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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

1944

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1944 - Ponca City banks gain in deposits during the past year was more than $2,300,000. Marvin Hatcher, realtor, was chairman of a rent control committee, organized by V.N. Souligny, M.E. Woodridge, C.K. Dawson and Merle Paynter.

The army assigned an airplane to the local Civil Air Patrol to be used alternately by Ponca City and Blackwell.

C. E. Northcutt was elected chief of staff at Ponca City Hospital. C.C. Gardner was vice chief of staff.

Dr. Phil Deschner, Methodist pastor, supplied Bibles and Testaments printed in German to prisoners of war at the camp at Tonkawa.

The local Red Cross opened a course for nurse's aide corps.

Total public school enrollment is 2,565 boys and 2,426 girls.

Several local boosters encouraged Lew Wentz to run for state senator on the Republican ticket, but he declined.

The city's oil refineries continued to break all their previous production records of war materials, with totals increased by the completion of the aviation gasoline plant in May.

A total of 96 fathers and 30 other local men left for physical examinations at Tulsa for the armed forces. There were 56 fathers and 20 others accepted for military service.

J.W. Wiker retired as manager of the Arcade Hotel after 40 years of service.

The Darr School of Aeronautics closed April 15. Government flight training programs ceased but the city had outlined plans for improvement of the airport and extension of air service after the war.

The U.S. Navy commended the Continental refinery employees for producing and packaging 15,000 barrels of aircraft oil in only six days, and loading it onto 108 railroad boxcars. The oil was urgently needed in the Pacific theater of the war.

Frank Overstreet was elected mayor, defeating W.J. Casemore by ten votes.

In April, one of the worst floods in the city's history washed out the 35-year old concrete and steel bridge over the Arkansas River. Many houses were flooded. Two marooned families who lived east and south of the Pioneer Woman statue were rescued by plane. The water system was threatened, and many homes lost electricity. All roads leading away from the city were closed except the one to Winfield, and the only trains out of the city were to Arkansas City and Oklahoma City. Within a week, the river had fallen over eight feet from the crest, but was still eight feet above normal.

A.W. Oberschelp began a ferry service across the river. The first vehicle to use the ferry was a milk truck.

The Boy Scouts sold $21,000 of war bonds door to door. Top seller was Charles Casey of Troop 3, who sold bonds worth $4,000. Kay County was recognized as one of three counties in the United States that had made distinguished records in every war bond drive.

In May, E.M. Trout was re-elected president of the board of education.

The No. 2 fire station on West Grand was closed.

An Indian tribal Memorial Day service was held to honor 92 Ponca Indians who were serving in the armed forces.

On May 6, the temperature dropped to 22 degrees, one of the latest frosts people could remember.

Continental Oil Co. manufactured the first barrel of 100-octane gasoline ever to be completely made in a single plant in Oklahoma.

Sirens at the city fire station announced the allied invasion of Europe in June.

All Germans at the Tonkawa prisoner of war camp were moved to other camps.

There were 4,500 people who attended the All-Star rodeo, sponsored by the Conoco Employees Association.

Grandstands at the 101 Ranch were torn down; the property now belonged to Jack Webb.

The Board of Education purchased six 50-foot lots on Grand Avenue from A.G. Soldani to build a gymnasium and playground.

Despite the flood, the farm outlook indicated that crops had produced very well.

In late June, a pontoon bridge across the Arkansas River opened. Cities Service and Continental Oil companies built the bridge.

Purchases of war bonds in the three drives of the year maintained the county's place among the top in per capita bond investments. In July, citizens bought extra bonds in the amount of $250,000 to purchase a B-17 airplane to be named "Miss Ponca City." The plane attacked the enemy in Europe on 55 missions. It was shot down in flames on September 12 in Germany and all crew members were missing, according to an Associated Press story. In November, Staff Sgt. Merlin Summers, co-pilot, was officially listed as a prisoner of war.

The city approved an ordinance extending the city limits to include five acres around the hospital.

Representatives of government agencies announced plans to use the Darr School of Aeronautics building as a storage station for "semi-dead" trainer planes. The first ones arrived in early August, and by October, the building housed 500 planes.

The Chamber of Commerce surveyed members concerning post-war plans for the city.

Principal needs included extending public utilities, soil conservation, and repair and remodeling of homes and buildings. General improvements needed were farm-to-market road improvement, rural mail routes, a community center building and school buildings.

The scouts of Northern Oklahoma Council of Boy Scouts opened their annual camp at Chilocco near the end of August.

Bill Livermore of Tulsa bought the Clifford Wetzel Insurance Agency.

The 64th annual Ponca Indian Pow-Wow began on August 24.

Zack Miller was elected head of the Cherokee Strip Cowpunchers association.

Mid-American Manufacturing constructed a new building on South First Street to house their factory.

City Commissioners conferred with acting City Engineer, Fred Fellows, regarding methods to eliminate the bad taste of water from Lake Ponca.

On November 11, all stores in Ponca City closed to commemorate Armistice Day.

The rebuilt bridge over the Arkansas River opened on November 16.

James (Jake) McNiece was a member of the "Filthy Thirteen" group of paratroopers who volunteered for a suicide mission on D-day. Later, the troops landed in Holland.

In December, the Chikasksia River overflowed and the Arkansas River was again over its banks.

On December 7, local theaters offered free shows to bond buyers in connection with the third anniversary observance of Pearl Harbor.