(Editor's note: First of two parts)
The darkness had settled around Terminal Station when, at 9:30 on a July night in 1928, the "Chattanooga Times Special" came to a stop on track #8. A fanfare of bugles and roll of drums began as Adolph Ochs stepped down from the train, signaling the beginning of a three-day Chattanooga celebration recognizing his 50 years as publisher of the Chattanooga Times.
Chattanooga Mayor Ed Bass and prominent civic leaders greeted the famed publisher and his more than 60 New York guests. Ochs, accompanied by his designated military aide and nephew, Capt. Van Dyke Ochs, acknowledged the crowd, and "a broad smile covered his face as he waved greetings."
E.H. Sholar, chairman of the reception committee, escorted Ochs among the "waiting hundreds outside the gates," while the legion corps "broke into 'Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here'." Photographers were scattered throughout the crowds, and the flash of bulbs lit the night. The drum corps moved into the station waiting room and divided into two flanking lines with Davis King Summers, American Legion Post Commander Dr. William J. Hillas and Adjutant Richard Dugger standing at attention, proper salutes in place.
As the guests prepared to depart from the station, four motorcycle police officers and the drum corps assembled to lead the entourage down Market Street. The Chattanooga Savings Bank beacon spotlighted Market Street, following the parade along the street where hundreds more lined the sidewalks, cheering Ochs' name and waving Chattanooga Times banners. The crowd had begun gathering two hours earlier and, interspersed throughout the hundreds of well-wishers, were members of the official greeting committee, organized by Alex P. Guerry, chairman.
The procession turned left at Eighth Street and then left again onto Broad Street, where the drum corps had again divided into two lines. The motorcade, led by Lookout Mountain Police Chief W.R. Stowe and Attorney General John Lively in the Lookout Mountain Fire Department's official car, drove between the honor guards and began its journey toward Lookout Mountain. Members of the reception committee followed Ochs home in their own cars. Among the reception committee, in addition to Mayor and Mrs. Bass and Chairman Guerry, were Mrs. John E. Lovell, Mrs. J.T. Lupton, Mrs. T.A. Roberts, Mrs. Mark Wilson, E.A. Thearn, Honorable A.W. Chambliss, R.E.L. Cook, Judge Will Cummings, E.J. Harris, Paul J. Kruesi, Congressman Samuel Davis McReynolds, George Fort Milton, Dr. T.S. McCallie, Mercer Reynolds, Newell Sanders, Sam Schwartz, Will Shepherd and Herbert S. Thatcher.
The Special Guest Committee sprang into action, escorting the Ochs guests to their pre-arranged accommodations at the Lookout Mountain Hotel on Jackson Hill. Sam R. Read, chairman, had assembled a committee that included Judge Nathan L. Bachman, James G. Gauntt, John S. Fletcher, J.W. Lee, Frank Gregson, Spencer J. McCallie and H.M. McCulloch.
The Chattanooga Times account of Ochs and guests' arrival included a special sidebar story. Earlier in the day, a small, white-haired gentleman had arrived by bus from Knoxville, greeted by members of the reception committee. H.C. Collins, dean of Knoxville printers and the man who had given Adolph Ochs his first newspaper printing job, shared his memories of the young apprentice with members of the press. "He was quick to learn and he never forgot. He was a carrier and worked about the office then but he wanted to be a printer. I was foreman of the office on the old Knoxville Chronicle at that time and I got Captain Rule to take him on as a printer's apprentice. I taught him to print," the 80-year-old recalled.
The typical apprenticeship was a four-year program, but, after only two years, Collins recognized that Ochs "had learned everything we were just holding him back by keeping him." The newspaper released Ochs, and Collins planned the going-away party, "an oyster supper," and printed the gift, a book of poetry. "I wrote on the fly leaf, 'We hope that someday you will become one of the nation's honored sons.' All 15 employees signed it. All but two are dead now."
Ochs had indeed become an "honored son," and he had not forgotten his early teacher. He had sent Collins a telegram and a train ticket, inviting him to the celebration. Collins, instead, decided to ride the bus, a "new experience." During the next three days of celebration, Collins would be included in Ochs' inner-circle.
Linda Moss Mines, the Chattanooga and Hamilton County historian, is regent, Chief John Ross Chapter, NSDAR, and chairman of the board of Erlanger Health System.