Looking Back Sept. 9 2012

Each week Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell looks for interesting events, places and people from the past. You can contact her at (229) 888-9371 or mary.braswell@albanyherald.com.

It was on this day in 1776 that the U.S.A. came into existence as the Continental Congress changed the name of the new American nation from the United Colonies to the United States. Here is a look back at other events this week throughout history.


At a meeting of the Board of Commissioner and Roads, it was reported that recent road improvement brought the “splendid roads” of Dougherty County to 50 miles.


Salaries for teachers in Dougherty County and throughout the state had been on hold due to lack of state funds. Governor Blanto sent word that collections of corporate taxes would make it possible for teachers to be paid, at a rate of 20 percent of the 1914 contracted salaries.


Every man who had reached his 18th birthday but was not yet 46 years old and had not already registered for the Selective Service draft, was required to do so on September 12. Although the War Department estimated there were 2,144 eligible men in Dougherty County, only 1,906 registered on the designated day, including the 35 inmates at the county convict camp. The penalty for failure to register was one year imprisonment and no man could exonerate himself with the payment of a fine.


In what would become a major change in the marriage ceremony, the House of Bishops of the United States Protestant Episcopal Church voted 36-27 to delete the word obey from the marriage service.


A guest at the New Albany Hotel was found dead. Although two letters were found detailing plans to commit suicide, the man, a banker, died of natural causes before he could take his own life.

A record high temperature was set for September 15 in Albany. The mercury soared to 101 degrees by the afternoon hours.


Albany’s tax rate was lowered from 14 mills to 12.5 mills. Over the course of five years, the millage rate was reduced by a total of seven mills.


Area farmers were anxiously awaiting payment checks from the U.S. Cotton Administration. Those participating in the cotton acreage reduction program needed the promised money in order to pay labor to harvest peanuts. E.A. Gibson, Albany’s extension agent, sent a telegram to the administration with the message “farmers around here becoming threadbare at the delay.”


The Albany Board of Education approved a budget of $608,679. Discussion was also held regarding the need for a second high school.

The “Dick Tracy” television show sparked an uproar concerning violence.


An estimated 600 people turned out in Smithville to welcome home Cpl. Gerald (Jerry) Bernier. Bernier spent 33 months, five days and six hours in a Communist POW camp in North Korea. The celebration of the 20-year-old’s freedom and homecoming included a parade, speeches, a softball game and a picnic on the school grounds. A square dance rounded out the evening. Townspeople presented the young hero with an engraved watch, a brand new radio and an electric razor as tokens of appreciation for his service.


Elvis Presley appeared on national TV for the first time as a performer on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. Elvis earned the highest to-date fee for appearing on the show - $50,000- and drew 82.6 percent of America’s viewing audience.


President Dwight Eisenhower signed the first Civil Rights Bill since Reconstruction. The bill aimed to ensure that all African Americans could exercise their right to vote. It wanted a new division within the federal Justice Department to monitor civil rights abuses and a joint report to be done by representatives of both major political parties on the issue of race relations. The final act became a much watered down affair due to the lack of support among the Democrats.


Food Stamps were authorized by the U.S. Congress in a program to distribute surplus food to impoverished Americans. The first stamps went to a household of 15 people and totaled $95 or about $6.33 per person. The per person average benefit in Georgia as of 2011 was $135.37.


The September term of the Dougherty County grand jury recommended that the city hire women to serve as plainclothes officers for the patrolling of parks, pools and other places of amusement. The recommendation came on the heels of an escalation in the number of child molestation cases heard in local courtrooms.


Enrollment at Southland Academy in Americus nearly doubled. The student population for the previous school year was 140. As the 1969-70 year got underway, enrollment reached 273.

The Albany Police Department reported that the “new technology” of the pop-top soda and beer can was creating problems. The annual parking meter report stated that more than 1,000 pop-tops had been crammed in meter slots in an effort to avoid spending a nickel. While the tops did not work, often the meter was jammed and in need of repair before further use.


The U.S Department of Agriculture announced that ketchup could be counted as a vegetable in the federal school lunch program.


Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority approved plans to allow the 70-year-old First State Bank to become home for the Albany Chamber of Commerce.


It was announced that lunches would be free for all Dougherty County students, regardless of ability to pay for the meals. This generous program lasted until January 2005 at which time it was discovered that the school lunch program was several million dollars in debt.