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November 24, 2014

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The interesting story behind all those 1940s aerial photos of Bluffton

For several weeks The Icon has posted aerial photographs of Bluffton taken in the late 1940s. The story of how those photos came to be taken is very interesting. Carol (Koontz) Heath, of Rawson, knew immediately where the photos came from when she first saw them appearing on the Icon.

Here’s the story:

Following World War II, the Bluffton Presbyterian Church needed to raise $8,000 to improve the church. A novel plan was adopted. The church finance committee decided to provide the congregation with $10 bills, based on the parable of talents. The idea was for members to apply the parable and multiply the money into the proposed improvement fund in creative ways, then return the multiplied money to the church for the improvement project.

Members of the congregation used the $10 bills in several ways to have the money multiply.

Ned Schultz, (Carol’s uncle), a 1942 Bluffton High School graduate, and member of the congregation, participated in the fundraiser. He came up with his own plan, which worked very well.

Today Ned lives in La Palma, California. Carol says that one of his hobbies is carving unusual small modern art sculptures. We’ve included one of his works among the following photos.

Ned recently told Carol that when he was a Bluffton High School student in 1941-21 he made advertising plaques (about 12 by 18 inches) for the school football and basketball games. These were stencil silk screened and listed the name of the teams that Bluffton played that week.

Ned says he created these for each home page and they were placed in windows of downtown merchants. He’s wondering if any of these plaques still exist.

Back to the story:

Using his $10, Ned he hired a plane from the Bluffton Flying Service and also hired Cliff Elliott, a local photographer, to fly over Bluffton and take photos of the village. These black and white photographs were developed and sold in two sizes. One was a contact print size, approximately 4 by 5 inches. Those photos sold for 20 cents each, three for 50 cents of the entire set for $1.50. Larger photos (8 ½ by 11) sold for 75 cents each.

At the bottom of this story are additional photos, which show the church’s parable of the talents in action.

Several of the photos show Dr. B.W. Travis and his model railroad collection. These photos are among the earliest The Icon has seen of the collection. Dr. Travis obviously sold tickets to show his railroad during the church fundraiser.

The Icon invites viewers to share other details of this interesting project by the members of the Bluffton Presbyterian congregation.

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