Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cardinal hoopsters from 1942

There's nothing quite as fun as old photographs.  They spur lots of memories and sometimes encourage us to reflect on the "good old days."  This photo, however, was taken more than 70 years ago during a time that was not so wonderful -- shortly after the outbreak of World War II. The only person we've identified is the coach at the far left -- E. L. McEwing.  We think this may be the Chadron High School "Cardinals" varsity basketball team, but we're not certain.  It could be the Junior Varsity.  Some of these folks are no longer with us, but we suspect there are still a few people around who can identify them.  Thanks to Richard McEwing for sharing this photo.  You'll find a higher resolution image of this photo in our Chadron Schools gallery.  And learn more about E. L. McEwing and other teachers and administrators in our Chadron Teachers gallery.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Great Race: Still running after all these years!

While it may have started as something of a novelty, the "Chadron to Chicago Horse Race" spurred lots of interest across the region 120 years ago this month.

"Billy the Bear" Iaeger and Dawes County Sheriff James Dahlman were among the folks who finally put together something of a real race. Seems that newspaperman John Maher had floated the myth of such a race, but thanks to some local determination, it really came about.

The horse race story still has legs. We enjoyed a rather lengthy piece put together by David Hendee of the Omaha World-Herald, and you can find it, replete with photos and maps, by clicking on Chadron-to-Chicago Race.

Hendee worked with Belle Lecher and others of the Dawes County Historical Society in putting this feature story together.  It was interesting to connect Billy Iaeger with Chadron Fire Chief J.O. Hartzell. Hartzell is attributed with firing the pistol that started the 13-day race across the plains.  

The names Hartzell and Iaeger were prominent, too, in the creation of a 1916 movie about Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok.  Made in Dawes County, it never won an academy award, but it's fun to learn about the entrepreneurial and promotional activities of some of the old timers!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bataan Death March survivor Tom McDill honored

Although it occurred nearly 70 years after the fact, a former Dawes County resident was honored this spring for his participation in World War II.  

Tom McDill of Custer, S.D., was presented 10 military awards during ceremonies in Custer on earlier this spring.

With McDill, now 92, from left, are Lois Putnam of Oelrichs, who, like McDill, was a member of the Class of 1939 at Chadron Prep; McDill’s wife, Ilona; and Jan Adams of Chadron, who represented Chadron Prep at the ceremonies. McDill was missing in action for 3.5 years after being captured by the Japanese in the Philippines in 1942. He survived the Bataan Death March and then worked more than three years in a Japanese copper mine before the war ended. 

McDill grew up on a ranch in the Whitney area and had raised horses much of his life. (Photo and information courtesy of Con Marshall)