History repeated itself as the New Year and new decade ahead dawned bright and cold, just as it did more than six-and-a-half decades ago.

The Time Traveler braved cold weather and a blizzard of confetti as the New Year was celebrated back in 1953.

In Times Square, the glow of neon lights lit up the mammoth crowd in the streets below as movie marquees beckoned nearly-frozen revelers inside.

In January of ’53, natural gas prices were expected to increase because of the cold winter chill.

Some things never change!

President Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower was in the White House, having been elected in November of 1952. Chevrolet introduced its new Bel Air series in ’53. It featured a new 115-horsepower “Blue Flame Engine” and Powerglide automatic transmission. For his tastes, the ’57 Bel Air is a favorite of the Time Traveler. The new Chevys could be purchased at Stewart Chevrolet in Hernando.

Elvis would buy an entire fleet for his Circle G Ranch a decade later at Stewart Chevrolet. And the King of Rock N’ Roll would purchase several more across the street at the Entrinkin automobile dealership.

While Baby New Year was being celebrated, there were a few other local births being heralded as well.

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Oliver welcomed a son Jan. 4 at the Methodist Hospital. The baby weighed six pounds, eight ounces and was named Stevenson Clyde Oliver. Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Morris were the proud parents of a son born Jan. 1, New Year’s Day, at the Millington Naval Base Hospital. Mrs. Morris was the former Martha Poff of Hernando. Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Dockery welcomed a son Jan. 4 at Baptist Hospital. He was named Alfred, Jr.

Folks were getting ready to prepare the New Year’s meal or at least enjoying leftovers from the annual celebration.

At Fong Brothers Grocery in the DeSoto County seat, pure hog lard sold for 98 cents for an eight-pound carton. A honeysuckle turkey meal cost $1.62 for a 25-pound bagged turkey.

A New Year’s party got the new year off to a festive start at the home of Mr. and Mrs. R.N. Gore. More than 60 New Year’s revelers took part. Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Owen of Mineral Wells had returned home from spending time with relatives in Memphis.

In Olive Branch news, Dr. and Mrs. D.C. Funderburk spent the holidays with their daughter, Mrs. John Clinton and family in Brownsville, Tennessee. Guests at the home of Mr. and Mrs. W.T. Woods totaled 43. Mrs. W.H. Ballard hosted Dr. Henderson, the speaker at the Baptist church and Mr. Bob McCargo of Memphis.

The movie “Big Jim McClain” starring John Wayne was playing at the Von Theatre along with “Goofy” short animated films and Movietone newsreels which told of escalation of the conflict on the Korean peninsula.

The front page of the newspaper listed the young men who received notices from the Draft Board to report: Neville Eugene Scott, Hernando; William Edward Williams, Olive Branch; Brooks Ellis Ross, Olive Branch; Eugene Sing, Hernando; Earl Russell, Jr., Hernando;  and under a separate heading for African-Americans, as was the practice then: draftees Bennis Russell Sturghill, Hernando; Lonnie Lifford, Hernando; Ollie B. Williams, Nesbit; John Edward Ford of Love.

The famous Blackwood Brothers Quartet was playing an engagement at the Ellis Auditorium in Memphis, according to an advertisement in the Times-Promoter.

The ’53 issue of the newspaper turned its focus back on New Year’s news of pages past with its glance of the first week of January, 1928.

In Horn Lake, it was hog killing time. January of ’28 was exceptionally cold. The low that year was 5 degrees. This from the Times-Promoter: “The cold spell last week caused a few more fine hogs to be killed. The cold also brought the first lot of hoboes through town.”

Here’s wishing you and your family all the best in 2020. 

May each of you experience the “times of your lives” in the new year ahead.

ROBERT LEE LONG  is Curator of the DeSoto County Museum.


(1) comment

Ellis Darby

A fine 'look-back' on this my 71st birthday.

Thanks Rob, with a prosperous year for you, the Museum and the paper.

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