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Military historian speaks in Medina

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The Faith and Freedom Club of Medina hosted noted military historian Dr. Thomas Hatfield for their November meeting.

Hatfield, a Medina native, was born in 1935 and lived his early life in Medina. As a “depression baby” and “child of war,” he related many stories to the group about early Medina history.

Hatfield’s grandparents arrived in Medina in 1907 and established the Hatfield General Store. His father owned and operated the Medina Drug Store and was the Medina Superintendent of Schools. Although Hatfield’s family moved to San Antonio in 1945, he still considers Medina his hometown.

Hatfield displayed pictures of his family posing in front of several rock buildings still standing in Medina. He spoke about town life in Medina and what it was like living with no electricity or indoor running water.

As a small child, Hatfield carried water and firewood to the family home in Medina. He remembered that a generator was used to power a small radio where the family could listen to WOAI in San Antonio. A familiar memory was listening to the boxing match between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling in 1938.

Local newspaper, The Medina Light, was a particularly fertile topic for Hatfield. He has read the 520 weekly editions of the four-page newspaper published about Medina activities.

Dr. Hatfield recounted the many events recorded in the newspaper and connected them to the historical life of the era. While the newspaper had many stories on agriculture and farm life, the back page was devoted to stories about Medina citizens.

Hatfield recounted his memories of small-town life in Medina, noting the “extraordinary” number of car crashes as reported in the Medina Light. He suspected this was due to the many unpaved, unmarked roads. The roads were often made of crushed rock and very slippery.

He also noted an unusual number of accidents with axes were noted in the paper. Since most residents had to use chopped wood to fire heaters and cook stoves, the number of injuries attributed to axes was rather high.

Dr. Hatfield ended his presentation with a brief history of Medina’s participation in World War II. He related more than 1,000 men in Bandera County went to war.

The first drafted from Medina was Tommy Rausch, who lost his life in the European theater. Hatfield has worked to track down Medina’s casualties in the war.

To end the presentation, Hatifled entertained questions. Ople Boyloe and Sandy Vannatter also related stories about their families and early Medina history.

The Faith and Freedom Club recognized Volunteer of the Year A.J. Stern, who as was presented with an art photo of the moon over Medina.

New Baptist church minister Brady Owens was introduced to the group as well. He opened the meeting with a prayer.

The Faith and Freedom Club of Medina meets monthly to hear programs about Medina history and other topics of interest. For more information, join the Medina Community Chat page on Facebook. The meetings are on Monday afternoon and include refreshments.