180 – A Move to Salina

Nathan Jones focused on his vision for the new Public Utility Investment Company. In late 1924, Jones moved his family from Abilene to Salina, Kansas. He opened a two-room office on the third floor of a bank in downtown Salina.

R.L. Polk – Salina City Directory – 1925

Nathan Jones had organized The Public Utility Investment Company (PUIC) in 1924. He used it as a holding company to acquire the assets of the defunct States Power Company in Oklahoma.

There he organized United Power Company, which bought the assets from PUIC. Complicated. More on that later.

Once United Power of Oklahoma was a signed deal, Jones turned the implementation over to Ralph Jarvis. And Ralph delivered. The United Power takeover was a big success.

Ralph Jarvis was vice-president

Nathan Jones made Ralph the vice president of Public Utility Investment Company.

Ralph Jarvis had managed the United Power project in Oklahoma. Ralph had been involved in many projects and knew what was needed and how to execute the projects.

Nathan Jones would count on Ralph Jarvis to oversee all construction and engineering for any of the acquired utility companies.

Ralph needed to be in Salina

To be successful, Ralph needed to be in the Salina office when he wasn’t traveling. But Ralph was still living in Larned.

R.L. Polk – Salina City Directory – 1925

Chleo, we need to move

Chleo, Mel 3, Anna Webb, Don 1 – 1924

Ralph and Chleo had been living with Chleo’s mother Anna Webb since they were married in late 1919. Now, five years later, a move became necessary.

With Ralph traveling so much, Chleo liked living with her mother. Maybe she and Ralph would have a bit more time together with Ralph spending more time in the Salina office. Whatever her thoughts, Chleo agreed.

In 1925, Ralph was age 31 and Chleo was 25.

The boys

In 1925, Mel was age 4 and Don was 2.

Mel, age 4 and Don, age 2 – c 1925

The move

In 1925, the Jarvis family moved from Larned to Salina. They rented a house on Santa Fe Avenue, and then on West South Street.

Jarvis Story – Doris Gibson

955 South 9th Street

Deed – 955 South 9th St. – 1926

In July 1926, Ralph and Chleo bought a house and moved to 955 South 9th Street in Salina. They purchased the house from R.L. Grossnickle for $1,625. They would make quarterly payments of $125 until the balance was paid. (The promissory note was paid off in July 1928.)

An amazing coincidence

While researching in Salina, we visited the Smoky Valley Genealogical Society. It’s run by volunteers, so you must make an appointment, and a volunteer meets you and hosts your visit. Our volunteer was Mary Jane McIntire. She was a pleasant and informative host.

While searching real estate tax records to find where Ralph and Chleo Jarvis lived, we were looking for a tax record for Lot 27 Block 12 in the Bonds Addition. Mary mentioned that her home was in the Bonds Addition.

“I live at 955 South 9th Street,” she offered.

“What?” I replied in shock. “That’s the address where Ralph and Chleo lived!”

Sure enough, Mary lives in the very house where Ralph and Chleo Jarvis had lived. She was kind enough to let us tour the house. It’s eerie to visit a house where your grandparents and father lived in the 1920s.

Thank you, Mary.

At home

Jarvis family – 955 South 9th Street, Salina – 1926-1929

Nibbles Extra Credit – The Roaring Twenties – Media


Early radio

The 1920s were the “Golden Age of Radio.” Radios were first sold to consumers in 1920. By 1929, more than five million radios were sold every year.

The first commercial broadcast was a news program from Detroit in 1920, followed the same year by KDKA in Pittsburgh. Pretty boring programming, mostly speeches, lectures, news, and music.

In four short years, by 1924, there were 600 stations across the country, and programming had shifted to mostly music with occasional news interruptions.

RCA “Radiola I” radio broadcast receiver

RCA’s Radiola was the first popular radio, selling for $35.

By 1929, 40 percent of the population owned radios, some 12 million households. They tuned in to hear music, sports, and popular stars like Al Jolson and Amos and Andy.

Radio on Staten Island beach

David Sarnoff

David Sarnoff

The creator of the National Broadcasting Company who helped develop television. Sarnoff became the most powerful figure in the communications and media industries. He claimed to have scooped the world on the Titanic disaster, staying at his telegraph key for 72 hours. In 1915, he submitted a memo to the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America, which granted him $2,000 to develop his idea for a “radio music box.” By 1924, the box had sold $83 million worth of units.

History of American Journalism – The 1920s

William S. Paley

William S. Paley

Radio tycoon who headed the Columbia Broadcasting System. Paley was regarded as a programming genius who rewrote the nation’s definition of entertainment and news. In 1928 he bought $50 worth of advertising on Philadelphia station WCAU for his father’s company, La Palina Cigars. Sales skyrocketed and the family ended up buying a chain of stations, which Paley renamed the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS).

History of American Journalism – The 1920s

Radio Advertising

Radio advertising became the first platform for mass marketing. With radio, advertisers could reach a national audience, and do it immediately. It began a trend that has dominated advertising since.

Sports on Radio

Radio brought large spectator sports like baseball, prizefights, horse races, and college football into Americans’ living rooms for the first time. By increasing interest in sports, radio paradoxically led to greater attendance at live events. Broadcasting the 1921 World Series between the Giants and Yankees, for instance, boosted attendance at ballparks the next year. 

In St. Louis, KMOX’s 50k-watt AM transmitter broadcast Cardinals games across the Midwest and as far south as Texas, creating a regional fan base.

Film / movies

Motion pictures started to come of age in the 1910s, but the ’20s saw the first large-scale proliferation of theaters.

Movies boomed, ending the era of live vaudeville. Going to a movie was inexpensive and accessible, as neighborhood theaters expanded during the decade.

At the beginning of the decade, films were silent and colorless. But technological advances came fast and furious.

  • In 1922, the first all-color feature, The Toll of the Sea, was released.
  • In 1926, Don Juan had synchronized music and sound effects, but no voice
  • In 1927, The Jazz Singer had recorded singing by Al Jolson
  • In 1928, Lights of New York was the first all-talking feature film
  • In 1928, Steamboat Willie was the first cartoon with full soundtrack, starring Mickey Mouse

Movie stars

Movie stars became national celebrities. For the first time, fans could watch and hear the stars in the movies.

Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, John Barrymore, Greta Garbo, and Clara Bow became household names during the Roaring Twenties.


Silent movie star Rudolph Valentino was one of Hollywood’s first sex symbols, starring in films such as The Sheik before his untimely death at age 31 in 1926.

Rudolph Valentino


The phonograph was not far behind the radio in importance. The 1920s saw the record player enter American life in full force. Piano sales sagged as phonograph production rose from just 190,000 in 1923 to 5 million in 1929. The popularity of jazz, blues, and “hillbilly” music fueled the phonograph boom.

The Formation of Modern American Mass Culture


News and lifestyle magazines found a national subscriber base in the 20s. The colorful publications told people about news, fashion, sports, and hobbies. Advertisers used flashy ads in magazines to sell consumer products.

Henry Luce

Henry Luce

Henry Luce, along with Briton Hadden, launched Time magazine in 1923. The magazine developed innovative approaches to news coverage, including packaging the news in topical units and replacing standard newspaper prose with a catchy narrative style. From the start, Time was accused of bias; Luce and Hadden were conservatives who opposed government interference of business. After Hadden died in 1929, Luce went on to build a media empire that included FortuneLifeSports Illustrated and Time-Life books.

History of American Journalism – The 1920s

Popular magazines

Popular magazines included Reader’s Digest (founded in 1922),Time (founded in 1923), Vanity Fair, and even Vogue. Reader’s Digest, Time, and Life were very informational magazines with detailed facts about current events, while Vanity Fair & Vogue both set trends and influenced many of the fashion trends during the 1920s.

Culture of the 1920s

Timeline – 1925


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