THE MILLER COUNTY 1937 CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION
By: Joe Pryor
The Miller County Centennial Celebration was held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday August 21-23, 1937 in Tuscumbia, Missouri. The event entertained more people than any other in the history of the town, having multiple attractions including a large parade, speeches by notables of the day, a Centennial Queen Contest, and ended with a religious ceremony on Sunday, both Protestant and Catholic.
See Iberia Sentinel News Article, Aug. 19, 1937
Huge parades were held on both Friday and Saturday of the weekend. The Friday parade featured Youth and Education with plans for 1500 to 2000 students participating. The Saturday parade honored Veterans and also a Homecoming celebration. Eldon, Iberia, Brumley as well as Tuscumbia sponsored floats for the page as well as a number of civic, commercial and utility organizations.
The Tuscumbia band assisted by members of bands of Eldon and California lead Friday's parade while the Veteran's Drum and Bugle Corps lead Saturday's parade.
Musser's Resort not only furnished the largest float (it had to be revised in order to cross the bridge over Shut In Branch) but also brought to the event a Kansas City Jazz group which could have included Charlie Bird Parker, Saxophone artist, who a few years later became famous world wide. Charlie was known to play frequently at the Musser's Resort and Hotel on weekends.
A yoke of oxen was brought up from Steelville, Missouri just for the parade. For the first time, a sound system was used in the Riverside Park provided by the Radio Service Laboratory of Jefferson City.
Queen's Float - The Queen and Her Attendants
But the highlight of the event was the crowning of the Centennial Queen Friday night. The crowning ceremony was lead by Squire John Ferguson, well known Iberia patriarch, who was born only one year after Tuscumbia was organized in 1837. The Queen winner was Juanita Messersmith, who is pictured in one of the accompanying photos of the new queen with her attendants. One float sponsored by several Tuscumbia businesses carried several young local ladies: Barbara Wright, Mildred Stillwell, Frances Thompson, Susie Bear, and Stella Ekstram.
One float sponsored by several Tuscumbia businesses carried several young local ladies:
Barbara Wright, Mildred Stillwell, Frances Thompson, Susie Bear, and Stella Ekstram.
Bamber Wright, who was working in his grandfather's Anchor Milling Company at the time, remembers driving a new bright red International truck in the parade in which were seated two of the "prettiest girls" he had ever seen. He reports his attention to remaining in line during the parade, which had to traverse some crooked and hilly places, was "mightily challenged".
The Good Earth
A float titled "The Good Earth" was entered by the Eldon movie theater and promoted the award-winning motion picture based on a novel by Pearl S. Buck. Hauenstein's store is shown in the background.