Looking back 50 years

Teachers to convene

committee on race formed

October 12, 2011

From the pages of the Havre de Grace Record dated Thursday morning, Oct. 12, 1961:

The biggest story, or at least the one with the big headline across the top of the front page, was inexplicably that "Teachers To Convene October 19." As tradition has it, that weekend in October is for the Maryland State Teachers Convention. In 1961, it was the 94th annual convention of the Maryland State Teachers Association with 20,000 teachers expected to converge on Baltimore. The lengthy story didn't say anything about whether schools would be closed, but with a full convention agenda, it was probably understood that schools would be closed. Historically, Harford County Public Schools closed on a Thursday and Friday to allow teachers to attend what was a four-day convention. Some years back, that was changed to just a Friday closure, which will be observed again next Friday, Oct. 22, with Harford County Public Schools being closed for the 2011 convention.

While the teachers convention was the big news of the day, in retrospect another front page story that was given about half the space and a fraction of the headline given to the teachers convention was a far bigger story: "Restaurant Unit To Study Rt. 40 Racial Problem." The federal government was putting pressure on Harford and Cecil County area restaurants to desegregate, so the restaurant owners did what was done in the day to keep segregation going: they formed a committee to study the issue (merely a stalling tactic) that wasn't an issue to them, though it was to the feds.

"Mr. Richard Butler of Perryville and Mr. Tony Konstant of Aberdeen," the story said, "said that the organization of this committee did not necessarily imply an acceptance of the White House and State Department position that Route 40 restaurants must be desegregated in the interests of the country's international relations."

The agreement to form the committee was reached during a 90-minute meeting, that was mostly to the public, at the USO Hall in Aberdeen. Berl I. Bernard, staff director of the Federal Civil Rights Commission, chaired the meeting that was attended by, among others, Pedro A. Sanjuan, assistant protocol chief for the State Department.

There was also a report that the Bainbridge Naval Training Center was being considered for conversion to a nuclear base. The story didn't explain the term nuclear base.

And the First Christian Church unveiled its plans for a major addition to its facility, that carries the address of 800 Giles St. in Havre de Grace, but sits on a triangular parcel bounded by Chesapeake Drive, South Juniata and Giles streets.

In sports, there was talk about a proposal to build a 3,000-seat stock car race track on 93 acres outside of Havre de Grace. "Martin H. Weik Jr., made the appeal to develop 93 acres on the south side of Chapel Road, east of Paradise Road, just outside the city limits," the story said. "His proposal includes constructing a stock car track with 3,000 seating capacity, a swimming pool and picnic and park area, fishing pond and light refreshment facilities." Weik, described in the story as a research scientist at Aberdeen Proving Ground, applied to the Zoning Appeals Board for permission to build the complex, which required an industrial zoning on a parcel that was zoned for agriculture.

Tawney's Garage, at 319 N. Adams St. in Havre de Grace, was advertising "Brand New Wheels For Your Snow Tires" at the sale price of $7.50 each.

At the movies 50 years ago this week, Walt Disney's "NIKKI Wild Dog of the North," was coming to the State Theatre in Havre de Grace. It was being coupled in a double feature with "The Horse With The Flying Tail," which was billed in the ad as a "Fabulous True Story of a Jump-Happy Cowpony!"

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