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This Week in Sapulpa History – Sapulpa Prospects Are Bright Heading Into the New Year-1930
Rachel Whitney, Curator, Sapulpa Historical Museum
On December 31, 1929, the Herald ran the article hoping for a bright future for Sapulpa. The 1920s ended with a loud thud for Sapulpa. Early in the decade, Sapulpa was still growing and had survived a recession. But then a double setback of the Frisco Railroad moved to Tulsa, or as some would say stolen, and just the beginning of the Great Depression just devastated the town. In the 1930 Census for Sapulpa, the town had declined 1,100 people in the population*. Sapulpa did not know at this time, but the town would not recover until after World War II.
*Note: Based on the 1920 Census, Sapulpa claimed 11,634 citizens responded to the Census; whereas, 1930 Census, Sapulpa claimed 10,533 members responded to the Census.
“Sapulpa’s prospects are bright [as] 1930 promises to bring new stability here; business leaders [are] in [an] optimistic mood.
The year 1929 was truly on its last legs today. But who cares for that, with a fresh and jubilant 1930 ready to carry on with new vigor and interest for another 365 days.
Sapulpa looked forward today to beginning a bright year. The year promises to [be] bright both literally and figuratively. It will be bright literally after January 10, when the new white way is completed*.”
*Note: Similar to New York City’s Broadway District being nicknamed “The Great White Way” due to the enormous amount of shows and lights, Sapulpa was about to turn on the lights in town. After January 1930, a few streets in Sapulpa would have bright lights in their street lights.
“That old saying that ‘clothes make the man’ may be applied to Sapulpa and the city, dressed up in such gay lights is sure to progress accordingly.
Merchants of the city were each wearing a smile and making ready for the new year. The first thing they must do is to take inventory. Meanwhile, there are several pre-inventory sales under way to usher out the old year.
Citizens will celebrate the coming of the new year in varied fashion. For some, there will be parties, banquets, and others festive celebrations. A lot has been said about liquor drinking at holiday celebrations, and there will no doubt be some liquor served in Sapulpa tonight* as the new year is ushered in. [But] officers [have] little [doubt] over [a] possibility of a too boisterous celebration since the Christmas festivities were, for the most part, quietly observed.”
*Note: The Eighteenth Amendment, also known as Prohibition, in the United States focused on manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. Prohibition went into effect in January 1920 and was repealed by the Twenty-First Amendment by December 1933.
“The year is indeed old, and now counts its stay in hours and minutes rather [than] by days and weeks. Sapulpa met with some reverses in 1929, but it has been truly said that we profit more by our mistakes than by our success. [And] with this attitude, Sapulpa has hurdled obstacles that to other cities might have been insurmountable. Citizens of Sapulpa have made capital of their mistakes, and are now stepping forward in the march of progress. The city that has successfully overcome a slump is a better place than the city that has never met such a decline and does not know how to meet it.
The new year will see a busy Sapulpa. The white way will soon be completed. North Mission Street, for many years an impediment to Sapulpa’s progress, will be paved through the cooperation of the state highway department*. A new gasoline service station is being constructed at the corner of Birch and Dewey. Another new building is in process of construction at the corner of Main and Lee.”
*Note: Even though Route 66 made its way through Sapulpa (in 1926) and was a national highway, Sapulpa (as all other towns) were in charge of the paving of their own section of the highway, and not the state/national departments; this was difficult task to fund, especially with houses along the route.
“The Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company will improve the appearance of the city by removing electric light poles from the main streets of town, since cable is being laid underground for the white way posts…
The Continental Oil Company’s refinery here is running at its normal capacity for this time of year, according to K.W. Shimeall, superintendent. ‘The outlook for 1930,’ he said, ‘is better than it was for the year just past.’
N. Hermes, of Sapulpa Brick and Tile Company said that the output of the factory had been normal since last February, and that business is in sight to keep the plant busy throughout the coming year…*”
*Note: The Frisco Railroad had planned to move to Tulsa around 1916, but due to the Great War, it didn’t move until 1927. Even though Sapulpa won its cases, Frisco had already begun their removal in town. Additionally, due to the Great Depression, businesses began to decline, (such as the Harvey House), and funding for other technology (like the Gamewell Fire Call Boxes) ceased to operate.
In spite of the setbacks the town had suffered in the past few years, it had overcome these and survived. Progress was being made and “the white way” was being installed, new buildings were going up, the refinery was operating, and all the other industries were growing. The prospect of a good year was bright.
The information found on this page has been researched through Sapulpa (and area) newspapers, Sapulpa Historical Society archives, books, and photographs, Sapulpa yearbooks, city directories, and other local authors. Any other sources will be labeled and named as the research continues. Any mistakes will be noted and adjusted as needed.