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Today in Johnson City History: May 16

Rebecca Henderson and Johnson City Press • May 16, 2020 at 10:00 AM

May 16, 1885: The Comet reported, “Mr. John H. Wilcox, an old citizen of Scott but now a resident of Johnson City, Tennessee is here looking after some business affairs. He appears to be in fine health for a man of his age, and says that Johnson City is the best place in the world.”

May 16, 1895: An admission test would soon be held for admission to the State University. Prof. R.H. Freeland would administer the test, and everyone who passed would receive free tuition in the State University. Candidates were urged to “Write for announcement and inform yourself as to your privileges. Address University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn.”

May 16, 1912: The Comet reported, “Cy H. Lyle Jr., came home from Annapolis Saturday. At the request of Sen. Sanders the Secretary of the Navy allowed him to have a second physical examination after he has a couple of molars inserted. He was a quarter of an inch short but the Surgeon-General waived that fraction because he will be expected to do the fighting when all the tall officers are gone. The Navy requires four opposing molars on each side particularly the inside so that the middies can eat the required amount of brain food, a whale three times a day, but as Cy Jr., was one out of 263 who passed the mental examination with a grade of 3.2 and better, his average being 3.3, his masticating qualifications are a small feature as his diet will be minnows.”

May 16, 1938: “Petite” Peggy Jean Murray, a Johnson City tap dancer, reputed to be the leading tap dancer of upper East Tennessee, appeared on the stage of Kingsport’s The Strand Theater in connection with the release of "Robin Hood."

May 16, 1944: Edward Smithpeters was out on a $500 bond, and was awaiting a hearing on a peace warrant signed by Dr. W.F. Carter. The arresting officers said Dr. Carter, who practiced dentistry on West Main Street, alerted them that Mr. Smithpeters had destroyed property in rooms he rents from the dentist and had threatened him.

May 16, 1949: Five East Tennessee State College students were killed in an afternoon crash during a hailstorm on the Kingsport Highway near the intersection of the Airport Road. William Pangle, Paul Sams, Dewey Barrineau, James Smith and James Ward were traveling toward Kingsport when their car slid sideways into an on coming car.

May 16, 1956: The body of recently discharged Navy veteran Orion Parker was discovered two months after he drowned in Watauga Lake. Parker, who had attended East Tennessee State College, had served in the Korean War where he was awarded three bronze battle stars, He also received a letter of commendation from his commanding officer for his part in helping rescue 150,000 refugees from the port of Haiphong, French Indochina (Vietnam).

May 16, 1964: Members of the Science Hill High School Band had a car wash for the second day in the parking lot at South Junior High, the old Science Hill building. The students were raising funds for their trip to the New York World’s Fair.

May 16, 1965: At Tennessee Motor Co., 401 W. Market St, you could buy a new 1965 Ford Falcon for $1,795. That’s about $14,600 in today’s money.

Sources: The Comet; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Kingsport Times; Ted Bowers/Johnson City, Tennessee, Memories.

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