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And Now You Know: Eighty years ago in Orange on October 17, 1940

Mike Louviere
And Now You Know

The Orange Leader edition for October 17, 1940 reported on progress for the construction of the new shipyard, the number of men registered for the draft in Orange County, the Bengal Guards being featured in Life Magazine, and the death of the first man to serve as mayor of Orange.

The Leader reported that the clearing of the 50 acre site for the Consolidated Steel Shipyard was about half completed. Spence and Howe of Port Arthur was the contractor for the job. They said the work would be completed in about ten days and then construction of the facilities for building destroyers and destroyer escorts for the U.S. Navy could begin.

W.A. McNeil, general manager of the Orange Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Merchants Association stated that the spirit of cooperation on the part of all civic and commercial organizations, individuals and other groups was almost 100 percent behind the new projects. In addition to the shipyard, there was the need for housing for the expansion of the population that would occur due to the shipyard’s construction.

The housing problem was expected to be handled in a satisfactory manner regardless of the volume of demand. There were definite and extensive programs working to solve the housing situation.

There was a $2,500,000 government appropriation for the building of 500 housing units in the near future, followed by 500 more at a later time. The appropriation was through the Navy Department and would be followed by the building of 500 more units later in the program.

Another housing program was being discussed by a citizen’s housing program and the federal housing department relative to. Simultaneously there were discussions about the erection of dormitory type housing for about 200 men. It was expected there would be about 1,000 men involved in the construction of the new shipyard.

It was reported that there were a total of 2,334 men between the ages of 21 and 35 registered for the Selective Service Draft of the National Defense Program in Orange County. Of this number, 225 were residents outside of Orange County.

Crews of the W.P.A. Sidewalk Building Project were pouring concrete walk around the Holland Hotel. F.L. Butcher was the project engineer in charge of the project. The project was sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce.

The Orange Leader received a complimentary copy of Life Magazine. The magazine contained three pages of pictures of the Orange High School Bengal Guards.

The article contained pictures of the 144 girls in the drum and bugle corps in formation on the Orange High School Tigers football field. There were also pictures of H.J.L. Stark, the sponsor and pictures of the drum majors, majorettes, and flag wavers.

“When the football season opens, thousands of drum beaters, trumpet blowers, and fife tooters who play in high school and college bands have their real moment of glory, but none is more wonderful than the band of Orange Texas,” wrote the editor of Life in his review of the history of the Bengal Guards.

George W. Curtis, the first mayor of Orange, died Wednesday October 16, at his home on College Street. Curtis served two terms as mayor and one term as city tax assessor. He also served on the city council, was a former manager of the Orange Rice Mill, and had been in the stationary business in Orange.

Curtis served a short time as a correspondent for the Beaumont Enterprise and at the time of his “final retirement”, had been in the insurance business.

For more than 50 years, he served as an elder in the Presbyterian church. He had been a member of the local Odd Fellows Lodge for about 50 years.

Curtis School was named after him, as was a street in north Orange.

Curtis celebrated his eighty-ninth birthday on September 16, 1940, one month before his death.

“And now you know.”