The question explored in this month’s issue of Owensboro Living magazine is worth asking. What DOES make Owensboro great?
There are almost as many different answers as there are residents of our community, but there are a few “common denominators” about which everyone can agree:
Quality of life. Good roads and infrastructure. Reasonable cost of living. Access to the arts, services, resources and programs that enrich our lives. Excellent schools. Public safety. A thriving economy. Friendly residents.
However, outsiders who are considering a move to our community would do well to ignore certain comments posted on social media. It seems that no matter how good the news is – a new business is opening, an individual or organization is recognized for excellence – there are some people who pounce into the comment section to criticize and complain.
Who, after reading those negative remarks, would want to locate to the Land of Eeyore?
Oh well. It’s easier to ignore the naysayers if we realize they have always been among us. No matter how great things may have been in the “good old days” of one hundred years ago, there were always some people or entities ready to gripe about … something! Anything!
Starting, of course, with the weather.
A newspaper headline published July 28, 1922, warned “Hottest Yet is Day’s Prospect.” On the bright side, the article mentioned that “While there has been much complaint of the severe hot weather which has prevailed, no heat prostrations in the city or county have been reported. Teamsters are taking precautions with their teams during this hot period, and are not working the animals with any unusual rush.” In the meantime, “many families sought relief in auto rides or occupied their swings and front porches most of the night, none too comfortable in any event, due to the excessive heat.”
In the meantime, western Kentucky was “riding on the crest of the highest crime wave in its history.” Although “bootlegger moonshiners and liquor transporters” contributed significantly to those concerns, the assistant U.S. District Attorney reminded newspaper readers that “the increase in lawlessness is not confined to whiskey law breakers.” There were also 25 cases involving stolen automobiles on his docket.
Another article claimed that the automobile, in fact, was the biggest factor in the crime wave: “The Reason for this is that the auto permits a quick getaway.” But it gets worse: Almost any day now, the airplane able to rise straight into the air will be perfected. Criminals then will have a new weapon against society. As an offset, flying police are inevitable.”
If that weren’t worrisome enough, another headline cautioned local residents that “Some Owensboro Food Stores Not Sanitarily Clean.” This alarming statistic would be revealed with the inauguration of a “gold star system” to be implemented by the Daviess County Department of Health starting on Aug. 1.
A preliminary inspection of establishments in which food was handled or sold revealed that the majority “fell short of the standard of cleanliness and sanitation required by the State Board of Health.” Of the 129 grocery stores that were inspected, only 36 met acceptable standards. Likewise, only one of four hotels, four restaurants of 38, and no bakeries in town earned a gold star.
But despite the heat, crime and questionable quality of food, Owensboro managed to celebrate a rather significant achievement of good news: Diphtheria rates in Owensboro were listed at 3.8, compared to 6.2 in Lexington and 6.9 in Paducah. Typhoid fatalities per 100 cases were 20 for Owensboro, 22.6 for Lexington and 31.2 for Paducah.
Tuberculosis deaths, per 1,000 residents, were 1.15 in Owensboro, 2.46 in Lexington and 2.26 in Paducah.
“Owensboro stands out well as one which is decreasing disease and death,” the article boasted.
So there you have it. Despite the challenges of weather, crime, sanitation and disease, our city has survived – and thrived! – to become a great place to live.
But where are those flying policemen we were promised 100 years ago?