This 1953 photograph recalls the heyday of the Home Stores, a chain of Chattanooga-area groceries.
The stores were once owned by the late Roy Ketner McDonald, longtime publisher of the Chattanooga News-Free Press and one of the city's iconic 20th-century business people.
The wavy lines in the photo are due to a deteriorating 67-year-old photographic negative, says Sam Hall, curator of ChattanoogaHistory.com, a digital archive where this image is part of a collection from the News-Free Press.
This photo, taken by newspaper photographer Bob Sherrill, memorializes an era when round steak was 59 cents a pound and sliced bacon was a dime less.
The location, at 1800 East Main St. (at the intersection of Hawthorne Street), was a bustling area in 1953. Today, the area is again alive with activity, and the old, brick Home Stores building is now The Spot, a coffee and sandwich shop.
According to newspaper archives, McDonald, who died in 1990, started the Home Stores grocery chain in 1924. In 1933, in the middle of the Great Depression, he began printing advertising circulars for his grocery stores that would eventually adopt a newspaper format. The advertising paper was called the Free Press because it was delivered free to homes.
At the food store chain's peak, there were 70 Home Stores and the business even had its own dairy plant. Meanwhile, a 5-cent Sunday edition of the Free Press began publication in 1936 to supplement the free Thursday edition. In 1939, McDonald bought the Chattanooga News and the resulting merger gave birth to the Chattanooga News-Free Press, which for decades competed with the Chattanooga Times for readers.
McDonald sold the Home Stores chain in 1967. At the time there were 13 of the food markets, according to press reports.
A few years after McDonald's death, the afternoon newspaper, by then again called the Free Press, was sold to WEHCO Media of Little Rock, Arkansas. Soon thereafter, WEHCO also purchased the Chattanooga Times, and the newspapers were combined to form the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999. McDonald was publisher of the Chattanooga News-Free Press for 53 years.
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