Home Life History HISTORY: HARD TIMES IN PLAIN DEALING

HISTORY: HARD TIMES IN PLAIN DEALING

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While I am not sure what was going on in Plain Dealing in 1930, the editor of The Plain Dealing Progress must have felt the need to comment on what was happening.

In the May1, 1930 issue of the paper an editorial headed “Local Ministers Sound Warning” supported the editor’s comments.

“In straight-forward and forceful terms, Rev. J. B. Williams at the Methodist Church and Rev. Ferguson at the Baptist Church sounded a most pertinent note of warning last Sunday night at the laxness being shown in our town in regard to the most vital moral issues, pointing out the undeniable facts that actual law violation has local official sanction and that accordingly respect for law for law in the eyes of every one is being greatly lessened.”

“We must say that we endorse the position taken by these Godly mean and are wondering just where such unrestrained license as is so widely apparent will land us.”

“As a school head in several different towns [for example F. G. Phillips, editor of the paper was principal of Plain Dealing High School for a period] we have never had to encounter such demoralizing influences at all comparable to what Plain Dealing has had for the past several weeks.  On the crest of the hill overlooking this town five days out of the week children are taught to honor the laws of God, nation, state and town, only to see all about them when passing through town gross violations of the very laws they are taught to respect.”
“For solid weeks Plain Dealing has had the carnivals with their multiple gambling devices and school children have been some of their most zealous patrons, while lessons have gone absolutely neglected, and so with other forms of diversion of amusements offered.”

“This we conclude with:  The people who have already made Plain Dealing their home, and are supporting its school and churches and those who are now making their home here with the same purpose in view are not in sympathy with what is now going on, and if there are those who thin[k] so just let them force the issue.”

The following week’s issue of the paper continued the objections to the situation with an article titled “Which Shall It Be?”

“Which is better, a town filled with gambling sharks, lewd women, and various and sundry other vices, or a town that has put on a real constructive program, made every provision possible to safeguard the man of honest toll, to offer the man of family those inducements which attract the home-seeker and count for a real permanent growth?”

“Again, which is more essential, to cart two hundred loads of rubbish and filth that marred so much Plain Dealing’s physical appearance or rid ourselves of those cantankerous  influences that daily help to destroy every moral and wholesome influence that our homes, school and churches are attempting to create.”

“Our officers and town officials are going to do what they know the people want.  They have been made to believe that the former condition, or statu[s] quo,  just suits Plain Dealing and are a accordingly not bucking too strong what they consider the current of public opinion.  It is then for the voice of the people to sound off, and we are ready to publish the opinions, either for or against the conditions everyone knows are existing.”

“What the people want should and will prevail, but let it not happen that the town that has worked so heroically to make itself immaculately clean physically, should become the dumping ground and cesspool for every conceivable form of vice and crime.”

Perhaps because 1930 was one of the early years of the Great Depression and times were hard, the town attracted some unsavory characters.  Whether things improved in the next few years is a matter of speculation because it was in 1933 that Charley Frazier robbed the Plain Dealing bank.  To find out more visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.

Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or amiddlet@state.lib.la.us.