Sunday, March 24, 2024

Clever intro for a high school yearbook–75 years ago!

A few of our "senior" readers will remember several of these folks.  We were taken aback by the clever humor they injected into the introduction for the 1950 Chadron High School yearbook.  We're sure there were several "inside" backstories to what they wrote, which we happily offer you below:


Fourscore and seven days ago the classes of C.H.S. kicked forth a new annual staff, conceived in hopelessness, and unwillfully dedicated to the propostion that all members should please Schroeder.  Now we are engaged in a great and bitter struggle, testing whether this staff, or any staff so conceived and so dedicated, can endure.  

We have met in Room 315 of Chadron High School.  We have come to dedicate a portion of our work as a futile tribute to those who here gave their talents that this Annual might live.  It is altogether outrageous and revengeful that we should do this.  But in a larger sense –– if we don't get to work –– we will never meet that deadline!  The brave souls, half alive and half dead, who struggled here have mutilated it far beyond your poor power to add or detract.  You students will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but you can never overcome what we did here.  

We take increasing dislike to that cause for which we gave our last full measure of foolishness. We here highly resolve that editor Zanger shall not have *@?# in vain - and that this annual staff, under Schroeder, shall have another outburst of insanity - - and that the Cardinal of Chadron High School shall not perish - - again.

To learn a bit about the staff for this yearbook (at least a bit about their high school careers!) we invite you to visit:

Friday, March 1, 2024

Dawes County pioneer John A. Macumber

NOTE:  This is another in a series of area pioneer stories included in the Compendium & Biography of Western Nebraska published in 1909 by the Alden Publishing Co. of Chicago.

The above named gentleman is one of the prominent old-timers of Dawes county, Nebraska, where he has materially aided in the growth of that region. Mr. Macumber is familiarly known as "The Headlight of Bordeaux," the cognomen which was applied to him through the Alliance meeting. He is a warm friend and admirer of James C. Dahlman, the "cowboy mayor" of Omaha, with whom he became acquainted when he first came to this country.

Mr. Macumber was born in Gallia county, Ohio, on April 8, 1852. His father, J. A. Macumber, was also a native of Gallia county, and died January 23, 1907, having settled in Madison county, Iowa, in 1853, when our subject was but one year of age, he having been a twin, and one of a family of eight children by the second marriage of his father who also had four children by a first marriage. The homestead in Iowa where they lived for many years is still owned by a nephew, Emory Calison, and it was there that the children all grew up. There John learned to do all sorts of hard farm work and assisted his parents in building up a good home and farm, going through pioneer experiences when they were obliged to suffer many hardships and privation, handle ox teams, etc., and at the age of twenty-one years started in for himself, following farm work. He owned a two hundred acre farm there, and went through the panic of 1873, coming out of the trouble in very good shape financially.

In 1886 Mr. Macumber came west, arriving in Dawes county in the month of March; went back to Iowa, sold his farm and returned with his family on the 8th of April 1886. They located in section 34, township 34, range 48, on Bordeaux creek, this stream also running through his land. He has plenty of natural timber on the place, and ninety acres is irrigated, on which he raises fine crops, and in all has one hundred and fifty acres under cultivation. The ranch consists of eight hundred acres, and is well supplied with good water, wild fruits, and he has many acres of good hayland and grass for pasture. 

The first dwelling put up on the farm was a dugout in which they lived for one year. The dry years followed soon after he located here and many were the losses and discouragements they experienced, and also in 1890 and 1891 they were occasioned much discomfort and anxiety through the Indian uprisings throughout this part of the state, but no one was injured. During the first years here he broke up all his land and did all the farm work with the help of two yoke of oxen, and used these faithful animals for five years. The ranch is now all fenced and well improved, free from all indebtedness, and he has one of the valuable pieces of property in the county, and a comfortable home.  

Our subject was married while living in Iowa, April 20, 1873, to Miss Melissa Shearer, a native of Indiana, who settled in Illinois, when a girl, with her parents, and in 1866 they moved to Iowa where they were among the pioneers of Madison county. Mr. and Mrs. Macumber are the parents of five children, named as follows: William H., Edward A., James W., A. Jr., and Alida G., all married except John A. Jr., who lives in South Dakota. James W. also lives in South Dakota. The balance of the family live in Dawes county, Nebraska.

Mr. Macumber is a stanch Democrat, inclining strongly toward Socialism, and has always worked along reform lines and been closely identified with all reform movements in his section for many years. He is a man of superior intelligence and progressive ideas, and one of the foremost citizens of his locality.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Chadron Native Rubbed Shoulders with Stars

Ted Turechek grew up on a cattle ranch and went to school at Chadron High, where he graduated in 1953. One of 10 children, Ted pursued a career in law enforcement in California. Some years back, while attending a CHS reunion - we believe it was either his 50th or 60th reunion - Turechek shared a few of his experiences. One of them involved his assignment to a security detail for the filming of a CBS Television soap opera called Capitol.
There were 1,270 espisodes that aired over a five year period from 1982 to 1987. Among the stars of the series were Carolyn Jones, Richard Egan, Lana Wood, Julie Adams, and Rory Calhoun.   The Capitol story took place in the fictional suburb of Jeffersonia, near Washington, DC.  The drama focused upon families of feuding matriarchs, one of whom had spread lies about the other's father, a liberal Congressman named Judson, linking him to the communists during the McCarthy Hearings era.   Judson was portrayed by Calhoun.
In the above snapshot, Calhoun took time off from filming to say thanks to one of the officers assigned to security for the series - none other than Ted Turechek, in uniform at left.  On the other side of the dapper Calhoun is an unnamed groundskeeper at the historic Greystone Estates in a wooded area of Beverly Hills where the series was filmed. 

Interestingly, in a different era, Calhoun's relationship with law enforcement officers was not so cordial.

Born in Los Angeles, Calhoun was the son of a professional gambler.  Of Irish ancestry, he grew up in Santa Cruz, California.  When only 13, he reportedly stole a revolver and was sent to the California Youth Authority's Preston School of Industry reformatory at Ione.  He escaped while in the adjustment center at that facility.    More trouble followed as he learned to hot-wire cars.  Calhoun robbed several jewelry stores, stole a car and drove it across state lines, was captured and sentenced to three years in federal prison at Springfield, Missouri.   

After being released from prison just before his 21st birthday, he took on several jobs - ranging from a mechanic and logger to working as a miner, a cowboy, fisherman, truck driver, crane operator and firefighter.

In January 1944, at age 22, he met actor Alan Ladd, whose wife was a talent agent.  The Ladd's arranged for Calhoun to have a screen test.  After being cast in several uncredited roles, he began to appreciate the regular income and seemed to turn his life around – which was apparenty the case (except for punching a detective, which landed him back in prison for a time in 1945!)

From about 1950 on, Calhoun's professional acting career blossomed, with extended studio contracts, many leading roles, and recognition as an accomplished actor.  He was married three times – once to his first wife, and twice to his second wife.

But – wait a minute – this story isn't about Calhoun, it's about Ted Turechek!

As far as we know, Turechek never arrested Calhoun.  But Ted was involved in robot?!  We shared that Turechek story – put together by Con Marshall and the late Mike Smith – back in 2016.  You'll find it at:

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Shredded Wheat breakfasts with Straight Arrow!

by Larry Miller
Most followers of Dawes County Journal are likely old enough to remember "Straight Arrow," a radio show that became so popular that in 1949, the sponsor of the program, Nabisco Shredded Wheat, began producing Straight Arrow cards that would fit in their cereal boxes.  The cards separated the layers of biscuits and were inscribed with Injun-uities – a wide ranging collection of Straight Arrow tips ranging from Poisonous Snake Recognition to Finding Your Way in the Wilderness, and an abundance of other topics.
Pre-teen youth and older used to explore the hills and countryside of Dawes County.  Chadron kids would often find adventure just to the south of the college, near C Hill or a cave farther south and east, which some of us dubbed Blue Rock Cave.  Another popular site, especially for climbing, was King's Chair, which was perhaps a half-mile east of C Hill.  It required only a little bit of size and skill to climb up on top of the huge rock – probably of sandstone – and gaze northward to Chadron and beyond.  Having not re-visited those hills in some 60 years or so, I don't believe King's Chair any longer exists.  Another story!
Crawford youngsters had even more wooded hills practically surrounding the entire town, and I suspect more than just a few adventurers – young and old alike – have expored Lover's Leap, Crow Butte (Note: Check out Justin Haag's Panhandle Afield at the top of this page), and the many other fantastic places that make the Crawford-Fort Robinson area a favorite tourist attraction.
The Straight Arrow radio character was owned solely by Nabisco, which sponsored the show.  He reportedly was an orphaned Native American boy who'd been raised by a ranching family named Adams.  After the lad became aware of his Indian heritage, he adopted the identity and name Straight Arrow and used his skills to "do good and help the unfortunate."  
The radio show was so popular that Straight Arrow was soon a comic book character, too.
I must confess that I don't remember much about the radio programs – or Straight Arrow comic books.  But I certainly remember reading the Straight Arrow cards, while eating a bowl of Nabisco Shredded Wheat for breakfast!
Interestingly, Straight Arrow cards were produced for U.S. and Canadian residents.  In fact, many of the cards were produced  for French-speaking residents of Canada.   
The Straight Arrow cards have been a popular collectors item, too, but I hadn't seen one for a good half century, until a few were donated to the High Plains Western Heritage Center in Belle Fourche.
It was like seeing an old friend!



Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Crawford Fire Department members of Yesteryear

 We have no names for these fellows, but we suspect that someone may know a few of these gents....and might be kind enough to share them with us.  It's a great photo, courtesy of the Crawford Historical Museum.  Although the museum is closed for the season, we understand they'll be re-opening in mid-May. 

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Remembering the Blizzard of 1949

It was 75 years ago this month that the devastating "Blizzard of 1949" blew across the High Plains region of the heartland.  Nebraska ETV produced this video – including portions filmed in northwest Nebraska.