In contrast to the record heat wave for mid September 2019 in East Tennessee for our hometown, Newport’s cool spring weather greeted events and change in 1974, as reported in the Newport Plain Talk pages in April that year.

Local businesses such as Newport Dry Goods, and Parks Belk focused on spring fashions including bathing suits, Easter wear, and outdoor activity clothing. Baseball was in full swing at Newport City Park.

Food prices continued low reflecting the ongoing recession and deflated economy of the 1970s decade, because of the OPEC oil embargo that created a crisis in 1973 and recession.

Stinnett Motors was fighting back offering vehicles that got high gas mileage at low prices. Reid Bailey, Parks Belk manager, got folks minds off the difficult time with an April fashion show.

If you shopped at Save Way with Doodle Weems, then you might have bought a few pork chops at 75 cents per pound. Other sale items: Clorox for 48 cents per gallon; and Hunts catsup, 49 cents per 32 ounces.

The Super Dollar advertisement in the Plain Talk countered with hamburger for 85 cents per pound. Buy JFG coffee for 78 cents per pound and lettuce only 18 cents per head.

During the spring of 1974 business people in Cosby were gathering to start the chamber of commerce as they saw business growing for that area. The National Bank of Newport opened a branch bank that year at Cosby.

Bob Espey an executive with Stonebrook Condominiums got support to become acting chairman of the new chamber. Other leaders stepping up included Wilma Williams, Louise Abeshaheen, Bob Roberts, H. A. Padgett, Fred Dumont, Lee Schilling, and Fred Proffitt.

In my early writing years at the newspaper, I had the opportunity to travel the community and write feature articles about local people. One of those was wood whittler Jesse Mathes. Lee Schilling, who was a great proponent of Appalachian crafts and music, introduced me to Jesse. You see his photo here.

Early spring also brought the annual Cosby Ruritan Club Ramp Festival to life after a dormant winter. Dr. Jack Clark could be counted on to find the entertainment and he found the Hagger Brothers from Hee Haw TV fame.

Because 1974 happened to be a big political year when voters would choose a new governor, Kineauvista Hill and festival host M. M. Bullard could count on many politicians’ arrival. You saw Lamar Alexander begin his career, along with Nat Winson, David Pack, Dortsch Oldham and the local Republican candidates. The Crystalairs took the stage too with Congressman Jimmy Quillen.

An interesting feature for the Plain Talk during April 1974 presented the Beta Sigma Phi Lady of the Year candidates. They were Mrs. Ron Ison (Ginger), Mrs. Gerhard Hauser (Dorothy), Juanita Reed, Mrs. Kenneth Kite (Lee), Mrs. Robert Hickey (Myrtle), Mrs. James Bryant (Betty), and Mrs. Clyde Driskill Jr., (Marje).

Beta Sigma Phi presented the Lady of the Year honor to Ginger Ison at the Newport Holiday Inn.

The newspaper’s ads presented an accurate look at the times whether fashions, best values, business trends, and new products. Stinnett Motors continued its Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge deals in early spring with the 1970 models.

You could buy a Plymouth Duster for $2,614. Great gas mileage came from the Dodge Dart Sport and the Valiant Scamp. If you wanted power and muscle instead of best gas mileage, you bought the White Lightning Chrysler on sale for $3,954.

Early May brought a resolution to the battle for who would be the Republican nominees for the August General Election in Cocke County. The Plain Talk made a big splash with its Friday, May 3, edition covering the Thursday, May 2 GOP primary.

Former State Senator J. Kenneth Porter beat long-time circuit judge George Shepherd. For many it was no surprise to see Tom O’Dell become sheriff, winning over Bobby Stinson and Ralph Wade Giles, who were deputies. Stinson later ran and became sheriff. Marcus Mooneyham beat General Sessions Judge Curtis Freshour.

Paul Lee became Register of Deeds defeating Bill Cogdill. Other successful nominees were Sessions Clerk Roy Clark, County Clerk Don Boley, Circuit Court Clerk Mickey Lovell and Trustee Victor Webb.

Since May 1974, Shepherd, Giles, Freshour, Cogdill, Boley, Lovell, and Webb have all died. Stinson suffers from Alzheimer’s, I believe, while Marcus Mooneyham is still active and chatted with me at Lowe’s recently. And I have reported authoritatively that Ken Porter walks regularly several miles a week at Lowe’s and might be into 90 in a few years.

One final photo instantly caught my eye because I got to know him the year I taught at Cosby High School 1972-73. The Eagle yearbook staff honored Frank Bell by dedicating the yearbook to him. Great choice for a man who loved to teach, inspired many youth both academically and in athletics, and shepherded his congregation at the Webb Baptist Church off Wilton Springs Road.

Interestingly, I bumped into my longtime friend Gay Webb as he walked into Walmart last week. He lives behind Wilton Springs Hardware and not far from the church Rev. Bell pastored for decades. Webb is 88 and a good friend to many.

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