YESTERYEAR IN MURRAY COUNTY
"Ike" was President and, at least in retrospect, the year 1955 was a time of relative quiet in the world.
Ike hinted that the United States might be willing to use nuclear weapons to defend the Chinese Nationalists on Taiwan from the Chinese Communists on the mainland. Nikita Khrushchev became a powerful figure in the Soviet Union. The Federal Republic of Germany (commonly called "West Germany") became a sovereign state. The Soviet Union created the German Democratic Republic ("East Germany") but the United States and many of our allies refused to recognize East Germany.
The USSR, the United States, Britain and France signed a peace treaty that committed Austria to permanent neutrality, reestablished pre-1938 borders, and once again made the nation a sovereign state.
The USSR finally agreed to release the last German soldiers captured in World War II–some 9,600 men. The war had ended 10 years earlier.
To reinforce its 1954 Brown decision on segregation, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that "all provisions of federal, state, or local law requiring or permitting such discrimination must yield to this principle." The Court ordered all school districts to end segregation "within a reasonable time."
Hurricane "Diane" became the most expensive storm in American history, causing damage of $1.5 billion.
For allegedly whistling at a white woman, white men kidnaped, mutilated and murdered a 14-year-old Negro named Emmett Till in Mississippi.
The Interstate Commerce Commission ordered that segregation must end the following year on all interstate buses and trains as well as in their terminals.
Rose Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. Protesters organized a massive boycott under the leadership of a Negro preacher named Martin Luther King, Jr.
The first class of cadets arrived for the newly created US Air Force Academy, temporarily located at Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado while awaiting the building of the Academy expected to open in 1958 at Colorado Springs.
July 17, Walt Disney's dream park, Disneyland, opened near Los Angeles. Within 8 weeks the park had more than one million visitors.
1955 was the year in which the first corporation ever reported an annual net income of more than $1 billion—General Motors had $12.4 billion in total sales for the year.
The demand for new cars continued unabated. American auto makers turned out some 9 million vehicles in 1955. Imports totaled only 57,000—many of them VW Beetles.
Coca Cola switched from 6-ounce bottles to 10-ounces. Special K breakfast cereal first appeared in stores.
More than $100 million worth of merchandise associated with the Davy Crockett fadd were sold in 1955. That definitely was a lot of coonskin!
Polio vaccinations began in 1955. Some 6.5 million were vaccinated.
Tappan demonstrated that a new microwave technology could cook a 5-pound roast in just 30 minutes.
Esther Pauline Friedman Lederer (Ann Landers) started writing her advice column for the Chicago Sun-Times.
Albert Einstein died.
New words and phrases that entered our vocabularies in 1955 included: church key (bottle opener—beer opener); fish stick; junk mail; demolition derby; rock-and-roll; automated; and UFO (unidentified flying object).
Levi introduced jeans with zippers.
Girls wore poodle skirts with bobby sox and saddle shoes. Boys wore clothing similar to outfits worn that year in movies by Marlon Brando and James Dean.
Most popular music in 1955: "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White"; "Sincerely"; "Rock Around the Clock"; "Sixteen Tons"; Love Is a Many Splendored thing"; "The Yellow Rose of Texas"; "Ballad of Davy Crockett"; "Let Me Go Lover"; "Unchained Melody"; "Crazy Otto"; and "Moments to Remember."
New recording artists in 1955 included: Harry Belafonte, Chuck Berry, Pat Boone, Little Richard, and Roger Williams.
Movies were still very popular, with some 15,000 movie theaters and 4,300 drive-ins. Although not shown in Murray County in 1955 , "Cinerama Holiday" was the top money-maker of the year. "Blackboard Jungle" starred Glenn Ford, Anne Francis and Sidney Portier. "East of Eden" was the final movie for screen idol James Dean, who died in an auto accident in September. Marilyn Monroe starred in "The Seven Year Itch." Marlon Brando appeared in "Guys and Dolls." "Marty" starred Ernest Borgnine. The musical "Oklahoma" introduced a new 65-mm-wide negative (Todd-AO would eventually become the industry standard.) and was a big hit that year. "Rebel Without A Cause," "Lady and the Tramp," and "Picnic" were also major movies of 1955.
The Academy Awards gave eight Oscars to "On The Waterfront" including Best Picture, Best Actor (Marlon Brando), Best Director (Elia Kazan), and Best Supporting Actress (Eva Marie Saint). Grace Kelly won Best Actress for "The Country Girl."
Up and coming newcomers to acting in 1955 included Jack Lemmon, Tab Hunter, Dorothy Malone, Kim Novak, Ernest Borgnine, James Dean, Ann Francis, Richard Ega, Eva Marie Saint, and Russ Tamblyn.
In a major break with the film industry, Howard Hughes sold the entire RKO library of movies, some 740 pictures, to be shown on television. Until then Hollywood appeared to ignore TV.
The United States boasted more than 33 million television sets in 1955. Still they had not yet become commonplace in Murray County.
Among the new shows introduced in 1955: "Alfred Hitchcock Presents"; "The Bob Cummings Show"; "Gunsmoke"; "The Honeymooners"; "The Lawrence Welk Show"; "The $64,000 Question"; "The Millionaire" and "The Phil Silvers Show."
Seasoned shows that were most popular included: "I Love Lucy"; "The Ed Sullivan Show"; "Lassie"; "Producers Showcase"; "Rin Tin Tin"; "Father Knows Best"; "Walt Disney"; "George Gobel Show"; "The Today Show" and "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon."
Radio programs that ended in 1955 included: "The Lone Ranger"; "The Roy Rogers Show"; "The Whistler"; "Stella Dallas"; "Lux Radio Theater"; "Just Plain Bill"; "Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B Riders" and "True Detective Mysteries."
Georgia elected Samuel Marvin Griffin to succeed Herman Talmadge as Governor. The voters elected Talmadge to the U.S. Senate.
Murray County was represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Henderson Lanham, of Rome.
Our State Senator was Ernest McDonald and Frederick Foster Long was our State Representative.
Ray Bagley was School Superintendent. Gerald Leonard was Tax Commissioner. Richard Kendrick was Clerk of Superior Court. Tom Peeples was Sheriff.
Howard Boston was Principal of Murray County High School.
The population of Chatsworth hovered near 1,200.
Fire destroyed the Chatsworth Lodge Hall on Second Avenue.
Only a scant few homes in Murray County had telephones in 1955. Consequently, many businesses did not view the telephone as important to their operation as in subsequent years. Most of the telephone numbers in Murray County consisted of 4 digits. Many in Whitfield had only 3 digits. The telephone number for Poston Motors (Dalton) was just two digits:19.
The advertisements in the Murray County High School annual (The Arrowhead) for 1955 for numerous businesses contained no telephone number. Cohutta Bank purchased a full-page ad but omitted their phone number. So did Carpenter's Pharmacy and Leonard & Ingle Building Contractors. Ads for Bargain Store, Barker-Kelly Ford, Brown Coal, Central Service Station, Chatsworth Drug Company, Fashion Shop, Fort Mountain Lumber, Greeson Super Market, Lay & Company, Leonard's Texaco, Pellom Jewelers, and Western Auto contained no phone numbers.
Murray Business advertisements in the same 1955 yearbook that included telephone numbers included: Brooks Insurance Agency 2461, Chatsworth Lumber 2391; Choat's Truck Stop 2541, Dickie Coal & Feed 4361, Fred Brown & Sons 2501, Howard Shell Station 4251, Kenemer's Funeral Home 2411, Mosteller Brothers Chevrolet 4601, Water's Florist 2731, Wilbanks & Honey Furniture 2481.
Dalton businesses that included their telephone numbers in advertisements in the yearbook included: Love Funeral Home 103, Poston Motors 19, Solomon White 357, Strain Feed & Coal 139, and Thrift Auto Supply 835.
For the record, the 1955 Arrowhead was dedicated to Mrs. Annie Laurie Howard, "faithful teacher, friend, and counselor..."
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