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JIM: What were you doing half a century ago?


Fifty years ago: Edgar Compton's Lunch Room; Col. Beanpole confesses; advertisers; and other news of The Shire

As March 1970 drew to a close, the war in Viet Nam dragged on, the aftermath of My Lai made national headlines, and the horror of the Kent State shootings lay scant weeks into the mercifully unseen future. In an offbeat display of cosmic irony -- or perhaps the younger generation simply seeking surcease from the surfeit of sorrows -- the Top Ten rock songs included "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Let It Be," "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," and "Spirit in the Sky."

But meanwhile, back in The Shire...

The collective income tax bite in Adair County for calendar year 1969 likely would go well north of $3,000,000, according to a front page article in the March 31, 1970 edition of The News.

However, the lead article dealt with an entirely different issue: the estimated 70% of rural water in the county that carried some form of contamination. A terse, to-the-point letter on the op-ed page from former County Judge Finis Pyles encouraged "all the people of Adair County to support and work for a Rural Water District" and ended with the grim reminder, "Nothing grows without water."

Academic achievements abounded. Miss Bradley Jeffries, daughter of Dr. Todd and Mrs. Ilene Jeffries and a journalism major at UK, recently had been named as co-editor of the summer edition of the student newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel. 2nd Lt. Russell Hughes Walker, son of Ralph R. "Pete" and Edith Walker, had just been graduated from "the First US Army Area Chemical Biological Radiological School at Fort Dix with the highest academic average ever recorded," and Janella Kaye Brockman and Betty Phelps, each had earned a place on the Fall 1969 Dean's List at UK.

But the most-read story on the front page of the News fifty years ago? Almost certainly the one located left center and headlined above the fold, "Compton's newest business at Gradyville." This piece started with a near "Call me Ishmael" line: "Edgar Compton's Lunch Room is where the action is in Gradyville these days."

The unattributed author went on state the eatery opened in early February "in an alcove built onto the Compton Grocery," and that on all days of the week excepting the Sabbath, "people who like good food meet at Edgar's for short orders or plate lunches, expertly prepared by Mrs. Compton." (A rhetorical aside here: did anyone twig that Mrs. Compton did the work -- and Mr. Compton got his name in the first sentence?) Opening night saw no fewer than 85 guests served, and, stated the writer, the "restaurant's fame quickly spread" and the customers had been coming since, attracted by its "warm hospitality and delicious home cooking."

(An opinion piece headlined "Are the Mini-Towns Back?," inspired in great part by a recent oil boom near Gradyville and by Compton's success, appeared on an inside page, along with an associated editorial cartoon which appears elsewhere on CM. Does anyone recognize the cartoonist's signature or style?)

Meanwhile, Hudson C. "Col. Beanpole" Willis expounded on how his early academic life got off to a roaring start with two years as a student at Lindsey Wilson College (that is to say, first and second grades at the Lindsey Training School) but that alas, a later trifecta -- transferring to Columbia Graded School, seduction by the insidious game of marbles, and running head-on into no-nonsense fourth grade teacher -- derailed his brilliant start in life.

A five-generation family photo graced another inside page: Mrs. Belle Samuell, 91, of Glensfork; her son Zach; Zach's daughter Bernadine; Bernadine's daughter Dorothy Ann; and Dorothy Ann's wee bairn, Gene W.

Ed's Kentucky Auto Store on the Square offered a complete line (forgive the pun) of fishing gear; Bill Dunbar's State Farm Insurance Agency had just moved to the second floor of the Municipal Building on Campbellsville Street; and the R.B. Campbell Feed and Seed at 708 Jamestown Street touted special prices on all field seed. And, at the exit corner of Burkesville Street, Russell & Co., 144 Public Square, at a good stock at fair prices of Kendall tobacco canvas: "the green thread makes the difference."

Houchens, the only grocer to advertise in this edition, offered carrots at ten cents a pound; 49 cents let you take home five pounds of apples, three pounds of oranges, or a 24 ounce jar of Staley brand waffle syrup; and 55 cents put a 12-ounce package of Field brand hot dogs in your grocery bag. A 10 pound bag of potatoes set you back 79 cents and eight pounds of lard ran a buck seventy-nine.

Where were you and what were you doing half a century ago this late March?

This story was posted on 2020-03-28 21:37:16
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Half a century ago Compton's made news in Gradyville, KY

2020-03-28 - Western Adair County, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener (before art training by Henrietta Scott).
The news of the day stated, "Edgar Compton's Lunch Room is where the action is in Gradyville these days - the eatery opened in an alcove built onto the Compton Grocery and on all days of the week excepting the Sabbath, people who like good food meet at Edgar's for short orders or plate lunches, expertly prepared by Mrs. Compton. Opening night saw no fewer than 85 guests served..." - JIM

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