The end of one year and the beginning of another is always an occasion for looking back at all the momentous events that occurred in the previous months. Since there are plenty of others who will be giving you the scoop on the now expired 2017, I'll provide a recap of 1962 regarding national and local news.
In 1962, an average home cost $2,950 while yearly tuition at Harvard University was a bargain at $1,520. The yearly inflation rate was 1.2 percent, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed out the year at 652.
In January, the executive secretary of the NAACP, Roy Wilkins praised President John F. Kennedy in his role for advancing civil rights. The city of Douglasville started the year off right with a surplus of $37,000. Folks were sad to hear former "Sentinel" editor and publisher, P.D. Mathews had died while visiting Florida. Later, school children were excited when school was suspended for three days due to snow and ice.
During the middle of February folks here in Douglas County joined others across the nation to see first lady Jacqueline Kennedy provide a televised tour of the White House. On February 20th everyone was breathless as Lt. Col. John Glenn took part in the Friendship 7 Mission. At the monthly dinner meeting of the Douglas County Chamber of Commerce held at the courthouse, Superior Court Judge, W.A. Foster Jr. offered a prayer for the mission's success. His prayers were granted as Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth.
In Douglasville, folks were excited as a telegram arrived from then Georgia Senator Richard B. Russell advising a federal loan for over one million dollars had been approved for the new Douglas County Electric Membership building which would be built on Bankhead Highway and is today's home for GreyStone Power. Clearing and grading for Interstate 20 continued, and by February, the long jagged scar of red earth had reached just past Chapel Hill Road.
March saw more demolition and construction across the county. On March 6th the old jail in downtown Douglasville was demolished. The combined jail and home for many Douglas County sheriffs had stood since the term of Sheriff Fred Aderhold (1891-92). A new jail structure on Church Street would be erected over the next few months. On the east end of the county, Lithia Springs Junior High was under construction on Florence Drive.
One sunny Saturday afternoon in April a few Douglas County citizens decided to take a drive, but tragedy occurred when their car collided with another on Highway 78 just inside the Douglas County limits near Villa Rica claiming three lives. There were a few tense hours for the Alvo family when their 13-year-old son was missing, but he was later found unharmed. A barn in the White City community of the county (between Douglasville and Villa Rica) uncovered an auto theft ring based out of Atlanta. The men were stealing new cars and bringing them to Douglas County to change the identification numbers. Two out-of-town men were arrested by Sheriff "Monk" Redding and his deputies.
In May, many across the nation were scandalized as Marilyn Monroe wore a dress that left little to the imagination as she sang to President Kennedy wishing him a happy birthday. Sadly, by August 1962, Monroe would be dead. Five state journalism awards were given to the Tiger Times page in the Douglas County Sentinel, a popular feature planned and written entirely by Douglas County High School students.
July 1st would see the opening of the very first Walmart at Rogers, Arkansas, while here in Douglas County citizens were watching the news as Billy Homer Ferguson, twice sentenced to death on charges he murdered a TV repairman, was granted a retrial for the third time.
In August, results were finally rolling in from the 1960 census. Some of the figures released that month indicated the median income in Douglas County was $4,230. When school resumed at the end of the month Douglas County enrollment reached an all-time high of 4,689 students.
In September, President Kennedy declared the United States would place a man on the moon by the end of the decade, and October saw the very first monologue provided by Johnny Carson as he began hosting "The Tonight Show." From October 15th to November 20th, the nation watched as President Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev entered a standoff we remember today as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The last day of 1962 -- December 31st -- was the final day in office of Douglasville's clerk, Elma Shipp. She had held that office for 26 years, serving 11 different mayors and several city councilmen. Upon her resignation Mayor Haddle stated she was under praised, over criticized, and always underpaid. Also in December members at the First Presbyterian Church were building a new chapel on their Chapel Hill Road campus under direction of Rev. C.K. Little, the pastor at the time.
And the most momentous event of 1962? The happy event occurred at Atlanta's Piedmont Hospital in May and resulted in my birth, so now you know why I chose 1962 for my look back.
Looking forward, I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!
Lisa Cooper writes the amazing stories of Douglas County each Sunday. You can find her new book "Every Now and Then: The Amazing Stories of Douglas County" online at Amazon, print and Kindle versions. Locally, her books can be found at the Douglas County Museum of History and Art, The Farmer's Table and Lithia Springs Pharmacy.