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Dial Phone System, Victory Theater Fire, and Public Library: 1960-1969

By Decade

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New Holy FamilySouthwestern Bell bought the Eudora phone service in 1960 for $40,600 and installed a dial phone system in 1961. It would take more than a decade for Southwestern Bell to install underground cables that would allow rural residents to exchange their eight-party lines for private, two-party, or four-party lines. Another communication improvement was the building of the Eudora post office on Main Street in 1962. And, in 1963, a Catholic school was built that also served as the new Holy Family Church.

Victory TheaterA March 21, 1966 blaze destroyed the Victory Theater and the belongings of the Mersmann family who lived upstairs in the building that lost its marquee sign in the 1950s to an earlier fire. Started in 1943 between Elm Street and Main Street on the north side of Seventh Street, the theater showed movies in 1953 until television proved too formidable a competitor.

After the theater closed, Roberta Nottingham taught third grade classes there before Wilbur Noble organized the First Southern Baptist church in the building for two years. The Church of Christ also used the space to start its congregation. A series of doctors, including Bill Lauber, a chiropractor, worked out of the building that also housed a dry cleaner and the Cue and Paddle Club in 1965. Besides a pool table, the club had a ping-pong table, shuffleboard, blowing machine, and miniature race track for its 267 members.

Also that year, the Farmer’s Elevator managed by Cecil Robinson and later Lois (Neis) Windett had an elevator and seed building one-half block east of the Main Street office go up in smoke for $50,000 in damage; a city ordnance proclaimed Elm Street to be a major trafficway; and James Hoover opened Thrifty-T-Car Wash, a self-service car wash, at 303 E. Tenth Street, the southeast corner of Tenth Street and Church Street. The new building made of metal sheeting and concrete blocks included two covered bays for washing cars and was painted blue and yellow.

1965 Main Street photo by Carol Sue Gerstenberger Main Street in 60s

Town businesses included Eudora Lumber Company owned by Harold Kueker and John Harris who moved Wayne’s Lumber Supply on Tenth Street in 1963 to the Sixth Street and Oak Street location; Eudora Cleaners, a dry cleaner Grill Cafeopened by Dick and Dorothy Cullimore; Herb Miner’s Bargain Center and Welding; Morris Standard Station owned by Merle and Bertie Morris; [Grover Johnson] Skelly Service Station on Tenth Street in 1966; Pete’s Garage owned by Pete Lawson who started his career in 1946 working for Rothberger Chevrolet, and Arlene Lawson, the garage’s bookkeeper; Irma’s Café known for its cream puffs; Don’s Bicycle Shop at Tenth Street and Main Street; Bob’s Barber owned by Bob Massey; [Carol Fulks] Carol’s Beauty Salon first on Main Street, then on 1107 Pine Street, and in 1966 back on Main Street; [Emma Jean Nuffer] Klip ‘n Curl Beauty Salon; Harold’s Quik Check grocery, [Delmar Alpers] Starlite Tavern that took the place of the Gilded Cage on Main Street; [Delmar Alpers] Pop’s Café with Dee Garcia as cook and Pearl Church as day waitress across the street from the Starlite at 703 Main; Stan and Wanda Cook’s Eudora Laundrette, Morgan Construction (Larry and Jerry Morgan); Shepard and Son Construction (826 Church Street); Elva O’Berg’s Eudora Fabric Shop; Wright’s Insurance at 1151 Elm Street; Edgar Kaw Valley Bank with clockGrosdidier’s insurance agency at 818 Acorn; E L. Stumbo’s Sharp-All sharpening service at 1107 Pine Street; Kaw Valley Bank (seen here in photograph); and Dari-Treat owned by Wayne Powell and employing in 1966, Donald Morriss, Olive Clark, Patty Grant, Clydelia Babb, Clara Baecker, Lola Lawson, Susan Boone, Sharon Grant, Pauline Gary, Sharon Yother, Sonya Muller, Wanda Beach, Angie Sommer, Debbie Beach, and Mike Snow.

The military conflict in Vietnam drew several Eudorans such as Charles Erwin, a civil engineer in Phan Rang; Marvin Eldridge, a helicopter machinist; A.J. Morris Jr., a crew member on destroyer in the South China Sea; Teddy Scribner, a mortar crewman who evacuated thousands of villagers fleeing from the Viet Cong; Larry Ott, a member of a combat tour on the Vietnam coast; Harold Reusch, an air control operator “below the DMZ:” Harold Langstrom Jr., radar officer in Cam Rahn and Hue; Donny Folks, a builder of bridges and roads in the central highlands; John May, an automotive maintenance mechanic in Phan Rang; Rex Guenther, who spent four years in the Navy in Vietnam; Martin Alvarez, who served in Quang Nam; Michael Jennings, an anti-aircraft missile crewman in Danang; James Petefish, rifleman; Gordon Blevins, helicopter crew chief in Qui Nhon; Don Campbell, and Murl Dean Hicks.

In a 1968 letter home to his mother, Harold Reusch wrote of a trip to Thailand: “Unlike Vietnam, this is one place I want to remember. After being in Vietnam, particularly my dealing with people and their attitudes toward G.I.s, I don’t particularly want to go back, but will for other reasons, such as you (Mom), Dad, and Sis [Holly (Reusch) Kracl]."

Others in the military service during this time were Larry Evinger, Larry Sanders, Francis Born, Philip Foster, Danny Jennings, David Weeks, Darrel Smith, Jerry Trober, Otis Wolfe, Jackie Sturm, Frank Twig, Irvin Rohe, Alvin Goodger, Merritt Musick, Dennis Grow, Larry Beers, William Neis, Robert Dunavin, Rosemary Born, Ernest Gwin, Claude Landon III, Duane Smith; Davy Smith; A. “Butch” Johnson, Fred Mersmann, Tom Mersmann, Wayne Gerstenberger, David Tuggle, Stephen McNeill, Ronald Gregory, and Charles Cummings. Laurence Brouhard, the father of Terrence, Michael, Jamie, and Kathleen, was one who died. He was 37 when killed.

One of the biggest developments of the decade was the establishment of the Eudora Public Library in June 1967 by the Women’s Fellowship of St. Paul United Church that first operated from a trailer on school grounds, and, a few months later, at 727 Main Street. A February 6, 1968 election established the Eudora Public Library under Kansas State Statute 12-1220, and a 1 mill levy funded the library. In the total vote count, 227 voted for a library, 25 voted against the library, and three votes were voided.

During this same time, the Santa Fe Railroad closed the Eudora depot on November 17, 1967, because no passenger trains came on the tracks anymore, and the four daily freight trains only stopped if they had freight to drop off.

As the sixties decade wrapped up, the Medical Devices Corporation moved to Main Street with its numerous sewing machines to produce cloth medical goods such as slings, belts, and restraints. The city sunk a third well with the other north of the railroad tracks, the fire station on Ninth Street and Main Street was completed (1968); Southwestern Bell Telephone Company built a station at the southwest corner of Tenth Street and Locust Street (1968); more than 60 children signed up to play Little League baseball at Kerr Field teamKerr Field; and 75 new post office boxes were installed on the north wall of the post office. City councilmen sworn in during 1969 were Dewey Richardson, Leo Lauber, Robert Slapar, James Hoover, and Tom Pyle.

1963 football team at Kerr Field

Copyright 2010. Cindy Higgins. (2005). Where the Wakarusa Meets the Kaw: A History of Eudora, Kansas. Eudora, KS: Author.