There’s a familiar old expression, wrote the reporter in an article in the May 21, 1931 Athens Weekly Review, that sometimes it “rains pitchforks.” However, a few days previously the precipitation wasn’t pitchforks but actually something else. Instead, there was a deluge of amphibians, as indicated in the headline ”Believe it or Not it Rained Frogs.”
Said the reporter: “Residents of East Corsicana street found that the street from the Stirman residence to the Knox Henderson residence was covered with thousands of frogs shortly after the rain Tuesday morning.” And the appearance of so many could only imply that they had “rained down.”
So how did it happen? There was speculation “that a recent cyclonic wind which passed east of town brought frogs in from other section and dropped them in town.”
In fact Mr. Stirman reported that “there were literally hundreds in his yard and on the street in front of his house this morning.”
At least it could be said to be a hoppy event.
During Jess Sweeten’s 20 some year tenure as sheriff of Henderson County, naturally he incarcerated many lawbreakers as he also managed the county jail. Most inmates probably didn’t want to be there, but in 1933 that didn’t actually hold true. For the sheriff that year received a letter from one former prisoner who apparently had escaped and now wanted to come back.
According to the February 13, 1933 Athens Weekly Review article this request came from Harry Suggs, described as “two-time ex-convict and alleged leader of the jailbreak here on Wednesday, January 25.” He wrote to Sheriff Sweeten: “Jess, I hated to do the way I did after you treated us so good but it was fair in my game, I got my chance and took it.”
Suggs had been held in the county jail after being charged with robbing several Athens stores, and wrote Sweeten that he “wanted to come back and get it over with.”
Apparently soon after his escape he had been apprehended and was then being held in the jail at Mt. Pleasant. The reporter added that the Sheriff had stated that Suggs would be returned to Athens shortly.
Also, Sweeten about the same time also received a telegram from authorities in Norfolk, Virginia telling him that they were holding Suggs’ partner (and fellow escapee) Claude Clark. Apparently this was the first Sweeten had heard of Clark’s whereabouts after the break-out..
Scams are unfortunately a part of today and it was the same in 1932 when a Eustace service station owner became a victim. According to the January 7, 1932 Athens Weekly Review this began when “an excited Oklahoman drove up to a station in Eustace, called the proprietor off to one side and nervously told him that his large Lincoln car, loaded with liquor had just hit another car …and damaged it.”
However, the new arrival said that the driver of the damaged car was willing to take $40 and not notify the local authorities and was at that moment guarding the booze. So the Lincoln owner had received a ride in a Buick to Eustace to get a wrecker.
Since prohibition was in effect the liquor in the Lincoln was naturally valuable which probably interested the station owner. As the reporter laid out the proposal: “The liquor cargo was valuable and if the station operator would advance the forty so that he could go back and pay [the other driver] who was standing guard over the damaged car; then the operator could bring the car in, repair it and he would be given $100 for his trouble.”
In short, for an advance payment of $40 the service station owner could pay off the other driver, repair the Lincoln and also receive $100.
So the proprietor paid, figuring that he’d make a profit of $60, which was a lot of money during the depression. So what happened?
The reporter summarized: “With forty safely tucked away the Buick headed the way back to the wreck. The last seen of him he was making about seventy over the hill and inasmuch as the car bore an Oklahoma license it is presumed he was in the land of Alfalfa Bill with the setting of the sun.”