INSIDE THE OA ARCHIVES: 2011: Ten years later, we remember 9/11
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.
While this day in history is most remembered due to the life-changing events of 2001, other significant news dominated the headlines in the years before the September 11 terrorist attacks on American soil.
On Sept. 11, 1938, the Odessa American featured a front page brief about a nickel bus line that would begin operation over the city streets the next day. The 20-minute preliminary bus route would start and stop at the courthouse. Riders could buy six tokens for 25 cents or a week’s pass for 75 cents. Odessans in need of a furnished apartment could rent a nice two-room unit for $18 per month, all bills paid, at Eastover Apartments.
At the end of World War II in 1945, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur ordered the arrest of several alleged war criminals, including Japan’s former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. On Sept. 11, 1945, the OA headline read: TOJO SHOOTS HIMSELF IN CLUMSY SUICIDE ATTEMPT; HAS 50-50 CHANCE TO LIVE with a large story detailing the events surrounding the attempted arrest of the man responsible for ordering the infamous Pearl Harbor attack that initiated war between Japan and the United States. Tojo survived the botched suicide attempt and was later convicted of war crimes and executed by hanging at a prison in Tokyo three years later.
With the population of Odessa increasing by nearly 20,000 residents between 1940 and 1950, all Ector County schools were passing expected enrollment. At least seven more teachers were needed before the beginning of the fall semester as a first count showed that more than 4,000 students had already registered.
Polio cases were on the rise in Texas in 1955, and the Sept. 11 edition of the Odessa America announced that the current year’s total had climbed to 1,271 in the past week, according to the State Health Department.
Promoter Pat O’Dowdy’s weekly professional wrestling show at the Electric Street Arena included a semi-final match between Frankie Murdock and Jack Bence. The upcoming dual was featured in a brief article detailing Murdock’s offer to pay out $50 to any fan that he “can’t put to sleep with his famed python hold.” No takers were expected.
For Odessans who preferred movies over wrestling matches, “Strategic Air Command” starring James Stewart was playing at four of the city’s five drive-in theaters.
Ads that day showed West Texas’ leading jeweler, T.L. Miller’s was boasting a two-day special on Ingraham alarm clocks for only $1.88, while supplies lasted.
The OA reported on Sept. 11, 1966, that then President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the United States food stamp program would be extended to additional areas in 36 states. Texas counties made eligible for the new project were El Paso, Brewster, Culbertson, Jeff Davis, Pecos, Presidio and Red River. The food coupons, available to low-income families, would eventually benefit 1.8 million needy persons across the country.
In local sports, the Ector Eagles secured a 33-13 victory over the Crane Golden Cranes in their season opener at W.T. Barrett Stadium, while more than 400 entries were expected at the grand opening races of Odessa Raceway Park. Grandstand seats at the quarter mile dragstrip would accommodate more than 6,000 dragster fans with a $2 general admission fee.
Also that week, at the Lincoln Hotel Ballroom, the Odessa Rod and Gun Club was sponsoring a public meeting with the president of the National Rifle Association, Harlon B. Carter, who would speak on proposed firearms legislation pending before Congress.
By Sept. 11, 1978, Tony Dorsett had joined the Dallas Cowboys and was helping pave the way to a second consecutive trip to the Super Bowl, after beating the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII the year before during his rookie season. The OA sports page ran an article detailing the Cowboys’ win against the New York Giants the day before. Dorsett rushed for 111 yards and scored the clinching touchdown in the 34-24 victory over the Giants.
Locally, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the new Permian Mall. Completion date for the $17 million project was scheduled for fall 1979.
On Sept. 11, 1987, we find that the Odessa High Bronchos and the Permian Panthers will attempt to keep their “unbeaten streaks alive” in early season battles against El Paso Austin and El Paso Ysleta.
A headline on page 6A affirmed that health care workers had received new anti-AIDS regulations. The national Centers for Disease Control outlined appropriate precautions that health care workers should take to decrease the risk of exposure to blood from patients infected with the HIV virus. At that time, over 40,000 AIDS cases had been reported in the United States and the disease had claimed the lives of 58 percent of patients. Americans were also still reeling from the recent Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, and NASA engineers were considering emergency plans that would allow astronauts to return to earth safely if two of the shuttle’s three engines failed.
In West Texas oil news, the British Petroleum-owned Standard Oil Production Co. would soon close four divisional offices, including a district office in Midland that opened in the early 1940s and maintained a staff of 25 full-time employees.
The front page on Sept. 11, 1998, revealed that Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s referral to Congress accused then President Bill Clinton of perjury and obstruction of justice. The report provided a damaging portrayal of his contacts with Monica Lewinsky and other women. The impeachment of Clinton was initiated just a few months later, though he was eventually acquitted after a month-long trial.
Tim McGraw fans were eager to secure tickets to see the popular country artist perform live in concert at the Ector County Coliseum, where he planned to stop in a few weeks as part of his Everywhere Tour.
In the early morning hours of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, Odessans were sipping their coffee and reading a front page story about Congress considering potential tax cuts that might boost the economy. Those who had the TV or radio on would soon learn about the shocking and horrendous attacks on our country that would result in the most devastating loss on U.S. home soil in history. The following day, the Odessa American printed a unique “Extra” edition that detailed the coordinated terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. It was the first edition of its kind since the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
A year later, Americans were moving on but had not forgotten. Front page headlines on Sept. 11, 2002, previewed articles about fear and faith during a time of uncertainty, as well as the nationwide terror alert level being raised by the Bush administration. New intelligence warned of car bombings, suicide attacks and other strikes linked to the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The OA also featured a special section of stories and photos commemorating the event and its aftermath as residents remembered that fateful day.
Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, marked the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, and the Odessa American published a special issue that reminded readers the pain from that day will always be with us. Under a section asking “Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001?” several OA employees remember where they were, what they were doing and what they were thinking when they first heard about the nightmare unfolding before their eyes ten years ago today. Several Odessa firefighters had traveled to Dallas over the weekend for the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb to honor the 343 New York firefighters who died during the World Trade Center towers’ collapse.
The somber anniversary was a time for prayers and reflection, while American flags memorializing the victims of the attacks surrounded Memorial Garden Park. The annual tribute continues today, with 3,000 flags on display through Sept. 17 at the park located at 4730 E. 42nd St.