Have a Great Fourth of July!

The Fourth of July was as popular a holiday in Joplin in the past as it is today. The same emphasis on safety with fireworks continues today, though, perhaps not so much the worry on loaded firearms. A local paper illustrated the dangers of firecrackers, be it from boys throwing them at passersby in the street for laughs to other boys using the explosives as potential tools in arguments. One such event occurred as written:

“Three negro boys were walking down Fourth street this morning with their pockets bulging with fire crackers. As they passed the Miners Bank building two young men, prominent in business circles, began to “kid” the boys about the Jeffries-Johnson fight. The negroes became “riled” and in a moment were willing to take their contemporaries on. In the meantime, one of the negroes, who gave his name as Fred Jackson, stepped behind a telephone post and lit a big fire cracker. It exploded in his hand and the boy’s cries drowned the arguments. In an instant the miniature race war ceased. The young men grabbed the negro and carried him to a drug store, where he was given medical aid. the negroes apologized for their quarrel and the white boys “Set ‘em” up for the sodas.”

Have a Safe and Sane Fourth of July!

Have A Sane Fourth of July

A century ago, Joplin adopted the idea of promoting a Fourth of July that was both safe and sane.  The illustration above offers a glimpse at this campaign and below, a familiar company advertising in Joplin on the Fourth.  The idea of promoting a safe Fourth was supported by an article noting the harm already received by the dangerous fireworks.  One case involved a boy, whose friends involved in a fight, found his hand badly burned when the firework he was getting ready to throw went off prematurely (the boys quickly made peace after this casualty).  Another boy, it was reported, suffered terribly burns on the neck and hands while shooting off “fire crackers” and two men, Roy Loving was shot in the hand by a blank gun cartridge and another, Earl Van Hoose severely burned by a “cannon cracker” which went off as he was throwing it.

Needless to say, have a fun, safe, and “sane” Fourth of July!

Joplin Celebrates the Fourth

Bingville Bugler 4th of July

Bingville Bugler, insert of Joplin News Herald, 4th of July banner.

The celebration of America’s Independence Day was no less important a hundred years ago in Joplin than it is today.  A principal slogan of the city of Joplin in 1910 was to have a “Safe,  Saner Fourth of July for Joplin.”  In June of that year, the city council had passed the Kelso ordinance which oversaw the sale, display and use of fireworks.  Proponents of the safer and saner Fourth were women groups and the Ministers Alliance.   Both Mayor Guy Hume and Chief of Police John McManamy supported the measure and the idea of a “quieter Fourth.”   Further support was also sought by the local school systems.  Unsurprisingly, the motivation for the ordinance had been to reduce the injuries from the celebratory play with explosives.  If injuries could be reduced it was hoped the city could proceed with more support for the holiday.  The “Sane” Fourth motto was also raised the next year in 1911 and reinforced by a city ordinance that prevented the sale of firecrackers more than 2 inches in length, as well “exploding canes and blank pistols”.

If people were not buying fireworks, Joplin shopkeepers likely hoped they would do some holiday shopping.  One such business was Meyers, which paid for a patriotic Fourth of July ad three years later (when the same belief in a “quieter Fourth” prevailed):

A patriotic ad from Meyers in 1913.

Many in Joplin opted instead of celebrating in town to travel to two of the popular recreational parks in the area, “Since early morning wagons, buggies, autos and street cars have been busy carrying people from the city.  Contrary to the usual custom, there seem few people from the country coming to town to spend the day.  Both Electric and Lakeside parks are the scenes of great activity.”  The bill of events in 1911 for the Electric Park in, located within Schifferdecker Park, advertised a fun and entertaining day:

Electric Park Fourth of July ad from 1911.

An advertisement for the Electric Park in 1911.

An entertaining area of the Electric Park of Joplin, Mo.

One area of the Electric Park where visitors enjoyed the nearby stage.

Not mentioned in the ad above was an inviting swimming pool, an escape from the hot July heat.  Likewise, as the name reveals, Lakeside Park also offered a cool, aquatic retreat.  The attractions at Lakeside in 1911 were several.  The Trolley League, a local baseball league of four teams, was scheduled to present a doubleheader.  A standard at Lakeside was boating, in addition to swimming, and a band had been secured for a patriotic performance.  For those in the mood for dancing, a ballroom was also available.

Lakeside Park, Joplin, Missouri

By accounts, the there was far less room to stroll, as presented here in the photograph of Lakeside Park

Lakeside Park 4th of July ad from 1913

A 1913 Fourth of July ad for Lakeside Park

For those in Joplin who opted to celebrate without visiting the parks, one option was to enjoy a meal and music atop the Connor Hotel.  48 booths were made available in “The One Cool Spot in Southwest Missouri,” each designated with a separate flag which represented one of the 48 states of the United States.  “A telephone message to the Connor Hotel will be all that is necessary to have a state held.”  For those who opted to reserve “a state,” the rooftop garden was decorated with lanterns, flags, and festoonings, and the evening was filled with cabaret singers such as, “Ward Perry, Ned LaRose, Nell Scott and Grace Perry.”  Of course, fireworks of some sort were to be expected and for the Connor Hotel diners, a “grand illuminated display of pyrotechnics” among other novelties was offered.

Connor Fourth of July ad from 1913

Ad for the 4th of July entertainment atop the Connor Hotel

The Connor Hotel's rooftop garden.

A view of the renovated Connor's rooftop area where the 4th of July celebration was held.

From we at Historic Joplin, have a great Fourth of July!

Sources: The Joplin Globe, Joplin News-Herald

For more on the Connor Hotel, click here!