Heritage, Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 1987 Page: 21
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supplies were eclipsed by a deadly epidemic
of influenza at Camp Bowie. By
the end of the year, ten Victorians in uniform
had died of the disease. A. M.
McFaddin was a member of a gubernatorial
committee appointed to investigate
conditions in the camp.
On the home front Victorians cooperated
with F. S. Buhler who, as local fuel
administrator, imposed regulations that
forced some businesses to curtail services;
but all citizens suffered acutely from the
influenza epidemic or fear of it. Newspapers
recorded exploits of the "Sammies"
and "Huns" or "Bochs," but the
daily increase in disease victims was of
more immediate concern. Dr. J. V. Hopkins,
a young officer released from the
army, returned to assist in the management
of the epidemic which had pressed
local churches and the O'Connor-Proctor,
King, and Wood buildings into service as
makeshift hospitals. Faced with complications
from an outbreak of typhoid
fever, nurses, physicians, and public
health authorities prescribed extraordinary
The end of the war and waning of
the influenza epidemic came in midNovember
1918. Victoria's mayor lifted
many of the restrictions on the sixteenth
of that month, and the spread of disease
apparently abated. Approximately 150
citizens, a number far greater than those
who lost their lives in France, had died.
Five days earlier at the "eleventh hour,
eleventh day of the eleventh month" an
armistice ended the carnage of the Great
War. Church bells, auto horns, cannon
fire, fireworks, and the Victoria Municipal
Band announced the armistice, which
was a good deal more meaningful than
the two-and-a-half-year political debate
that ultimately and technically ended
U.S. participation in a war become increasingly
unpopular. Victorians now organized
to greet the doughboys returning
home to a decade of apparent prosperity
and reversion to prewar attitudes in foreign
and domestic economic affairs that
would prove by 1929 to have been less
Enthusiasm for the crusade of World
War I vanished quickly after 1918, and
Americans followed President Warren G.
Harding's advice to "return to normalcy."
It was a properous decade, that of the flivver
and flapper, and a contradictory one,
with strong nationalism, probusiness
leadership, and much intolerance, with
For the 1919 Fireman's Day Celebration, a wood and canvas arch was built at Constitution and Main
streets. Returning veterans marched northward on Main Street under the arch. One of the young ladies
standing on the arch is the present Mrs. L. C. Hooper, one of Victoria's most respected historians.
the nation's most severe depression silently
building strength under superficial,
poorly informed economic reports useful
Technology was the harbinger of the
1920s. Motion pictures, automobiles,
commercial radios, organized sports, and
innumerable fads in dress, dance, and
personal habits worked to eradicate sectional
differences. Victoria shared in most
of these developments, but its rural character
saved the town from much of the
economic speculation, overbuilding, and
nonsense of the decade. Less expansion
was evident than in larger cities; a few
brick bungalow-style homes remind us
still of a building boom of sorts, but there
were none of the tile roof, stucco shopping
centers common to urban centers.
Victoria remained contained by North,
South, East and West streets, established
much earlier as municipal boundaries.
Paved streets, curbs, electrical power,
telephone connections, water and sewage
facilities, a public library, and a country
club were constructed or improved to accommodate
a population that grew from
5,959 in 1920 to 11,566 by 1940. The
county still counted more inhabitants
than the city.
Prohibition and the growth of the Ku
Klux Klan gave a special tone to the decade
of the 1920s, but neither influenced
Victorians as they did other Texans. A
large segment of the population was composed
of first- or second-generation European
immigrants, and Roman Catholics
were numerous. The "noble experiment"
appealed to few of these, and the numerous
ethnic groups were offended by the
First Lady! Victorians were on Main Street in large
numbers to greet Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Mrs. Rubin Frels shares the open touring car.
Klan's narrow definition of American. Victoria's
city marshall and sheriff made it
very clear to the Knights of the Invisible
Empire that parading in Victoria was a
In the fall of 1929 Wall Street collapsed.
The panic could not be explained
away with platitudes so readily accepted
during the previous nine years, and all
Americans faced ten years of hard times
already known to many farmers. After
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 1987, periodical, Spring 1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45438/m1/21/: accessed January 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.