Throughout 2004, readers shared their memories in response to my articles. I greatly appreciate those who took the time to send me an e-mail. Many provided information not covered by the original story. So, as the giant ball displaying “2005” is lowered at Fountain Square – wait a minute, y’all are at the wrong square! – here’s a recap of 2004 reader feedback.
WARNER PARK FIELD HOUSE – posted 1/18/2004
Readers recalled attending the Rev. Billy Graham revival at the field house in 1953. One response was from a former member of the Chattanooga High School band. One day, A. D. Casavant, the band’s director and father of current county commissioner Richard Casavant, told the group that they would be performing during the revival. The reader recalled the tremendous crowd in attendance.
Another person noted that it required the participation of many churches to put on the revival.
Another reader had a later memory of the Warner Park Field House. Arriving in Chattanooga in 1959, he went to athletic events at Warner Park when it had an indoor clay track.
A couple of readers noted that after the article was published, Earl Freudenberg took calls on his radio program from some of the workers who built the field house.
ROGERS THEATER – posted 1/25/2004
This was a fond memory of many. A reader recalled that for an R.C. bottle cap, one could get into the movies on Saturday mornings. He also remembered being “carded” for the first time when he went to see “Easy Rider.”
The Rogers also hosted “The Jungle Book” and “That Darn Cat,” which were two favorite movies of childhood of one reader. Another person recalled going to the Rogers in the mid-1950’s for a person appearance by cowboy star Audie Murphy. However, he had left his western attire back home, and was there in a light-colored, double-breasted suit. Still, the reader, who was ten or twelve at the time, was in awe to stand only three feet from his hero.
I received an e-mail from a grandson of George Overend, Sr., who operated the projector at the Rogers. Mr. Overend and his son, George Overend, Jr., installed many of the projection systems in area theaters. Both men were very gifted in the technical aspects of motion pictures.
THE OLD HAMILTON COUNTY COURTHOUSE – posted 2/8/2004
An artist from Dayton, TN sent an e-mail that noted that the old courthouse is one of 15 works which are displayed on the ground floor of the current courthouse.
One of the county commissioners read the article, and suggested that a room in the courthouse be dedicated to displaying its history.
KENNY ROGERS ROASTERS – posted 2/22/2004
A reader recalled seeing pre-restaurateur Kenny Rogers, along with Three Dog Night and other groups, at a concert at the Memorial Auditorium.
A local realtor noted that the aromas of the roasting chicken and the warmth of the rotisserie fires were great in the winter.
MEMORIES OF OLD HIXSON – posted 3/1/2004
A teacher at Hixson Middle School commented that the school has additional history and photos on its Web site – www.hixsonmiddle.com.
A descendant of the Hixson family sent me an e-mail about her father’s memories. He worked on the construction of Chickamauga Dam. “Since it was during the depression and jobs so scarce, the men working at the dam would go to church on Sunday wearing their job badges and held much in esteem, to be able to have a job. He also told me he remembers well the mail being picked up from the depot there in Hixon, how it was done and that he and his siblings would catch the train at that depot to go to East Chattanooga. It cost 10 cents each way.”
A railroad historian observed the “HX” sign on one of the photos of the Hixson depot. He said, “If you look above the station sign at the end of the building, you will note a sign above it with "HX" in large letters. This indicates that at the time the photograph was taken, Hixon had a telegraph office. HX would have been the call letters for Hixon. When a telegraph operator at one station wanted to communicate with a station down the line, he would transmit his call letters followed by the call letters of the station he was contacting and repeat the transmissions three times.”
CINCINNATI SOUTHERN RAILROAD BRIDGE – posted 3/11/2004
A reader passed along information on his maternal grandfather, Charles C. Early of Bakewell, who worked on that bridge in 1920. “At the age of 22, and employed by the Cincinnati Southern Railroad as a carpenter, he helped build the "house" atop that bridge. He died in 1951 when I was a child, but I can remember him telling stories about being so high above the water while working on that bridge. He worked on hundreds of
bridges in his railroad career.”
FOX THEATER IN RED BANK – posted 4/5/2004
I’m still searching for a photo of this theater, but for some readers, it’s a vivid memory.
One person mentioned going to the theater for personal appearances by Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. They inspired her to go to the 5-and-dime to purchase toy horses, which she played with for hours.
Another Fox movie patron recalled, “After the show, we'd go next door to the drug store and have a soda for 20 cents or banana split that was 30 or 35 cents. (that is, if we didn't spend all our money in the theater).” A recollection of another reader was, “We walked to the movies all the time and even home in the evenings in the dark. Back then, the world was a safer place. Every Saturday morning was Kids' Matinee. Admission was 10 cents, I believe. We never missed. Wednesday nights were what I believe they called Jackpot Night or some such title. Admission in the evenings was 20 cents, I believe. They drew names/your ticket stub and gave money away. We always went to that.”
PLANNED SPANS THAT WERE CANNED – posted April 21, 2004
In response to my question as to where bridges are still needed, some readers agreed that a span linking Sequoyah Access Road to Cleveland, TN would save them considerable time. Another reader recommended the connector from Hixson Pike to the Erlanger Hospital area.
MR. STEAK – posted 5/7/2004
A regular reader of this column said that she “always got one of two things; the combination of teriyaki steak & crab legs OR the steak skewer w/peppers, onion, mushrooms. And always the bleu cheese dressing.”
WDXB RADIO – posted 5/17/2004
One of my high school classmates e-mailed: “Concerning the WDXB presentation of the spirit award, (this was) a county-wide contest among area high schools which was based on the number of bottles that each school could pick up from the roadsides and turn in. The grand prize was a movie party (at Marbro drive-in?). As I remember it, the feature that was showing was either “Creature from the Black Lagoon” or “Swamp Thing.”
WDXB hosted many local programs over the years. One reader recalled the long-running “Gospel Train,” which featured Homer E. Nelson and Jackie Nelson.
PASTEURIZED OF THE PAST – three-part series from 5/31/2004 through 6/16/2004
Regarding Grant-Patten Milk, a reader recalled: “In 1956 and 1957, I was a route salesman for Chattanooga Linen Service, Grant Patten was on my route on Monday about noon. That was my dinner stop, as I serviced the Lab, I would get a frosted glass and drink about two glasses of fresh cold milk straight from processing.”
Happy Valley Dairy was recalled by several as the destination of a school field trip. One person said that while having interior renovation done, a fan advertising “Happy Valley Ice Cream, Happy Valley Farms, Rossville, Georgia” was found in the walls.
The third segment on Golden Gallon Milk Jugs got the biggest response. A reader who now lives in Hickory, NC with her daughter sent this e-mail: “Just last week I told my daughter that I sure could use an "Old Milk Jug". I'm now in a wheel chair (electric). I can get to my car and drive, but I'm not able to get out of the car and walk more than 25 feet. I go to the drive-ins here in Hickory for sandwiches, ice cream etc, but I sure
could use the Milk-Jug.” Similar responses about the drive-through convenience came from mothers of young children. Other readers recalled getting a “brain freeze” from either Icee’s or Frozen Cokes which had been offered by their mothers as incentives to behave.
DIAL-A-PRAYER – posted 6/24/2004
A former Chattanoogan noted that after he moved to Nashville, he learned that one could find out about local fishing conditions by dialing a number.
A reader who has called the “Time of Day” recording since childhood commented, “As far back as I can remember the time of day number was from American National Bank. That’s the one phone number in our entire life that I think has remained the same. And you know what else I miss? That big clock that used to be up behind the American National Bank (now Suntrust) at Norcross & Ashland Terrace. Its was there most of my life and I still find myself glancing up there to see what time it is and THE CLOCK’S NOT THERE.”
THE TOURIST HOMES OF ST. ELMO – posted 7/2/2004
A reader sent an e-mail that noted a correction to the architectural style of the former Harker Tourist Home. It is known as “Foursquare,” and the window on the roof is a dormer, not a widow’s peak.
WHERE DO OUR INTERSTATES TERMINATE? – posted 7/9/2004
I had attempted to reach a representative of each of the terminating points of Interstates that pass through Chattanooga. One came back from a person with the Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario Chamber of Commerce – “As a Canadian, the complexity of the US Interstate System is quite fascinating, because we have only one major Canadian Highway, the Trans Canada, since most of the population is concentrated along the southern-most parts of the country. (Mind you it does run from one end of the country to the other!) Visitors from Chattanooga are always welcome to visit us.”
THE ORANGE JULIUS – posted 7/25/2004
Greg Wolinsky, son of Orange Julius proprietor Milton Wolinsky, sent me this e-mail:
“While owning a business has it successes and disappointments, all of us in the family still speak of our fondest memories of Dad’s enterprise. The parades; the tourists; the business men and women of Chattanooga; working behind the counter. It brings back a flood of memories for me almost everyday. Interestingly, I now work in the Volunteer Life Building and my office window overlooks Miller Plaza and site of the Orange Julius.
My father has long since retired. But, to this day the pride of my father’s work is still evident in his voice when he speaks of his restaurant. That pride is also evident when my brothers and I talk of it as well. The restaurant may be long-since closed but the legacy of one man’s efforts lives on.”
The article was reprinted in the “Lempster Owl.” Lempster, NH was the birthplace of Orange Julius formulator Bill Hamlin.
AIR PRODUCTS AND THE YMCA – posted 8/22/2004
Of the former Georgia Avenue YMCA, a reader said, “Wow....what memories I have of the Georgia Ave. YMCA. Every Thursday, we took a bus after elementary school off Signal Mtn. to the "Y" in the '60's.”
PARK HOTEL – posted 8/30/2004
A reader noted that “back in the late 1800s/early 1900s the local newspaper published regular listings of those staying in the various hotels around town.”
GEORGE’S HAMBURGERS – posted 9/9/2004
The restaurant run by George Jonopulos was a favorite of many readers. One noted that he served great breakfasts – “As a young funeral director in the late fifties, I was often at Sts. Peter and Paul's Catholic Church for funerals, which in those days always started at 9 am. Since we had to rush around to get everything ready for such an early service,
we'd postpone breakfast until after the funeral had started. We knew almost to the second how long the ceremony would last, so we often took time for a leisurely breakfast down the street at George's. .I always looked forward to being on those funerals at Sts. Peter and Paul's because I knew a George's breakfast was part of it all.”
The article jogged the memory of another reader and caused them to recall other “good burger” places - “1. Rebel Drive-In on Dayton Blvd. in Red Bank, 2. The Plenty Burger on Hy 27 in Daisy (they also had awesome milkshakes), and the best of all: 3. Rockyside in Sale Creek.”
An 84-year old reader told how that he would go to George’s after paying a nickel admission to a movie. “Since my weekly allowance was 10cents, I had a nickel left over after the show. We would walk up 8th street and stop in Georges for lunch. For that nickel I could get a frankfurter on a round bun. Man o Man was it ever delicious! I
still remember and enjoy all over again!”
A former UTC student commented, “Many late night memories of George's; back in the 50's and 60's, George's restaurant was about the only late night place to go, I mean 12 or 1 oclock. We UTC students always liked to go after a night on the town around midnight.”
Another fan of George’s recalled riding the bus from Red Bank, and said that “the hamburgers were good....and that I used a gazillion napkins.”
SOUSA CONCERTS IN CLEVELAND AND CHATTANOOGA – posted 10/21/2004
Some former band students responded to this article. One said, “In the 1950's, I took trumpet lessons at O.J. Bailey's Music Store on Cherry Street from a gentleman by the name of Colonel Summers (not sure of the spelling). Col Summers had played coronet with the Sousa USMC band and had retired to Chattanooga. I'm not sure if he was a native, or just liked it there. He must have been in his late 70's or early 80's at the time. (probably around 1954 or 55). We would practice with the Sousa sheet music which he would play for me and want me to imitate.”
Another recalled his days in the Brainerd High School band in the late 1960’s: “William Henson was band director and he was great . We (as drummers) couldn't wait till we played a Sousa march. Unlike the original recordings that used very little drum, we took it to new heights with the newer arrangements. I recall the woodwind sections
dreading Sousa tunes because of their difficulty.” The reader also noted that Sousa was instrumental in getting the Star-Spangled Banner (which wasn’t one of his own compositions) to be the national anthem.
CHATTANOOGA FIRE DEPARTMENT AND CAPT. H. L. JOLLEY, SR. – posted 11/1/2004
I appreciate the readers who shared their memories of working with my dad in the fire department, or about knowing of him through their friends and relatives. He passed along to me his love of Chattanooga’s history, and he was very proud of his years as a fireman.
I was pleased to hear from a reader that the St. Elmo Improvement League has acquired the former #14 fire hall for a community center.
WAPO – posted 11/15/2004
A reader noted that WAPO had an announcer called “Cuzzin’ Clem,” who tried to talk with a country accent. He would then come back on the air later in the day in his normal voice, though the effects of speaking like Cuzzin’ Clem were still evident. The same person recalled that WDOD had an immensely popular Chattanooga Playhouse prior to World War II. It competed with the Grand Ole Opry.
LIVE AND LET LIVE DRUG COMPANY – posted 11/22/2004
A reader pointed out that a store of the same name is still alive in Rockwood, TN.
I appreciate my fellow Metro Musicians trombonist, Wayne Collins, taking me on a tour of this building where he works for the United Way. It was a great challenge to save this historic structure, and I’m thankful for all those who worked on the restoration.
SEARS AND K-MART – posted 11/29/2004
A couple of readers recalled the candy/roasted nuts counter in the center of the downtown Sears. Now that they mentioned it, so do I!
THEY CUT DOWN THE OLD PINE TREE – posted 12/10/2004
My uncle had given me the lead for this bit of Chattanooga Lookouts history. After I sent him a copy of the article, he called me with another lead. He said that in the 1950’s, when Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison, and Jimmie Hall were with the Lookouts, they were partners in “The Ball and Bat,” a bar-and-grill. I did some research, and “Robert Allison” is shown in the city directory as proprietor of that establishment, which was at 4th and Market (present-day site of Chili’s). It only lasted a few years, and appears to have changed owners after the three players made it to the major leagues. My uncle recalls going there to seek autographs, but none of the three was there. Does anyone remember The Ball and Bat?
ALUMINUM CHRISTMAS TREE – posted 12/17/2004
The tinsel tree- treasured by some but considered tacky by others – was fondly recalled by some readers. One said that she “bought a little one last year at Southside Gallery; it’s about 10 inches tall and has little bitty ornaments. Silly I know....but I love it!!”
Another aluminum afficiando said, “Being a kid in the 60's I can still remember my Mother just having to have one. It was the thing. My Dad wasn't too thrilled with the idea. I vividly remember the argument in the store about the purchase, but my Mother won and we brought it home.”
Still another response: “I previously lived in Indian Hill subdivision which was a community built in the late 50's and the EPB and TVA would sponsor annual "electric" Christmas parades each year. Aluminum trees were of course part of the festivities. I was fortunate enough to inherit one of the original trees from the subdivisions developers who past away. The tree was 6 foot tall and has a rotating base for the tree in addition to the rotating light wheel. I have never seen another one with a rotating base. I enjoy putting the tree up with the wheel and base and decorated in all red balls. It is a real classic and a great conversation piece at get together at holiday parties. It is still in its original box and all.”
As we begin 2005, I wish all of our readers a very Happy New Year. We create more history each day. Let’s create history this year that will become cherished and celebrated memories, and that makes our world a better place for us and our children.