Alamosa in 1920

A poster of the silent film called “The Hoodlum,” starring Mary Pickford, depicts the movie, which was mentioned in the Alamosa Courier during one of its January 1920 issues.

ALAMOSA — A new decade brought in both hopes and difficulties 100 years ago. 

The effects of WWI were still being felt, sugar was still in shortage and returning soldiers had difficulty finding employment.

Construction of buildings could be resumed and the sale of coal was no longer curtailed.

Interestingly, the newspaper 100 years ago had no sports section and only occasional mention of sporting activities.

Also, there was no fashion section or recipes. Documentation of social life apparently was important; each community, such as Waverley, Hooper or Star, had a social column about who went out of town, who had visitors from out of town or who threw a dinner party. 

Start the Year Right, “Let every man give God and church the rightful place in the heart and Alamosa will still be a better town to live in.”

“Americanism can be expressed in the true American language, the type of speech that inspires patriotism. Classic English is little appreciated.  Native Indians have contributed much to our language, as well as immigrants from every quarter of the earth.”

Jobs were found for 1,027 servicemen statewide in 1919.  Most of the jobs were in Denver and Pueblo. Colorado was said to be the leader, as many states coped with the unemployment problem.

A four-month course in Home Service was being offered at the University of Colorado extension, which offered courses in health, social service, community activities, child welfare and household 

administration — all in response to veterans’ needs.

The U.S. would employ 30,000 people to complete the 1920 census. 

Headlines in January stated that the San Luis Valley contained much undeveloped land and opportunities were unlimited. 

A big building boom was expected for the coming year despite the cost of construction.  Building had been slow or impossible during the war.  Carefully-compiled government statistics showed that the country was short nearly one million houses. There was a false hypothesis that waiting would bring down the price of building materials; however, after four years of waiting there was no hope of obtaining cheaper materials. The building trend in Alamosa was encouraging because the price of skilled labor was holding.  The paper estimated 50 new buildings went up in the last year; the largest were the Sumner and Griden Garage and Huerfano Trading Company. Situated in the midst of lumber and the finest quarries of building stone, Alamosa enjoyed an advantage.

Another headline said, “Embroy [sic] Attorney” — The court was impressed by the ability of Casmiro Gonzales, a carpenter, to represent himself in a complaint against him by his wife.  Judge Brownell decided for Mr. Gonzales, an “embryo” attorney.

In another court case, two destitute sisters claimed that they were starving while their husbands, stock promoters, lived in luxury. The men failed to appear in court under a $300 bond. One of the wives, who was 18 years old and a pretty blond, wept freely and said,“Her husband gave her $4 for two weeks and not a cent since.”

The men were promoting The Buffalo Shale Co. and offering $300 dividends from a $1,000 investment.

The sisters later filed for divorce on the grounds of non-support and physical abuse. The Courier said it would not waste paper on the Oil Shale bunch and asserted that they were either fools or a bunch of rascals. 

Salida was experiencing a series of burglaries. On 4th and D Street, the burglars ransacked drawers and cupboards and appropriated a loaded revolver and a pocketbook with $1.  At another residence, they dropped a $10 bill while getting away with $1.  Two other homes and the Presbyterian manse were “robbed.” A later edition of the Courier said that 15 suspects were identified and discovered with silk dresses, jewelry and a stolen marriage license. 

The Shone Store at 520 State was “broke into” and sustained $60 damage to a plate glass window. The perpetrator took three pairs of shoes. There is no suspicion of who committed the crime.  Another window in town, at the Iowa Cafe, was damaged when a “Lizzie” went through it.

The Alamosa Hospital sounded a warning about drinking wood alcohol, which can cause death or blindness. There is no antidote.  The first sign of alcohol poisoning is severe stomach pain.

A new Cambel X-ray machine was installed at the Alamosa hospital. The new machine could be moved from room to room.

The Terrel family was quarantined for chickenpox.  Their little boy was seriously sick.

Krille Nichols Wool and Hide Co. advertised green, salt-cured calf, kip, horse and bull skins.  They also had coyote and heavy furred rat furs. Dazzelzwis was said to buy and sell $10,000 worth of furs, mostly muskrat, four weasel and one mink. 

A fire destroyed a garage with 21 new automobiles.  Damage was estimated at $35,000 to $40,000. 

There was a possibility that a smelter may locate in Hooper in reaction to mining in the Sangre range. 

The Blake mining district, seven miles from Villa Grove in Saguache County, was setting up machinery to uncover a massive deposit of 35 different colors of marble. [A Google search did not reveal any marble deposits located in the Blake Mining district.].

Helium gas was found in the water of some SLV wells.

Rail accidents seemed to occur frequently.  Mr. Hogland, a brakeman,  was pinned and killed in the wreckage of a derailed train. A glass gauge on the train blew up in the face of the fireman as he stoked the fire.  Glass and boiling water caused him to be blinded in one eye. 

The “K of C” scholarship committee decided every student recipient shall receive $8 per week for board and $4 for lodging.

Barney Burris, the manager of the Alamosa stockyard, contradicted a Durango newspaper report that said that hay was bringing $95 a ton. He said the price remained at $40 with no change. 

The Parma Ranch sold for $80,000; it included 1,800 acres.   

Mary Pickford was featured at the Isis Theater in the film The Hoodlum.

The principal at the high school decided that all 76 students would take a spelling test; 39 students passed the test with 70% or above. All 50 words on the test were listed in the paper. The most misspelled words were: corduroy, ethereal, bureau, recede, supersede, contradictory and encyclopedia.

Both Alamosa and Hooper were in the process of forming Parent Teacher Associations.

Lastly, the sugar shortage was causing a “candy craze” and “you may use coal to your heart’s content, if you have any.”


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