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An EPB parade float in the 1958 Armed Forces Day parade highlights Cold War themes / Photo contributed by EPB

Nothing says mid-20th century America like white gloves and missiles.

This photo from 1958 features an EPB float in the Armed Forces Day Parade in downtown Chattanooga. The float is pictured passing McKesson & Robbins Inc., a pharmaceuticals company on Market Street (at approximately the location of Warehouse Row today).

Please email us at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com if you can identify any of the women aboard the float.

For historical context: In 1958, the average cost of a new house in the United States was $12,750 and a gallon of gas cost 25 cents. In the Great Lakes region, three babies were born over the span of a few months in 1958 who would grow up to be pop stars Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna.

Chattanooga sports fans will also remember 1958 as the year the University of Chattanooga Mocs stunned the Tennessee Volunteers in football. The Mocs, led by legendary coach Scrappy Moore, defeated the Vols 14-6 in Knoxville, sparking what was described as a near riot after the game.

The mid-20th century space race was just beginning — NASA was established in 1958 — but military rocketry was a symbol of post-WWII American military power. The missiles had names such as Sidewinder, Snark and Thor.

In Chattanooga, the Armed Forces Day Parade was already a solid tradition by the late 1950s, dating back to the 1940s.

This photo is part of an online collection curated by local history buff Sam Hall. To explore the photograph at full resolution visit ChattanoogaHistory.com/rememberwhen.

"If one could pick a year that illustrated the heart of a prosperous decade for the U.S., it may well have been 1958," Hall says. "And if you wanted to place yourself at the epicenter of patriotism during that incredible postwar boom, the Armed Forces Day Parade would be ideal.

"It was convenient for EPB that the official nationwide theme that year was 'Power for Peace'. At the time however, the wider meaning was not of electricity – but military power against the threat of Communist aggression, better known as the Cold War."

More information

Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, ChattanoogaHistory.com is designed to preserve historical images in the highest resolution available. If you have photo old negatives, glass plate negatives, or original nondigital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall at samhall@chattanoogatn.biz for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.

A United States Defense Department booklet, distributed to military personnel at the time, noted: "The most powerful peacetime force in U.S. history — its men, ships, planes and missiles strategically placed around the world in combat readiness against any emergency — will spearhead our observance of the ninth Armed Forces Day."

In an introduction to the booklet, then president Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote: "Shoulder to shoulder with our our friends along the bristling borders of the Iron and Bamboo Curtains, thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines serve as forceful reminders to any would-be aggressors that we will make whatever sacrifices are necessary to safeguard freedom."

Join the Remember when, Chattanooga? Facebook group here.

Please contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com.

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