Halloween Tragedy 1937

Whenever I talk with folks who “remember when”, this tragedy always come up.  Back in the days when most people walked to town for socializing, two Muren women were tragically killed and others injured while walking home in 1937 from the Winslow Halloween party.

From the Dispatch, Friday, November 5, 1937:

TWO WOMEN KILLED BY CAR AT SOUTH EDGE OF WINSLOW FRIDAY NIGHT

Mrs Josephine Lang and Mrs. Luella McCandless Meet Instant Death When Hit by Automobile

Mrs. Josephine Lang, widow of the late William Lang, and Mrs. Luella McCandless, widow of the late Curtis McCandless, were both instantly killed Friday night at 8:30 when hit by an automobile driven by Paul Maxey, 21, of near Oakland City.  The accident happened on state highway 61 a few feet south of the bridge on lower Main Street.  The women were returning to their homes in Muren after attending the Halloween Party in Winslow.

There were six in the party of women walking south along the highway, the two who were instantly killed, Mrs. Frona Auburn, her daughter, Evelyn Stewart, 19, her sister Oma Talbert and Betty Whitney, 12, of Petersburg, a granddaughter of Mrs. Lang.  The ladies were walking south, the little Whitney girl holding hands with her grandmother with whom she intended to spend the weekend.  A truck, driven by Joel Evans was passing them going in the same direction.  Maxey caught up with the truck and turned out to pass it when he hit the women.  The two women were killed outright and both bodies were thrown clear of the concrete, great pools of blood made where the bodies lay.  They had evidently been thrown up on the Ford V-8 car as the windshield showed it had met with some sort of impact and the left front fender was badly bent.

Others seeing the wreck went at once and put in a call for ambulances and Dr. George Detar who went at once to the scene.  It was seen that both Mrs. Lang and Mrs. McCandless had been instantly killed and at first it was thought Mrs. Frona Auburn was dead.  They were removed to the Miller Hospital where Mrs. Auburn revived.  The bodies of the dead women were sent to the morgues, Mrs. Lang to the Crecelius and Mrs. McCandless to the Brenton & Company place.  Mrs. Auburn was given treatment at once.  She is still in the hospital suffering a concussion of the brain, a large cut place on her head and internal injuries.

Marshal Claude Smith arrested the driver and locked him in the town jail.  He was afterward removed to Petersburg to the county jail.  As soon as the accident happened he stopped as quickly as he could and came back to town where he was arrested.

Both Evelyn Stewart and Betty Whitney were shocked and bruised some but neither of a serious nature.  The Steward woman received a cut on her left knee.  The shock was almost unbearable for these youngsters.  They were taken to the hospital but were soon discharged.

Dr. D.W. Bell, county coroner, was notified at once as was Sheriff Goodman.  Dr. Bell did not complete his inquest until Monday when he rendered a verdict that “Luella McCandless came to her death by an avoidable accident, being struck by an automobile, driven by one Paul Maxey, Oakland City, Indiana.  The preponderance of evidence tends to show that the Ford V-8 automobile, driven by Paul Maxey, Oakland City, Ind., was traveling at a high rate of speed, and struck the deceased, Luella McCandless while she was walking on  the left shoulder of the road, and I highly recommend that criminal action be taken against one Paul Maxey, Oakland City, Ind.”

The verdict of the coroner on Mrs. Lang was in substance the same as for Mrs. McCandless.

In the car with Maxey were Lennis Gentry son of Mr. and Mrs. Isom Gentry, and Paul Roberts.  The boys were held pending the coroner’s inquest but were released as they were questioned.

Maxey was not drunk, as he was given a thorough test by Dr. Detar, although it was said he admitted to drinking two bottles of beer.  He was held in the county jail for sometime but later released after no charges were filed against him.  Maxey is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Maxey and lives at home with his parents east of Oakland City.

The ladies all lived in Muren, Mrs. Lang and Mrs. McCandless being near neighbors.  Mrs. Auburn was Frona Talbert, later married a man by the name of Stewart and after his death married Auburn.

Josephine Lang was Josephine Faiss.  She was born December 3, 1884 and was 52 years, 10 months and 26 days old at the time of her death.  She was a daughter of George and Temperance Hurt Faiss.  In 1902 she was married to James May with whom she lived until his death in 1904.  One child by this marriage survives, Mrs. Edith Heacock of Ontario, California.   In 1905 she was married to William T. Lang, a Spanish American war veteran and they lived together until his death June 5, 1935.  Surviving are the following children:  Mrs. Scott Norrington of Winslow, Mrs. Bessie Whitman of Indianapolis, Jodie Lang of Texas, Wilbur and Garnett Lang who lived at home with the mother.

Surviving also are six grandchildren, one great grandchild and a brother, John Faiss, of Centralia, Illinois.

Mrs. Lang was a member of the Muren General Baptist Church and was a Christian lady and a good neighbor who had the respect and esteem of all who knew her.

After the body was prepared for burial at the Crecelius Funeral Home it was taken to the home of her daughter, Mrs. Scott Norrington in the East End where it remained until Monday morning when the funeral service was held at the Muren G.B. church.  Rev. G.A. Hopper, pastor of the Winslow Church, conducted the service.  Burial was in the Williams Cemetery.

Mrs. McCandless was Luella Hopkins, a daughter of John P. and Hannah A. Hopkins.  She was born in Pike County March 8, 1898 and had reached the age of 39 years, 7 months and 21 days.  She lived in Patoka Township and grew to womanhood here and on January 30, 1919 she was united in marriage to Curtis McCandless.  They lived together until his death a few years ago.  The one child, Clifford, born to them survives.  Surviving also are three step-children , the mother, two sisters, Mrs. Bessie Johnson and Mrs. Pearl Mann of Evansville and one brother, Samp Hopkins of Muren.

Mrs. McCandless was a member of the General Baptist church and was a Christian lady who was known throughout this section as such.

After the body had been prepared at the Brenton & Company funeral home it was removed to the home of her brother, Samp Hopkins in Muren where it remained until Sunday afternoon when the funeral services were held at the Muren church with the Rev. Edgar Curry in charge.  Burial was in the Williams Cemetery.

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Angel in Williams Cemetery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mac’s Cafe on Main Street in Winslow

My grandma, Barbara Bolin Evans,  had fond memories of working at Mac’s Café.  She used to walk from Muren to Winslow into work. My Grandpa Evans always told the story about how when he first met her she was walking to work in the winter without a coat.  He said the first thing he did when they started dating was buy her a winter coat.

She was close to the Dedman and McCord families back then, who ran the cafe.  She remembered John David and Mary Jane Dedman Smith as children growing up there.  I asked John David to share a little history of the store with me.  John David Dedman runs the Winslow Eskimo website at www.jddedman.com.  He worked for years as a postal clerk in Winslow and has some good stories to share.

Mac's Cafe, Main Street Winslow, about 1956

Mac’s Cafe, Main Street Winslow, about 1956.  Where the bank parking lot is now.

“At one time back in the 50’s, there was a Marathon gas station on the corner just south of the restaurant and there was a big sign out front that said “Mac’s Café”.  Actually it was a tavern but they did have a fairly good food business, especially sandwiches.

The tavern burned in either 57 or 58 and was a total loss.   The building was owned by Harcourt Scales and was not re-built after the fire.   Someone had broken in to the tavern to steal things and torched it to cover up the break in.

Attached is a picture I had of the inside of the restaurant and I think it is dated 1952.   The lady to the far left is Sarah McCord, my grandmother and I am sure the waitress is Barbara, your grandmother.   I think the man drinking the beer could have been Pap Dorsey and the man sitting behind him reminds me of John Hunley.   I cannot think of the names of the lady and man sitting at the bar but they were frequent guests in there.

I have this picture up on my web site at http://www.jddedman.com.   The juke box is one of those old rare Seeberg record players, and then they had a bumper pool table.  Later they put in a shuffle board and a TV.   The kitchen was on the back left side and the door on the right was to men’s restroom, the ladies room was closer to the kitchen.   One time in the mid 40’s they had slot machines that sat around the restroom door and along the wall.   I remember on VE-D in 1945 after the end of the Japan war, I hit the jackpot on the 10 cent slot machine.  It was not long after that the slots were taken out, and buried as it was becoming illegal to have them.”

Mac's Cafe, 1952.

Mac’s Cafe, 1952.

I had shared this picture with my grandma and she agreed she was the waitress.  She remembered that old plaid dress.

“ After the tavern burnt, the John Russ Insurance Agency re-built it and had their insurance office there for several years.   John Russ, Herbert Russ and Basil Thompson worked there.   At one time, John let us use the back part of his office for amateur radio meetings which we held every month on a Monday night for a long time.   I was a licensed ham, as well as Basil, and Herb wanted to get a license but never did.   Ernie Hume and his wife and son did get a ham license. “

My grandma told me that she had a picture of Pearl and the store somewhere too.  We found it one day in a box in the old cupboard in her bedroom.  I shared it with John who told me about the picture.

The McCord at Mac's Cafe.

The McCord’s at Mac’s Cafe.

“The photo you sent me was of Pearl B. McCord and his wife, Sarah E. McCord.  They were the owners of Mac’s Café which was located at the location where the Citizens State Bank (German American) now sits.   Pearl was my mother’s father and at one time in the early 30’s was Postmaster at Winslow Post Office.   My actual grandmother – Audie, died when my mother was only 12 years old and Pearl married Sarah a few years later and they lived in the house down from you on Center Street where Jerry and Mary Jane lived for years..

I had lived in the same house from about 1958 until 1963 when I moved to Evansville, then Mary & Jerry moved in there.

My grandfather had a large roll top desk sitting where you see them in the picture and he did his book work there and it was where he could see the bar and kitchen.  After the fire, the only thing that was saved was the desk and I ended up with it myself.  I had to take off the roll-top as it was damaged too much, but the rest was okay and I used it for years while I was living in Winslow. “

My Grandparents Schooling

My grandparents were schooled along side all of the other coal miners children in two of the early schools that are no longer standing.

My grandma went to a few different schools.  She always said she went to the one that was north of Winslow back behind Sunset Cemetery before the coal mines took all  of that land and it’s communities.  She went to the Birch school for awhile.  But mostly she went to Muren School.

The old Muren School building.

The old Muren School building.

The old Muren school sat on the corner of the Ayrshire Road and the Line Road.  For years the old water pump was still standing in the field but it is now gone.  My dad and Gene McCandless helped tear the school down.  Gene’s dad, Kenny McCandless was using the lumber for something or other.  Dad drove a huge splinter of wood through his shoe into his foot longways.  Gene took him to Grandpa Bolin because they were the doctoring kind and could fix what ailed you.  Grandpa took dads foot, cut the length of the splinter open and pulled it out.  Dad said he put coal tar on it, bandaged it up, put the boot back on and sent him back to work.  Dad said it never did get infected and healed up just fine.  Hurt like heck though.

Grandma, Evelyn and Denver at Muren School.

Grandma, Evelyn and Denver at Muren School.

My cousin Missy had this old class photo of Muren School.  My grandma, Barbara Bolin Evans is the first little girl on the first row.  Her sister, Evelyn Bolin Vogel (Missy’s mom) is the last girl on the last row.  Their brother, Denver Bolin is the tall boy on the back row.  This was taken sometime in the late 1920s,  early 1930s.

I may have told the story before about the pair of socks but I will tell it again because that is what storytellers do.  Grandma and Ev had only one pair of socks they shared.  The school was going on a field trip to the Evansville Zoo.  Grandma wanted to wear the socks to the zoo.  She was so mad because Ev had worn them, washed them, put them too close to the fire and they burned up.

Maybe some of you know the other students in the picture?

My Pappaw John Evans, who is really my stepgrandpa but never would have had it any other way than he was my grandpa, went to Arthur School when he was a little boy.  He had these two photos in his old pictures.  The old Arthur school has finally fallen in.  You can still see where it’s fallen and the chimney stands.  Look straight ahead at the old 64 shortcut road.

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Old Arthur School in the late teens, early 1920s.

Pappaw John is on the back row about the 3rd boy in.  He has shorter hair.  The boy on the front row in the dark pants and dark jacket might possibly be his brother, Bertis just by the family resemblance.  He kind of looks like my uncle Buck.  I like how the boys had to take off their hats for the picture and they are all up in the window sills of the school behind them.

1925 Arthur School

1925 Arthur School

This one is a little easier to date because the boy is holding the basketball with the date 1925 on it.  Pappaw John is standing to the right of the boy holding the ball.  The windows have been broken and one is patched with a Beech Nut advertisement.

Maybe someone can identify some of the other kids in these too?

Evans and Keeton Squabble

    No one told a good story like my Pappa John Evans.  Maybe you knew him, most knew him as “Redneck”.  That was way before Redneck had come to mean what it does today, thanks to Jeff Foxworthy.  I would say he earned the nickname due to being a union coal miner or most likely by being a diehard Democrat.   My Pappa, born in 1910, would have been 101 years old this past June if he were still living.  But I met someone in the late 1970s that rivaled him in the art of storytelling and of course, there was a story between the two of them. 

    That someone was Kitty Keeton.  Kitty was the great great uncle to my children through their father’s side.  Kitty was born in 1897 and grew up in the same areas as my grandparents, Muren, Aberdeen, and Turkey Hill.  He was a coal miner and later on in life a barber.  When I first met him I was just a teenager still.  He asked who my family was and he knew them all.  He told me a story about how when he was at the Ayrshire Mines one day a bunch of kids were playing around on the tipple and dropped a chunk of coal that hit him on the head and just about killed him.  If I remember the story correctly it took a chunk of Kitty’s ear off.   One of those kids was my Pappa John.  According to Kitty anyway.

    Not according to my Pappa!!!  I naively told him that I had met someone who knew him.  He said who and I told him Kitty Keeton and that Kitty had told me the story about Pappa dropping the chunk of coal on his head when he was a kid.  In my effort to keep this blog clean, I won’t tell you the exact words my Pappa had to say about this.  But if you knew him, you can only imagine.  It amounted to “That g___ s_____.  He’s still telling that story and it ain’t true.  It wasn’t me.”  He ranted and raved and denied it.  He said Kitty always swore it was him and it wasn’t.  This back and forth went on for years.  Whenever we wanted to hear a good story and get Pappa stirred up we would ask him about it. 

    Kitty wrote about it in his memoirs, not naming my Pappa.

In September 1920, I was out of the mine early and washed, again smoking my cigar and wearing rabbit fur hat, creased, while waiting for a friend from Turkey Hill vicinity—who I had got a job at the mine for him. He said if I would get him a job I had a free buggy ride. I was waiting to ride home, he wasn’t out of the mine at that hour. Two friends of mine, one of them living NW corner of Oakland City now, was wrestling near the tippler while coal was hoisted to the top and dumped on screens, and went in several bins,  3 to 4 inch lumps and large lumps. I saw a little board close, picked it up and was going to go up and when one was bent over give him a hot seat. I got to them and had chance to do the job but saw coal falling all around them and instead of giving one the paddle I slapped both of them on the shoulder and said, “You are in danger, coal is falling. Lets get back to a safe place”. We got back to the front of commissary and it seemed as if I was floating in the air. I knew where I was but wasn’t talking. They picked me up and put me on a cot under the wood water tank,  that held water for our wash house. In the September afternoon it was hot and they lay me in the shade.

It was 3½ miles to Dads house at the foot of Turkey Hill. My Uncle Charlie had a car and he went for my dad. I saw both of them. I also saw two doctors named Deter and Winslow. They was there and friends told me later when I saw those two I frowned. Later I saw the white hair of Dr. John McGowan of Oakland City, our family doctor who doctored me for influenza in 1927 when so many died.  Friends say when I saw him I smiled. Also I saw the ambulance stop and back up to pick me up. I was hit about 2 PM. After loading in the ambulance, a Wood spoke, one from Lambs, Oakland City. The next thing I remember was John Porter coming out to the ambulance and said to his Van Dyke beard father, “What in the hell have you been doing, looked like you took all afternoon”. His father said ‘The three doctors said the roads are very rough, drive careful as he can’t live anyway”.

He said “Get from under the wheel and hold a rag on his bleeding head and let me drive to the Princeton Hospital before he dies on our hands”. I heard all this and they started to Princeton on an old rocky, narrow road. No black top then. Near Frisco a woman was in the road, I see her, but I heard young Lamb tell her that she stopped in the road and stopped an emergency ambulance and he was going to see that she was fined. She said, ‘Mister I ran out of gas and the car stopped and I couldn’t move it”, He took the license number and I remember there were 7s and in her number.

I know they put me on an elevator to take me to the operating room. Then I can remember that a doctor walked up to where I was lying and said, “he can’t live through the operation”. Dr. McGowan, my old friend, wiped a tear from his eyes and said, “Not a chance”.

About that time, McGowan’s wife came towards me with an ether cone and the first words I had said, “Let me get my breath, you came too fast and took my breath. Come slower”. They were amazed. She stepped up and it seemed like I was falling fast.

Next I remember looking in the room of Blonde D. Haired, And the three doctors, Ziliak, Brazelton, & McGowan, and I said “Get me chamber–they possibly were, but I knew I needed it. The nurse fell out of the room when I said “I said I told you S of B to get the S—pot and I meant it. I mean get it”. It came and they found out that I was recovered and had my senses. Later I heard from Brazelton and Ziliak that they were surprised to hear me tell how to give ether and also that I knew what I needed and that my mind was OK. The three doctors and surgeons and Mrs. McGowan are all deceased for a long time now.
I was there two weeks to the day and 60 years this next September 20th.

 Gail was brought down there at 7 PM and McGowan told her to stay the night and that I would not live through the night, Next morning my father and mother came in to see me and asked how I felt. I told them that I would he home in a couple of weeks, Later I heard from them that just after seeing me that McGowan said I couldnt make it. They said, “why a little while ago we were up to see him and he said he was feeling OK and would he home in a couple of weeks”.  Just as we went in, he drank a glass of water and threw it up across the room. Then they started running away and said, “Now I know he will die”.

The nurse sure got a tongue lashing because she left water on the table where I could get it. I would have paid $100.00 for a glass if I could have it. Only a swallow was all I could take. My Aunt Bertha got to the door that morning and waved at me, they wouldnt let her in.


Shortly after, a man who hauled from the mines came thru the door and said “Boy oh Boy, I never thought I would see you again when you was hit. It was a chunk of coal like your two fists closed, and I hid on the pond bank”.   I said, “Is that right” and rang the bell. When the nurse came I said ‘Escort this gentleman out, if my aunt can’t come in, he shouldnt be here”. She really unloaded on him as there was a sign on the door saying Absolutely No Admittance. Anyway, I came home in two weeks as I said I would.

    My Pappa John died in 1994 at the age of 84.  Kitty died in 1982 at the age of 84.   Each still swearing by their own version of the story. 

Where Is Big Red now?

Little girls were fascinated with the big coal machines too.  Especially those of us who grew up in coal mine country.   I read the enduring story of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel more than once at the school library and bookmobile.  Random facts on this timeless classic:   it was written in 1939,  has become a board game, a children’s movie and even a computer game. 

This photo was taken sometime around 1942 or 1943.  My friend, Kaye Walker, shared it with me.  It is of her mother, Phyllis Thompson, as a little girl standing in front of the coal shovel bucket.  Phyllis’s father worked at the mines, but we do not know which one this was.  Phyllis’s parents were Orvan and Mary Davis Thompson.  It’s hard not to appreciate this photo with it’s contrast of the dirty coal mine shovel and the sweetly smiling little girl in front of it.

Phyllis Thompson, 1942 or 1943

Phyllis Thompson, 1942 or 1943

My pops worked at Whirlpool until around 1966 when he broke his back at work.  He could no longer get hired at any of the local plants because of his back injury.  He didn’t sue.  He just worked at what he could on his own.  He started tearing down all of the old coal mine tipples around for the scrap metal and equipment he could sell.  He started pulling up railroad rail from the unused tracks that ran from the old mines to sell for scrap.   We grew up playing around the old mines.  We knew how to be careful of the dangers too.  Old shafts and rattlesnakes are just a few that come to mind.   

One of the few remaining old tipples in Coe, Old Ben.

One of the few remaining old tipples in Coe, Old Ben.

My dad always liked to pile us all up in the car and go for a drive.  One of our driving trips would be to the State Forest and then out of the State Forest from the fire tower to Highway 64.  This was all old strip mine.  Along it was an old highwall of sandstone that had numerous names and initials carved into it.   My dad’s older brother, Billy Joe Lynn, was killed in a car accident in 1969 at the age of twenty nine.  Billy Joe had carved his name in the highwall and dad always stopped there to look at it.  If I remember correctly, it was pretty large letters and must have taken quite some time to do.  Right up the road from this highwall, back in the spoil banks sat an old derelict steam shovel.  It had wooden sides and had been replaced years prior with something much more modern and left to rot.  My dad cut it up for scrap around 1970.  We climbed all over that thing.  We searched the spoil banks for fossils.  This photo of an old steam shovel my Pappa Evan’s had is similar to what that shovel looked like.  These photos were probably taken at Ingle #4 or #8.  Pappa worked at both.  The next photo Pappa had is of a more modern shovel from when the Electric Shovel Company took over.

Wooden Steam Shovel at Ingle #4 or #8

Wooden Steam Shovel at Ingle #4 or #8

Electric Shovel Company digger

Electric Shovel Company digger

I was always so thrilled when we were kids and we would drive out on Cato Road to watch Big Red work.  My obsession with Big Red continued for decades.  She was huge!  Her boom length was 200 feet.    She was put to work in 1961-62. 

Big Red Working in the Early 60s

Big Red working in the early 60s

I can remember in high school during the mid 70s when Big Red crossed over Highway 61 in Campbelltown to work on the other side of the highway.  They worked for months building a road for her to walk on.  My friends and I even skipped school that day to watch it.  And we weren’t the only ones!

Big Red in the background at Old Ben:Indiana Historical Society

Big Red in the background at Old Ben: Indiana Historical Society

I remember a few years ago taking the Senior Citizens out to watch the dragline go back across Highway 61 on the Petersburg side of the beltline.  I don’t think they shared my enthusiasm but they were always up for an outing.

What ever happened to Big Red?  Is she still at work out there in the middle of no where?  Did she get sold?  Did she finally use up her usefulness and is now recycled steel some where?  Where is Big Red now?