THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
Robeson County History
Show windows artistically decorated: Under the headline “Snowflakes Would Complete Picture,” the Dec. 13, 1923 Robesonian ran the following: Only 9 More Shopping Days. There is nothing needed now but real snowflakes noiselessly falling against the plate glass to make the beautifully and artistically decorated show windows in the different stores of Lumberton measure up to the wildest and broadest dreams of the most enthusiast youngster who has been told thousands of stories of one great and glorious Santa Claus. So many of the windows have been dressed that it would be extremely difficult for the best of judge(s) to say which is the most attractive and all that is left to say is that among the most attractive are those in the following stores: Lumberton Bargain House, R.D. Caldwell & Son, L.H. Caldwell, North State Drug Co. John D. McMillan & Son, Efird’s, A. Weinstein, and A.J. Holmes.
North Carolina History
Peacekeepers Perish in Newfoundland Crash, 1985: On Dec. 12, 1985, Arrow Air Flight 1285 crashed during take-off in Gander, Newfoundland. The chartered flight was transporting 248 soldiers from the 101st Airborne back to their base at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, ending a six-month peace-keeping mission in Sinai, Egypt.
Their flight was to deliver them home to their families just in time for the Christmas holidays. Thirty years later, the loss of Arrow Air Flight 1285 remains the worst plane crash involving a peace-keeping force in the history of the U.S. military.
Of the 256 casualties, the Department of Defense listed 11 from North Carolina: Stuart Arrowood, Mark Carter, Jerrin Johnson, David Rawls and James Shoo, of Fayetteville; Lindale Morgan and Vickie Perry of Enfield; Kyle Edmonds of New Hill; Gregory Buchanan of Bakersville; Rayvon Johnson of Eaton; and George Simmons of Wilmington.
In a memorial service held at Fort Campbell four days later, President Ronald Reagan memorialized those lost and told family members, “You do not grieve alone. We grieve as a nation, together, as together we say goodbye to those who died in the service of their country.”
Today we remember the sacrifice of not only the North Carolinians on board but of all those soldiers lost in the crash.
Ella Baker and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee: On Dec. 13, 1986, Ella Baker, civil rights leader and organizer of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), died. Called “the mother of the civil rights movement” by one scholar, Baker culminated a life dedicated to civil rights work by helping to establish SNCC at her alma mater, Shaw University, in April 1960.
Raised in Virginia and Halifax County, Baker graduated from Shaw in 1927. She moved to New York in 1903 and joined the Young Negroes Cooperative League with the aim of developing black economic power through collective planning. In 1940, she began work for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as a field secretary, where she eventually rose to become the director of branches.
In 1957, Baker joined with Martin Luther King Jr. and others to organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); she was the only woman present. After the sit-ins in Greensboro, she organized the meeting at Shaw in April 1960 that gave rise to SNCC.
She advocated that the budding organization be student-directed and not under the umbrella of the SCLC. The members of SNCC were the “shock troops” of the civil rights movement, called “probably the most courageous and the most selfless” of the activists of the 1960s by John Hope Franklin.
Food Lion Rooted in Salisbury: On December 12, 1957, the first Food Town—now known as Food Lion—opened in Salisbury. The chain began when brothers Ralph and Clifford Ketner teamed up with family friend Wilson Smith to leave Winn-Dixie and try their own hands in the grocery business.
The chain remained relatively small until 1968, when younger brother Ralph, started what’s now known within the company as “The Great Change.” Ketner cut prices dramatically, selling many items at or below their wholesale cost, and marketing the brand with the “everyday low prices” concept that other chains, like Wal-Mart, were beginning to embrace at the time. The company grew dramatically during the 1960s and 70s, increasing its sales 50-fold and adding nearly 100 stores during those two decades alone.
The brand changed its name from Food Town to Food Lion in 1983, after discovering another chain had the same name. The lion concept came from the Belgium-based Delhaize Group, which acquired the company in the 1970s.
Today, Food Lion operates more than 1,300 stores with 73,000 employees in 11 states throughout the South and Mid-Atlantic region.
Nation and World History
‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ premieres: Today’s Highlight in History: In 1965, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the first animated TV special featuring characters from the “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, premiered on CBS.
King Edward VIII abdicates British throne to marry Wallis Simpson: On Dec. 11, 1936, Britain’s King Edward VIII abdicated the throne so he could marry American divorcee Wallis Warfield Simpson; his brother, Prince Albert, became King George VI.
George W. Bush claims presidency after Supreme Court stops recount: On Dec. 13, 2000, Republican George W. Bush claimed the presidency a day after the U.S. Supreme Court shut down further recounts of disputed ballots in Florida; Democrat Al Gore conceded, delivering a call for national unity.
COVID vaccinations begin: On Dec. 14, 2020, the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history began with health workers getting shots on the same day the nation’s COVID-19 death toll hit 300,000.
World War II’s Battle of the Bulge begins: On Dec. 16, 1944, the World War II Battle of the Bulge began as German forces launched a surprise attack against Allied forces through the Ardennes Forest in Belgium and Luxembourg. (The Allies were eventually able to turn the Germans back.)
The Bill of Rights takes effect: On Dec. 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, went into effect following ratification by Virginia.
The “This Week In History” column is compiled by Executive Editor David Kennard. Reach him by email at [email protected] .