Column – Cities, roads and alligators

Published 5:28 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

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As the Korean War dragged on through 1952-53, other conflicts appeared in the country. 

In January, the Moses bill was introduced in Richmond. If the Supreme Court ruled for desegregation, “The Moses bill would permit the state, through the localities, to contract with non-profit organizations for operation of the schools. The bill was introduced in an effort to preserve the segregated school system should Virginia’s present system be ruled unconstitutional.”

On Feb. 6, King George VI died, Queen Elizabeth, 25 years old, became the first queen of England in 51 years. She was queen until her death in September 2022. 

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Communism was seen everywhere. Hundreds were suspected and accused of being communist. In Germany, the battle between east and west increased throughout the years. In March of 1952, East and West Germany had an electric battle. East Germany cut electricity it was providing to the West, so the West, in response, cut electricity to the East. West Germany claimed the cut caused no shortage and did not set any restrictions.

As of July 1, 1952, Hampton became the newest independent city in the area. 

Advances in technology weren’t all serious. In October, a new style of movie was released. Third-dimension movies were said to be a new projection technique that provided depth to the image. The story claimed, “It will do for the industry what sound did for silent pictures.”

A long dry spell hit the east in November, resulting in massive forest fires. The fires burned uncontrolled for three weeks. In total, about 45,000 acres burned, including areas of the Dismal Swamp. This was reported as the worst fire since 1930. It was put out in the end by two solid days of rain. 

Downtown traffic got a break in March 1953, when Constance Road opened as a bypass to driving through downtown. Within a week, police were reporting issues with drivers not attending to traffic signals, the result of which was several accidents. 

In the heat of June, science again was the hero as polio inoculations began. On the first day, volunteers handed out lollipops and gamma globulin to 9,216 youngsters. Inoculators took up their needles with confidence to take a jab at crippling infantile paralysis. The story reported long lines and eager reception of the inoculations. 

Suffolk was constantly growing, but some “residents” of the city were less enjoyed: “Found: Shy alligator, two feet long. Apply to city lot, Pine Street. City Engineer Kenneth McGahee has asked for newspaper publicity for help with a problem hinted at in the above ad, too late for the classified page. This as yet unnamed guest is now resting comfortably in a shallow pool of water in a drum and McGahee is pondering what diet would suit the reptile best. Men working on a city trash truck driven by J.R. Rose sighted the alligator under a car on Linden Avenue this morning. Approaching it gingerly, they scooped it up in a shovel, put it in a box and took it to headquarters. McGahee believes this junior-sized alligator escaped from someone’s pond, and he hopes the owner will show up quickly to claim it.”