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VALLEY OF YEARS PAST
Cathy D. Wahl

Two sensational shootings splashed across the front page

From the archives of THE DECATUR DAILY:

75 Years Ago

March 24-30, 1930

Two sensational shootings splashed across the front page of the DECATUR DAILY on March 27, 1930. Judge William E. Skeggs was charged with assault with intent to murder after the shooting of city patrolman T.E. Wright. Wright and another officer had stopped Skeggs on Johnston Street and told him of an alleged traffic violation. An argument developed, resulting in the wounding of Wright who died the next day at Benevolent Hospital.

W.E. Sapp, "one of the county's best known planters," died in a "pistol duel" on 12th Avenue West. J.Q. Breashear, a steamboat worker, reportedly shot Sapp after he found his wife in a car with Sapp.

50 Years Ago

March 20-26, 1955

More than 100 German-born scientists and technicians of Redstone Arsenal, including many wives and children, are scheduled to become United States citizens in Huntsville on April 14. Among those to be naturalized is Professor Wernher von Braun, now chief of the Guided Missile Development Division at Redstone Arsenal.

Fire gutted Sterchi Bros. Store Inc., 302 Second Ave. S.E., on Monday morning. Manager A.L. Burns estimated that the loss was about $200,000. Starting in the basement warehouse, flames quickly consumed furniture and equipment in the building. The first floor caved in.

A similar fire took a $150,000 toll of Sterchi's and Buttrey's Department Store in 1929. Sterchi's will open for business next Monday in its temporary quarters at 106 First Ave. N.E.

Clear-eyed, dark-haired Virgil Phillips, father of two boys, was driving a "semi" with its flatbed trailer loaded with 7 tons of asbestos roofing when he crossed a bridge spanning the Elk River. As Phillips reached the top of the span, the bridge groaned and sagged into the river.

A 170-pound black bear that got a little too close to civilization nestled into a deep freeze of Home Ice & Coal Co., 621 Walnut St. N.E. on Thursday. Crowds of people including two classes from local schools filed through Home Ice to see the animal that stirred up excrement southeast of Austinville the day before. Munroe Alexander, who was plowing in a field and notice that his mules were excited, first saw the bear. A member of his family notified the Highway Patrol, who called in support from the sheriff's forces and Decatur police. Roy Briggs, Roy Williams, Chief Deputy Sheriff Richard Hyche and Highway Patrolmen E.B. Watts and L.M. Williams shot the bear.

Stylon of Decatur, formerly Compton Tile and Marble Co., will have a grand opening Saturday at Fourth Avenue North and Holly Street. Leslie Compton is owner and operator. The firm offers ceramic tile, quarry tile, marble asphalt tile, rubber tile, vinyl tile, wall-to-wall carpeting and shower doors. Employees include James Abbott, Robert Compton, Marvin Terry Jr., M.E. Hodges and Howard Morgan.

Bobby Cain, 15-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. L.L. Cain of Hartselle, is the first Morgan County resident to win a scholarship in the Civitan International Oratory Contest, Alabama District North. Bobby wins a two-year scholarship to Birmingham-Southern College.

25 Years Ago

March 23-29, 1980

Although Tommy Lee Hines' rape conviction was reversed last week by the state Court of Criminal Appeals, it may be several more weeks before he could be released from Bryce Hospital.

Brookhaven Middle School students in the Libra Sixth Grade Autumn House dressed as their favorite patriots. Costumed students included Weena Ward, Steve Flowers, Kim Bates, Amanda Jones, Susan Jordan, Roger Johnson, Tony Garmany, Sabrina Norris, Angie Powell, Michele Harris, Amy Tapscott, Brent Standridge, Donna Davis, Janice Powers, Pam Ridge, Kim Snow, Melissa Hamilton, Pam Borden and Stacey Lyle.

Dating costs doubled in the 10 years between 1970 and 1980. In 1970, teens could see a movie and buy refreshments for about $5. In 1980, movie admission is $3 each. Popcorn costs 50 cents and soft drinks are 25 cents and more. Candy bars are 25 cents and up.

Eight Decatur high school seniors are National Merit Scholarship finalists. They are Austin High School students Steve Adkison, Richard Borie, Anne Kaller and Lou Anne McWhorter; Decatur High School students Beverly Clark, Phillip Robinson and Danny Spillers; and Grace Baptist High School student Sandra Biddle.

10 Years Ago

March 20-26, 1995

THE DECATUR DAILY's All-Area basketball teams featured a wealth of talent. In the large school girls category, team members included Lawrence County's Chasidy Bouldin and Leslie Wallace; Brewer's Kim Brown and Shanika Ryan; Decatur's Gretchen Carter, Von Kirk and Peaches Smith; Austin's Alma Franklin; West Limestone's Carla Mankin; Athens' Shea Stevens; Hartselle's Emily McClanahan; and East Lawrence's Kim Young and Tiffany Young, voted player of the year. Decatur's Mike Smith is coach of the year.

Large school boys All-Area teammates are Athens' Jimmy Bailey and Brad Holladay; Hartselle's Markeys Barclay; West Limestone's Ben Carter; Lawrence County's Kin Evans and DeShane Watkins; Brewer's Wesley Fowler, Gary Knotts and Shawn Langford; Decatur's Kevin White; and Austin's Quentine Pryor, Shae Reynolds and Chris Weakley, who was player of the year. Austin's Bob Harpe is coach of the year.

Small School All-Area Girls Team members are West Morgan's Holly Boldin; Danville's Susette Downs and Audrey Lewis; Hazlewood's Marquita Fuqua; Hatton's Andrea Hagood and Megean Hancock; Elkmont's Sonya McCullough; Tanner's Regina Peoples; Falkville's Heather Thomas; East Limestone's ReShae Williams; Clements' Kisha Yarbrough; and Speake's Rosslon Horton and Kim Cameron, player of the year. Hatton's Cophia Rutherford is coach of the Small School All-Area Boys teammates are Danville's Lee Bennett and Wesley Walker; Clements' Jamie Cain and Jamie Hammons; East Limestone's Jonathan Dye and Orlando Pitts; Tanner's Travis Hines; West Morgan's Ashley Owens; Courtland's Jesse Sherrod and Randy Stanley; Hazlewood's Jessie Troupe; and Speake's Jeremy Orr and Adrian Taylor, player of the year. Speake's Harold Pirtle is coach of the year.

U.S. Sen. Howell Heflin announced that he would retire as Alabama's senior senator.

Recently named Small Business Person of the Year, Judy Montgomery of Hartselle is looking forward to a visit to Washington, D.C., when she joins winners from 52 other states and territories.

— Compiled by Cathy Wahl

THE DECATUR DAILY welcomes the loan of any photos depicting people, places and events from Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan counties for each Sunday's "Valley of Years Past" column. Photos will be returned. Call 350-6983.

Cathy D. Wahl Cathy D. Wahl
DAILY Staff Writer

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