A century ago, there wasn’t even a TVA to be mad about

Beth KinnaneDowntown, Our Town Stories

Well, surprise! There’s a bit more than just a dusting out there. And as Boxing Day is actually the second day of Christmas, we still got a white Christmas. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Try not to go skidding into work this morning if out you must go.

It’s been five days of treacherous, pipe-busting, HVAC wrecking cold, but we skipped the icy, snowy stuff that was supposed to arrive last Thursday night into Friday morning. Apparently it was operating on a delay of game. These arctic temps are not completely unheard of, but certainly far from our normal. We’re far more likely to be celebrating Christmas at a balmy 60 degrees than fearful of even opening the door.

Photo by Beth Kinnane

A century ago, Knoxville was then as we are now heading into New Year’s celebrations. A report in The Knoxville News indicated the city’s building growth had smashed all previous records (based on permits issued). There was another report of a protest made directly to the paper about the city washing the streets during freezing weather. There was news of the Knox County school board and potential lawsuits against builders of FOUR schools (Corryton, Farragut, Bluegrass and Bearden), over issues ranging from faulty work and defects in construction to failure to follow specifications. There were also ongoing negotiations to bring world renowned violinist Fritz Keisler to The Bijou.

The 1920s was the era of prohibition, and some of East Tennessee’s population specialized in working their way around it. A concerned citizen showed up at The News with the lid from a jar of moonshine procured in Union County. It was apparently encrusted with pure lye (used to cause fermentation). He just wanted the people of Knoxville to know WHAT they were drinking. No word as to whether he was concerned THAT they were drinking.

In national news, some high ranking “war officials” were under indictment in Washington, D.C., for fraud. In this case, they were referring to the War to end all Wars, WWI. In Maryland, the former mayor of Mer Rouge, Louisiana, Dr. B. M. McKoin, was being held for extradition back to his home state to face murder charges related to his involvement with the Ku Klux Klan. And Winfred E. Robb, the preacher sheriff of Polk County, Iowa, was arrested along with his brother George for larceny and the illegal disposal of liquor.

The Silver Moon Café on Market Square was offering a 35 cent Sunday chicken dinner at “the best place to eat in Knoxville.” The Racy Cream Company (a local dairy) was selling Eskimo Pies for 5 cents each.

Herbert Quick

The paper ran a column from Iowa writer and politician Herbert Quick, who was in a ruckus over the seeming opposition of the U.S. Congress to hydroelectricity. “That it IS hostile, the present state of things seems to show very clearly … We are suffering economic prostration and social distress for lack of coal … Congress will not give the Federal Water Power Commission a chance to work.”

Quick was a man ahead of his time. A decade later, the Tennessee Valley Authority was born. Pass the rolling blackouts … and Happy New Year!

Beth Kinnane is the community news editor for KnoxTNToday.com

Source; Knoxville News Sentinel digital archives, Knox County Library

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