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Today in Johnson City History: February 9

Rebecca Henderson and Johnson City Press • Feb 9, 2020 at 4:45 AM

Feb. 9, 1886: A recent barn fire in the Truslow Block was attributed to an innocent homeless boy who had been compelled to make his bed in the hay and straw. The Comet reported that the boy had been begging for morsels from door to door. The fire could be seen from the Market Square and Main Street. It was impossible to save the barn, but the adjacent houses were at once covered with men, buckets and water.

Feb. 9, 1897: City fathers had passed a curfew ordinance banning minors under age 16 to be on the streets or other public places after 9 p.m. unless accompanied by a relative or authorized adult. The measure called for the fire chief to sound the fire alarm at 8:45 as a warning. The fine for a first offense was $1 and not less than $2.50 or more than $5 for a second. Today’s equivalent of $1 is about $31, so that second offense could have meant quite an expense.

Feb. 9, 1925: The Johnson City Staff-News published several “Words of Wise Men.” Some of those words of wisdom included “Narrowness of mind is often the cause of obstinacy. We do not easily believe beyond what we see” and “No liberal man would impute a charge of unsteadiness to another for having changed his mind.”

Feb. 9, 1959: “The Blob” starring Steve McQueen was showing at the Skyline Drive-In. The science fiction/horror movie was McQueen’s feature film debut, having played bit parts earlier in the ’50s.

Feb. 9, 1968: The Johnson City Press-Chronicle published a photo of Science Hill wrestler Tommy Williams with Coach Cot Presnell. Williams was set to compete in the regional wrestling meet in Chattanooga the following weekend in the 105-pound class. His record at the time was 6-0.

Feb. 9, 1971: Johnson City was amid a gas price war among local stations. Regular gas ranged from 26.9 cents a gallon to 29.9 cents. That’s roughly $1.71 and $1.90 today, between 30 cents and 50 cents less than current average.

Feb. 9, 2010: Johnson City already had used about five times the average amount of road salt it normally spread over roads and streets each year. With only 500 tons currently on hand — about 180 tons shy of what is normally used in an entire year — the City Commission recently had approved the purchase of 1,500 tons of road salt from North American Salt. That was in addition to the 1,500 tons purchased in January and gobbled up over the weekend.

Sources: The Comet; Johnson City Staff-News; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Ted Bowers, Johnson City, Tennessee, Memories; Johnson City Press

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