From the archives of Liberal’s hometown newspaper since 1886.
A large safe stolen in a burglary of Black Drug Store on South Kansas Avenue was recovered a week after its disappearance in the Beaver River under a bridge on Highway 94, about 13 miles south of Hooker, Okla.
“The safe, spotted under water by highway maintenance workers, had contained about $1,000 in cash and checks and an estimated $200 worth of narcotics when hauled out the rear of the store by a winch truck,” the Southwest Daily Times reported. A cutting torch was used to cut a hole in the base of the safe’s door. Sheriff George Sharp said the safe had been damaged so much that they couldn’t open it right away to figure out what was missing.
“Some of the checks and a small amount of money was thought to have been in the bottom portion or the safe where it would have been accessible through the hole,” the Times said. “However, officers are working to open the large metal box to search through the various metal compartments to fully determine the loss. Also a small amount of narcotics are visible through the hole in the door.”
An enthusiastic but troubled Liberal High School junior selling magazines as a class money project not long ago popped into then Principal H.E. Malin with a problem and a rather unusual request.
“Mr. Malin, I need a letter from you proving I’m really a high school junior,” she said.
Malin quickly drafted and signed a statement for Susie Hand to carry, assuring potential customers that the 5 foot, 35-year-old housewife and mother of three children was indeed a member of good standing of the junior class, which numbered about 180 students.
“Anyone who has watched progress of Mrs. L.F. Hand during the past seven months of school doesn’t need a letter,” the Times asserted. “Susie has proved the hard way that she is in dead earnest about completing her high school education.” Susie’s classmates included her daughter, Barbara, 17, also a junior and her son, Bill, 18, a senior.
“Susie recalls the assurance with which she quit school at the end of her sophomore year,” the Times reported.
“We were married three weeks before school was out,” Susie said. “I had to keep it a secret until I finished my sophomore term or they would have kicked me out of school. I thought then I had all the education I needed but in just three or four months I knew I was wrong.” She hastily added that she was never sorry about getting married.
“These kids and my husband talked me into going back to school and without their help in keeping the house running, I wouldn’t be able to do it,” she said. Susie’s husband, Lewis, was a well tester for Northern Natural Gas Co. The family moved to Liberal from Spearman, Texas in 1958.
“You can’t do anything now without an education. You can’t even raise kids right,” Susie said. She was disturbed in her return to the classroom to see so many youngsters “loafing” through school without taking it seriously.
“I try to tell them, but they can’t see what I’ve learned the hard way,” she said. She believed she had some influence on keeping two or three girls in school who were on the verge of dropping out. However, Susie wasn’t attending LHS to be an inspiration. The 35-year-old was clear that she was there to get an education. She said her toughest course to pick up after a lapse of 20 years away from the books was English.
Susie and her daughter Barbara took three of the same courses — but not at the same hour or from the same teachers.
“Naturally, we work together on homework,” Susie said.
Susie’s plans for higher education were uncertain.
“If, after she receives her diploma, the family is transferred to a college town, she has no doubt she would go to college,” the Times said. “If they stay in Liberal, she may try to commute to Panhandle A&M College at Goodwell, Okla., 50 miles away.”
“If I’m offered a scholarship, you can bet I’ll find a way to use it,” she said.