Were things so different on the Westside of 70 years ago?
As you might imagine, everything was totally different 70-some years ago in Old Colorado City. |
For instance, there was a local newspaper called the “Independent.” The school district was looking at closing a Westside school. Gas prices rose each spring. The Unser family was planning a car race. A local judge was getting tough on drunken drivers. Nationally, an Independent headline fretted about the increase in postal rates, and a writer of the time predicted civilization’s “total destruction in the near future.”
OK, so not everything was different in the early ‘30s.
However, in all fairness, some of the above news items contained non-anachronistic elements, and of course the era had issues all its own. The Depression was starting to hurt the economy, and that postal rate increase was substantial from a percentage standpoint (from 2 to 3 cents). Big local news included the proposal to provide fuel using natural gas instead of coal; the 1931 closure of the Hassell Iron Works, which had employed 40 workers and manufactured “every ornamental light pole in this city (and) the manhole covers in the city streets”; and the 1932 termination of the old streetcar lines through the Westside and Manitou Springs.
The format of a West Junior High graduation picture from the spring of 1930 is not likely to be repeated anytime soon. The roughly 180 graduates are seated in neat rows, boy-girl-boy-girl in front of the school, with all the boys bedecked in jackets and ties and the girls in prim dresses.
The Westside school up for closure was Arensdale (whose building off Pikes Peak Avenue is used nowadays by the Shriners). When Arensdale closed, the plan was for its students to be consolidated into Whittier School (which, ironically enough, has itself been targeted for possible closure twice in the past five years).
Side note: A Sept. 10, 1931, article listed enrollment in the Westside schools. Of the current schools which existed at that time (Bristol, Buena Vista, Ivywild, Midland, Washington, Whittier and West), only Midland has a higher enrollment now than it did then.
Gas prices soared in the spring of 1931 from 15 to 17 cents. The car race being planned by the Unsers was a “chug race” (like a soap box derby) down the 26th Street hill north of Colorado Avenue. What was interesting about the judge who was tough on drunk driving is that liquor was illegal at the time (Prohibition would not be lifted until 1933).
Newspaper advertisements then looked much the same as today’s, but were distinctive in their old-time, “small-town” feel. For instance, the slogan for Newton Lumber & Mfg. Co, 110 S. 25th St., was “Lumbering along since 1872.”
Folks nowadays would love to pay the prices people paid then. According to ads in the Independent of Sept. 10, 1931, the cost for bread was 5 cents a loaf and four pounds of peaches were 25 cents. Two grocery stores were in the 2500 block of West Colorado Avenue.
Changes toward the future were in the air. The March 19, 1931 Independent reported the installation of a new office phone, described as “one of those double-barreled phones – they look the same at both ends, but are different. They hang over a little thing that looks like a teakettle with the spout knocked off.”
Westside Pioneer article