As the world awaits the arrival of 2020, it’s appropriate to look back at the real “Roaring Twenties” of the previous century.
The Time Traveler this week set the dial of the time machine to December of 1928, just as the old year was winding down and the new year 1929 lay ahead.
Herbert Hoover was elected President of the United States in November of that year, after defeating Al Smith, known as the “Happy Warrior.” Hoover would succeed Calvin Coolidge, known as “Silent Cal” because of his quiet nature. The “Roaring Twenties,” as they were known, were fast coming to a close.
In that year, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. A home pregnancy test was first introduced. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, which would cure millions from life-threatening illnesses. The cartoon character Mickey Mouse made his appearance in the short animated film, “Steamboat Willie.”
Flappers and jazz were in full swing. Celebrated film star Shirley Temple was born.
While the long-heralded birth of our Lord was being celebrated around the world during Christmastime of 1928, some newborn babies in DeSoto County were helping to ring in the New Year.
The DeSoto Times newspaper of Dec. 13, 1928 listed some recent births of that year, including Richard N. Gore, W.E. Shackleford, R.N. Savage, Joe B. Ray, Edgar O. Flinn, C. Melvin Ross, Edward L. Bass, Leonard Taylor, C.L. McElhaney and T.H. Thompson.
Laws enacted in the Mississippi Legislature that year made the proper recording of births a priority.
“It is the duty of the attendant to fill out the birth record and to return the same to the local registrar within 10 days,” the newspaper quoted the law as stating. “All local registrars in the state must mail these records once a month to the U.S. Bureau of Vital Statistics, where they are to be kept for at least 100 years.”
In the year 2028, that obligation will be met. It is interesting to note that in 2019, and soon to be 2020, there are more centenarians living to the ripe old age of 100 than ever before.
Other important things that were being recorded in December of 1928 were the grades of DeSoto County school students. The following students made the honor roll that month, including Frances Harvey, ninth grade; Margaret Myers, Sara Kathrine Langston, Margaret Langston, and Mary Myers, 10th grade; Janice Cochran and Maury Haraway, 11th grade; Barbara Massey, Eugenia Clayton, Grace Henry, Esther Grady, John Gilliland and Carl Henry, 12th grade.
The following boys received their varsity “D” in football for the season of 1928: Frank Brigance, Guy Langston, Maury Haraway, Ishmael Ross (manager), Odell Sanders, Curtis Clark, Robert Harvey, Henry Winders, Morgan Loftin, Boyce Clayton, Lamar Massey, John Gilliland, Raymond Noel, Russell Treadway, Cecil Hatten, John Shivler and Wayne Summers.
In DeSoto County, the “Roaring Twenties” was a time of great expansion as the county had begun its transformation from largely agricultural to industrial and commercial, a period in which the state’s leaders sought to balance agriculture with industry.
Just as “Father Time” made one of his last appearances to walk off the world stage in December of 1928, DeSoto County lost many leading citizens that decade.
Longtime resident Absalom G. Perry, a Confederate soldier, passed away at the age of 90 years and 10 days. He had been a prisoner of war during the War Between the States and was a beloved member of the community.
If the Roaring Twenties of the last century is any indication, rapid change will come to Mississippi’s fastest-growing county this coming decade. Let 2020 and beyond be the Roaring Twenties again.
Let’s embrace the future together, fellow time travelers.
ROBERT LEE LONG is Curator of the DeSoto County Museum.