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Jerry Summers: Chattanooga then and now


The following is a direct and accurate quote from pages 120-121 in a chapter titled “City Problems and Government” in a book written by Charles A. McMurry of the George Peabody College for Teachers (now part of Vanderbilt University in Nashville) under the direction of the Chamber of Commerce of Chattanooga, Tennessee:

A rapidly growing city like Chattanooga faces new and difficult public welfare issues every day that demand forethought and wisdom. The high character of the city and its people is clearly demonstrated by the way they deal with these costly public tasks which deeply concern everyone, such as water supply, sidewalks and sewers, sanitation and hospitals. city, schools, police, parks and playgrounds, fire protection, tax assessments, etc. These public municipal problems, when properly addressed, contribute to the well-being of all. They cost a lot of money that people pay in the form of taxes. From a business and financial point of view, these public interests must be wisely thought out and managed honestly.

Too often people, busy with their private affairs, are carefree and indifferent and often misinformed about the real needs of the city. Public concerns are allowed to run and take care of themselves unless they become a scandal. If an officer fails or a sewer breaks and water backs up in the cellars, or if an epidemic or typhoid breaks out, people are waking up and calling for swift action. A smarter public mind should be kept alive at all times. The city is in constant need of its best minds as energetic leaders. There is a call for further study of urban businesses to find out what they cost and how they are best run.

President Harry S. Truman is remembered for many quotes, two of which apply to the language above:

a. There is nothing new in the world except the story that you don’t know!

b. Without a strong education system, democracy is paralyzed. Knowledge is not only the key to power, it is the citadel of human freedom.

The current efforts of some individuals and groups to change or erase the good or the bad history are misplaced.

Charles McMurry’s book on The Dynamo of Dixie, The Scenic City, The Gig City, etc. was written in 1923.

The language is still relevant in 2021!



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