February 2012

The Selective Service Act was implemented during Woodrow Wilson's presidency in 1917 because the government wanted to ensure that the country’s military services had enough qualified men.

The new law resulted in many Americans being called for combat in World War I. When President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, the country had its first peacetime draft.

Some local residents likely recall registering for the draft at the local Selective Service System, Local Board #97 several years later when it was located in the Hamilton National Bank building at E. Main and Spring streets. The Clerk in charge was Walter Phlegar who used a manual typewriter to type the registrant’s card with his two index fingers. He and his wife, Mary, lived at the beautiful Montrose Court on Virginia Avenue.

The November 22, 1950 edition of Milligan College’s student publication, “The Stampede,” asked and answered the question of undeniable importance to draft eligible males: “How does the draft affect you, Mr. College Student?” That year, 219,771 men from around the country were drafted into military service.

The campus periodical answered the question by publishing guidelines for male students from bulletins issued by the Selective Service. Local boards established several conditions for deferment consideration, all of which had to be met.

The new law required men to register for the draft at his local board, defined as the one nearest his home, within five days after reaching their 18th birthday. However, a student already attending school such as Milligan was permitted to register with the board nearest the campus and request that they forward the paperwork to his home board.

Those who received a classification card had a Selective Service identification number on it, which was to be used in all correspondence with the board. A student was also required to keep his home board informed of any address change. The registrant must have completed at least one academic year of a full-time course of instruction at a college, university, or similar institution of learning.

The college or university was required to certify that the student’s scholastic standing at the college placed him among the upper half of his class. The consequence of poor grades dramatically highlighted the importance of maintaining good academic standing.

The local board received from the college verification that a student who desired to enroll in a full-time curriculum at the college did so prior to August 1, 1950 for the academic year ending in the spring of 1951. In the case of a registrant meeting the above conditions to whom an order to report for induction into military service had been issued, the local board was authorized to reopen the case for reconsideration.

 The law further stated that any notice mailed from the board was considered “active” regardless of whether or not the registrant received it. The draft-eligible male also had to notify the board if he married after the registration date since that would change his classification. Anyone receiving an induction notice from his Selective Service Board could report immediately to another board and ask for a transfer from the board where the request of transfer was made. Persons born before August 31, 1922 (age 28 or older) were not required to keep their local board informed of any change of address; their records were placed in storage.

In 1973, the draft ended and the U.S. converted to an all-volunteer military, which continues to this day. 

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Monday, March 6, 1961 was a much-anticipated day for Science Hill High School students. On that date, the majestic old downtown high school building that was razed and rebuilt in 1910 on what students referred to as “The Hill,” ceased to be the city’s main high school.

Workmen take a break while building the “Old” Downtown Science Hill High School in 1910

A great deal attention was drawn a few miles to the north where the baton of progress passed forward to a new long-awaited modern, expansive facility. Linda Moore Hodge, who graduated in the first class from the new facility, saved and shared the opening day Johnson City Press Chronicle with this writer. Local advertisers flooded the paper with congratulatory remarks.

The “new” Science Hill High School as it appeared just prior to occupancy in 1961. Many businesses congratulated city officials for the accomplishment.

The new innovative $2.5 million campus-style school was a dream come true, brought about by a growing student population and a cramped aged facility situated in the congested business district. The new structure did not materialize overnight; serious discussions for it originated in 1957. During November of that year, Johnson Citians went to the polls and voted to issue $2.6 million worth of bonds, which were offered to the public the following March.

Thus began a flurry of activity. Board members and city officials visited selected campuses in several southern cities to formulate ideas for the new Science Hill. It became readily apparent that multiple campus-style buildings offered the most economical option that would satisfy existing and future needs.

A 40-acre site was selected at the intersection of John Exum Parkway and N. Roan Street. A sizable quantity of land was needed, far in excess of the 2.5 acres that the downtown school occupied. The acreage was sufficient to provide for six separate interconnected buildings with covered walkways, a gymnasium, ample parking space and plenty of outside practice fields for athletics.

Although official groundbreaking began in December 1958, actual construction did not start until the following July. Even then, a steel shortage halted work for a period of time. Further, a large hill that originally occupied the new site had to be leveled. In an almost unanimous decision, school officials retained the same name as the old one. Leland Cardwell was selected as the architect and J.E. Green and Company was awarded the construction contract.

Science Hill was declared to be the largest electrically heated school in the world. Most rooms had hookups for future air-conditioning needs. In all, the sprawling complex occupied 104,500 square feet of floor space.

The auditorium/theater complex sported an impressive foyer with terrazzo floors and colorful tile walls. A steeply inclined floor made it easy for 800 seat occupiers to see the stage. There was space overhead for 25 sets of lights plus a required fireproof curtain. Skylights over the stage could be darkened by simply regulating shades that covered each section. In front of the stage was room for a good-sized orchestra.

The acoustical ceiling band room had ample storage space for instruments, a recording room and sheet music space. A soundproof choral room was designed to handle large and small groups of singers.

The nerve center of the new campus was the Administration Building, which was centrally located among the other buildings. It contained a 2-way public address system connected to all rooms along with closed circuit telephones (internal house phones limited to the campus with no incoming or outgoing call capability), a public address system and a radio hookup. An emergency bright red “hot phone” was available that allowed the caller who picked up the receiver to be automatically connected with every speaker in the school. 

The Classroom Building contained 24 rooms that were described as being “light, bright, spacious and attractive, and it may be some time before the first students can stop admiring it long enough to concentrate on studies.” In it were the science laboratories consisting of a combined chemistry and physics laboratory, one dedicated chemistry lab and a third one for biology. A special projects room allowed students working on long-range projects to leave them set up for days or weeks.

The library had two separate reading rooms, with each surrounded by easy-to-reach books on head-level shelves. The rooms were separated by the librarian’s office, the check out counter and a conference room that allowed groups of students to work on common projects. The library lobby was furnished informally, thereby inviting students to relax at free times and enjoy literary gems. A feature not usually found in other schools was a night depository, permitting students to return books after hours.

The Useful Arts Building contained the home economics department, which consisted of two rooms with three complete kitchen units, stoves, refrigerators, storage space and counter workspace. In these two rooms were sewing machines, cutting tables and fitting rooms. Here young ladies learned to sew a fine seam on sewing machines of all types, be it making pajamas or an evening gown. Another section of the building contained the well-lighted art department.

Entering the gymnasium, one encountered a foyer that was large enough to serve as the ROTC drill hall during the day and accommodate 2,500 basketball fans at night. A floor-to-ceiling partition could be activated to quietly and quickly expand across the entire length of the gym, separating two full size basketball courts. Another button allowed 2,000 rollaway seats to come out from the sides. Using folding chairs on each end of the gym provided accommodations for an additional 500 people.

The cafeteria’s main dining room seated 350 students utilizing four food lines with two designated for students desiring a hot lunch and two for those wanting a cold snack. The lobby contained informal furniture where students who had caught up with their studies could go for relaxation. The dining hall could be cleared of tables and chairs for school socials. Also, a terrace with southern exposure allowed students to bring along their charcoal burners and have a cookout for class, school or special group events. The kitchen was 100% stainless steel throughout ranging from a walk-in refrigerator to a shining commercial type dishwasher.

The new Science Hill High School was dedicated and opened to the public on Sunday, March 5 at 2:30 p.m. in the gymnasium. The Education Committee of the Chamber of Commerce handled arrangements for the important event. On hand were current board members: R.T. Haemsch (chairman), William Sells (vice chairman), Forrest Morris, George Speed, Dr. E.T. Brading, Viola Mathes and Mrs. N.T. Sizemore. Former board members who had a hand in the project were Gerald Goode, L. Cecil Gray, John Howren and Ray Humphreys.

City Manager David Burkhalter presided over the ceremonies: The school band played the National Anthem. Rev. Ferguson Wood, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, gave the invocation. Mr. Burkhalter introduced special guests. Mayor Ross Spears made the building presentation, which was accepted by R.T. Haemsch, chairman of the Johnson City Board of Education. Thomas Boles directed the high school choir, after which Frances Harman, a senior, sang the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Howard McCorkle, superintendent of city schools, then introduced Dr. Andrew Holt, president of the University of Tennessee, who gave the keynote address. Rev. James Canady, pastor of Central Baptist Church, offered a prayer of dedication and benediction. The dedication service was concluded after Mayor Spears and the audience provided the litany for the dedication.   

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My January 9 column concerning the retirement of former Johnson City School Superintendent, C.E. Rogers, prompted a letter from Ms. Pat Willard, who commented about several of the people mentioned in the article.

“I knew who Mr. Rogers was,” said Ms. Willard, “because his wife was in charge of the nursery school I attended as a young child during World War II. It was for children whose mothers were helping with the war effort by entering the work force. My mom worked at Dosser's Department Store selling yard goods. Every woman in the work force freed a man to go into the military.”

“Mrs. Rogers must have taken a special interest in me. One evening, my parents and I walked from our home in the 300 block of Poplar to the Rogers home on Maple in the block next to the college. They had arranged for me to attend Training School (University School) when I began school in the fall, but my parents left the decision to me. I chose to go to South Side School.”

“I am sure that Miss Nancy Beard of your article was the principal of South Side. There was a story that her favorite song was ‘Let it Snow’.”

Pat mentioned Edith Keyes, the part-time librarian at South Side who only worked in the afternoons around 1946. She encountered her again in the late 1990s as a member of the Monday Club and the Institute of Continuing Learning. Miss Keyes had a reserved parking space at the college. Some mornings when she arrived for work, she would find a car parked in her space. She would return home to Jonesboro (Jonesborough), call the college and tell them that she would be in to work when her parking space became available. Pat acknowledged that this could have been a tall tale.

I noted in my column that Mrs. Orville Martin was my occupations teacher in Junior High School. Pat also had her for the same subject. When she turned in a career book to her teacher, Mrs. Martin refused to let her be an architect or a dog breeder in the course, instead urging her to choose nursing. She complied and passed the class.

When Ms. Willard was in her senior year at Science Hill High School, her mother urged her to pursue civil engineering as a career. No one supported or objected to her decision. During the last semester of her senior year, she exchanged typing for mechanical drawing. The principal, George Greenwell, approved her taking the class, making her the only girl in the class. Mrs. Martin learned of her decision and sent word how proud she was of her. Pat studied civil engineering in college.

Ms. Willard mentioned Elise Lindsey whom she believed resided in the 100 block of West Poplar. Her father ran a gas station on South Roan. Pat believed that she likely taught at Columbus Powell.

Pat identified Margaret Woodruff as an elementary school principal. She surmised that she held the position at Stratton Elementary School on Oakland Avenue. She was also one of the three daughters of J.D. and M. E. Woodruff who built a house in the tree streets section of Johnson City in 1906. Mr. Woodruff was a timber agent. She noted that the house was still unpainted with natural chestnut woodwork in most of its many rooms. The family reared eight children in that house before Mrs. Woodruff, a widow by then, sold the property to Pat’s father in l951. The family moved to a large red brick house in the 200 block of Locust Street.

Although Pat did not know School Superintendent C. Howard McCorkle, she knew who he was. She remembered Mrs. Starrett as a very stately woman who taught music in the area.

Pat concluded by saying, “You mentioned others whose names are familiar to me but about whom I have no definite memories. This was great fun. This was a nice little walk down memory lane.” 

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In 1953, Johnson City had 62 mostly “Mom and Pop” restaurants in the Johnson City area. Most were located within a short distance of the downtown Fountain Square area for the convenience of shoppers and workers.

Two of my family members owned restaurants in the early 1950s. I mentioned one, The Green Bean, at 514 W. Market in my “Aunt Ween” column last October. The other one operated at 501 W. Market about 1951-52 at the former site of (Carl) Long’s Lunch (previously Long’s Barbeque).

The new owners were Lester and Carrie Bowman and Staley and Jennie Cain. Lester ran Lester Bowman’s Auto Exchange just two doors west at 505 W. Market (previously located at 235 W. Main). Jennie and her sister, Pauline were vaudeville performers, known as the Bowman Sisters, in New York in the early 1930s.

The two families opened the business a couple of years before Pauline established hers. The name of it escapes family and friends; perhaps a reader will know. Mom, Dad and I ate there frequently. In spite of all the nourishing meals they doled out, hamburger and French fries were about all I ever ate.

Staley worked at Lester’s car lot so Carrie and Jennie were pretty much responsible for running the café on a day-to-day basis. I am sure the men came over regularly to chow down the victuals. Lester's job was selling cars, not flipping hamburgers.

Carrie and Jennie placed one bottle of each different brand of soft drink they sold on a high shelf behind the food counter that included Pepsi Cola, Coca Cola, Royal Crown Cola, Old Colony, Double Cola, Orange Crush, Dr. Pepper, TruAde, Mil-Kay Orange (made with real oranges), Hires Root Beer, Dr. Swett’s Root Beer, Upper 10, Red Rock, Tip, Frostie Root Beer, Golden Cola, Grapette, Nehi Grape, Nehi Orange and Cheerwine.

Carrie Bowman was a witty lady who spoke a colorful language of her own. Those who remember her likely recall some of her unique sayings. In her younger days, a man once asked her, “Where have you been all my life?” Her respond was “I've only been born about half of it.” When she spotted an unattractive person, she would say, “They can't help being ugly, but they could at least stay home.” Anything slippery was referred to as “slicker than owl grease.”

After purchasing something, Carrie would often declare, “This ought to last me until I die, if I die when I ort (ought) to.” An impoverished person was “as poor as Job’s turkey.” Someone who made a quick exit took off like “Moody’s goose.” Anyone who went by “Shank’s mare” walked. If an inconsiderate person blew his car horn at her, she would said, “Blow your nose; you'll get more out of it.” Two more quotes were “Pretty is as pretty does” and “Have it your way.” 

Lester once invited my family to eat at the restaurant with a new family who had just moved to Johnson City. They were Mervin and Mildred Pratt. While we ate, they discussed a new business venture they were starting in the city. They quickly got my attention when they said it would be called Dairy Queen and located at 714 W. Market Street (opposite the Kiwanis Park Little League ball field. We lived near there.

A Science Hill classmate of mine, Bill Durham, once told me that his sister, Christine, was the first employee they hired. Living so close to the Queen, I often walked down there for a “Cone with the Curl on Top.” As I recall, they were priced at five and ten cents depending on the size, milk shakes cost a quarter and banana splits were pricey at 50 cents. This was the first time I ever had the option of eating a cone dipped in chocolate and spread with nuts. Mervin’s place was quite popular since it was the only one in town, but that would soon change.

The Bowman-Cain restaurant operated between one and two years before closing, but my love for the “Cone with the Curl on Top” continues to this day. 

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Lewis Brown commented on my Nov. 21 reader response column in which Thomas Beckner mentioned the Krystal-type hamburger place in Johnson City that was across from the old Hamilton Bank building on E. Main. Tom believed the burgers were five or ten cents each. He said he could still recall the smell of the place.

“The restaurant Tom spoke of,” said Lewis, “was called the Jiffy Burger and the hamburgers cost seven cents each. What a deal. I believe it was open for about a year around 1955. About the time they closed, Dairy Queen started selling their famous little burgers for 10 cents. They ran weekly specials that sometimes included pricing them at a dollar a dozen.”

Louis remembered the business being a simple layout in a building that was long and narrow. When a customer entered the front door, he or she approached a small counter with a small grill beside it for placing an order. A man, whom Brown believed was the owner, poured oil on the grill, added chopped onions, placed burgers on top of the onions and cooked them. Within a couple of minutes, the mouth-watering products were done. While they were grilling, he heated the buns on the corner of the grill. The burgers were square and wrapped in paper. Each one was garnished with mustard and two thin-sliced pickles.

Brown surmised that the location was probably the same one that once operated as Harrison’s Jewelers (201 E. Main, adjacent to Anderson Drug Store). He first heard about the restaurant from some of the older kids in his neighborhood and checked it out on his next trip downtown, which included a trip to the movies. He was not disappointed. He believed he was with Mark McCown or Mackey Therrell.

He speculated that the enterprise failed because it was located on Main Street that presented significant competition from other eateries in the immediate area. He wondered how a 7-cent burger could have generated very much profit.

On another subject, I received a package in the mail from York Trivette, who was my contributor for the Hart’s Jewelers column in May 2009. “I’m sending you,” he said, “a picture of the ‘J’ Club of Science Hill High School from The Wataugan yearbook of 1942 for your consideration of using it in a future heritage column.

“The ‘J’ Club was composed of boys who earned the letter for meeting certain goals in one or more of the various athletic events such as basketball, football, baseball, tennis or track. Today, the boys receive an ‘SH’ instead of just a ‘J’. They probably also get a jacket.” York noted that the photo was taken a few months before most all of the boys entered the armed forces. The country was at war.

Trivette related that the school was referred to then as Johnson City High School, rather than Science Hill High School as it is today. He recalled a favorite cheer used by the cheerleaders: “Are we in it? Yes, I guess. JCHS. Yes, yes, yes.”

Trivette identified several of the boys in the photo and hoped that some of my readers, who are children or grandchildren of a student pictured, might identify one of those noted with a question mark and a number.

First row (l to r): Ralph Carmichael, (?1), Terry Epperson, (?2), York Trivette, Fred Frazier, Red Caughron, (?3), Carlyle Dowdy, (?4).

Second row: (?5), Charlie Johnson, (?6), Buddy Price, (?7), Buford Goldstein, (?8), Roy Holloway, Donnie Miller, Charles Ray Alexander.

Third row: Jay Tipton, (?9), Randall Walters, Coach Denver Dyer, Coach Howard Dyer and Buddy Poole.

Forward any names you can identify and I will share them with York and also incorporate in a future column. 

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