Happy Wintz was a passenger at Tucson, and a clown. Literally a clown, having been with the Ringling Brothers' Circus. His pranks began for us when he signed the Register after he arrived in an Stinson he didn't identify, flown by a pilot he didn't identify either.
1932 NAR POSTER (Source:NASM)
He did enter an arrival date: Monday, August 22, 1932, but at an unidentifed time of day. And he left no hint of his itinerary.
Besides these omissions, he originally wrote his name in the pilot name column of the Register, crossed it out and wrote it again in the passenger column along with the annotation "S.O. Announcer."
Based on information from several newspaper articles, Wintz was indeed an announcer for the Standard Oil Company. In the airplane registration field of the Register, the Stinson was identified as a "Press Plane."
His arrival date was useful to divine an alleged purpose for his stop at Tucson. Given the National Air Races (NAR) were held at Cleveland, OH August 27- September 5th in 1931, Wintz and his pilot could have been headed to Cleveland.
This is a good guess, because out of a dozen pilots signed in the Register either side of Wintz, most of them were eastbound to Cleveland from Yuma, AZ, the NAR stop just before Tucson. Parenthetically, and surprisingly, at the end of the Race, none of them placed in the money or won a beautiful Auburn boat-tail roadster (left).
The Cord Cup Race was the major cross-country event of the NAR that year. A poster commemorating the race is above, from the Smithsonian. If you examine the poster closely, you'll note on the map that the Cord itinerary passed through Yuma, Tucson, and on to El Paso, TX, and then northeast. The itinerary map is more clear at the link.
Below is a news photo of Wintz from the Torrance (CA) Herald, 1928. The caption gives some background about his activities a few years before he came through Tucson. His hat says "Voiture 47;" translated from French as "Car 47." If you can help identify what that means, please let me KNOW.
Happy Wintz, Torrance (CA) Herald, 1928 (Source: newspapers.com)
Wintz has a good Google presence. According to many sources, he was a member of the American Legion and was active in the organization, among other things, in the role or master of ceremonies.
Pasadena Post, December 27,1930 (Source: newspapers.com)
Coolidge Examiner, April 17, 1931 (Source: Web)
For example, one of the earliest mentions of Wintz I found was in The Catalina Islander, June 24, 1925. He was the "major domo" of the grand parade that kicked off the 1925 summer season at Avalon, CA on Catalina Island.
And, a year later, The Proceedings of the 8th National Convention of the American Legion, held at Philadelphia, October 11-15, 1926, had listed Wintz as a delegate from California.
He oversaw a repeat performance on Catalina Island when The Catalina Islander of June 22, 1927 hosted some 900 Legionaires and their spouses in what was described by the paper, "It was clownish, dignified, impressive and noisy -- if you can motivate those sensations or emotions all in the same place."
The Pasadena Post, December 27,1930, left, mentions a portable public address system provided by Standard Oil and used by Wintz to broadcast color commentary during the Rose Bowl Parade. This article is one of the few that identified his initials.
The Coolidge Examiner, April 17, 1931 (Coolidge is about 63 miles northwest of Tucson), above, right, described a convention of original Arizona pioneers. The multi-talented Wintz was on hand with his portable sound system to help call the square dances.
Finally, the Torrance Herald, August 30, 1934 reported on another event, "Thanks to Happy Wintz and the Standard Oil Company, those who were gathered about the band stand were able to hear perfectly all the music and speeches...." due to a microphone, amplifier and speakers provided by the Company.
Frank Wintz was born February 17, 1894 in DeSoto. MO. He was a second generation American. Both his grandfather and grandmother were born in Germany. The 1900 U.S. Census, his first, placed his family living in St. Louis, MO. He had a younger brother and sister. His father's occupation was "Blacksmith's Assistant." I have no information about his early life except that he left school out of the 8th grade (see below).
In 1910 Census recorded the family living in St. Louis. Frank, now 16 and out of school, was living at home and working in a machine shop as a "hammer boy." On June 5, 1917 he was registered for the WWI draft. I found no record of service during that war. By the 1920 Census he had moved out of his parents' home and into a cousin's house in St. Louis. He was now employed by a hotel as an assistant steward.
Wintz married Ruth Lora Estabrook, 29, on February 1, 1930. In 1930, the Census placed him at age 36 living at 426 West Vernon Avenue, Los Angeles, CA. That address today is under the Harbor Freeway where it crosses Vernon. He lived with his new wife of two months, Ruth. His occupation was coded as "Announcer" for an oil company.
The 1940 Census placed him and Ruth at 538 Acacia Street, Los Angeles. They now had two daughters living with them aged 6 and 9. His occupation was coded as "Sales Development" for the Standard Oil Company. They paid him $2,700 per year for his work ($51,300 in 2020 dollars). The Census identified his education level as 8th grade.
Frank G. "Happy" Wintz, Grave Marker, September 8, 1951 (Source: findagrave.com)
He was registered again for the draft on April 27, 1942 at age 48. Again, I found no record of service during WWII, probably due to his age. Although, he was employed at the time at the California Shipbuilding Corporation in Wilmington, CA, which was considered a primary wartime industry. "Calship," as it was called, built Liberty ships for transport of war supplies.
Happy Wintz passed away in San Diego, CA on September 8, 1951 at age 57. His grave marker is at right. He was spared the death of his oldest daughter who drowned while on vacation in Switzerland in 1961. Ruth passed away January 17, 1989, surviving Happy by nearly 40 years.
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