Column – Growing and developing

Published 5:13 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2023

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In 1975 and ’76, the new city of Suffolk was growing and developing quickly. With the economy recovering, residents looked to the future for new shopping and entertainment options. In February 1975, a petition calling for the city to establish additional recreational facilities, in particular a bowling alley or skating rink, was signed by more than 500 residents and presented to City Council.

While the economy was recovering, grocery prices and gas prices were still high.

“Fast food servers ranging from 7-Eleven with its “Hamlet” to Stuckey’s and Hardee’s with a variety of hot breakfasts are expanding horizons at sunrise and finding a good market for breakfast offerings here. Not only fast food specialists but most area restaurants report an increase in the demand for breakfast. In explaining the trend, many restaurant managers cited the increases in prices of groceries for preparing breakfast at home. Bacon, eggs, coffee and toast costs an estimated 50 cents to prepare at home. “Breakfast out” averages $1.10 and generally tastes better. Some managers noted that more working women and more women who prefer to sleep in rather than cook their husband’s breakfast helped boost the morning trade.”

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The mid-’70s saw women striving for equal rights nationwide, and here in Suffolk was no different. In April 1975, a group of women — and men — began to organize a women’s rights group in Suffolk. Lower pay, poor job opportunities and general lack of respect for women on an equal level with men were the major obstacles the participants wanted to overcome. Criticism of city government centered on the lack of women in positions of responsibility, including department heads.

On Oct. 29, 1975, America’s women were asked to cancel all normal activities — work, shopping, banking, cooking, child care and even sex — as part of a nationwide feminist strike to show the system how much it depends on them. The one-day strike, known as “Alice Doesn’t,” was called by the National Organization for Women in hopes that “everything will stop in this country” without the services of thousands of striking homemakers, businesswomen and even prostitutes. The strike took its name from the motion picture “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.” 

The July 4 holiday has always been occasion for gas to be more expensive, and it was no different in 1975, as prices soared to 60 cents a gallon.

At the end of 1975, the Suffolk Planning Commission got its first look at the land use plan being formulated by the Kidd and Associates consulting firm. That plan, actually a series of maps supported by documentation, was used in the next six months as the basis of a new zoning ordinance which was used to reclassify land throughout the city. Probably the most radical change in thinking reflected in the land use plan was that much more growth was projected for the northern portion of the city than was previously thought. 

“John Kidd, president of Kidd and Associates, an Atlanta, based firm which also designed the city’s Community Facilities Plan, pointed to increased subdivision activity in that area as a sign of the projected growth. He added that if Interstate 664, the third crossing of the James River, is ever completed, the areas surrounding its interchanges will be ripe for growth, both in the way of housing and commercial establishments.” 

Kidd’s maps showed the urban development areas of Driver, Bennetts Creek and Crittenden-Eclipse-Hobson as the areas to receive the most growth. The intersections of Bennetts Pasture Road, Shoulders Hill Road, and 1-664 with Route 17 were all designated as areas of commercial growth.