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How things change with political winds

POSTED: November 19, 2011 1:00 a.m.

If you're already worn out over the 2012 elections while we're still a few weeks from finishing 2011, get used to it.

The presidential race is just getting its second wind. Primaries begin in January, then it's nonstop politicking until next November.

Is it too late for a new candidate to enter the presidential race? Most TV shouting heads might say yes.

But in the 1952 election year, Dwight Eisenhower kept everybody in suspense until March of that year when he finally officially announced he'd seek the Republican nomination. Democrats as early as 1948 had tried to persuade Eisenhower to become a Democrat and eventually run for president. But he wanted to be nonpartisan, even seemingly distancing himself for a while from a "Draft Ike" movement started by the Republicans. After his name was written in the New Hampshire Republican primary, which he won, he finally agreed to seek the nomination.

He got it and went on to defeat the Democrats' Adlai Stevenson handily. With polls giving him a low approval rating, incumbent Democratic President Harry Truman decided not to run, paving the way for Stevenson.

Eisenhower's landslide victory ended the Democrats' hold on the White House after 20 straight years.

But in Hall County, which is overwhelmingly Republican today, Stevenson won big. He carried every precinct but one, the Courthouse, which went to Ike 1,925 to 638.

That same election Phil Landrum of Jasper became the 9th District representative in Congress, succeeding Democrat John Wood, and would serve until 1977, when he was succeeded by another Democrat, Ed Jenkins, also of Jasper. Jenkins also was followed by a Democrat, Nathan Deal, who later turned Republican and left Congress after 18 years to run for governor. Republican Tom Graves succeeded Deal in Congress.

That same fall of 1952 was the first time blacks were able to serve on juries in Hall County. A U.S. Supreme Court decision had paved the way.

Superior Court Judge Herbert Edmondson saw to it that 26 blacks were added to the jury pool, noting that court cases would be overturned if juries weren't selected from a cross-section of the community. At the time, Georgia law provided that trial juries be comprised of "the most upright and intelligent men," and that grand jurors be chosen among "the most experienced and intelligent men."

1952 also was the year the Georgia legislature tried to form a turnpike authority that would have built a toll road from Cartersville to Chattanooga.

There was controversy then and now about toll roads in Georgia. Recently, motorists were steaming about the extension of tolls for use of Ga. 400 out of Atlanta. The toll was to have ended when the road was paid for, but the state continued it. Taxpayers and drivers said they didn't like the idea of having to pay to use a road that their tolls and taxes already had paid for.

Likewise, the HOT lanes on Interstate 85 north of Atlanta continue to draw heated comments. In the first place, just as in the Ga. 400 case, people objected to having to pay for using a road that was already paid for with their tax money.

But to aggravate the issue further, the HOT lane hasn't seemed to reduce congestion in the other lanes as state officials promised. The state lowered the tolls people pay to encourage more vehicles in the HOT lanes, but congestion on the whole highway hasn't seemed to ease much so far. Some motorists say it's even worse.

Other toll lanes are planned in the Interstate 75 corridor, where some state officials in 1952 wanted to build a toll road. The Cartersville-Chattanooga toll authority didn't fly a half century ago, but I-75 is full of traffic between Atlanta and Tennessee.

Here are some other notable events in 1952:

R.W. Lawson was promoted to superintendent of Chicopee Manufacturing Co. Ed Dunlap Sr. succeeded Riverside Military Academy President Sandy Beaver on the Board of Regents. Beaver had served since 1933.

Nathan and Jake Bergen bought Millner's department store on the downtown Gainesville square after founder Ben Millner died. Millner had opened the store 34 years earlier.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. His column appears Sundays and at gainesvilletimes.com/johnny.



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