Jerry Summers: Chattanooga Then And Now

Monday, November 8, 2021 - by Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers

The following is a direct and exact quote from pages 120-121 in a chapter styled “City Problems and Government” in a book written by Charles A. McMurry of the George Peabody College for Teachers (now a part of Vanderbilt University in Nashville) under the direction of the Chamber of Commerce of Chattanooga, Tennessee:

            A rapidly growing city like Chattanooga is confronted every day with new and difficult problems of public welfare demanding foresight and wisdom.  The high character of the city and of its people is clearly shown by the way in which they deal with these expensive public tasks which deeply concern all the people, such as water supply, street pavements and sewers, city sanitation and hospitals, schools, police, parks and playgrounds, fire protection, tax assessments, etc.  These public municipal problems when properly solved contribute in a high degree to the welfare of all the people.  They cost large sums of money which the people pay in the form of taxes.  From the business and financial standpoint, these public interests need to be wisely thought out and honestly administered.

            Too often the people, busy with their private affairs, are careless and indifferent and often poorly informed as to the real needs of the city.  Public concerns are allowed to run along and take care of themselves unless they become a scandal.  If some officer defalcates or a sewer breaks and the water backs up into the cellars, or if an epidemic or typhoid breaks out, the people wake up and demand quick action.  A more intelligent public spirit should be kept alive at all times.  The city constantly needs its best public-spirited men as energetic leaders.  There is a call for a more careful study of city enterprises so as to know what they cost, and how they are best managed.

            President Harry S. Truman is remembered for many quotes, of which two are applicable to the above language:

            a.         There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know!

b.         Without a strong educational system Democracy is crippled.  Knowledge is not only the key to power, it is the citadel of human Freedom.

            The current efforts by some individuals and groups to change or erase good or bad history are misplaced.

            Charles McMurry’s book about, The Dynamo of Dixie, The Scenic City, The Gig City, etc. was written in 1923.

            The language is still pertinent in 2021!

* * *

Jerry Summers

(If you have additional information about one of Mr. Summers' articles or have suggestions or ideas about a future Chattanooga area historical piece, please contact Mr. Summers at jsummers@summersfirm.com)

           


10596 Fielding Road Will Be Closed Jan. 25

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The Hamilton County Highway Department reports they will close 10596 Fielding Road on Tuesday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. for drainage tile replacement. This is near the intersection with Baker Boy Drive ... (click for more)

The Hunter Museum turns 70 this year and will celebrate the milestone with a yearlong focus on collecting. To kick off the celebration, the Hunter opens Beyond the Frame: Celebrating 70 Years ... (click for more)

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Happenings

10596 Fielding Road Will Be Closed Jan. 25

The Hamilton County Highway Department reports they will close 10596 Fielding Road on Tuesday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. for drainage tile replacement. This is near the intersection with Baker Boy Drive in the Hamilton on Hunter subdivision. The road will be closed to all traffic as there will be an open trench most of the day. Detours will be posted. (click for more)

Hunter Kicks Off 70th Anniversary Year With New Exhibition

The Hunter Museum turns 70 this year and will celebrate the milestone with a yearlong focus on collecting. To kick off the celebration, the Hunter opens Beyond the Frame: Celebrating 70 Years of Collecting on Friday. Beyond the Frame: Celebrating 70 Years of Collecting will be on view until May 1. The exhibition showcases the wide range of the Hunter’s American art collection, ... (click for more)

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Opinion

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