The season of Spring was welcomed to Owensboro with open arms 100 years ago, both on the community and individual levels. Following the dreary, cold winter months, the promise of warmer weather, blue skies, colorful flowers and festive activities served to brighten the spirits of all.
As early as February 1922, the Daviess County Department of Health and the local Women’s Club joined forces to announce a partnership with the City of Owensboro to promote “spring cleaning” on a citywide level.
The clean-up campaign emphasized the benefits of whitewash and paint in beautifying homes, while “careless householders” were warned that complaints regarding unkempt properties would be taken seriously. Scavenger department wagons were scheduled to make regular trips to collect ashes and garbage, “but the time required in which to do the work is lengthened by ashes being dumped on the side walk so the collector has to shovel them up instead of simply emptying a receptacle.” Likewise, “papers and pasteboard boxes mixed in with ashes fly over the streets and detract from the cleanliness of their appearance.”
City officials bemoaned the fact that many households dumped ashes and trash on their lawns, “and so destroy the beauty of the plots.” Officially, the use of galvanized cans was required, but the newspaper article of Feb. 26, 1922 noted that many people used “washtubs, wooden barrels, lard cans and anything convenient, while empty cans and rubbish of all kinds mar the appearance of the city and invite disease.”
Speaking of disease, the spring cleaning campaign was also intended to wage war on flies. Local physician Dr. Duvall said “stables, alleys and piles of filth and rubbish should be cleaned, the earlier the better, as one fly killed in the spring prevents the propagation of millions in the summer.”
Duvall warned that flies presented “one of the greatest mediums of conveying typhoid fever germs and the summer complaints so fatal to babies.”
Once those pesky matters were addressed, however, residents of Owensboro could move on to more joyous topics – including the annual Easter Parade.
Sunday, April 16, 1922, promised that Frederica Street would be filled with “fragrant flowers, beautiful music and attractive costumes.”
Easter lilies, roses, violets, sweet peas, lilies of the valley and carnations lent their fragrance to the happy atmosphere. Echoing the spectacular colors of nature in full bloom, ladies of Owensboro were also excited to show off their new frocks.
The newspaper noted “… there are few souls, feminine at least, who are too dead to the influence of the season to wish something new to wear today. And so old and young, men and women are ready to appear in new Easter costumes, for which stores have been searched and the bountiful stocks of Owensboro merchants depleted.”
And oh, those merchants’ stocks! They included dresses, skirts, hosiery, wraps, sweaters, millinery, blouses, kimonos, petticoats and bloomers. Suits of tweed, jersey, poiret, tricotine, twill cord and serge – “in all high colors, mixtures and solid, including navy, tan, sand and black” – boasted prices starting at $10.
And for those who traveled to town from the far reaches of Daviess County to shop for those bargains at Levy’s (“an exclusive shop for better dressers”), there was the added value of knowing “We refund railroad fares.”
Meanwhile, Salinger’s, located at 114-116 E. Main St., declared itself “Owensboro’s only strictly cash dept. store” and “Owensboro’s greatest underselling store.”
Not to be outdone, McAtee, Lyddane & Ray lured shoppers with the reminder that “No hat goes now but a new spring hat” – and their “smart and becoming” selection featured shades of blossom, spark, periwinkle, bluebird blue, dove, putty, vatican, navy, brown and black – with prices ranging from $2 to $25.
Ah, Spring! The season of renewal, hope, promise and parades!
May Owensboro and all its residents of 2022 blossom with happiness, health … and a fly-free summer.