One hundred years ago, the streets of Arcadia consisted of dirt roads strewn with litter. Occasionally, workers sprayed the streets with oil to keep the dust under control. A week earlier, the town’s chamber of commerce met to discuss ways they could clean up the town’s streets and keep them clean. The chamber voted to send a committee before the town council to ask that they review “the old statue prohibiting the throwing of trash on sidewalks or streets on penalty of fine.” They voted in favor of a provision to provide the town with a “scavenger wagon” or some other means of disposing of the trash that was gathering on the streets around stores and homes.
Mayor Barnette and the town council had been working for some time on another street improvement plan. The town was continuously spending money in an effort to keep the streets passable with little success. The only way to eliminate the constant expense and clean up the town, they decided, was to pave the streets.
The streets included in their plan consisted of “Maple Street from Dixi[e] highway to Railroad; Front Street from the old Goff shop property to Dallas Roberson’s transfer stable; Myrtle Street from Dixie highway to town branch, and Hazel Street from Dixie highway to Railroad.”
The Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific railroad owned the majority of the property along the aforementioned streets, and therefore would be responsible for more “cash money” to cover the cost of the paving plan than any individual property owner. R.L. Taylor, president and manager of the Arcadia Cotton Oil Mill & Mfg. Co., planned to finance the project, and would give property owners “certificates of indebtedness” for the amount spent on the paving process based on the size of their property. The railroad company and property owners were said to be eager for the paving process to begin as it would aid in the overall prosperity of the business of the town.
Source: Bienville Democrat, January 18, 1923, p.1.
Two American tourists took a much-needed vacation in England and Scotland. They had visited the usual tourist attractions in London such as Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, the British Museum, and the Great Clock of Westminster, which is commonly referred to as Big Ben. They traveled to several cities in Scotland and visited the usual tourist sites there such as Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, and Holyrood House. Finally, they decided to get away from the bustling crowds of the cities and went hiking in an area of the sparsely populated Scottish Highlands, about 100 miles north of Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh. The views were breathtaking. They hiked on the ancient winding paths at the base of the mountains along the River Dee.
While hiking, they met another man and woman, Dick and Liz, who were walking in the opposite direction toward a favored picnic site. Dick and Liz rarely saw hikers in this area because it was so remote. As the hikers neared, Liz said hello and sparked up a conversation. The hikers were instantly drawn in by Dick and Liz’s accents. The foursome engaged in small talk. The hikers told Dick and Liz of their travels throughout Britain and where they would be visiting on the remainder of their vacation.
As the conversation progressed, one of the gentleman hikers asked Liz where she lived. She replied, “Well, I live in London, but I have a holiday home just the other side of the hill.” “How often have you been coming up here,” the gentleman hiker asked. “Oh, I’ve been coming up here since I was a little girl, so over eighty years.” Dick and Liz could see that the gentleman was thinking about her reply. Then he asked what was one of the most asked questions by a tourist in Britain. “Well, if you’ve been coming up here for 80 years,” he said, “you must’ve met the Queen.” Liz replied, “Well I haven’t, but Dick, here, meets her regularly.”
The hikers turned their full attention to Dick, who had spoken very little up to that point. “What’s she like,” the hikers asked Dick. “Well,” Dick replied matter-of-factly “she can be very cantankerous at times, but she has a lovely sense of humor.” The hikers held onto every word Dick said about his meetings with the Queen. The hiker was so enamored that he had met someone who had met the Queen that he handed Liz his camera and asked if she would take a picture of him with Dick, to which she obliged. Then, they swapped places and Dick took pictures of the hikers with Liz.
After a while, the hikers said goodbye to Dick and Liz and continued on their hike. As Dick and Liz gave a final wave to their new hiker friends, Liz turned to Dick and said, “I’d love to be a fly on the wall when he shows the photographs to his friends in America.” You see, Richard “Dick” Griffin really had met the Queen regularly because he was her royal protection officer. The American hikers learned at some later point that the lady who accompanied Dick on the picnic was Queen Elizabeth II.
Millions of meteors and other space debris enter the Earth’s atmosphere daily. Most of them are small and burn up before reaching the ground. The ones that enter the atmosphere in the daylight hours usually go unnoticed. Meteors which enter the atmosphere at night are more visible and are commonly called falling stars. An average of 17 meteors per day reach the Earth’s surface, whether it be land or sea, at which time they are called meteorites.
On November 30, 1954, one such meteor was traveling through space and heading towards Earth. The meteor entered the atmosphere at a high rate of speed and began to burn. The meteor was extremely hot and under immense pressure. At about 12:45 p.m., when the meteor was about 40 miles up in the Earth’s atmosphere, it could no longer take the heat and pressure and exploded.
34-year-old Ann Elizabeth Fowler “Hewlett” Hodges was enjoying a peaceful afternoon nap in a home she rented on the outskirts of Sylacauga, Alabama. The day had been uneventful so far, and Mrs. Hodges expected the remainder of the day to be equally as lackluster. As she slept, the 12-pound meteorite struck the home, tore a three-foot-wide hole through the roof of the living room, ricocheted off Mrs. Hodges’ husband’s console radio, and struck Mrs. Hodges on her arm and hip as she slept. (See Photos Below) Even though it had reached a burning hot temperature as it passed through the atmosphere, by the time it reached Mrs. Hodges’ living room, it was “too cold to handle.” The meteorite left Mrs. Hodges with substantial bruising, but no serious injuries.
Witnesses in three states reported seeing a “bright flash” followed by an explosion in the sky. A resident of Smith’s Station, Alabama, about 90 miles southeast of Sylacauga, telephoned the Russell County military sheriff’s office and reported seeing the flash and hearing the explosion. Like many others, the resident thought she had witnessed a mid-air airplane disaster. Crews aboard two army helicopters from Fort Benning, Georgia, and several airplanes from Lawson Field began searching a 30-mile radius from the Chattahoochee River for the crash site. After several hours of searching, the search party received reports from Maxwell Air Force Base near Montgomery of a possible meteorite striking a house at Sylacauga. Searchers in Sylacauga, which included members of the national guard, the state police, reporters, and spectators, drove the backroads around Sylacauga. They followed army helicopters from Maxwell Air Force Base and converged on Mrs. Hodges’ home.
Newspapers reported in jest that “some meteorites” including the one that struck Mrs. Hodges’ “continue to travel with ‘great velocity’ after reaching the earth. An air force helicopter crew took possession of the meteorite so it could be studied at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. A few days later, the meteorite was flown to Washington, D.C. Finally, after being in our nation’s capital for just two days, Mrs. Hodges’ attorney retrieved the meteorite and returned it to her.
Within days of its crash, interest in Mrs. Hodges and her meteorite soared. The Hodges received nearly 100 offers for the meteorite. The Dayton Art Institute offered $5,000 for the meteorite, the highest price at the time. The Smithsonian Institute was interested in the object but was unwilling to pay more than $900 for it. In the midst of the media hype, Mrs. Hodges appeared on an episode of the television game show “I’ve Got a Secret,” in which a panel tried to guess what her secret was. Seeing how much interest there was in the meteor, the owner of the home Mrs. Hodges had rented sued Mrs. Hodges to take possession of the meteorite. Mrs. Hodges and the landlord settled out of court and Mrs. Hodges retained ownership of the meteorite. In 1955, Mrs. Hodges sold the meteorite to the Alabama Museum of Natural History at the University of Alabama where it and the console radio remain on display.
What are the odds of being struck by a meteorite? Michael Reynolds, author of “Falling Stars: A Guide to Meteors and Meteorites,” said “you have a better chance of getting hit by a tornado and a bolt of lightning and a hurricane all at the same time.” Although millions of meteors enter our atmosphere each day and an average of 17 reach the ground, Mrs. Hodges is the only person in recorded history to be injured by a meteorite.