From the archives of Liberal’s hometown newspaper since 1886.
… the Liberal News, official newspaper for Liberal and Seward County, featured a front-page report about a dirt storm that “brought terror,” as the area was plunged into blackness with only a few minutes’ warning. “Some people,” the headline stated, “thought the End of the World was at Hand when Every Trace of Daylight was Obliterated at 4:00 p.m.”
One Liberal citizen who’d observed the storm’s approach while he was out hunting for arrowheads, saw only a few hazy clouds during the “oppressively warm,” still day. Moments later, the peaceful afternoon changed.
“Suddenly as I looked to the north I saw a faint dark rim along the horizon. Then I noticed the ragged edge at the upper edge of the dark rim. We were only 16 miles from town, and no one felt any apprehension, but I suggested that we start home in case a dust storm should be coming up.
“By the time we reached the car, the great black banking was boiling against the horizon with what appeared to be hundreds of whirlwinds in a straight line … a great boiling cloud of dirt. There were seven of us in the car and the darkness was so dense that we could not even see the form of the person sitting next to us. I was driving and could not even see the steering wheel in my hands.”
Though the young men made it home that day, and two little children who’d been lost in the storm near Moscow were found unharmed, “everyone is surely getting tired of this kind of weather,” the News observed in its “Country Side” column.
… as a new series of war bonds opened for purchase, Seward County residents found creative ways to make ends meet. In the classified advertisements, items offered for sale included a 1940 Chevrolet truck, cab over engine, long wheel base, radio and heater, air brakes, spotlight, nearly new tires , good grain bed. The 1938 model could be purchased for $300.
Other items on offer included “pre-war solid oak dinette set with original factory finish,” a man’s bicycle and wrist watch, a large 4-room house, and gas ranges “extra quality” for $89 at Western Auto Associate Store.
Roseberry Hatchery in south Liberal was booking orders for healthy chicks. White Leghorns and “Austria White hy-breds” would be ready all through May and June. “Heavy breeds” would only be sold in June and July. All chicks were from blood-tested flocks, and were being hatched each Monday and Thursday.
As the school year finished in Liberal, grade students put on end-of-the-year programs, mostly with a patriotic theme. At Washington School, the first-graders “presented a very excellent program for their mothers,” the Southwest Daily Times reported, under the direction of teacher Mrs. Louella Lake. Along with vocal music, the program included comedy, acrobatics, dramatic readings, group dances, piano solos and a Hill Billy Band. Among the children presenting solos and spoken parts were Jimmie Cinnamon, Marylin Buck, Rolisa Platz, Wilma Flenoid, Gail Porr, Rolisa Platz, Raymond Kappler, Kelvin Casebeer; the first-grade class numbered 40 in all.
The political situation in Europe, headlines reported, had “taken a turn for the worse.” Field Marshal Alexander reported a rift between western allies and Yugoslav Marshal Tito as discussions about how to apportion border areas of Italy and Austria continued. Allied hopes for an “early solution of Europe’s number one problem, the Polish question,” also took a nosedive as Marshal Stalin said the Soviets would not negotiate with the 16 Poles who had come to Moscow at the request of the Russians and were promptly arrested. A British expert said, “it almost takes your breath away.”
U.S. Marine and Army forces were not in a position to contemplate politics, as Japanese forces still resisted fiercely in the Battle of Okinawa. Though the bloody battle was “about over,” the Times announced on May 22, 1945, heavy fighting continued. Admiral Turner told the public that both sides were bombing daily, which meant the start of a new offensive against Japan’s homeland.
Families in the area felt the effects of war as reports arrived of servicemen wounded and killed. In Hooker, Okla., Mr. and Mrs. Dave Curtis received word that their grandson, Lt. Henry Hood Jr., son of their daughter, Lousie, and her husband of Borger, Texas, had been killed in action while serving in the Pacific. Private John Fellers, one of the five sons of Mr. and Mrs. F. R. Fellers of Kismet — who’d moved to a new property north of Hugoton — lost an eye in the fighting on Ie island. Fellers had been returned to the United States to recover. His sister, Mrs. Everett Miller of Liberal, had been widowed after her husband died in combat in Europe.
Good news arrived at the Russell Boates household in the Greenough community southwest of Liberal when the family received word from their only son, Sgt. Russell Boates Jr. The serviceman had been reported missing over Germany several weeks earlier, and had been, briefly, a prisoner of war of the Germans, he wrote.
“I know this will be quite a surprise to you especially if it gets home to you before I do,” he wrote to his parents. “I am well and in as good a condition as can be expected after my many experiences, which I will keep until my homecoming. I am in Allied hands.”