Posted on July 13, 2020 at 1:25 PM by Brian Hughes
The City of Crestview will observe the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II just a few days shy of the actual Sept. 2 date. On that day in 1945, Japanese representatives signed the instrument of surrender on the deck of the USS “Missouri,” formally concluding the 20th century’s deadliest conflict.
For a community that loves its military, no matter the era, this occasion is so significant and monumental in its impact that it is worthy of a community-wide celebration, organizers say. The result is the Crestview World War II Victory 75th Anniversary Commemoration.
On Friday and Saturday, Aug. 28 and 29, World War II artifacts and vehicles from public and private collections will be displayed inside and outside of the Crestview Community Center, accompanied by a commemoration ceremony, film screenings, a concert and more.
“After our D-Day 75th anniversary program last June, people have been asking me, ‘When are you going to do it again?’” Mayor JB Whitten said. “People who visited it wanted to come back with their kids and grandchildren.”
Educational history displays will feature significant war-era photography, posters and explanatory texts. Tactile exhibits will include materials from the Baker Block Museum, Tom Rice’s display above his Fort Walton Beach Magnolia Grill restaurant, and a private Alabama museum devoted to World Wars I and II.
Outside, World War II re-enactors will exhibit uniforms and equipment. Inside, “Community Collections” will feature local family WWII artifacts. Members of the community may also display framed photos of loved ones who served in World War II on the Table of Honor.
“This was a moving and much visited part of the D-Day event last year,” table coordinator Pam Coffield said. “We will have more room this year to represent more World War II heroes this year.”
Like the D-Day observance in June 2019, the World War II victory commemoration is being coordinated by Crestview public information officer, Brian Hughes, who is also president of the Crestview Area Sister City Program, the event’s community organization sponsor. He has lectured on war-related topics at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, often informed by the personal experiences of family members.
“Our family was intimately involved in World War II in both theatres and both sides,” Mr. Hughes said. “I grew up hearing World War II stories from my mom, dad and grandfather and love learning about the war. Community events like this are a great way for people of all ages to learn about such a world-changing event.”
After the success of last year’s one-day D-Day anniversary observance and subsequent community demand for a longer event, the victory commemoration isa planned for two days, including a Saturday.
“The D-Day 75th anniversary was observed on a Thursday evening last year,” Mayor Whitten said. “Many citizens wanted to come back the next day and look at the exhibits in greater detail.”
Scheduled events currently include:
• A commemoration ceremony featuring special guest speaker Col. Sam Lombardo (ret.), a World War II veteran of the D-Day landings
• “Meet the Heroes” opportunities to meet, greet and take selfies with World War II veterans (subject to safe distancing practices then currently in effect)
• “Music of America” concert by the combined Crestview Community Chorus and the North Okaloosa Community Band
• A screening each day of a World War II film; Pacific Theatre represented on Friday, European Theatre on Saturday
• Guided tour of World War II vehicles displayed outside by their collector and restorer
• World War II re-enactors’ camp outside the Community Center
• A flyover of a World War II Stearman single-engine spotter plane.
The commemoration will conclude Saturday evening with a gala Victory Ball featuring a buffet dinner prepared by event cosponsor Mary Richard and dancing to live war-era big band music performed by Hashtag Swing. It is the only commemoration event for which an admission is charged.
“We hope this experience will provide our friends and neighbors a greater understanding of what it was like for the nation to be in such an all-encompassing war, especially our younger residents who are two or more generations removed from it,” Mr. Hughes said.
“For many of them World War II is just an event in history books and on the History Channel,” Mayor Whitten, a former history teacher, said. “Our hope is seeing these vehicles, artifacts and photographs will make it more of a tangible event for them.”
CRESTVIEW’S WORLD WAR II VICTORY 75th ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATION
When: 3-8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28 and noon-6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29
Where: Crestview Community Center, Commerce Drive opposite the library
What: Community-wide commemoration marking the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory at the end of World War II
Admission: Free daytime exhibits, concert and films. Refreshments available for purchase at the student-run Stage Door Canteen
Victory Ball: Admission: $35 per person cash or check, available at City Hall and the Community Center. $40 online at www.downtowncrestview.org/events-1/crestviews-victory-ball. Limited tickets are on sale now through Aug. 21. Ticket includes buffet dinner, dancing to a live big band, WWII exhibits, soft drinks. Beer and wine available for purchase at the Main Street Crestview Association stand.
Table of Honor: Bring a framed, self-standing photo of WWII veteran ancestors or loved ones for display on the table throughout the event, including the Victory Ball. Tags will be available to identify each veteran.
Meet the Heroes: World War II veterans who are able to do so are invited to meet members of the public during an hour-long daily meet-and-greet. Social distancing will be practiced, and visitors will be required to wear face masks. Please contact event organizers (contact info below) to join us.
Community Collections: Residents may display World War II artifacts from their own collections at these tables. A hold-harmless agreement will be available to absolve the city and Sister City Program from any loss or damage. No firearms, please. Please contact event organizers (contact info below) to arrange exhibition.
World War II Re-enactors: Individual or group World War II re-enactors are invited to bivouac on the Community Center grounds and display uniforms, equipment, etc. Please contact event organizers (contact info below) to arrange participation.
Information, sponsorship opportunities: www.facebook.com/Crestview-WWII-Commemoration; Event coordinator, POC: Brian Hughes, office 850.398.5459, firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on July 2, 2020 at 3:04 PM by Brian Hughes
Even before the flourishing railroad town of Crestview became an incorporated city and the seat of Okaloosa County, it had a newspaper, and has had one ever since. Friday, the city’s twice-weekly Crestview News Bulletin marked its 45th birthday.
The Bulletin began life as the Okaloosa Consumer Bulletin on July 3, 1975, and featured a lead story — appropriately enough — about William H. “Bill” Mapoles, who started the city’s first newspaper.
One of the county and Crestview’s earliest movers-and-shakers, Mr. Mapoles was an attorney, served as a state representative and later a county judge and state senator, and was a driving force in the Legislature behind the creation of Okaloosa County.
Rep. Mapoles moved his hand-operated printing press from Laurel Hill, where he’d founded the Laurel Hill News, to Crestview in October 1915, a month after the Sept. 7 vote to form the new Okaloosa County. There he founded The Okaloosa News.
His father, pastor and Judge J.T. Mapoles, and step-brother, J.W. Mapoles, started The County Journal in Milligan in 1916.
Upon the April 11, 1916, vote to incorporate Crestview, The Okaloosa News began a crusade to encourage voters to choose the town as the new county’s seat, facing a similar barrage from the Baker Advertiser in support of its own community’s efforts.
(Laurel Hill, the third community in the running, no longer had a newspaper upon Rep. Mapoles’ — and his printing press’s — move to Crestview.)
On March 30, 1917, just days before the vote, The News carried a headline reading, “Baker’s Eleventh Hour Campaign: Falsehood Nailed to the Cross” in response to the Advertiser’s article headlined, “Former Crestview Booster Now Supports Baker as Place for County Seat.”
Rep. Mapoles, in a signed front-page editorial that makes readers yearn for the back-story, indignantly declared, “The man who wrote it maliciously lies when he says or intimates that I carried to or gave away whiskey in Holt on the day of the [county creation] election.”
Journalism being much more inclined to sensationalism in those colorful days, another front page blurb added, “The sane, sensible man who will unhesitatingly tell you that Crestview is the right and proper place to put the court house [sic], but that he is going to vote for Baker, is to be pitied and prayed for if nothing else, for undoubted the devil has charge of his soul.”
Upon Crestview’s selection as the county seat, Judge Mapoles moved The County Journal to Crestview, thereby giving the town two newspapers. Sensibly, they merged in March 1918, creating The Okaloosa News-Journal under Bill Mapoles’ leadership.
In September 1926, W.D. Douglas, who had been the News-Journal’s editor since 1922, purchased the newspaper from Mr. Mapoles and hired Mallie Martin as its editor.
In September 1929, the Okaloosa News-Journal received competition from a new rival, The Okaloosa Messenger, whose editor and publisher was none other than Mr. Mapoles’ wife, Celeste, who also ran the Atlasta Hat Shop on Main Street. (“At last, a hat shop.” Get it?)
Mr. Mapoles had a gentlemen’s agreement not to compete with his old newspaper, Baker Block Museum Director Ann Spann said. Mrs. Mapoles had no such restraint.
“The moral of the paper will be, sobriety, manhood, womanhood, and cleanliness in all things, and in no wise least, but last I will tell the truth in all things though the Heavens fall,” Mrs. Mapoles poetically promised. “In fact, my motto is, ‘Blind as a Bat to everything but Right.’”
The Messenger’s focus tended toward society and domestic issues, such as an article about “Little Doc” Enzor’s new radio that he’d installed in his Chevrolet, which the paper described as “the niftiest thing in town.”
Meanwhile, the News-Journal stirred up moonshiners when it ran several articles describing how to make liquor at home. Moonshining was a booming Depression-era business in North Okaloosa County at a time when legitimate jobs were scarce.
“You are making it hard on us to do any business,” one moonshiner lamented in a letter to the editor, while another complained the articles were “putting us out of business faster than the prohibition agents.”
Mr. Martin and his partner, H.C. Hensley, bought the News-Journal around 1930 when the Depression squeezed Mr. Douglas out of the business. An April 1933 edition reported that fliers from Maxwell Field Station, Alabama, would do summer bombing practice at an airfield in Valparaiso to be developed with $2,000 and local labor. That airstrip became Eglin Field in 1937 and eventually evolved into today’s Eglin Air Force Base.
The Messenger’s focus continued on more domestic issues, including a July 13, 1933 revelation that the New Central Café across from the railroad station got new ceiling fans, and, in 1934, a piece about exciting technology employed at another business.
“Jesse Cayson, Jr., the hustler and bustler of the City Pharmacy, has had his drugstore electrical sign done over with what is known in electric terminology as ‘neon,’ which gives a combination of colors at night…which makes it very attractive and beautiful,” Mrs. Mapoles reported.
The Sept. 8, 1933, Okaloosa News-Journal reported it had yet another new owner, a future politician named Robert L.F. Sikes, who then owned the Valparaiso Star.
In August 1934, both papers sponsored entrants in the Methodist Missionary Society of Crestview’s beauty pageant in the high school auditorium. Alas, both of their contestants were defeated by the City Pharmacy’s entry, Miss Corrine Steele.
Unlike Rep. Mapoles and, in 1940, Congressman Sikes, former News-Journal editor Mallie Martin was unsuccessful in his bid for governor in 1936 against a crowded field of 14 other candidates, The Messenger reported.
Both papers carried social news to the delight of readers, including one-line reports of who visited whom, who took a trip out of town by automobile (especially exciting in the ‘20s and ‘30s), and especially, who gathered for local club meetings at whose house.
A typical sample was a 1940 blurb about the Rook Club, “entertained Friday afternoon by Mrs. Jack Steele at her attractive home. The rooms where four tables of players were grouped were decorated by cut flowers.” The article then listed Mrs. Steele’s 15 guests, all identified by their husband’s names, as was the convention of the time.
In 1940, Willie “Cooter” Douglass bought The Okaloosa Messenger, which he owned until 1946, establishing himself as a local media icon in print and radio and earning renown for his country wit. It was Cooter Douglass who nicknamed State Road 2 between Laurel Hill and Baker the “Hog and Hominy Road.” The paper published at least until December 1946.
Not all news was cheery. Crestview’s newspapers also shared tragedies, such as The News-Journal’s 1943 article about 13-year-old Boy Scout David Sampsell drowning in the L&N Railroad watering pond, which is now the west Twin Hills Park pond, and World War II servicemen’s deaths.
The News-Journal got a new editor in Wilbur Powell in 1941, who bought the paper in December 1946 and tripled its circulation by 1951. Its offices were at the corner of W. Pine Avenue and Main Street where the Elks Club lodge is now.
Starting in 1951, The Okaloosa News-Journal also published the Crestview High School newspaper, the Bulldog Growl, which was inserted in the News-Journal.
The News-Journal was temporarily absorbed into the new West Florida Daily Globe, still published by Wilbur Powell, in March 1952, to meet the demand for more Korea Conflict and local military news. It resumed as the Okaloosa News-Journal weekly two years later.
The paper’s June 24, 1954, edition established a “first” for The News-Journal, when rural farmers received their copies by air, the papers being dropped by Preston H. Mays, a Crestview commercial pilot, who threw them from his Piper PA-12 single-engine plane.
On Jan. 1, 1955, Ed and Ellen Broderick bought the News-Journal, and Mrs. Broderick launched her popular “Maw’s Meanderings” social news column.
Ed’s ill health forced them to sell the paper in January 1969 to Leonard Publishing of Santa Rosa County, owner of the Milton Press Gazette, which, by coincidence, had been founded by W.H. Mapoles’ father, Judge J.T. Mapoles. Printing moved to Milton, but the editorial offices, under editor Terry Graham, the Broderick’s daughter, remained in Crestview.
Ms. Graham resigned in February 1970 and Joel Gaston, former assistant city editor of the Pensacola News Journal, took over as editor and publisher of the Okaloosa News-Journal. In November 1979, Mr. Gaston’s wife, Rose, became editor upon his resignation.
Meanwhile, an eventual rival to the Okaloosa News-Journal formed with the July 3, 1975, first edition of the Okaloosa Consumer Bulletin under founder and publisher Roger T. Robinson, who was recently inducted into the North Okaloosa Historical Association’s Family Wall of Honor.
The paper continued the popular “Maw’s Meanderin’s” (now without the “g”) social column while it focused on articles about the north county’s history. Shifting to more local news, the name changed in 1978 to the North Okaloosa Bulletin, with Mr. Robinson as editor and Jack Becklund as publisher.
In 1985, without explanation, The Okaloosa News Journal editor Gayla Dease removed the hyphen that had been between News and Journal since 1918. In 1989, Paul Stanton became its publisher and started a weekend edition, complete with color comics, in May 1991. He went back to a weekly format in February 1992 until finally closing in December 1992 after 77 years.
In September 1978, James Knudsen, former owner of two central Florida newspapers, bought the Bulletin and moved Bob Overturf, who was sales manager, to the editor’s desk. The name changed to the Crestview News Leader in January 1993, then to the Crestview News Bulletin a few years later.
Another paper entered the scene when The Citizen Review started publishing in September 1994, running until October 1997, when it was sold to a consortium from Live Oak. Its four-person staff, editors Larry Woods and Ann Spann, and sales representatives Terry Lamey and Angie Shoutard, had left the North Okaloosa Bulletin to start their own paper.
In 2006, the Northwest Florida Daily News opened a Crestview bureau and started publishing a weekly North Okaloosa County section called The Hub as a rival to the News Bulletin while simultaneously making offers to buy the paper from Mr. Knudsen and make it part of their parent company, Florida Freedom Newspapers.
Mr. Knudsen accepted Florida Freedom’s offer and sold the paper in early 2007. The Hub stopped publishing and its staff moved into the News Bulletin’s offices on West James Lee Boulevard near Main Street. Hub editor, the beloved Kelly Humphrey, became editor of the News Bulletin, and established an unmatched relationship with the newspaper’s service area.
Subsequent corporate mergers and by-outs saw the News Bulletin’s parent companies change several times and the staff whittled down, with the gradual loss of the paper’s photographer, sports editor, layout designer, several writers and most administrative staff. It most recently became part of Gannett, a nationwide media giant.
Through it all, Crestview remains one of the few remaining mid-sized communities in the country that can still proudly boast its own newspaper. And to think: it all started with a man who had a vision for a county, its seat, and keeping its citizens informed through a community newspaper.
Sources: “Crestview: The Forkland” and the Baker Block Museum, Ann Spann, director
1915-1918: The Okaloosa News
1916-1918: The County Journal
1918-1992: The Okaloosa News-Journal (published as West Florida Daily Globe, 1952-54)
1929-1946: The Okaloosa Messenger
1975-present: Okaloosa Consumer Bulletin/ North Okaloosa Bulletin/ Crestview News Leader/ Crestview News Bulletin
1994-1997: The Citizen Review
Posted on June 29, 2020 at 5:40 PM by Brian Hughes
With thunderstorms forecast for the end of the week, the City of Crestview and Main Street Crestview Association have made the decision to cancel the daytime activities scheduled for Saturday’s planned 4th of July Extravaganza.
The 9 p.m. fireworks display will still take place, weather permitting.
“It was a difficult decision to make,” Main Street Crestview Director Sandra Wilson said. “So many people were looking forward to our first festival since the shutdown. But we’re doing this in everybody’s best interests.”
Mrs. Wilson said the increase in Okaloosa County COVID-19 cases was also a concern, though an aggressive sanitizing plan for vendors and a request that attendees and participants wear masks had been in place.
City officials, including Mayor JB Whitten and City Manager Tim Bolduc, met with Main Street organizers Monday morning to address the festival in light of the impending bad weather and some concerns about media reports of increased COVID-19 activity in the county.
Among the events that were canceled was a scaled down version of the city’s annual barbecue and music festival, military appreciation events, and a first responders exposition, all planned for Main Street with games, demonstrations, assorted craft and food vendors, and even a mechanical bull.
“It was going to be a big, wonderful event,” Mrs. Wilson said. “But we’ll be planning other festivals later in the year and look forward to welcoming our friends and neighbors to Downtown Crestview then.”
CRESTVIEW INDEPENDENCE DAY FIREWORKS
The city’s annual free fireworks display will take place in Twin Hills Park at 9 p.m. July 4. Attendees are requested to maintain social distancing. Parking is available in the Twin Hills Park gym lot, at the children’s water park, and downtown, including the Wilson Street parking lot at the railroad tracks. Those who park downtown may easily walk over to Twin Hills Park using the Railroad Avenue underpass by Coney Island Hotdogs and following the path down to the park.