The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Medford News 1952

Two News Events Picked As Tops
By M-T Staffers in Year-End Review
Manhunt for Dunkin, Weather Battle Seen As Best '52 Stories
    Two Jackson County news events were far and away more interesting and important than any others during 1952, in the opinion of Mail Tribune news staff members who reported them.
    Classed as top story of the year as far as interest was concerned was the slaying of State Police officer Phil Lowd, the subsequent manhunt for his killer, and the final capture and sentencing of George Baker Dunkin for Lowd's murder.
Weather Experiments Picked
    On the basis of long-range significance, as opposed to "spot interest," in the newswriters' view, were the year-round series of stories about attempts at weather control, culminating in the hard-fought battle during the general election campaign when 34 voters out of more than 28,000 decided that weather control experiments should not be prohibited in the county.
    Choice of the Lowd-Dunkin stories as tops in interest was unanimous among the news staffers. In picking the most significant, however, two chose the dedication of 106,000 acres of [Jackson County land as] tree farms at tops.
Second Choices
Second choices for the biggest spot news story ranged widely. The choices were the 1952 polio epidemic (four votes), the petition forgeries stories before and after the general election (two votes), the general election, and the September storm damage stories (one vote each).
    Third choices included the Haviland vs. Nunley primary election battle (two votes), polio epidemic (three votes), petition forgeries and storm damage (one vote each).
    Second choices for the most significant stories also ranged wide. They included the primary election (two votes), airport improvement (two votes), tree farms (two votes), weather control ban and SP train service ending (one vote each).
    "Most significant" third choices included the formation of rural fire protection districts for Medford and Central Point (three votes), airport improvement (two votes), Camp White (two votes) and weather control (one vote).
Other Top Stories
    Other stories printed during the year which were considered in the voting included record snowfalls, Medford paving program, politics, mass chest x-ray program for detection of tuberculosis, valley highway construction, daylight saving time controversy, pursuit and capture of convict Gerald Macomber, and the progress of Mercy Flights, Inc., including its 100th flight.
    Here is a month-by-month summary of the more important local news events during 1952, culled from the pages of The Mail Tribune.
    Postmaster Moore Hamilton reports 1951 biggest year in history of Medford post office; total of $455,317.75 in sales . . . Light snow and icy highways bring traffic to near standstill in Rogue Valley . . . Jorgen Jorgensen elected president of Jackson County Chamber of Commerce . . . Final payment on paving bonds leaves Jackson County free of bonded debt . . . Elderly J. M. Burrows reported missing from home in Applegate area . . . Storms provide "big boost" for southern Oregon's 1952 water supplies . . . Plans discussed for armory-civic building to replace Medford's armory gutted by fire . . . Milk price increases asked at hearing by producers, distributors and retailers . . . A. Z. "Tubby" Dean, prominent Medford civic leader and automobile dealer, dies in Eugene hospital . . . Heavy snow storm blocks mountain highways out of Rogue Valley; several Jackson County schools close . . . City council recommends program for paving of 35 miles of city streets . . . "Torch" [i.e., dangerously flammable] sweaters discovered in Rogue Valley; believed all were brought in from other areas . . . County-wide chest x-ray program gets under way . . . Robert Elliott, Medford, announces he is candidate for election as chairman of Republican state central committee . . . Myrtle Creek man found dead on Crater Lake Highway, apparent carbon monoxide victim while trying to keep warm during blizzard . . . Heavy snowfall continues; several buildings collapse from weight of snow . . . Fred E. Robinson, Medford, files candidacy for Republican nomination as state treasurer . . . Total of 336 pints of blood donated here for new one-collection record . . . Mrs. J. B. Coleman, long-time Jackson County resident, dies in local hospital.
    Quality of Medford city water supply commended by Oregon State Board of Health . . . Robert Elliott, Medford, named chairman of Oregon state Republican Party . . . Influenza epidemic closes Evans Valley school . . . Dr. Sherman L. Divine, pastor emeritus of Medford First Presbyterian Church, dies in Salem . . . Total of 106,000 acres of Jackson County lands dedicated as tree farms . . . New record weight of snow reported in southern Oregon mountains . . . Medford city council receives petitions asking for Eighth Street to be opened across Southern Pacific railroad tracks . . . Eisenhower supporters start circulating petitions to place name of Sen. Robert Taft on Oregon ballot as candidate for Republican nomination for president . . . Gasoline tank truck overturns, burns on Blackwell Hill . . . Market-wide pooling established for Jackson County milk producers . . . Mrs. Floyd Doland Jr., wife of Sams Valley army sergeant, first Japanese war bride to arrive in Jackson County . . . Southern Pacific passenger train makes last regularly scheduled run from Medford to Dunsmuir . . . Army states planned reactivation of Camp White will include 1,300 acres instead of 3,200 . . . Labor dispute at Southern Oregon Planing Mill Company goes to courts as issues broadened to include "hot machinery" at another mill . . . Salvation Army dedicates new Medford transient welfare center . . . Total of 29,536 persons receive chest x-rays in Jackson County during five-week campaign, percentage of 72.5 higher than that reported by any other county in state.
    City employee Richard Baize confesses theft of $1,500 in parking meter funds . . . Government announces work to place Camp White on "standby" status will start May 1 . . . Southern Pacific temporarily restores train service between Medford and Dunsmuir as bus drivers go on strike . . . Record snowpack reported in southern Oregon mountains . . . Completion of filing by candidates assures there will be contest for all major county offices in primary election . . . E. P. Leavitt, superintendent of Crater Lake National Park, retires after 45 years on job, 42 years of federal service . . . Unexplained explosion rocks large area of Rogue Valley . . . Gunther Barth, German exchange student at University of Oregon, spends week on staff of The Mail Tribune . . . County officials announce plans for major bridge construction totaling some $150,000 . . . City completes payments for Big Butte Springs pipeline No. 1 five years ahead of schedule . . . Way said opened for construction of new armory in new Medford location . . . Gov. Douglas McKay speaks before forum meeting sponsored by Jackson County Chamber of Commerce . . . Charles E. (Pop) Gates, longtime Medford civic leader, dies.
    John B. Wosky, new superintendent of Crater Lake National Park, arrives here to assume duties . . . Medford city council awards paving contracts totaling about $101,000 . . . Possibility seen that construction of Camp White, slated for May 1, will be "considerably" delayed . . . $195,000 bond issue approved for Crater High School addition and new rooms at Central Point junior high school . . . First orchard heating of year in Rogue Valley reported from Table Rock area . . . Mountain snow cover in southern Oregon breaks all-time record . . . State highway commission reveals plans for construction of four-lane highway between Medford and Ashland and, at a later date, a bypass route . . . City of Gold Hill asked by state highway commission to give up Ben Hur Lampman Park on site of planned rerouting of Highway 99 . . . Mary Kelly, chairman of Jackson County Democratic Central Committee, charges registrars using undue influence to persuade voters to register as Republicans; charge denied by County Clerk George Carter . . . Formation of Maple Park water district northwest of Medford approved by vote of 132 to 2 . . . Contractor starts work on widening East Main Street . . . Plans and boundaries announced for Central Point, Jacksonville and Medford rural fire protection districts . . . Indication seen that Army may not reactivate Camp White . . . Majority of Jackson County employees accepted for coverage under federal Social Security retirement system . . . Maxwell Peirce Sr., prominent Medford businessman, dies . . . Final census report shows Medford population 17,305, including 8,383 [males] and 8,923 females . . . Cal-Ore Pipe Line Company files options on Josephine County property; said planning pipe for petroleum products and gasoline between Medford and Crescent City . . . Heavy frost causes damage estimated at 10 percent to Rogue Valley D'Anjou pear crop . . . Petitions seeking local law banning weather control experiments circulated in Medford . . . Mrs. Russell Graham, Shady Cove, found drowned, infant son missing . . . City schools announce tentative budget of $1,236,442 . . . Voter registration for primary election totals 32,822, largest in history . . . William McAllister Jr., Medford, and Marilyn Bohnert, Central Point, winners of statewide youth leadership contest sponsored by Elks Lodge.
    Gov. Adlai Stevenson of Illinois stops briefly in Medford, states he is not candidate for Democratic nomination for President . . . Gov. Earl Warren of California opens campaign for Republican nomination for President in Medford . . . 40 and 8 Voyageurs hold annual Tri-State Wreck in Medford . . . Medford city council unanimously approves change to daylight time for city after weeks of discussion . . . Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee visits Medford on last lap of campaign for Democratic nomination for President . . . Medford Mayor D. L. Flynn vetoes daylight saving time for city . . . Walter Nunley wins Republican nomination for district attorney in hotly contested primary election; M. P. Vogel gains Republican nomination for county coroner in close race; Lloyd Whitney edges C. L. Hockersmith in race for Democratic nomination for county commissioner . . . Voters approve city school budget of $1,265,196.09 . . . Ernest A. Langley, 84, prominent Jackson County pioneer, dies in Jacksonville . . . Department of Defense request for funds include money for reactivation of Camp White . . . Medford chosen as site of 1953 Pacific Northwest Shrine Association conclave . . . County horticultural experts report 1952 pear crop is 20 percent below 1951 level . . . 32nd annual convention of Oregon State Fire Chiefs Association opens in Medford . . . Jackson County budget completed; totals $2,270,572 . . . John C. Mann, pioneer Medford department store owner, dies . . . New Veterans Administration Cemetery near Eagle Point dedicated . . . Medford city council awards street paving contracts totaling $100,588.
Police report arrest of Ronald Lewis Ansted, 23, Eagle Point, solves two-year series of burglaries . . . John Weisbrod, local real estate man, announces plans for $2,000,000 shopping center south of Medford . . . Medford city budget of $857,246 receives tentative approval . . . 208 Medford high school seniors graduate in 59th annual commencement exercises . . . Sixteen carloads of C-rations arrive in Medford for storage; no indication of why they are here or where they are going . . . Robert Elliott, Medford, named vice-chairman of Oregon delegation to Republican National Convention . . . Medford city council approves bid of $135,039 for construction of new terminal building at municipal airport . . . Heavy freeze hits Rogue Valley orchard crops, damage said "extensive" . . . Frank Sawacki resigns as Jackson County juvenile officer . . . Otto A. Ewaldsen elected to Medford city school board . . . Nineteen-month-old William Glaspie found alive and well after being lost overnight in rugged forest area near Jackson-Josephine County line on Thompson Creek . . . State Police officer Phil Lowd murdered; police seek George Baker Dunkin, 68-year-old recluse, in upper Elk Creek region . . . Formation of hospital district in southern Jackson County approved in special election.
    Guy D. Corliss, Medford, elected chairman of Jackson County Democratic Central Committee . . . State police set up base camp in search for George Baker Dunkin, wanted for the slaying of State Officer Phil Lowd . . . Val Truax, secretary of Southern Oregon Grocers Association for 12 years, dies at local hospital . . . Forest fire control regulations go into effect through Rogue River National Forest . . . Two subdivisions on southeast city limits annexed to Medford . . . City received authorization from federal government to start work on municipal airport terminal building . . . Medford's Mayor D. L. Flynn announces he will not be a candidate for reelection . . . President Truman signs bill appropriating funds for Savage Rapids Dam . . . Robert Elliott, Medford, named to Republican National Committee . . . Three Ashland children killed in home fire . . . Richard Reeve, Grants Pass, wins Rogue Valley Soap Box Derby . . . California Oregon pipeline from Crescent City, Calif. to Medford . . . State highway commission accepts $515,864 bid for work on Medford-Phoenix section of Highway 99 . . . Group of Medford business and professional men offer reward for capture of George Baker Dunkin, wanted for slaying of State Officer Phil Lowd . . . Five-year-old Ernie Leffler found unharmed after being lost 29½ hours in Fourmile Lake area . . . Two motor firm executives found murdered in Crater Lake National Park . . . 100-acre forest fire, largest of season, brought under control near Prospect . . . Mrs. Kay Kunkel, Stockton, Calif., named Jackson County juvenile officer . . . Formation of Medford rural fire district approved by vote of 269 to 23 . . . Gene R. Brantley, Medford, announces candidacy for county judge as independent . . . Lightning storm starts 10 forest fires in southern Oregon.
    Don Lane resigns as secretary and manager of Jackson County Chamber of Commerce to take similar position in Portland . . . Radio station KWIN, Ashland, suspends operation . . . 12th annual Oregon Shakespearean Festival opens in Ashland . . . Severe hail and rain storm causes estimated $250,000 to $500,000 damage to Rogue Valley crops . . . Medford city council approves annexation of Westside Heights addition on west city limits . . . Col. Ben Stafford elected chairman of Jackson County Red Cross chapter; Mrs. Enid Rankin resigns as executive secretary . . . Jackson County Chamber of Commerce asks right to intervene in hearings on proposed air lines flights between Medford and Klamath Falls . . . Construction of landing strip for aircraft at Crater Lake National Park proposed . . . Mayor D. L. Flynn of Medford decides to run for reelection after receiving many requests to do so . . . Sheldon Sackett, Coos Bay publisher, announces he will make application for television station in Medford . . . About 300 persons attend picnic honoring Judge F. L. TouVelle for long service to southern Oregon . . . Grants Pass firm files application for construction of television station in Medford . . . Donald McNiel, Seaside, named manager of Jackson County Chamber of Commerce . . . Army engineer's office in Seattle receives directive to purchase 834 acres of land in former Camp White area . . . Cloud-seeding over southern Oregon's Cascade watershed shows positive result, California Oregon Power Company report states . . . District Attorney Paul Haviland charges signatures on petitions for the nomination of Gene R. Brantley as independent candidate for county judge were forged.
    County Clerk's office finds Democratic nomination of Gene R. Brantley for county judge is valid . . . Summer thunderstorm starts 12 forest fires in southern Oregon mountains . . . Medford city council sells $100,000 bond issue for construction work at municipal airport . . . Forest lookouts report 12 more forest fires started by thunderstorms . . . Squalls lash southern Oregon; crop damage estimated at $150,000; 16 forest fires set by lightning . . . Total of 54 fires reported in Jackson County forests following lightning storms . . . Opening registration of Medford public schools shows slight increase over 1951 . . . Widespread search, centered in Medford, starts for airplane missing with Tacoma, Wash. man and two small sons aboard . . . New $400,000 St. Mary's school opens . . . Gerald Macomber, Jackson County man convicted of assault with intent to kill, escapes from Oregon State Penitentiary . . . Medford city council approves annexation of Verde Hills property on southeast city limits . . . George Baker Dunkin, suspected of murder of state officer Phil Lowd, captured by special officer Russell Maw in Elk Creek region after three-month manhunt . . . Ashland centennial celebration starts . . . Don R. Newbury, prominent Medford attorney, found dead on Roxy Ann Butte . . . Escaped convicts Gerald Macomber and Charles Crozier evade capture after state police fire shots at them . . . Temperature of 101 sets Medford record for late September . . . George Baker Dunkin pleads guilty to charge of second degree murder in slaying of state officer Phil Lowd; sentenced to life term in state penitentiary . . . Escaped convict Gerald Macomber captured near Ruch by state police . . . Mercy Flights air ambulance service carries 100th passenger.
    George Baker Dunkin, 68-year-old Elk Creek miner, begins life prison term for slaying of State Officer Phil Lowd . . . Two more cases of polio reported, bringing total for year to 13 . . . Case of alleged forgery of signatures on petitions to place the name of Gene Brantley on ballot as independent candidate for county judge goes to grand jury . . . Escaped convict Gerald Macomber flees after exchanging shots with state police in Applegate region . . . Medford city council approves contract for fire protection with Medford rural fire district . . . 12-year-old Medford boy admits setting fires causing about $20,000 in damages . . . Twentieth case of polio reported; patient becomes 10th to be taken to treatment center at Eugene . . . County agents estimate pear crop at 2,550,000 boxes, down from 1951 total . . . Total of 36,067 persons registered to vote in Jackson County; about 94.6 percent of those eligible . . . James Roosevelt, prominent Democrat and son of late president, stops briefly in Medford . . . First Camp White bid calls issued by Army engineers . . . Medford city council accepts $32,234 from federal government for airport construction . . . Irvin Daley, 78-year-old Medford carpenter, reported missing in Lake Creek area while on hunting trip . . . Wreckage of missing plane on flight from Klamath Falls to Medford found near Butte Falls; Yakima couple aboard dead . . . Escaped convict Gerald Macomber wounded, captured by state police near O'Brien . . . Gov. Douglas McKay dedicates new Mercy Flights air ambulance plane in ceremonies at Medford airport . . . 40th annual Oregon Reclamation Congress held in Medford . . . Grand jury confirms forgeries on petitions to place the name of Gene Brantley on ballot as independent candidate for county judge . . . R. M. Kent, Talent, elected vice-president of Oregon Reclamation Congress.
    Medford voters reelect Mayor Diamond L. Flynn; county winners include J. B. Coleman, county judge; L. G. Morthland, county commissioner; G. R. Carter, county clerk; Robert G. Fowler, county assessor; and Ralph E. Sweeney, county treasurer . . . Record number of 27,140 voters cast ballots for general election in Jackson County . . . Official canvass shows measure banning weather control defeated by 34 votes . . . Measure for $700,000 bond issue for Ashland hospital turned down by almost 2 to 1 margin . . . Late-season forest fire covers 320 acres in Applegate region . . . First heavy snow of season in southern Oregon mountains closes highway in Crater Lake area . . . Talent division irrigation plans near completion . . . George A. Codding, former Jackson County district attorney, dies . . . Heavy fog covers Rogue Valley, causes traffic accidents . . . Fire destroys historic Lithia Theater in Ashland . . . Body of missing hunter Irvin Daley found in Lake Creek area . . . Army engineers request extension of right-of-way entry to lands in Camp White area; work to be held up until at least December 1 . . . State hydroelectric commission approves California Oregon Power Company's $19,916,690 Lemolo project.
    Cecil W. Thames, 17, of Medford named winner of National 4-H Club college scholarship . . . Fred Robinson, Medford, elected president of Oregon Republican Club; A. A. Lausmann, Medford, named vice-president . . . Jackson County public welfare commission announces its funds are insufficient to take care of expected demand during winter . . . Petroleum Administration for Defense allocated pipe for proposed Cal-Ore pipeline from Crescent City, Calif. to Medford . . . County's 35th polio victim of year reported . . . Medford city school census reveals slight decline in number of school-age persons in city . . . Heaviest snow of winter halts traffic on all southern Oregon mountain highways . . . Senator Wayne Morse hits "smear tactics" in speech at Southern Oregon College . . . Gene R. Brantley arrested and jailed briefly on charge of publishing a forged document involving petitions circulated before general election to place his name on ballot as independent candidate for county judge . . . Medford Greater Community Chest fund drive office closed after reaching 82 percent of goal . . . Medford city council approves purchase of tank fire truck for rural use . . . George C. Rock, Medford, fatally stabbed; police arrest Howard L. Champ . . . Ashland radio station KWIN sold to M. S. Hamaker for $20,000 at public auction in Medford . . . Medford High School band participates in pageantry of annual East-West Shrine charity football game in San Francisco for second straight year . . . Jennings Pierce [elected president of Jackson County Chamber of Commerce] . . . Mrs. Lina G. Wright fatally injured in Medford railroad crossing accident; first traffic death of year in city limits.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 31, 1952, page 2

Last revised February 21, 2010