Seventy years ago, the community got behind an effort to get Dalton named the "Champion Home Town" in the Georgia Power statewide "Champion Home Town" contest. Dalton would put forth its best face by including the surrounding area in the presentation, bringing Whitfield County and even the Vann House in Murray County into the pitch. The presentation was made in an elaborate scrapbook to be presented to Georgia Power. That scrapbook (which you can view at dlg.galileo.usg.edu/zgk/text/pdfs/csb.pdf) makes for a remarkable picture of the Dalton area in 1949 and how things were progressing and growing right after World War II.
Last week we looked at the introductory sections of the scrapbook as it set up the contest and the community's mobilization into different areas to be featured. Clubs, organizations, leaders and individuals all got on board as enthusiasm for the project bloomed. This week we'll look at the different areas featured and at the progress highlighted in each one. The nine areas to be considered were: education, health and sanitation, municipal development, housing and civic improvement, agriculture, business and industry, tourist and recreation, publicity and transportation. What's interesting to think about is that in 1949 they thought Dalton was on the march as the chairman stated in the scrapbook, but what they couldn't see on the horizon was however much the area was expanding in these areas, the explosion of opportunities that would come when carpet came on the scene a decade or so later. But in 1949 we can see how the community was growing before the boom.
Race to finish
As the deadline got close for the scrapbook submission, there was a meeting on Sept. 13, 1949, for the committee members at the Dalton High School library. They were asked to bring scissors. The activity was to pull newspaper clippings from a year's worth of newspapers that would highlight any and all progress. The clippings would fill the scrapbook and present all types of growth for Dalton. This would include new equipment for the fire department, new businesses openings, existing businesses remodeling, community events and all types of activities at the schools. For example, at the start of the presentation there are articles about McLelland's Department Store being remodeled and enlarged with a new re-opening event. Bates Furniture is noted as expanding with a detailed list of the improvements and there is a report that Glinda's Lingerie Shop is opening on the second floor of the Posten building.
After the overview of the project's origins, sponsorship and participation, the scrapbook got down to business. The first section was business and industry. To kick that section off there were clippings from the Christmas parade downtown which drew an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 spectators. The parade was on a Saturday morning at 11 and looking at the photos, the streets were jam packed with people.
What a crowd. There was a "Miss Merry Christmas" chosen (Dalton High freshman Mary Brown) and the Girl Scouts won best float. Santa's arrival was elaborate with reindeer pulling a sleigh on the fake snow-covered float. The article states that the Christmas parade started in 1947 in downtown Dalton which means the parade was 70 years old in 2017. That's quite a successful run, although I'd love to see those size crowds show up again.
In April of 1948, there was another event downtown that brought thousands. Called "Dalton Trade Days," it was an effort to get folks to shop downtown. The promotion worked this way: For every dollar a patron spent in a Retail Merchants Association member store on Friday or Saturday of the event, they would be given a ticket. Then on Saturday there would be drawings for prizes and winning tickets would receive gifts. You had to be present to win. In the photo of the event the streets are once again packed and it was estimated up to 7,000 people showed up for the giveaways. In one photo the prizes can be seen on the back of the truck being used for a stage next to the Hotel Dalton. There were lamps, a kid's red wagon and one of the major prizes, a refrigerator, to be awarded. There were no TVs.
This section went on to highlight new businesses opening, existing businesses expanding and feature the bedspread industry. Among the businesses highlighted for the year were McCamy Lumber, Oke-Doke Cleaners, City Electric Co., Stroup Funeral Home, Paramount Drug Store and Twin Hiss Soft Serve Ice Cream. There's a clipping about Dr. Boozer moving his practice to town. The clippings point out a new service station and the announcement of 18 new service businesses opening during the contest period. There are snapshots in the book showing before, during and after refurbishment. Twenty-four buildings got their fronts painted, 13 downtown stores remodeled and 16 service stations were repainted. The whole town was getting spruced up.
There are examples of businesses expanding like National Chenille growing by 11,000 feet, Art Rich expanding by 10,900 feet and Hardwick Chevrolet expanding by 5,000 feet. Cabin Craft leased space in the old Real Silk Hosiery Mills to expand its rug business which had increased 80% from 1947 to 1948. This was a sign of things to come. Some of the other older companies mentioned included American Thread, Monarch Mills (which changed its name from Monarch Chenille to Monarch Rug Mills because of the changing markets) and Rauschenberg Inc.
Keeping us healthy
The next section in the scrapbook covered health and sanitation. Among the big projects was a panel truck that could transport the X-ray machine around Whitfield, Murray and Catoosa counties for a free chest X-ray to check for tuberculosis cases in the field. Tuberculosis was still a major disease in the 1940s.
Another major effort was being put forth regarding garbage and trash. A new "sanitary" land ill for garbage was being made. Before, there was an incinerator that burned the garbage south of town. The city was just getting started on weekly trash pickup at houses and everyone was to get a trash can for that purpose. The city bought a front loader and had a bulldozer to handle the trash in the landfill. Back at the hospital, there were bragging rights for a new six-bed pediatric ward for patients 12 and under. The day it opened there were two tonsillectomies performed that morning. It was paid for and construction overseen by the Civitan Club. The hospital at that time was in downtown Dalton where the Hardwick Bank Building stands across from the Krystal. And an anonymous donor wrote a check for $3,000 to cover the first year's salary of the new nutritionist and health educator hired for the area.
On the school health front, the regulation was adopted that all students in school must be vaccinated against smallpox. In 1949 there weren't a whole lot of vaccines and these days we don't think about smallpox very much. Other diseases that had immunizations then included diphtheria, typhoid fever, whooping cough and lockjaw (tetanus). To help parents, a radio series was broadcast on WBLJ called "The Inquiring Parent." Approved by the Parent Teacher Organization, the show featured episodes such as "Getting Along with Teenagers," "Dealing With Prejudice" and "When the New Baby Comes." The series ran from June to December. Another radio show was sponsored by the Pilot Club and the Whitfield County unit of the American Cancer Society featuring stories of medical breakthroughs in history and to build up awareness of the fight against cancer. That's a battle we're still fighting.
Featured in an article was the 1948 health department report. There's some interesting tidbits in there. For example, 4,000 buildings were sprayed with DDT, a now illegal pesticide. There were 39 field visits to swimming pools and 67 field visits to schools while 39 different restaurants were inspected, but they were inspected 266 times. They inspected and approved 346 food handlers but I'm not sure exactly what that means. Inspected for what and approved how? For the dental clinic there were 195 teeth filled and 108 teeth extracted for children. And in a related health article, all 16 dairies serving the Dalton-Whitfield area received a grade A rating. That'll make for some strong teeth.
The next section was education, filled with news of expanding schools, teachers being hired for the continuing influx of veterans returning from service to finish high school, and the successes of the students. Some of the schools are no longer with us, schools like Boylston Crown School, North Dalton and Crown Point School. A lot of the improvements for Crown Point School were paid for by Crown Cotton Mills. The city schools had about 3,000 students and the county about 4,300.
Another highlight of 1948-1949 was the expansion of Harmon Field and the addition of metal bleachers able to seat about 1,500 people, up from the 500 the wooden stands had seated. There was great interest in music and at Dalton High as more than 350 students participated in band or chorus, bringing in a crowd topping 1,000 people for the Christmas concert. The other schools put on plays and music programs as well. The late 1940s were segregated so the black students all attended Emery Street School. That year they were getting a new gymnasium and the chorus came in first place in the district.
Next week we'll finish up our survey of 1949 -- Dalton's Championship Hometown Bid!
Mark Hannah, a Dalton native, works in video and film production.