184 – Top of Their Game

In 1928 and 1929, Public Utility Investment Company continued to thrive, growing even faster than before. Acquisitions increased several hundred percent during these two years.

By 1928, Ralph Jarvis was Vice-President of Acquisitions. At age 34, he was everywhere, from small-town telephone companies to big town electric plants. He was traveling more than ever.

The Parade

The Parade – January 1929

By 1928, the company was producing a slick newsletter, The Parade. Each month it featured stories about the various local telephone and utility companies and the people who worked there. And each month it featured stories about home office people. It was very professional and forward-looking.

In January 1929, The Parade featured a writeup on the Acquisitions Department, headed by Vice-President Ralph Jarvis.

The Parade – January 1929

Acquisitions galore

Sometimes, an acquisition happened quickly and without competition. That was true of some local telephone exchanges. The owner was usually delighted to cash in his or her chips.

Mid-size electric utility companies were another story. Unlike earlier years, there were now competitors trying to acquire the utility. That produced bidding wars, causing each competitor to up their offer. It sometimes produced bitter sentiment among the residents, who didn’t want to give up their municipal electric plant.

Woodward campaign

More and more often, Ralph would be involved in these protracted negotiations and local politics. Woodward, Oklahoma was an example of a difficult campaign.

Recall that Oklahoma Gas & Electric had bought out Jones and Jarvis’ United Power Company in 1925. Now in 1928 OG&E and another bidder were competing with Western Light & Power for Woodward’s electric plant. Ralph Jarvis was representing Western (another holding company of Public Utility Investment Company).

Ralph had been on numerous trips to Woodward from the end of 1927 and into 1928. In January 1928, Ralph promised rate reductions. He penned editorials for the local newspapers.

After a year of politics and bidding wars, Ralph and Western offered the high bid of $505,000. That bid was $185,000 higher than the high bid a year earlier.

Woodward, Oklahoma campaign – 1928

Ralph and Western Light & Power won the competition, but there were recalls and lawsuits that followed for another year.

Read The Parade

You’ll enjoy reading the January 1929 issue of The Parade. It has stories about people who worked in the local utilities. It has a women’s page with recipes. It has a page of jokes (not PC today).

Read The Parade – January 1929.

Here’s a teaser article. Find out how Ruth Shores helped in the search for a missing woman in her community. You’ll also find two more references to Ralph Jarvis in this issue.

Nathan Jones is a utility tycoon, and more

Nathan Jones had become a utility magnate. At age 36, he had a flourishing business. But Nathan Jones had a lot more going on in his life.

Home

Nathan Jones was one of the founding stockholders of the Country Club Heights in 1925. It was an upscale housing development on the east edge of Salina. Ralph and Chleo Jarvis put a deposit on Lot 1.

In 1926, Jones built a beautiful home for his family at 10 Crestview.

Jones home – 10 Crestview, Salina – 2021

Jo-Mar Farm

Jones had established a model farm a mile east of Salina. He named it Jo-Mar Farm, for Jones and Marx, his wife’s maiden name. It used the latest technology for raising dairy cattle and poultry.

Jo-Mar Farm
The Catholic Advance – October 19, 1929

Ed. note: When I was growing up in Salina, we got milk from Jo-Mar Dairy delivered to our front porch.

Show horses

One of Nathan Jones’ more expensive hobbies was show horses. He bought and sold and showed the top horses in the Midwest. At one American Royal show, he spent $30,000 on horses and equipment.

Philanthropist

The Preston News – May 30, 1930

Nathan Jones was generous with charities and civic organizations. One of his favorite causes to support was 4H.

He established a scholarship at Kansas State College.

Jones donated a Steinway grand piano and oriental rugs to Marymount Catholic College in Salina.

The Catholic Advance – January 18, 1930

Political influence

The Spear – June 1, 1931

Nathan Jones was active in Democratic politics and lobbied for political influence.

He even gave Kansas Governor Woodring a horse, which was the subject of political sniping.

The Hutchinson News – April 24, 1928

Nibbles Extra Credit – The Roaring Twenties

Aviation

Aviation “took off” in the 1920s. The decade saw the first regular air mail flights, the first transcontinental and transatlantic flights, and the first commercial passenger flights.

Barnstorming

The Tiller and Toiler – June 19, 1919

Barnstorming was an exciting fad after World War I. Many of the pilots were ex-military aviators. They would stop at a small town for a few days, using a field for a landing strip. There would be an airshow, and passenger rides.

One excited passenger in Larned in 1919 was Nathan Jones. Jones was a fan of airplanes and aviation thereafter, as we shall see.

Barnstorming came to an end with federal safety and aviation regulations put into effect in 1927.

Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh – ten days after his solo flight over the Atlantic Ocean in May 1927

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh gained international fame with his solo nonstop transatlantic flight. His New York-to-Paris flight took 33 hours.

Air Mail

In the mid-1920s, regularly scheduled air mail flights were common. They helped jump start the airline industry.

Passenger flights

The story of the first passenger service is interesting.

The Guggenheim family had made a fortune in mining. In the mid-20s, they focused on giving back to society. They set up a fund in 1927 to create and sustain passenger air travel. They selected Western Air Express as their “model” airline. They planned routes with communications and weather services.

On May 23, 1926, two passengers, Ben Redman and his friend J.A. Tomlinson sat atop mail sacks on a flight from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. They had their own parachutes and took a tin cup for their in-flight lavatory.

In the remainder of 1926, about 6,000 passengers flew. By 1929 the number of passengers had grown to 173,000.

Ralph and Chleo fly to Virginia

Among those early air travelers were Ralph and Chleo Jarvis, who flew to Virginia in 1930. I’m guessing their route was via Washington, D.C., because we have their home movies of D.C. I’m guessing they flew on a Ford Tri-Motor, because almost every airline flew the Tri-Motor.

Ford Tri-Motor airplane – 1920s

Jones private plane

By 1929, Nathan Jones had a private airplane – or two. And Ralph Jarvis used the company plane, like the article below where he visited Woodward, Oklahoma by plane. Pretty progressive for 1930.

Ralph Jarvis visits Woodward, Oklahoma by plane – Woodward News Bulletin – March 28, 1930
The Lindsborg Progress – August 14, 1930

Jones buys an airline

Does it surprise you that Nathan Jones bought an airline? Of course not.

It was a short line, with service between Oklahoma City and Omaha.


Timeline – 1928


Sources

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