• January 18, 2019

INSIDE THE OA ARCHIVES: 1996: Empty Stocking Fund helps provide joyous Christmas. - Odessa American: Local News

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INSIDE THE OA ARCHIVES: 1996: Empty Stocking Fund helps provide joyous Christmas.

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Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2018 5:30 am

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is part of a series of stories that will take a look back into the archives of the Odessa American through newspapers.com. The full archive contains more than 1.4 million pages of the Odessa American. Visit the OA website at oaoa.com to sign up for newspapers.com.

Odessans had a number of interesting stories to check out on the front page of the Dec. 18, 1945, Odessa American.

In San Francisco, authorities held suspected serial killer Alfred L. Cline on forgery charges while probing his past and investigating the deaths of eight of his former wives. He was later accused of poisoning the women by giving them buttermilk laced with powerful sedatives. Due to lack of evidence, “Buttermilk Bluebeard” was never convicted of the murders, but he was convicted of forgery and remained incarcerated in Folsom Prison until his death in 1948.

“Sorry Sister; Not Today!” Across the country in Kansas City, Mo., 20-year-old Antoinette Zeszasiriskia got herself into hot water with a man claiming to be her husband after she was arrested on vagrancy charges. The attractive redhead was found to be in possession of three marriage licenses and was additionally charged with bigamy.

For local children, the anticipation and excitement of Christmas morning was building as the special day inched closer. The OA published special letters to Santa Claus written by sisters, Georgia and Jean Hubbard of 602 N. Texas Ave., and the Lyric Theatre was offering a free Christmas show for kids that included The Three Stooges, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny and Popeye.

On Dec. 18, 1958, the Odessa High Bronchos, seeking their 12th consecutive basketball victory, would take on the Kermit Yellow Jackets.

Nationally, it was predicted that Christmas shopping may set a new record and the brightest spot on the retail scene was Texas. There was no doubt that the buying public had the money and a disposition to spend it. Odessans were encouraged to give their hard-earned cash to local businesses. Ads for Kirby’s shoe store suggested house slippers for all ages from $1.99 to $3.98, while Milam’s Toyland boasted a big reduction on toy prices a week before Christmas Day. Shoppers could get a Play-Doh Bake Set for $2.98 and Satellite Launchers for $3.98.

During that time, grocery ads for Safeway showed tom turkeys for $.39 a pound and hen turkeys for $.45 a pound. Don’t forget the cranberry sauce – 12.5 cents a can at Furr’s.

The headline on Dec. 18, 1966, proclaimed, “Space Is Banned As Nuclear War Arena” with an article announcing that the United Nations main political committee had endorsed the first international law reserving space for peaceful purposes only.

In Odessa, three youngsters underwent treatment at Medical Center Hospital after swallowing foreign substances, including an 11-month-old child who had to have surgery to remove a Christmas tree ornament hook!

Also that day, the color cartoon “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” aired for the first time on CBS. While the most recent film version of Dr. Seuss' book is currently in theatres and has remained in the top three at the Weekend Box Office since its release in early November, the 1966 original animated TV special is still a favorite among many. The classic Christmas cartoon telling the story of a grumpy hermit who hatches a “wonderful, awful” plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Who-ville launched the popular phrase “Don’t be a Grinch!” It also made everyone fall in love with the catchy song, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” – an unlikely holiday tune. Most importantly, however, the Grinch taught us all, “the tall and the small,” a valuable lesson that’s easy to forget, but needs to be remembered this time of year: “Maybe Christmas… doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!”

By Dec. 18, 1978, the decision by OPEC to jack up oil prices by 14.5 percent the next year sent the American dollar and stock market into a nose dive.

In football news, the Dallas Cowboys, powered by Tony Dorsett, wrapped up a 12-4 season with a 30-7 win over the New York Jets that propelled the defending Super Bowl champions into the NFL playoffs with a six-game winning streak.

Ector County kids still requiring a visit to Santa in the following days could find jolly old Saint Nick – and maybe even a few of his elves – at the Winwood Mall.

Needing a last minute gift idea? According to an ad that day, “Everybody loves… Taco Villa coupon books” and they were available for only $5.

In late 1987 the local economy was hit hard by slumping oil prices, and the Dec. 18 edition reported that Odessa’s cost of living rose 2.8 percent during the previous year.

That being said, several nonprofit organizations in town still needed items for their Christmas “Wish List” to donate to those who needed it most.

Residents looking for stocking stuffers were urged to come down to Baldwin Electronics on South Grant Avenue for rubber AM-FM radio antennas (available in 5 colors). Kmart also had a nice option for young kids – Mickey or Minnie Mouse slipper socks for $1.98.

The Dec. 18, 1996, front-page headline read, “Jesus figurine stolen” after a Nativity scene set up in the lobby of Catholic Charities was vandalized a week before Christmas.

On a positive note, the 1996 Empty Stocking Fund surged past its goal of $30,000 thanks to an anonymous $10,000 gift the day before. The contribution pushed the year's total to $32,240, which would provide Christmas gifts and food for low-income families in Odessa.

Created in 1995, the holiday fund-raising effort of the Salvation Army and the Odessa American is now in its 24th year, and has a $100,000 goal that won't be met without your help. The Dec. 20 deadline is fast approaching, and every dollar raised will provide assistance to Ector County residents whose financial difficulties might prevent a joyous Christmas.

Donations to the 2018 Empty Stocking Fund may be mailed or delivered to the Salvation Army Community Center, 810 E. 11th St., 79761. Contributors can also donate online here. For more information, call the Salvation Army at 332-0738.

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