EHS ’18’ Club

1958-BloodmobileGuys and Dolls

An “18” Club at E.H.S. has been recently established. A student may become a member if he is 18 years of age, and with his parents’ consent, is willing to give blood at the Emporia Bloodmobile. Those who have donated a pint of blood are Robert Brecht, Larry Hayes, Richard Frederick, Marie Cisneros, Eva Gasper, Donald Miller, Jim Anderson and Richard Carlburg. Randy Murray and Elaine Taylor, members of the club, volunteered, but were rejected. Co-chairmen of the Junior Red Cross Bloodmobile Committee, Karen Courtney and Sandra Clinkenbeard, assigned Emporia High girls to help at the Bloodmobile Feb. 27th and 28th. Those who assisted as the Blood Bank this week were Adrianne Hotzel, Jean Resch, Darla Smalling, Darla Andrews, Judy Deputy, Linda Fredrick, Linda Pocock, Sandra Clinkenbeard, Marilyn Moore, Juanita Osborn, Glenda Lang, Alice Hayes, Judy Haley, Nelta Britton, Cynthia Lyster, Joy Vail, Joanne Beck, Elaine Wilson, Phyllis Burroughts, Myrna Williams, Janet White, Teresa Burch, Sharon Potter, Shirley Brockelman, Pat Lewis, Pam Hotzel, Mar Gene Blair, Sara Steerman, Karen Courtney and Chriss Fogg.

“Guys and Dolls,” The Emporia Gazette, 1 Feb 1958, p. 5; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 13 July 2018).

 

1974 Emporia Tornado

Tornado

“At least six people were killed, more than 80 hospitalized and an unknown additional number injured by a tornado that ripped across the northwest corner of Emporia early Saturday evening. The twister virtually demolished the Lincoln Village Mobile Home Park and the Flint Hills Village Shopping Center.” (The Emporia Gazette – Extra – Sunday, the Ninth Day of June 1974 on Newspapers.com)

This is one of those ‘Where were you when’ moments.

On June 8th, my husband and I had been married for about 3 weeks. We had a 2nd floor apartment on 5th Avenue just East of Rural Street in Emporia. Mike’s brother was visiting Emporia to pre-enroll and was spending the night with us. I was just finishing preparations for supper when I heard a loud noise. A couple of minutes later, the tornado sirens went off. We proceeded toward our landlord’s basement. I don’t believe my husband ever made it to the basement. Instead he was on the front porch trying to figure out where the tornado was.

Unlike today’s reliance on cell phones and the Internet for news, our main source of information was KVOE, the local radio station. Thus, we had the radio tuned in to find out what was going on. That’s when we heard that the tornado had hit the shopping center. Thinking that the tornado likely continued to the northeast, I was concerned about my parents’ home on 21st street West of Prairie street. Since my parents were at Lake Reading for the weekend, I wasn’t exactly sure who would be home but figured my brother and his fiance may have been at the house.

My brother shared the following memory of that evening:

I lived on 21st street and my fiancee and I were the only ones home at the time. We did not hear any siren but when the electricity went off my fiancee (wife) looked out the window and said she thought it was a tornado. I can’t say I saw a funnel but it was the blackest cloud I had ever seen. We took the dog and cat to the basement. We could hear some glass breaking and when we decided it was OK to leave the basement I went down my driveway in bare feet and started visiting with a neighbor from across the street. I hadn’t looked to the east until he said something and I couldn’t believe what I saw – a few houses east and major damage. I went back inside and got some shoes on and started walking around the neighborhood. A sheriff’s deputy stopped me and asked if I had a crescent wrench, which I did. He instructed me to go around the neighborhood and shut off the gas lines.

At the time, I was working as a ward clerk (glorified secretarial aide) at St. Mary’s Hospital. Part of staff training was the expectation that staff would report during a disaster. Thus, my husband dropped me off at the hospital while he and his brother went to check on my parents’ house.

They weren’t able to drive into the area from 15th and Prairie. However, they were able to get close by going thru the park. They found the worst damage at the East end of 21st Avenue (a little over 1 block East of my parents). A house on the corner had imploded. Another house had been lifted off of its foundation with a car dropped into the basement. A house on the cul-de-sac at the bottom of the hill had a 2×4 going thru the corner of the bedroom.

While walking into the neighborhood, they found my brother and his fiance. The four of them continued walking the neighborhood looking for those that needed help. They helped put a tarp on the roff of an Emporia State University biology professor’s house. He lived close to the 21st and Prairie corner. My husband remembers putting his foot thru the ceiling of their bathroom as they struggled to get the tarp on the roof.

Sometime that evening, my parents were able to make it home. I remember my father saying that he helped the placement director move stuff out of her home that night. My husband remembers my father telling of his ‘overnight security’ detail where he turned the governor away from the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, I was at St. Mary’s Hospital along with many of their employees, expecting to be put to work. As stated in the disaster plan, one-half of Emporia’s physicians had also reported to St. Marys. Unfortunately, triage failed that evening. The ambulances did not divide their patients evenly between the two hospitals. The ambulances, walking wounded and those being helped by neighbors showed up outside of Newman Memorial Hospital. Since Newman’s was overwhelmed, the physicians went to Newmans to help. Most of the extra nursing staff went home since they weren’t needed.

Since I had been dropped off, I was stuck at the hospital — with no information on my family. Knowing that their telephone lines were underground, I didn’t think the tornado could have damaged them. Thus, I tried calling, but the call didn’t go thru.

Thus, I was waiting on first floor for my husband when the tornado sirens sounded around 9 pm. The director of nursing (a nun) ran out of her office and grabbed me saying, “We need to get the kids in peds (pediatrics on 4th floor) to the basement.” So, we ran up the stairs to 4th floor, grabbed a child and ran back down to the basement where we comforted those scared children. Relief workers at the shopping mall on the West side of town confirmed seeing a storm cell. Rumor said that there was a tornado dancing over the top of the hospital. Fortunately, no tornado struck the building and we were able to return the children to their beds on 4th floor.

What are your memories of that night?

 

 

 

 

Mrs. E. O. Briles

pauline-portrait-2Known as Mrs. E. O. Briles most of her adult life, Pauline Edith Mentzer was born in Woodson County, Kansas in 1896. Pauline and her twin brother, Paul, were the children of Charles Oliver and Nettie Adell (Wells) Mentzer. Pauline spent her youth in the northern part of Woodson County, Kansas where she attended school.

high-school-diploma-pauline-mentzerIn 1913, Pauline completed the ‘Common School Course of Study’. Her required course of study included reading, orthography, writing, arithmetic, geography, US History, Physiology, civil government, Kansas History, classics and agriculture.

At the age of 19, Pauline married Edward Osmund Briles and became known as Mrs. E. O. Briles. Her first child, Walter, was born in 1917. A year later the couple welcomed a second son, Kenneth.

Mr. and Mrs. Osmund Briles who lives south of here took their eight months baby which had stomach and bowel trouble to Kansas City to consult a specialist, week before last and last Tuesday the baby died and was brot here Wednesday and buried in the Crandall cemetery. The funeral was held to the Christian church Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m. conducted by Rev. Mr. Lowe of Burlington. Kenneth was a sweet child and will be greatly missed in the home and we extend our sympathy to the parents and relatives in their sorrow.

Based on a postcard passed down by Pauline, it appears that Pauline was hospitalized a few months after the death of her child. img_3330

Pauline must have become an ‘expert’ at moving as the family seemed to have a new address every few years. When Kenneth was born in 1918, the family was living in Vernon (Woodson County) Kansas. During the early 1920’s the family was in Iola (Allen County) Kansas where her husband operated a garage. Her daughter, Letha, was born while the family lived in Iola. Around 1929, the family moved from Iola to Buffalo (Wilson County). It was in Buffalo that her husband Edward Osmund Briles began his career with motion pictures. It was also in Buffalo, that her daughter Roberta was born. Shortly, after that the family moved to Emporia, Kansas, where her daughter, Barbara was born. Even though Pauline would spend the rest of her life in Emporia, the family continued to move frequently. The family first lived outside of the city limits on the East side of town.  Other Emporia addresses for the family include 416 Constitution (1938), 613 Lincoln (1940), 645 Lincoln (1952), 924 Constitution (1953), 138 W. 12th (1957), 1014 Market (1959), 821 W. 6th (1966).

mentzer-pauline-b1896-1966-advertisement-the_emporia_gazette_sat__jul_30__1966_According to a want ad, Pauline was forced to move from the duplex on West 6th when the property was rezoned. She was able to locate that ‘3 room apartment’ and moved to 609 West Fifth.

Throughout her life, Pauline was socially active. In 1934, Pauline joined the First Christian Church in Emporia. She was an active member of that church until her death.  In 1960, Pauline was a member of the ‘Harmony Builders Class’ in the church. Besides hosting or attending family events, Pauline was a member of the East Sixth Avenue Club and the Whittier Unit.

mentzer-pauline-b1896-1932-airplane-rides-the_emporia_gazette_sat__jun_11__1932_Although most would have viewed Pauline as a typical wife and mother during the 30s and 40s, she was not always ‘traditional.’ In an interview with a correspondent for the magazine, Motion Picture Herald, Pauline told the reporter that she was going for an airplane ride. This interview was published in Oct. 1932. Since the June 11, 1932 issue of the Emporia Gazette includes an advertisement for those airplane rides, it is possible that this young mother did partake of this adventure. Pauline also worked in her husband’s business — The Lyric Theater. The 1936 directory for Emporia indicates that Pauline was a cashier for The Lyric Theater.

Pauline’s husband, Edward O. Briles, died in 1956. After over 40 years of marriage, Pauline faced life as a widow — but continued to be known as Mrs. E. O. Briles.

 

 

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E. O. Briles

briles-edward-b1891-1908-phelps-schoolE. O. Briles, the son of Edward Grant and Frances Artlissa ‘Artie’ (Ricketts) Briles was born in Coffey County, Kansas in 1891. His full name was Edward Osmund Briles, but he was rarely called Edward or Eddie. Perhaps that is because his father was Edward and often referred to as ‘Eddie’ Briles. Souvenir books from schools, list him as Osmund Briles thru 1908.

E. O. Briles married Pauline Edith Mentzer in Yates Center in 1915. Pauline often referred to her husband as Osmund.

briles-edward-b1891-1916-thresher-steam-ford-autoBy 1916, E. O. Briles had started his first business venture with the purchase of a threshing machine. He also owned a steam driven thresher and a Ford automobile.

By the early 20’s E. O. Briles had ventured into the automobile business, owning Briles Garage on North Jefferson in Iola (Allen County) Kansas. Briles Motor Company sold the Chandler Motor Car, the Cleveland and Oldsmobile automobiles. Silverton tires were also sold by the business. Since houses in the early 1920s didn’t come with the ability to protect a car by parking it in a garage, Briles Garage provided the ability to ‘store’ one’s car in the garage.

briles-edward-b1891-1923-garage

By 1930, the family had moved to Buffalo, Kansas. The 1930 census indicates that E. O. Briles had left the car business and was beginning to work in the motion picture industry as his occupation is stated as a ‘picture show machine operator’. According to his obituary, the family moved to Emporia, Kansas in November of 1931. In 1932, he purchased the Lyric Theater on Commercial Street in Emporia.

lyric1In the fall of 1933, E. O. Briles began his challenge of the Sunday ‘Blue’ laws that prohibited the showing of a ‘picture show’ on Sundays. For several weeks, he would open his theater to the public on Sunday just to be arrested. He would appear in police court and post bond. This sequence of having a Sunday show, getting arrested and posting bond continued for several weeks. The September 11, 1933 issue of the Emporia Gazette provides details for this first arrest.

“E. O. Briles, proprietor of the Lyric theater was arrested twice Sunday by city police for violating the Sunday labor law as contained in a city ordinance.”

E. O. Briles was arrested twice that day: once for the afternoon show and once for the evening show. In total, he posted $300 in bond to be released until the following Tuesday when he would appear before Judge J. H. J. Rice. According to the article, ‘Theater Owner Fined’ in the 20 Sep 1933 edition of the Emporia Gazette, E. O. Briles was found guilty. The case was appealed to the district court with a bond of $450 required. According to the 30 Oct 1933 issue of the Emporia Gazette, E. O. Briles had been arrested 12 times as he and the police were apparently in an endurance contest. The police were concerned that if they didn’t arrest him each time a show was shown on Sunday, it would weaken their case when it reached the district court. The November 14th issue of the Emporia Gazette reports that the district court jury found E. O. Briles guilty of violating the city ordinances prohibiting the showing of Sunday movies and the requiring of employees to labor on Sunday with the sale of goods.

His weekly court appearances must not have caused a decrease in the number of people going to the ‘picture show’ since the Lyric Theater moved into 407 Commercial in January of 1934. According to the article, “New Lyric to Open Saturday” in the 26 Jan 1934 issue of the Emporia Gazette, this new location would seat 400 persons. In 1935, the theater was upgraded by installing a new RCA Victor Photophone sound system. In November of 1935, the Lyric Theater had two free shows for the unemployed on Thanksgiving morning. Tickets for these shows were distributed at the Allied Workers’ lodge room at 517 1/2 Merchant in Emporia. In 1936, E. O. Briles purchased his third motion picture theater in Excelsior Springs Missouri. The Missouri theater was to be run by his niece, Mrs. Cleo Smalling.

briles-edward-b1891-1955-tractorBesides running the Lyric Theater, Osmund Briles also could be found on a tractor. Family stories claim that he farmed the ground that later became the Emporia Country Club just south of Interstate 35.

1950-briles-e-o-portrait-anderson-collectionIn the spring of 1956, E. O. Briles developed kidney disease. He succumbed to the disease at Newman Memorial Hospital in Emporia on May 28, 1956. Edward Osmund Briles is buried in the Emporia cemetery.

A complete bibliography is available by contacting the author.

 

 

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