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Children line up to check out a miniature American history museum at Eastgate Center in 1964. The exhibit was a fund-raiser for the Chattanooga High School marching band. Chattanooga News-Free Press photo from ChattanoogaHistory.com.

On the surface, this December 1964 photo of children lined up outside a Miniature Museum of American History in Chattanooga doesn't seem especially newsworthy.

It published as a stand-alone photo (no article) in the Dec. 4, 1964, edition of the Chattanooga News-Free Press.

The photo appeared at the top of the main business page on a day when the lead story was an Associated Press report stating that widespread cost increases in the economy were not "inflation" but merely a reflection of growing American prosperity. Meanwhile, companies such as J.C. Penney and RCA were on the rise, another business page article reported.

The mini-museum photo reveals a lot about Chattanooga in the mid-1960s — including the fact that children from Sunnyside School would swarm a history exhibit housed in a trailer.

Also, the exhibit's location, Eastgate Center (later known as Eastgate Mall), had become a magnet for the city's shoppers by 1964. It was completed two years earlier and was anchored by a Miller Brothers department store, a Winn-Dixie grocery store and a Morrison's Cafeteria.

A high-school news round-up in the News-Free Press a month before the photo was published revealed that the mini-museum was deployed as a fund-raiser for the nationally acclaimed Chattanooga High School marching band, which was raising money to help pay for a group trip to Chicago. The high school report also noted that the band was selling kitchen calendars that year "which can later be made into dish cloths."

More Info

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.

 

The local marching unit was one of only five bands nationally invited to attend the Mid-West National Clinic in Chicago in December 1964, which was chaired by A.R. Casavant.

A former Chattanooga High band director, Casavant was one of the country's leading experts on precision drill in the 1950s and 1960s. He was helping lead the Chicago clinic for 5,000 band directors and musicians that year and hosted his former band as a demonstration unit.

The Chattanooga High School band was coming off a stellar competition season in the fall of 1964, having taken top honors at the Middle Tennessee State College Invitational in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which, later in the 1960s would become the Contest of Champions, home of the Tennessee Governor's Cup.

The Chattanooga High School band was directed in 1964 by Jewell Tilson, and the unit's twirling corps, called the Sparklettes, placed second in the southeastern United States that year, according to a newspaper report.

This photograph, taken by News-Free Press photographer Bob Sherrill, is part of an archive of vintage newspaper photos at ChattanoogaHistory.com, a website curated by local history enthusiast Sam Hall.

Follow the "Remember When, Chattanooga?" public page on Facebook.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com.

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