This photograph from Chattanooga's Armed Forces Day parade in May 1958 is brimming with mid-century nostalgia.
From the reigning Miss Chattanooga, Melva Jean Lindsey, to the Ford Fairlane 500 convertible — an iconic automobile of the day — the photograph from the EPB archives captures the style and patriotism of post-war Chattanooga.
Many Chattanoogans will remember McLellan's five-and-dime store in the background. It recalls a time when so-called 5- and 10-cent stores were major downtown retailers. Others included F.W. Woolworth Co., W.T. Grant Co., and S.H. Kress and Co.
The photograph is part of a large collection of vintage photos that can be viewed at ChattanoogaHistory.com, a website curated by Sam Hall, a local history buff.
Newspaper clippings from the period identify Miss Chattanooga 1958 as Lindsey, the future Melva Jean McNice. She was a graduate of Red Bank High School, attended the University of Chattanooga and was presented at the 1958 Cotton Ball, according to the Chattanooga Daily Times.
During the late 1950s, Lindsey was the host of a midday television program on WDEF-TV called "Lunch 'n Fun." Newspaper archives show she married Winston McNice, who was employed at the Provident Life and Accident Insurance Company, at a ceremony at the White Oak Baptist Church.
According to death records, Melva Jean McNice died June 14, 2009, in Virginia, where she resided at the time. She was 69. Living in the Richmond, Virginia, area she had been a member of the Junior League and Stonehenge Golf and Country Club there.
The automobile in the photograph is a 1958 Ford Fairlane 500 convertible. Its whitewall tires and tailfins were popular automotive styling cues of the day. The car would have probably been equipped with a powerful V-8 engine and Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission and would have cost around $3,000.
Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, ChattanoogaHistory.com is maintained to present historical images in the highest resolution available.
If you have photo negatives, glass plate negatives, or original non‐digital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.
A restored 1958 Ford Fairlane Convertible, similar to the one in the photograph, was listed on the AutoTrader.com website this week for $46,995.
The McLellan's store in the background of this photo was one of the busier retailers in downtown Chattanooga during the 1950s. The McLellan's five-and-dime stores were started by William W. McLellan, a native of Scotland, according to online histories. The chain began in 1917 and eventually grew to 200 stores by the 1930s.
Follow the "Remember When, Chattanooga?" public group on Facebook.
Contact Mark Kennedy at email@example.com.