WDEF's Community Club Awards Boosted Women's Civic Organizations in 1957

Thursday, September 5, 2013 - by Harmon Jolley

In 1957, WDEF radio spearheaded a Community Club Awards program to benefit local women’s civic organizations.  CCA Shopper’s Guide booklets were distributed by WDEF to the club members as well as friends of the groups.  Business advertisements in the booklets listed the value of proof-of-purchase points.  Shoppers submitted store receipts to WDEF, which tallied the points and awarded cash prizes to the organizations.

The CCA Shopper’s Guide provides a glimpse of the Chattanooga business scene of the late 1950’s.  Some general observations are:

  • The business locations were all either in downtown or not many miles away from the central city.
  • Telephone numbers had recently been expanded to 7 digits, with the first two being an exchange with an alphabetic mnemonic.  In St. Elmo, the 821- prefix was known as the Taylor exchange or TA-1.
  • Some familiar brands in the advertisements dominated their markets in the 1950’s.  Examples included Frigidaire refrigerators, Hormel lunch meats, and RCA Victor televisions.
  • WDEF radio was an NBC network affiliate at the time.  When I was growing up in the 1960’s, I remember listening to some of the last aired network radio programs

The following is a review of the CCA sponsors shown in the accompanying pictorial gallery. 

Drue Smith

Drue Smith was listed as the CCA Director in 1957.

By the end of her career, Drew Smith had a resume’ that stretched from Chattanooga to Nashville and across the State of Tennessee.   At the time of the CCA booklet, she was an on-air personality at WDEF.  When WDEF Channel 12 began broadcasting in 1954, Drue Smith was on the air.   Her programs were “Drue at 2 (pm)” and “Party Line,” sometimes co-hosted with Luther Masingill.

She left Chattanooga in 1959 for a job with a Nashville TV station.  Drue later became the first woman admitted to Tennessee’s Society of Professional Journalists, and the first woman to chair the state capitol’s press corp.  She served in the administration of Gov. Frank G. Clement.  President Kennedy appointed her to the Defense Advisor Committee on Women in the Service. 

Known for wearing bold, lively colors, Drue stood out at press conferences.  At her memorial service in 2001, attendees were asked to remember her by also wearing bold colors.

Three Sisters

This was a clothing store with locations in Downtown and at Eastgate Mall.  The retailer closed in 1985.

Charles J. Powell Packing Company

This meat packing business existed in Chattanooga on North St. Elmo Avenue for many years.  Today, Charlie’s Wieners are still sold by Family Brands.

Templeton’s Jewelry

According to a September 3, 1958 Chattanooga Times news story, Templeton’s was founded in 1922 by Ira Templeton, and later operated by his widow and son.  Their store was located at 12 West Eighth Street at the time of the article.  If you remember that address being the home of Dayle May Jewelry , they acquired Templeton’s, as described in the news article.

Schroeder’s Garden Center

Another previous Memories article covered Schroeder’s - http://www.chattanoogan.com/2003/4/15/35234/What-Did-That-Building-Used-To-Be--.aspx.

As a child, I recall going to the store’s location on McCallie Avenue near the railroad viaduct.  They sold tropical fish, including piranha (be careful unloading those into your home aquarium).  The garden retailer later was acquired by North River Nursery, which operated both the McCallie store and a new location on Hixson Pike at Bagwell Lane.   The former Hixson site has been vacant for several years as it awaits its next purpose.

Happy Valley Farms Dairy Products

Every student’s favorite field trip fifty or so years ago was to Happy Valley Farms.  This was another Memories article - http://www.chattanoogan.com/2004/6/8/51494/Pasteurized-Of-The-Past-Happy-Valley.aspx.  In 1957, milk was delivered to many households in glass jugs. 

Furlow-Cate Ford

Furlow-Cate was organized in 1948 by P.E. Furlow and Forrest Cate, Sr., and was a successor to D.S. Etheridge and Broadway Motors in downtown.  The business split into two firms in 1966, with Furlow-Miles Ford opening on Brainerd Road at Belvoir Avenue and Forrest Cate Ford continuing in the downtown location.

Ford's models in 1957 were the Custom, Country Sedan / Del Rio / Ranch Wagon station wagons, Fairlane,  and Thunderbird.

Red Food Store

Frank McDonald founded this grocery in 1908.  Red Food had a significant share of the grocery business in 1957, and prevailed in spite of old and new competitors over the next several years.  Red Food was sold in 1994, and stores had a signage change to the current BI-LO.

Southern Saddlery

You guessed it – another previous Memories article.  http://www.chattanoogan.com/2003/2/23/32949/What-Did-That-Building-Used-To-Be--.aspx

The familiar building on South Broad has been carefully preserved, including its painted sign, and re-purposed.

Plymouth Laundry and Cleaners

This business was founded by John P. Brown and Laurence Polk.  As reported in the October 7, 1972 Chattanooga Times, Plymouth went of business after a forty-four year run.  At one time, Plymouth was one of seven large laundry services, but home washers and coin-operated laundries drained Plymouth’s business of customers.  In 1957, many homes had wringer washing machines and outdoor clothes lines for drying.

Royal Crown Cola (“RC”) and Nehi

Royal Crown Bottling began in Chattanooga in 1922 when S.A. Christian acquired Chero Cola Bottling at 509 East Main Street.  (Let’s see…. have I done that history… yes, here it is via Google - http://www.chattanoogan.com/2005/11/20/76203/What-Did-That-Building-Used-to-Be--.aspx).

RC Colas can still be found on grocery shelves.

Sterchi’s Furniture

“It Costs Less at Sterchi’s” was the saying on a 1921 letterhead of this business.  They were manufacturers, importers, and jobbers of furniture, carpets, pianos, Edison phonographs, and Grafanolas at the time.  In addition to their Chattanooga store at 701-707 Broad Street, Sterchi Brothers and Fowler had locations throughout eastern Tennessee and Kentucky.

WDEF Radio’s “Road Show”

Many of us remember an afternoon drive-time show of this name which was hosted by “Jolly Cholly” (Charles Krause).   This may jog your memory -  http://www.chattanoogan.com/2005/7/4/69012/Remembering-WDEF-s-Jolly-Cholly.aspx.

In 1957, the Road Show was co-hosted by Big Jim Hill and Warren Herring.  According to Chattanooga Radio and Television by David Carroll, Mr. Hill was a frequent sidekick of Luther Masingill and became Chattanooga’s first TV weatherman.

Warren Herring came to Chattanooga in 1946 as a radio personality at WAGC followed by WDEF.  He was “Mr. Moon” on the first local children’s show, “Chickaroonie.”

Babyland, the Enchanted Shop, and Di-Deeland

We were in the middle of the Baby Boom era in 1957, so these businesses appealed to many parents.   This was covered in an article from 2002, my first year of writing for the Memories column.  http://www.chattanoogan.com/2002/12/4/29837/What-Did-That-Building-Used-To-Be--.aspx.

Chattanooga Lookouts / owner Joe Engel

The Lookouts had once played to capacity crowds at Engel Stadium.  By 1957, air conditioning, the suburbs, and television were keeping fans away from the ball park.  Joe Engel may have signed up for the WDEF CCA program in an attempt to bring them back through the gates.

Fans who did venture to a Lookouts game in 1957 could see future major leaguers Bob Allison and Harmon Killebrew.  The club was a farm team of the Washington Senators franchise, which became the Minnesota Twins in 1961.

Chattanooga Transfer and Storage

This moving company was founded in 1866 by John F. Bryan, who hauled many of the monuments displayed at Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park.  According to a December 2, 1957 Chattanooga Times article, the business switched from mules and wagons to trucks in 1916.

Uncle Herman’s Chattanooga Shoe Store

I sometimes receive mail addressed to “Herman,” which means “warrior” in German.  “Harmon” is the Irish equivalent, and then there’s “Armando” and “Armand.”  But, I digress.

Uncle Herman was Herman Brener, and his downtown store was filled with bargains in shoes.  I wrote a Memories article about his business that can be found at http://www.chattanoogan.com/2009/8/23/157369/Remembering-Uncle-Herman-s-Chattanooga.aspx.

WDEF’s Luther Masingill

The one and only Luther signed on at WDEF radio on New Year’s Eve, 1940 and has been there ever since.  He also has appeared on WDEF-TV programs over the years.  My Life with Luther by WDEF Sunny 92.3’s James Howard is an excellent biography.

Luther’s morning radio program, which originated from WDEF's studios in the Volunteer State Life Insurance building in 1957, was called “Sundial” for many years.  Anyone know when that name was removed?  Please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@bellsouth.net.

If you remember the WDEF Community Club Awards, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@bellsouth.net.  I’ll update the article with some of your feedback.


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