The Arcanum Wayne Trail Historical Society has been busy behind the scenes during the pandemic, organizing and preparing to return later this year with their programs. During this time many members have been busy re-organizing and cleaning the historical house. They also asked me to share some historical trivia about Arcanum.
Thanks to members Dick and Sharon Troutwine and Jim and Barb Deis for their hard work at the house. Also, thank you to Carolyn Furlong, Joan Rench, Bev Rench, and Sharon Troutwine for getting their acquisitions organized. Rex and Annette Stewart were able to make better use of the second-floor library. Additionally, Lynn Trump installed a closet rod and fixed the porch chair; Bev Rench and Kirk Honeyman also repaired the wrought iron fence. All the people have made excellent use of the down time and helped the organization.
Here’s some more historical trivia — Did you know that there was a swimming pool constructed in 1921 in Arcanum? It was located at 10 Weisenbarger Court and operated off and on until 1939. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) approved the local project and allowed a sum of $11,356 to the improvement. According to the Darke County WPA Director, work will be started with approximately 150 boys and men for a period of 2 months on the project; they primarily worked at night when it was much cooler. The improvements scheduled included a new driveway from the swimming pool to the park. The driveway will follow the creek from the pool to the park. Other changes will be the construction of stone entrances to the park, construction of tennis courts behind the school building, building of ovens, building of shelter house, extensive landscaping, etc. The brown house at 10 Weisenbarger Court now was the bath house, it is now a private residence.
Who remembers the Boy Scouts selling 10-pound cans of Pops-Rite Popcorn as a fund raiser and the fun Popcorn Festivals held in Arcanum? You may remember when some of the buildings were gutted by fire in 1953. Did you know the Blevins Popcorn Company of Knoxville, Tenn. purchased the Arcanum business, Ohio Popcorn Company, from Louis Harris in August of 1948?
The timeline for the Arcanum branch of the Blevins Popcorn Company begins in 1948 at the corner of High and South Streets in downtown Arcanum known as Popcorn Square. Imagine these three factors that played the decision to purchase the Arcanum company. 1) The Arcanum company was already contracting with area farmers to grow popcorn; 2) The factory was near the railroad line necessary for shipment; and 3) Darke County’s fertile ground, “a good corn growing area.” A modern processing plant was built at the south edge of Arcanum on what became Pops-Rite Lane. Corn was stored in large silos then shelled, cleaned, graded, and packaged; a large amount was exported overseas. A newspaper article reported three train carloads when it was ship-ready held 10,640 cans: that is 106,400 pounds of popcorn!
Everyone looked forward to the Popcorn Festival that was held annually in the fall. There were go-cart races held downtown, pony rides, fishponds, bike races, cake walks, greased pig chases, and chicken BBQ dinners were sold in Ivester Park. There was also an annual parade, a King and Queen Contest, helicopter rides, and much more — the list goes on and on. And yes of course there was popcorn, plenty of it! Fun times!
Immanuel Baptist Church will host a special “Evening under the Stars” outside with drive-in services on Sunday, August 16 at 6 p.m. The church is located at 500 West South Street, Arcanum, Ohio. Sharing with gospel music will be Blaine Bowman and HIS Goodtime Band. Come as you are, sit in your car and enjoy the music and some of Blaine’s comedy along with some gospel teaching. It is sure to be a good time.
You will want to put this event on your calendar — The Twin Township Trustees are hosting a cemetery stone cleaning and workday Saturday, Sept. 12 from 8 to 11:30 a.m. The township will supply water, D2 and soap. Those interested in helping should bring a bucket and a soft bristle brush. Interested participants can email an RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or text 937-423-1085. This is a great community service project for older students and adults. Organizers look forward to a great workday and lots of volunteers!
“July is a blind date with summer.” ―Hal Borland
“My life, I realize suddenly, is July. Childhood is June, and old age is August, but here it is, July, and my life, this year, is July inside of July.” ―Rick Bass