Today we can’t seem to escape media reports of current headlines on our cell phones, computers, on TV or even newspapers – enough so that we sometimes want to just cut it all off! However, it wasn’t that way in the past – say 1932 – because Athens residents got their current news usually from the radio and major newspapers. Also, Athens residents could rely on local papers such as the December 29, 1932 Athens Weekly Review. And when they did they could read about local events and not miss anything important. Let’s take a look.

The main story on the front page probably brought back memories for some older Athenians since the headline read: “Impressive Ceremony Marked Laying of Cornerstone for New Court House 19 Years Ago...” The “New” courthouse was of course our present version erected in 1913 and as usual with such events the local Masonic lodge was very much involved both in the ceremonies of 1913 and in 1932. Since a building cornerstone begins the construction process and also serves as a container for historic objects, its placement was an important community event. The reporter listed the Masonic and city leaders who were present in 1913 and then related: “The stone is marble and a very beautiful one. On the northwest front were the following names of the member of the court...” including the County Judge, County Commissioners, and other officials.

Placed in 1913 in the cornerstone itself were objects that reflected the history of the time and they were not only numerous but varied. Among the items were copies of the current Athens Review, local bank statements, and a list of all the attorneys in the county at the time. There were also various commemorative cards and coins as well as a “spool of dental floss by Dr. C. Ferrell”

Another article nearby had an interesting headline: “Eighty Persons Here are Income Tax Payers.” Published with a Washington dateline, the reporter stated that “In spite of the depression, 80 persons in Athens made enough money in 1930 to file income tax returns...” It seemed that in Henderson County there were 115 returns filed. In all of Texas income tax was paid by 105,058 persons, or 1.80 percent of the state population.

Yet besides local commemorative events or news about taxes, there was a story about a tragedy when an Athens home was seriously damaged by fire. This was the home of Robert Meadows at 411 East Corsicana and occurred when Mr. Meadows was alone since his family was out of town. The alarm came when the homeowner “... discovered smoke emitting from the ceiling and immediately turned in the alarm.” The fire department soon arrived then connected their hose probably to the nearest hydrant, so the result was that the conflagration was “...kept pretty well confined between the ceiling and roof and it was necessary for firemen to knock holes in the siding in order to fight it.”

Water damage was extensive but partially covered by insurance. However, there was one major problem for the firemen since a large truck ran over their hose and burst it in two places.

Though he would take office in the New Year newly elected Henderson County Sheriff Jess Sweeten was in the news. Serving numerous terms until he retired in the 1950s, he proved to be an effective officer. The December 29 Athens Review listed his new deputies but there was also an adjacent story about a Christmas gift from Sweeten’s father John – a set of new guns.

Sweeten was known for his skill with handguns, often giving shooting demonstrations so the reporter took a humorous tone: “What could make a more appropriate Christmas present for a two-gun sheriff than new guns.” The gift consisted of “...two brand new Smith and Wesson .44 calibre [sic] pistols of modern design. They will supplant the well-known white-handled pistols that have occupied his two holsters during recent months and with which he earned the name, ‘Two-gun.’” Before he was elected sheriff Sweeten had served in county law enforcement as a deputy, and also a local constable.

On a more informal note, Review readers learned about something unusual from Dr. Will Richardson as he visited his New York community home. There he discovered that locals had gathered to inspect something unusual – a calf born without a tail though otherwise healthy. Dr. Richardson stated that “... farmers in this section of the state are driving long distances to see the calf which was born about a week ago.”

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