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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

The World Series, 1937

Updated: Feb 29, 2020

The headline read "Downs Fans Want Cubs to Win Series but think Yanks Will." It was only July and the World Series was not played until October that year, so I'm not sure why they were posing this question so prematurely. But, the images give us a glimpse into the life of Downs, Illinois in 1937.

Bessie Hale ran a restaurant in Downs, and we see the bar area in this and other images. She was a baseball fan, but she did not have a favorite team. She said that she had just as much enjoyment from watching one team as another. Her husband managed a Downs baseball team.

J.A. McCubbin was a grocery store owner in Downs. He was a Cubs fan all the way and was rooting for the Cubs. Mamie McCubbin was merely noted as the "grocery store clerk." She thought the men on the Cubs team were all nice fellows who were friendlier than players on other teams. I like the way the prices hung from the shelves.

Warren Lype was a high school student and baseball player on the Downs High School team. He preferred playing baseball to listening to others play. Merle Lype was his brother and first baseman on the Downs baseball team. Both young men would serve in WWII (as well as their third brother). Merle was a survivor of the Bataan Death March. He made the Air Force his career, retiring in 1960 and then took three degrees and taught history at the Rantoul High School until 1974.

Charles Fisher in Downs known for his gardening skills. He kept several large vacant lots flowering with many different kinds of flowers and his blacksmith was covered in wisteria.

Vernelle Killion was a farmer near Downs and said that he was not really interested in baseball and did not have time to watch baseball games because of his farming. He preferred swimming. Paul Sutton was an assistant in a restaurant who favored the American league and favored all the teams in that league. Paul Sutton served during WWII.

Della Davis was the postmistress and kept a store in Downs connected to the post office. She never watched baseball or listened to it. She did not agree that baseball should be played on Sunday, which was her only day off. I wonder why there was such a variety of files in her store.

Arthur Belden was another young man interviewed. He thought that the Cubs blew hot and cold, winning a streak of games and then "losing to beat the band." He preferred basketball, anyway. His draft card in 1941 sent him to Hawaii and said he was employed as a driver in civilian life. No further information could be developed on his service. He lived in Decatur after the war and died there in 2003. Ed French was the manager of the elevator in Downs and the one person to say that he had a passionate interest in baseball.

Harry Brown was a barber in Downs. He was a Cardinals fan, but his favorite baseball personality was Connie Mack, who built good teams. Ed Leveck was the railroad station agent in Downs. He had been a baseball fan, but was more cynical -- he felt that the game was changing -- to being merely a financial enterprise.

I was surprised to learn that so few people were really excited about baseball, it being the the national pastime and all.

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