Bill Woodall

Bill Woodall

December 7, 1941: Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, our base of naval operations in The Pacific.

December 23, 1941: Kilgore City Commission adopts an ordinance describing a Municipal Defense Council and the urgent need for that body. Minutes later, the three-member commission – Mayor Roy H Laird and City Commissioners J.E. Bagwell and E.C. Middlebrook – named 11 citizens (all male and, presumably, white) to the new defense council.

Those three were the first-named members of the council. Others on that list were Charles Devall, publisher of the Kilgore News Herald; J.E. Foltz, commander of the Robert Lee Crim American Legion Post; J.T. Crim, president of the school board; Warren Hughes, manager of the Chamber of Commerce; Sam Parker, president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce (now Jaycees); W.K. Dodson, superintendent of Kilgore schools; B.E. Masters, dean, Kilgore College; and Ben F. Stroope, First Lieutenant Defense Guard.


That’s but one of the interesting things I’ve learned about Kilgore in the past week.

 With a bow to posterity, Kilgore city officials have blessed a program to digitize city commission/city council minutes and all ordinances, going back to the very first meeting in 1931. Those records currently exist in their original state – minutes typed on ledger sheets encased in aging (in some cases, dramatically aged) binders stored in a closet at city hall.

The city doesn’t have much of a budget for the project; it calls for a part-time intern to work no more than 19 hours per week at $10 per hour.

Intern Woodall reporting for duty,  sir.

Uneasy in retirement – how many times can one mow the lawn or wash one’s motorcycle – I’ve taken on this project. I am, at age 68 and for the first time in my life, an intern.

I’ve learned some interesting stuff, stuff long-time natives probably already knew.

• In 1937 the city decided it would be ok for males to swim topless at the city pool and in 1943 the pool closed mid-summer because of the nationwide spread of Infantile Paralysis (Polio).

• The opening the public library in 1939 was delayed without penalty to the contractor, the Lambie Company (they built the building for about $40,000) of Longview. The delay was unavoidable: the air conditioner shipped from New York and was so damaged in transit that a replacement had to be manufactured.

• An ordinance in 1939 lists the duties of drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents and required garages and repair shops to report damaged vehicles.

• In the ‘30s, vehicles were not to be left parked on paved streets between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

• Floyd Wagstaff, the almost-forever basketball coach and A.D. at Tyler Junior College who also coached for a couple of years at Kilgore ISD, was for a summer the co-manager of the Kilgore pool.

A relative newcomer – 19 years here – much of what I convert to maybe-forever files will be new to me and, because my maternal family history includes tent houses in the Great East Texas Oil Field, of great interest to me. I’ll try not to bore you in the months to come, but from time to time I’ll be including bits of Kilgore history in this space.

Gotta go now... I’m close to my 19 hours for the week and there’s cool stuff to page through.


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