The 1930’s were marked by a depression, steady economic growth despite its presence, and gangsters. Dust storms were a menace, as the dust bowl to the west gave up its soil to parched winds. But lots of new businesses were started, and Miami’s banks managed to survive when so many others failed. I didn’t find records of any in town closing during the decade.
1930: On February 22, the First National Bank building was dedicated.
On July 4, the new $10,000 swimming pool was opened at Riverview Park. It continues to function as the Miami municipal pool, a tribute to excellent planning and construction.
A talented club professional at Rockdale Country Club by the name of Ky Laffoon joined the professional golfer’s tour. Laffoon ended up winning ten official tournaments during his career, and a couple of others as well.
And a businessman by the name of Jim Ander opened a shoe repair shop at 107 S Main. His young daughter Dena was among the family members helping out.
1931 saw the development of Miami’s airport on vacant land NW of town. George L. Coleman obtained the land and leased it to the city. By decade’s end, it would have commercial service to Oklahoma City and Kansas City, as well as offering airmail service. Also that year, a man named R.C. Nichols was named school superintendent, a position which he would hold for 31 years.
1932 saw Eagle-Picher open a new concentrating mill in Commerce, welcome news to an area in a mining funk, which saw demands for lead and zinc fall during the depression. Unemployment was high, merchants did what they could to help. For example, Coleman-Hutts Pharmacy offered to fill prescriptions free for unemployed folks who needed them. One Miamian’s in-laws owned a grocery in town at this time, upon cleaning out their effects later, she discovered boxes full of unpaid charges from the decade.
1933 saw the completion and dedication of a new federal building on NE A, containing a courtroom, federal offices, and the city’s post office. Additionally that year, an Old Settlers Reunion was held at Riverview Park. Participants included Harry Lykins, son of the founder. Others included Indians and whites who were either around at the founding of the town 42 years earlier, or who were descended from those who were.
Also in 1933, a bullet-ridden car was found NW of town near the Neosho River. It was identified as belonging to Clyde Barrow. The next year, he would return to town and kill a police officer in a shootout at Commerce.
1934 saw the beginning of construction of a new bridge over the Neosho for highways 66 and 69. It would be completed the next year.
Police officer Jack Dunaway was killed that year in a North Main shootout that also took the lives of two gangsters. Thousands viewed the body of one of them, unidentified at first, at Cooper Funeral Home. He was later identified as Jesse Howard, killed along with LeRoy Denniston.
In 1935, the Tarry-a-While Bar-B-Q opened at 402 S Main. It would last well into the 60’s, and be reinvented as a drive-in, and would become a permanent memory for countless Miami residents.
In 1936, Ander’s Shoe Repair moved just a little closer to downtown, to 27 S Main, and became Ander’s Shoes. Rumor has it that they did okay there.
1938 and 39 saw the construction of two buildings, a roofed grandstand, and a stone fence at the fairgrounds as part of a WPA project.
1939 also saw the construction of a new high school, which replaced the structure completed in 1912.