85 Years Ago
Jan. 2, 1935
Fred Phenix, son of Mr. and Mrs. James Phenix, of near Gabbtown, was found dead Sunday on the back porch of Fred Johnson, 711 Pearl Street. Phenix had caught a bus ride to Metropolis, was dropped off at Seventh and Market Streets and went shopping. When the bus was ready to return, Phenix said he would return shortly. A search was made for him and the bus driver, Mr. McGhee, stopped a person and asked if he knew the whereabouts of Phenix. The reply was that he was on the back porch at the home of Fred Johnson. When found, Phenix was dead.
A coroner's inquest discovered that there was a wound on Phenix's head, evidently made by a blunt instrument. After hearing from witnesses, Johnson and wife were held for a grand jury without bail on a charge of manslaughter. It is said that whiskey was sold at the Johnson home and that it was frequented by many who wanted to buy. The Johnsons are being held in jail.
Paul Mescher, son of Harmon Mescher, was quite painfully injured last Monday night by being run into by a truck driven by J.F. Bigley of Brookport. Mescher had stopped his car near Seven Mile Church to fix a tire. Bigley drove past and the truck struck Mescher, knocking him over and inflicting several bruises and cuts. Mescher was brought to town and given surgical aid, after which he went home.
After the meeting of the county board Monday the group went to the Gravel Road (North Avenue) to inspect the job of paving being done. Some of the roots of trees along the road had been cut and board members expressed dissatisfaction with this and ordered the cutting to cease. Commissioner Ray Harper pointed out that these trees were set out several years ago as a memorial to the Civil War veterans through the urgency of the late F.A. Trousdale, former member of the legislature from this district.
Now if an order could be issued forbidding the nailing of signs of any kind to these trees, it would be a great improvement. The number of bills, and even wooden signs, tacked and nailed to these beautiful trees, has been an eyesore for a long time. It is hoped that some action will be taken that they will not be thus marred in the future.
Many children in Metropolis were made glad at Christmas by receiving gifts, the result of much hard work by the Elks Lodge, Woman's Club and Boy Scouts. More than 500 packages were distributed to the families on relief. Each package, which was delivered by the Boy Scouts from the social room of the public library, contained a pound of candy, apples, oranges and toys.
75 Years Ago
Jan. 5, 1950
James Firmin, son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Firmin of Metropolis, last week announced plans for a proposed FM (Frequency Modulation) radio station in Metropolis. He is ready to build following working out details with the Federal Communications Commission and assurances of sufficient local advertising. He is also considering two other locations.
If located here, the station would open in October. The call letters would be WMET and operate 18 hours per day six days a week and 12 hours on Sunday. The policy of the station would be to maintain strict impartiality in politics and on controversial issues with no editorializing or attempt to influence public opinion. The station would represent an investment of up to $50,000. A staff of eight persons is planned but the station would start operations with a smaller staff.
The 250 watt station would broadcast only on FM as it would be impossible to obtain an AM permit for more than two years, as his application for this is 1,027 on the FCC list. Local programs would be featured with 40 percent of them designed for rural listeners. A survey showed that there were 9,000 families in the area to be served by the station in Massac, Pope and Johnson Counties. Firmin also stated that 60 percent of the homes in the area have FM radio receivers while 97 per cent of all new sets are FM sets. All television is carried by FM and that television manufacturers predict that there will be 20,000,000 sets in operation by 1954.
The Christian Men's Bible Class of Metropolis has been granted a charter to use the Scouting program, according to a report from the Egyptian Council Headquarters at Herrin. Gus Burnam was named as a member of the Council and will serve as local representative. Roy McCorkle was appointed as Scoutmaster. Certificates of membership have been issued to the following boys: Dwight Barfield, Larry Francois, Billy Jo Ogden, Eugene Holley, Curtis Rehlmeyer and Tommy Ferguson.
50 Years Ago
January 1, 1970
There is a lot of excitement these days in the area two miles east of Joppa. They're drilling for oil, and it's the first major attempt to sink an oil well in Massac County in 32 years. Drilling was started on the Robert L. Sommer farm a week ago and as of last Saturday the exploration had reached the hard St. Louis limestone formation at the 300-foot level. After breaking through this formation, the drilling is expected to accelerate, and with favorable operating conditions the rig will go on a round-the-clock schedule this week. The well may go as deep as 1,500 to 2,000 feet and W.T. Holder, one of the partners in this project, said that oil may be struck once the limestone formation is drilled through.
The last major attempts to find oil in Massac County were near Mermet in the winter of 1937 and on the McGhee farm near Brookport in the spring of 1938. The well near Mermet went deeper than 3,000 feet before it was given up as a dry hole. Another brief effort to find oil reportedly fizzled out on the Hinners farm east of Metropolis less than 10 years ago, when drillers became discouraged with the underground rock formations. The current drilling on the Sommer farm is a "wildcat" operation, not linked with a major oil company. The project is expected to cost about $16,000 and it is anticipated the desired depth will be reached within two weeks.
Rufus Dean, 1802 Neville Street, reported to the city police that three men attempted to rob him at his home about midnight Monday. Police were called to the scene by a neighbor, Mrs. Fanny Holt and Mr. Dean was taken to Massac Memorial Hospital with an eye injury and for X-rays for a possible skull fracture. Police were told that Dean was in bed when someone knocked on his door, and upon answering it three men forced their way into the residence, demanding money. Dean refused and a scuffle ensued with him receiving a blow to the head. Mr. Dean said he hit one of the intruders with a poker, and he chased the trio out to their car, which had to be pushed before it would start. Dean said he broke a chair over the trunk of the car before the hoodlums were able to get away.
25 Years Ago
The Metropolis Planet
January 4, 1995
After months of watching many phases of construction, local residents should soon see red, yellow and green at Fifth and Ferry streets. State officials say the lights may be operational late this week. For a few days, the lights may blink as a four-way stop to allow people to get used to the new lights being there.
At the last City Council meeting Mayor Bill Kommer said he continues to get complaints about the lack of parking in front of the post office. In a letter he received, the writer requested that a section of Fifth Street be made one-way or a 15 minute parking limit be enforced in certain areas. The mayor said there is no question that the city is going to have to find some additional parking spaces. The mayor also stated that courthouse employees need to park on the lot west of the courthouse, and the city lots need to be freed up for better use. One possible first step would be to place a 15-minute limit in front of the post office. City Planner Lee Shervey and Chief of Police Chuck Short need to study the problem and make recommendations.
Phil's Donuts opened Monday in the former Dragon's Rest Building at 1400 W. 10th St. Owner Philip Dowd said the shop will carry pastries and a variety of doughnuts, all made from scratch. The business will open at 5 a.m. daily and drive-through service will be provided.
A new tradition, the Wall of Fame, was started at MCHS to recognize students of the school in grades 10-12 who have maintained a cumulative 3.5 grade point average or above during their high school career. The parents were invited to a ceremony and were presented with an attractively designed and printed program. At the ceremony each student was given a certificate of recognition and a framed 8"x10" framed picture of themselves.
The pictures will be hung in the main hallway for the remainder of the school year, hence the Wall of Fame. At the end of the year the students will have their pictures returned to them. Also, each freshman who had a 3.5 grade point average after the first nine weeks this year was honored with a smaller but similar ceremony.