YESTERYEAR IN MURRAY COUNTY
Remembering 1950 should conjure up images of President Harry Truman, a man that most of us knew very little about at the time. After all, television was far from commonplace then. In 1950, while the Trumans were living temporarily at Blair House because the White House was being renovated, two Puerto Rican nationalists attempted to shoot their way into the mansion to assassinate the President. Upon hearing the gunshots, gutsy Truman stuck his head out of an upstairs window to ask what was going on!
Georgia was represented in Congress by a delegation that included some of the most senior and influential men then in Washington. Senators Walter F. George and Richard B. Russell were two of the most powerful politicians on Capitol Hill. Georgia's senior Congressman was Carl Vinson, sworn in as the youngest member ever of the House of Representatives in 1914, chaired the House Armed Services Committee in 1950. Murray County at the time was included in Georgia's 7th Congressional district, represented by Congressman Henderson Lanham of Rome.
In June 1950 the North Korean Army invaded South Korea. On July 1 the first American soldiers arrived in South Korea to participate in what was termed "a police action." Numerous men from Murray County would eventually fight in that far-off county that most had previously never heard of.
At home, Americans in 1950 were agonizing over the worrisome antics of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who seemed convinced that the federal government should search for Communists under every bed in America.
In Georgia Herman Talmadge was Governor. Murray County was represented in the Georgia State Senate by Wallace Bryant, and in the Georgia House of Representatives by Charles Pannell.
Closer to home, J. Roy McGinty, Jr. was Publisher of The Chatsworth Times. Murray County's Sheriff was Frank Butler. Ray Bagley was County School Superintendent. Elswick Keith was Principal of Murray County High School.
1950 was also the year that a new watch offering dependability at an affordable price appeared in stores across America. Advertising that it "takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'," Timex quickly became a household name.
We who were young in 1950, were more interested in the few fun things in our rather ordinary lives. The "funnies" provided cheap entertainment for most of us. "Dick Tracy"; "Smilin' Jack"; "Nancy"; "Little Orphan Annie"; "Lil' Abner"; "Snuffy Smith" and "Alley Oop" were mainstays. Two new comic strips introduced that year were "Beetle Bailey: and "Peanuts".
In the popular music field of 1950 "Goodnight Irene" reigned supreme. The "Third Man Theme"; "Harbor Lights"; "Rag Mop"; "My Foolish Heart"; "If I knew You were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake" and "Mona Lisa" were all big hits that year. At age 19 Teresa Brewer had her first million-copy recording, "Music, Music, Music." Newcomers to pop music in 1950 included Eddie Fisher, Mitch Miller's Orchestra, and the team of Les Paul and Mary Ford. "Peter Cottontail" was so popular that spring that the newly introduced tune outdid the more traditional "Easter Parade." It was Christmas 1950 when Gene Autry introduced "Frosty the Snowman."
One of the local favorites everyone recalls fondly was "Under the Double Eagle."
The top money-making movie for 1950 was "Samson and Delilah," starring Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr. Other big movies that year included: "Cinderella"; "All About Eve"; "Sunset Boulevard"; "Rio Grande"' and "King Solomon's Mines." Best remembered actors appearing in movies that year include: Bob Hope, John Wayne, Bing Crosby, James Stewart, Ester Williams, Betty Grable, William Holden, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. At age 18, actress Elizabeth Taylor married Conrad "Nicky" Hilton, Jr., in May. Before the year had ended she had filed for divorce.
The scant few Murray County families who owned television sets in 1950 could watch "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show"; "The Jack Benny Show"; "What's My Line?"; "You Bet Your Life"; "Armstrong Circle Theater"; and more westerns than anyone can possibly remember!! Those who owned television sets often had unexpected, perhaps even uninvited, visitors who wanted to watch the amazing new entertainment box.
Even in 1950, people often complained about the quality of television programming. At graduation ceremonies at Boston University, President Daniel Marsh told the graduates, "If the television craze continues with the present level of programs, we are destined to have a nation of morons."
Radio shows were still the most common form of entertainment-from-a-box for Murray County families in 1950. "The Shadow"; "The Lone Ranger"; "The Roy Rogers Show"; "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon"; "Nick Carter, Master Detective"; "Hallmark Hall of Fame"; "Stella Dallas"— a veritable buffet offered something for almost everyone's taste. Many homes, though still without electricity, used battery powered radios.
At that time Murray County residents typically called Highway 52/76 "the Dalton Highway." Although some had already begun to traverse the road daily commuting to work, for countless others the trip to Dalton remained a rare treat.
People living along this highway could step out to the road and flag down scheduled buses destined for either Chatsworth or Dalton. Bus driver Henry "Jitney" Bramblett seemed to know everybody who lived along that route. And everyone came to know him.
The most unusual sight along the road to Dalton (Highway 76) in 1950 undoubtedly was the rolling store. Long gone but fondly remembered, this unusual business appeared just a regularly as Thursdays rolled around. A company in Ranger, Georgia had created a large wooden box building on a truck chassis, and equipped its interior with appropriate shelving, counter, and storage space to operate a small dry goods store on wheels. With canned and prepackaged goods galore, a reasonable selection of candy bars, chewing gum, and soft-drinks, plus "light-bread", baloney, cheese, and a hanging stalk of bananas, the rolling store was better stocked than many smaller permanent stores around the county.
Everyone living along the highway seemed to know approximately when the huge, dark green truck would appear. Those wanting to buy something would wave for the driver to stop the truck along the shoulder of the highway, then climb up the steps at the truck's rear to enter. Many marveled at how much merchandise could be found in such an unusual store. Customers bought "coal oil" that they used for their lamps and to start fires in their stoves from a large kerosene tank mounted on the back of the truck. On the opposite side of the steps hung a series of open wire cages holding live chickens. Customers could pay for their purchases with cash, eggs or live chickens!
| || || |