood, Lawn Heights, Cement
City and Courtney. By now this area had 20,000 people,
more than Independence, and Independence would take note.
150 men volunteered to patrol the area in groups o
Mr. Dickey has
lived in Sugar Creek since 1910 and is the postmaster.
Mr. Smith is an old hand at the newspaper business, and once
owned a paper in Higginsville, Missouri.
a $16,000 bond issue to Sugar Creek. Six for a cement
road on Fairmount Avenue and Kentucky, and 10,000 for a new
city hall. Both passed, 150 to 50. Work was
started on the building in November and was to be completed
"There is only
one Sugar Creek." remarked Judge R. L. Bennet, who owned a
furniture store in the Creek, and was also the town
counselor. Right after Thanksgiving, 400 letters were
mailed to the residents of the town, stating that Uncle Sam
was pissed. These people had not filed an income tax
returned for the year 1921. Sam wanted $5 each
in penalties, even though most didn't make enough to pay
taxes. They were assessed $5 anyway. The few who
didn't show to pay their fine were notified to appear in
downtown Kansas City Federal Court. Sam was really
pissed at them.
A ball was
held New Years Eve at the Slyman Hall. $150 was raised
to equip six firemen with boots, hats, raincoats, etc.
So much for the year that nothing happened.