INSIDE THE OA ARCHIVES: 1973: Oil crisis causes widespread panic

December 4, 2018

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.

On Dec. 4, 1944, we find that the closer Europe gets to the end of the war, the more widespread and violent becomes the struggle between the left and the right. Evidence of this could be seen in Athens, where a civil war broke out between communists and royalists, following the liberation of Greece by British forces. Martial law had been declared in the city, which was left without electricity, gas or communications.

We also see that in Tolar, N.M., an oil car derailed, caught fire and ignited a carload of explosives that blew up the entire train and demolished part of the town. The force of the blast was felt up to 50 miles away in Portales, N.M.

“They started it! Let’s finish it!" screamed an ad that day for the sixth war loan. Odessans were encouraged to purchase $100 war bonds to help defeat Japan.

The Dec. 4, 1957, edition of the OA carried news of football with John Crow being named Texas A&M’s first Heisman Trophy winner. Meanwhile, at the close of the 1957 season, the Aggies’ head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant planned to leave A&M behind. Bryant was expected to receive an increased annual salary of $17,500 under his new 10-year contract as head coach and athletic director of the University of Alabama, his alma mater.

A Levine’s ad offered residents the opportunity to use a free lay-away plan “for a big Christmas on a little budget!” The store was boasting a sale on ladies’ duster robes for $2.99 and men’s dress shirts for $1.99. Shoppers could also get a 2 lb. box of chocolates in a holiday gift container for only $1. All purchases would be gift wrapped for free, regardless of size or cost.

On Dec. 4, 1964, the headline read, “Permian, OHS Coaches Fired By School Board” after the board voted unanimously not to renew the contracts of Bradley Mills and Jim Cashion, head football coaches at Odessa and Permian High Schools respectively.

In other front-page news, more than 800 University of California insurgent students went free in wholesale numbers in Berkeley, Calif., one day after an army of police arrested them for storming the administration building and staging a massive sit-in. It was reported that a huge bond, rumored as high as $80,000, was filed to obtain their freedom.

Burger Chef Hamburgers on East Eighth Street, "home of the world’s greatest 15-cent hamburger," was advertising a weekend special of five cheeseburgers for $.88.

The Odessa American on Dec. 4, 1973, revealed that Congress would soon be asked to authorize a tax increase on gasoline that could raise the price to about 60 cents a gallon. Then President Richard Nixon’s energy advisers argued that a heavy tax on gasoline was the best way to reduce consumption. In addition, the Senate was scheduled to take up a measure to put the nation on year-round Daylight Saving Time to conserve fuel. Two front-page photos show “SAME PLACE, SAME PROBLEM” as several cars line up at the gas pumps at Berman’s Mobile Station in Boston that day and in 1943, when there was a gasoline shortage and fuel was rationed during World War II. Across the nation, truckers protested the higher diesel fuel prices – and lower speed limits of 55 miles per hour – by blocking highways in several states for up to five hours.

During that time, Skaggs-Albertsons offered boneless shoulder roast for $.98 a pound and cube steaks for $1.68 a pound.

By Dec. 4, 1984, all eyes were on the issue of school prayer as the Supreme Court was set to hear arguments on the matter and decide whether public schools could provide a daily moment of silence for prayer or meditation.

Also that day, the murder conviction of an Odessa teenager was overturned because of a “bureaucratic error” by the Texas State Court of Appeals in Eastland. The appellate court reversed the conviction of 18-year-old Amber Ann Benavidez, who had been sentenced to a 25-year prison term for the May 10, 1983, shooting of 69-year-old Alice Odessa Blackwell. According to records, because Benavidez was 16 at the time of the homicide and 17 at the time of the trial, she was considered a juvenile, and the district court failed to “properly” obtain jurisdiction over the case after the juvenile court waived its rights over her.

The OA on Dec. 4, 1995, featured a front-page story about the latest in West Texas Christmas cards. Graphic artist Norman Johnson and Connection publishing company of Midland provided a regional twist to holiday wishes with a clever cartoon depicting three men servicing pump jacks in the glare of an eastern star. Their shadows then transformed as Magi on camels “striding toward great promise.” The card was available in more than 100 retail stores and petroleum museums around the country.

The Dec. 4, 2004, publication was filled with local news. Students and teachers at Barbara Jordan Elementary were forced to take a day off when the school closed after an outbreak of mysterious rashes. The cause of the epidemic was still unknown, but health officials were inspecting and cleaning the school to prevent further incidents.

Odessans were invited later that afternoon to attend H-E-B’s second annual Feast of Sharing at the Ector County Coliseum. The spread included 850 pounds of turkey, 55 gallons of turkey gravy, 125 gallons of mashed potatoes, 150 gallons of buttered green beans, 36 gallons of cranberry sauce, 5,000 rolls and 2,700 pieces of pumpkin pie.

And for those looking for some holiday decorating inspiration, the grand opening of the Bush Home was scheduled the next day during the Christmas Tour of Homes. The newly restored and decorated modest, single-story house, which previously occupied 916 E. 17th St., would be open for the public tour at its new location behind the Presidential Museum on the UTPB campus.

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