Column – A path to the future

Published 4:47 pm Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Not all news from the end of the 1960s was turmoil and strife. 

Suffolk continued to grow and develop. Community members had big dreams.

Peoples Drug Store opened at Suffolk Plaza, the second one in Suffolk. The downtown Suffolk store continued on in operation as before. The new store had 15,000 square feet, and was one of the largest of all Peoples Drug Stores at the time.

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In April 1968, the idea of a mall in downtown Suffolk found favor with merchants interviewed by the News-Herald. As envisioned by these store owners, the mall would extend one block in all four directions from the intersection of Washington and Main Streets. Some wanted to close the four blocks to motor traffic; others would rather have seen only covered walkways. For those wanting an end to motor traffic, the mall should have covered walkways at a minimum with a completely covered downtown area later. The closed mall would have heat and air conditioning as needed. Henry C. Galumbeck, manager of Haynes Furniture Store, commented: “You either have to modernize town or shut up.” Galumbeck wanted to close one block in each direction from the Washington-Main intersection and cover it. “You don’t need traffic. You can’t park, so what good’s traffic?”

The newspaper as well was undergoing changes and improvements. In the middle of the changes, the paper won an impressive award for the overall look of the paper. The front-page story highlighted the process of a newspaper in the day. “Although we have won a number of honors previously, this is one in which all News-Herald staff members take considerable pride,” James Boone Jr., editor and publisher, noted. “That is because we totally changed our mechanical procedures in December, requiring complete retraining of all production staff members and major changes in all departments.” Boone continued: “’Makeup’ begins with Ira E. ‘Spike’ Moore in the newsroom. He writes most headlines, and decides on the ‘play’ of most stories. Richard L. Austin backs him up one day a week, when Moore is off. After type is set for stories and headlines, Composing Room Foreman Willie T. Aswell usually puts the pages together. He is backed up and assisted in page makeup by Mrs. Elinor Antis and Mrs. Alma Nance. None of the three had ever done page makeup prior to the first of this year, although Aswell and Mrs. Nance had operated typesetting machines in the former operation. Finally, the best page makeup looks pretty bad without a good print. William C. Moore, press room foreman, provides that along with Lawrence R. Lewis and others. The presses and related equipment they operate were installed late last year, and their first exposure to this type of printing equipment came less than a year ago. Other staff members play key roles. Raleigh T. Piland Jr., who is production manager, assists where needed. So do Robert R. Hardy, who is in charge of daily newsroom operations, and Mrs. Marion Brinkley, women’s editor and a general reporter. Quite a few others likewise contribute to the overall effort. Modifications to the News-Herald’s building are still underway in connection with the new equipment.”

Heart transplants were first successfully completed during this time period, the first several being done in South Africa. By the end of 1968, doctors in Richmond had performed several too. 

The beginning of some things echoed the end of others — one being police and fire mascots. “Long a favorite with the youngsters in the area, Lady had spent 13 of her 15-year lifespan at the firehouse on Morgan Street. The men of the department were the only family she’d ever known. Until about two years ago, when the infirmities of old age began to creep up on her, Lady was a familiar sight riding the fire engine to and from the scene of fires. Since she was “grounded,” Lady had been accustomed to just running along beside the trucks as far as Johnson Avenue as they went out on call. Then she’d go back to the station to await the return of her “friends” — the eight men of the department assigned to the Morgan Street Station. This habit, apparently, was her undoing Tuesday night as she was caught beneath the wheels of the outgoing truck. Today, Lady has been buried and the Suffolk firemen are sad. Her death, too, marks the end of the mascot era in Suffolk. Another mascot, a canine named Jack, was as much a part of the Suffolk Police Department as any member of the force until his death about the time the Police Department moved into their present headquarters on Wellons Street. “I don’t want any more dogs,” Chief Baines said.

JEN JAQUA is the creative director for the Suffolk News-Herald. She can be contacted at