The banner headline on the front page of The Llano News on November 1, 1917 said “Every Housewife in Llano County Should Sign Hoover’s Pledge Card.” It was referring to an amazing voluntary food preservation program, headed by future president Herbert Hoover, which enlisted women (and children, who learned gardening skills while growing food in a “School Garden” program) to conserve and donate almost 34 million pounds of food to help starving Europeans during the war. In total, more than 14 million families around the U.S. signed pledges in the hugely successful program.
Other front-page stories reported that the Llano County Red Cross chapter had reached its goal of 500 members, and that Llano County residents had purchased more than $37,000 in Liberty Bonds to help fund the U.S. war effort.
Another very interesting story told of the opening of a graphite mine “With Richest Deposit in the World” in Llano County. “On last Tuesday afternoon at the old Heath Mine,” the story began. “Now in operation by the Dixie Graphite Company under the personal direction of Warren May,” it continued, “the big power plant was started when Mrs. Warren May threw open the throttle of the 100-hp oil engine. Mrs. C.E. Shults pulled over the lever that started the crushing department, while Mrs. A.G. Barrit threw in the clutch that put in motion the big 50-ton Laine-Mill crusher. Raymond May had previously lighted the fire under the dryer.” The article went on to describe the mining process and rave about the quality of the “apparently inexhaustible” graphite vein.
A brief news item reported that “J. M. Haywood of Kingsland was in the city this week on business.” Another noted that “T.R. Dabbs spent the week in Dallas attending the State Fair.” Also, “Latham Barnett returned home on Tuesday from a visit with friends and relatives in Bertram.”
T.S. Parker delivered three new Buick cars to customers in Moody and Marble Falls, and sold a truck to Moss & Dees in Llano for $1,775. The story reported that the truck was “indeed a beauty, and has already been pressed into service.”
The war continued to dominate news coverage on November 8, and one of the lead stories reported that an American patrol boat had been sunk by a torpedo, and 21 sailors were missing. Another story told how German forces were advancing in northern Italy.
Aaron E. “Pinky” Crenwelge wrote home from his military training to report that he was having a great time. He and some other Llano boys in his unit had recently been awakened just after midnight and ordered to get up and get dressed; a few minutes later, they started on a hike which ended back at the barracks around 7 a.m. They had marched 22 miles before breakfast!
Pinky didn’t mind “doing his bit to get ready to get the Kaiser,” and reported that he weighed 180 pounds and was in excellent health. In other news, that week’s paper reported that Ray Moss and Joe McInnis had both been promoted to Sargeant. Residents of Llano were urged to contribute to a Red Cross fund which would make sure that each Llano service man (in the U.S. or in Europe) would receive a Christmas present.
Russia’s “full-blown” civil war made the front page on November 15, but there were conflicting reports on whether Kerensky or “Lenine” was in control of Petrograd. Reports from the Italian front suggested that the German offensive had stalled, and that the Italians were successfully holding their latest front lines. A little closer to home, Llano High School defeated Cherokee Junior College in a hard-fought football game, even though the Llano boys were smaller than their slightly older opponents.
The ladies of the Culture Club were busy one hundred years ago, making “knitted helmets, sweaters and socks” for the boys who were serving in the military. Maxie Fichtenbaum was promoted to Lieutenant, Harold McLean came home on leave; Mrs. Hubert Cone was about to leave Llano to join her husband in Bisbee, Arizona.
T.S. Parker sold a two-ton Republic truck to J.D. Slator. George M. Watkins received a shipment of eight new Fords, all of which were already spoken for. One of the buyers was W.H. Hill, of Kingsland. D.M. Long, also of Kingsland sold his pecan crop for $700 in Llano.
Renovations were completed inside the Corner Drug Store. The article explained that “the upper balcony, which has heretofore been exposed to view has always been used as a stock room and the view presented downstairs has been a source of dissatisfaction to the proprietors for some time past. They have now enclosed this balcony and papered the screen which extends almost to the ceiling and the effect is a most noticeable improvement to the appearance of the entire store.”
War stories got top billing once again on November 22, but there were a few local stories as well. Mayor Callahan called on the County Commissioners to repair the wooden fence on the west side of the approach to the bridge in the cities. The commissioners responded quickly by anchoring “large and durable concrete posts” with “iron pipes run through them” to form a “substantial barricade.”
Llano High School “suffered the most overwhelming defeat in its history” at Burnet, and a storm added insult to injury as flooded roads kept the team from returning to Llano that night. Most of the players had to sleep at the opera house that night. The girls’ basketball team helped soothe Llano’s wounded pride by soundly defeating their Burnet counterparts.
John A. Cone reported that drought had cut the cotton yield from 1,894 bales in 1916 to just 849 in 1917. Mrs. Ernest Marschall was in town to help organize a Parent-Teacher Association at the Llano schools.
The big news on November 29 was Russia’s surrender to Germany; “Lenine” had won the civil war, and “handed Russia over to the Kaiser.” Another related article warned that a “Second Call for Men Will be Made Soon.”
Jacob F. Tompkins contracted measles and pneumonia and died while training at Camp Travis. Isaac Underwood was recovering at home from the pneumonia that he also had contracted at Camp Travis. Mrs. George Watkins (Lutie) arrived at home in much better health after four months at a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan.
After 14 years of futility, Burnet’s football team beat Llano twice in 1917 and won the Central West Texas High School championship.
A.F. Moss sold his Ford truck to Steve Peacock (who delivered freight around town) and purchased a much bigger Republic truck from T.S. Parker to handle the “large amount of feed which is arriving in Llano daily for transportation out to the ranch.” Walter Decker bought a new Chevrolet from Buttery Hardware.