INSIDE THE OA ARCHIVES: 2001: Disaster at Daytona

February 19, 2019

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 Feb. 19, 1947, we find that President Harry S. Truman asked Congress for legislation to make possible “an early ending” of the state of national emergency under which the country had lived since 1939.

Though World War II had finally come to an end, echoes of the former Hatfield-McCoy war rang through a small mountain community in West Virginia after Hubert (Bay) McCoy, a 28-year-old miner, was shot and killed by Police Chief Allen Hatfield when a brawl broke out at the town jail.

Locally, we find that bad weather delayed the first flight of Pioneer Airlines from the Odessa-Midland airport to Dallas by almost an hour that morning. The plane got a late start but managed to make stops in Big Spring, Sweetwater, Abilene, Mineral Wells and Fort Worth before arriving at its final destination.

During that time, Thrifty’s on North Grant Avenue boasted a sale on linens with quality bed sheets from $1.99 to $3.98 and large towels for only $0.49 each.

On Feb. 19, 1956, the OA reported that the Odessa Broncho Cagers beat the Pampa Harvesters 59-55 the day before, giving OHS its first district basketball championship since 1941.

In entertainment news, nominations for the 28th annual Academy Awards were announced. Up for the best actor “Oscar” were James Cagney, Ernest Borgnine, Frank Sinatra, Spencer Tracy and the late James Dean, who had recently died in a car crash. Borgnine went on to win the award for his leading role in the film “Marty.”

A Payne Hardware Co. ad that day showed True Temper lawn rakes for $1.85 and lopping shears for $3.85.

The front page on Feb. 19, 1965, revealed “Negro Shot During Night Rights March” with an article about a demonstration that took place the previous evening in Marion, Ala. While making their way to the city jail where a young Civil Rights worker was being held, nearly 500 protestors were stopped by police officers and state troopers. The city lights went off and chaos ensued, resulting in the eventual death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, who was shot in the stomach by policeman James Bonard Fowler. At the time, no charges were made because the young officer claimed Jackson attempted to take his gun from his holster. However, in 2007, more than 42 years after the shooting, Fowler was charged with murder in the death of Jackson. He later pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and, at the age of 77, was sentenced to six months in prison.

The Feb. 19, 1972, edition continued to report the latest news from the seemingly endless war in Vietnam, while a front-page brief informed readers that President Richard Nixon was preparing to travel to China to meet with Premier Chou En-lai and other Chinese leaders in an attempt to restore diplomatic relations with the Communist regime. In the meantime, the Soviet government blasted the president’s visit, accusing the Chinese of betraying Vietnamese Communists by welcoming him.

In the Feb. 19, 1981, Odessa American, former Governor Preston Smith predicted the University of Texas of the Permian Basin would ultimately be expanded to a four-year institution, but Texas education commissioner Kenneth Ashworth believed the chances for a Texas Tech University medical school branch were better. As it turns out, they were both correct.

Meanwhile, during a visit to the Philippines that week, Pope John Paul II declared that the Roman Catholic Church would “never dilute or change” its ban on divorces, abortion, polygamy or artificial birth control.

At Calvin’s Meat Market on North Grandview, Odessans could get fresh ground peanut butter for $1.49 a pound and a 12 oz. ring of German sausage for $1.29.

“At long last, Jansen gets his gold” was the big news story on Feb. 19, 1994, after American speed skater Dan Jansen won the gold medal in the men’s 1,000-meter race at Hamar Olympic Hall in Hamar, Norway. After 10 years of hard luck and disappointment at the Winter Olympics earned him a sympathetic following around the world, Jansen finally succeeded in capturing the coveted gold, and also managed to set a new world record time in the process.

In recognition of Black History Month, the OA on Feb. 19, 2001, featured a front-page article about the “invisible wall” that once divided Odessa. Several residents remembered when the railroad tracks that run through town were an unspoken divider between the south side and rest of the city.

In the same edition, “Disaster at Daytona” headlined the sports page following the death of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt. The 49-year-old driver was killed the previous day in a brutal crash on the last turn of the last lap of the Daytona 500 in Florida.