It should have been a routine fire call.
On June 26, 1941 at 5:45 p.m., lightning struck a wheat shock on Joe Lapka’s farm east of O’Fallon.
Flames ensued which threatened a stack of new hay nearby.
Unfortunately, the O’Fallon grapevine also caught fire.
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Firefighters tried to call in for information but curious residents tied up the phone lines. O’Fallon still had local operators back then, making it hard for them to get through.
On top of that, the curious also hopped in their cars and rushed to the fire house at Old City Hall, causing a traffic jam in downtown.
By the time the fire department arrived at the actual fire, no thanks to the fire gawkers, the fire was out.
The Progress railed against the problem at the time, noting it was all too common in those days.
75 years ago, Jul. 3, 1941
With the slashing of the state sales tax from 3% to 2% beginning July 1, the Civic Club met Tuesday evening and adopted a new bracket of lower tax charges.
They decided that on sales from 1 cent to 19 cents no tax would be collected, starting the bracket of charges at sales of 20 cents or more.
The club also announced that starting on Saturday, clothing, hardware and similar stores will close at 6 p.m. instead of 7 p.m., every Saturday during the months of July and August.
Food and other stores will close at their usual time which is 6 p.m. Week-day closing hours will remain at 5:30 p.m.
50 years ago, Jun. 30, 1966
Clete Schau, Jr., a member of the O’Fallon Fire Department 15 years was elected chief of the department Tuesday night at a meeting of the organization. He was elected over Robert Notz who earlier declined to serve. (Schau would serve as chief until 1981.)