Looking back at Midvale's headlines of days gone byApr 22, 2021 09:19AM ● By Sarah Morton Taggart
An upcoming performance by “The Great Virgil, premier international magician and illusionist” was headline news in Midvale in April 1946. (Image courtesy of the J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah)
By Sarah Morton Taggart | [email protected]
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Looking back at issues of the Midvale Journal Sentinel from 50 and 75 years ago reveal that some things feel familiar and others feel forgotten.
In April 1946, the country was finally at peace after years of war. Utah’s economy was still mostly agricultural, and the Midvale Journal Sentinel was the weekly news source for the southern half of Salt Lake County.
The Sentinel reports that the City planted 11 blue spruce trees in Midvale City Park “in honor of the hero dead of World War II from this community.” Sixteen service men were discharged from military service and sent home to Midvale that month.
“The kids of Midvale will surely get their share of entertainment this summer,” said the editor in his front page “Ree-Marks.” “With the city organizing a junior baseball league, and opening a playground downtown, and the Kiwanis Club equipping same, it looks as if recreation will be abundant for our youth.”
Using $1,000 in proceeds from Harvest Days, new playground equipment was to be installed at “the old ball park on North Holden Street.” The new play area was for the children living on Main Street and west of the railroad tracks.
Children were also invited to participate in the “first ever Easter Hunt held in Sandy,” on the lawn of Sandy Junior High.
Older students composed essays urging their neighbors to keep the city clean. “Let’s Clean Up Your Yard and Mine” was the slogan chosen for the annual clean-up drive.
Similar to how Utahns were inspired to plant gardens in 2020 due to COVID-19-related food production interruptions, Utahns in 1946 were urged to grow “victory gardens” due to global food shortages caused by the war. Vaccines were also a part of everyday life. A small notice in the Sentinel advertised a small pox vaccination clinic sponsored by the West Jordan PTA.
Then, just as now, finding a home and a place to park your car were major concerns. The Sentinel editor noted that Salt Lake City was to add 1,000 more parking meters and hopes that “Midvale never, never gets big enough to install same.”
New homes were listed for sale starting at $3,500 ($47,208 in 2021 dollars).
Twenty-five years later, the most affordable homes had increased to $14,500 ($94,166 in 2021 dollars).
The front page of the April 1, 1971 Sentinel is a mishmash of news. The articles range from crime reports (with full addresses of arrested individuals published) to a story on the recently concluded legislative session to the schedule for Little League tryouts. Further on in the paper, one can learn the school lunch menus for the following week, summaries of the new library books in circulation, and wedding dates for newly-engaged couples.
The front page on April 15, 1971 reports a brush fire at North Main (700 West) and 7200 South as well as a story about the “Fireman’s dance.” The 48th annual fundraiser was planned to raise money to operate the Midvale Fire Department’s ambulance service. At the time, the department answers calls “wherever it is needed in the southern part of the valley” and averaged “around a call a day throughout the year.” The crew of drivers and attendants were all volunteers, performing their duty as a community service. Proceeds from the dance paid for gasoline and tires for the ambulance and clean linens and oxygen for the patients.
The big story on April 22, 1971 was about “a polite, personable bandit, carrying a .22 caliber pistol” who robbed the American National Bank at 7095 S. State. The gunman walked away with more than a $1,000, but did say, “thank you.”
Full issues of the Midvale Journal Sentinel published between 1925 and 1988 are free for anyone to view at newspapers.lib.utah.edu/search
As we continue riding the wave of this COVID-19 pandemic, it can be helpful to imagine the editor’s words from 1946 echoed today: “In spite of past worries or future hopes, we must go on living in this year.”