60 years

‘Diamond’ Chamber Banquet looks back to frantic times of ‘52

I n Rockdale it was “Ike vs. Adlai” for president. The aftermath of World War II was so fresh that displaced persons from Eastern Europe were still coming to Milam County.

And Singer’s Grill was billing itself as “Rockdale’s only air-conditioned restaurant.”

It was 1952 and Alcoa-booming Rockdale was ready to form a full-fledged Chamber of Commerce. That organization observed its 60th (diamond) anniversary Thursday night at the annual Chamber banquet by looking both back to its roots and ahead to its future.

It took most of the year in 1952 for Rockdale to morph its fairly new Young Men’s Business League into a full-fledged Chamber of Commerce.

First there was a meeting at the definitely un-air conditioned American Legion Hall to gauge the interest in forming a Chamber and name a nominating committee to come up with possible directors.

That committee was composed of Boswell Newton, Clyde Franklin, T. A. Weems, Linwood Mehaffey, M. N Stricker and Harold Luckey. Newton agreed to serve as temporary president.

A list of 18 names was presented and the first week in June, at the A-1 Cafe, the Rockdale Chamber of Commerce was born. Newton remained president with W H. Cooke vice-president and secretary and T. B. Ryan treasurer.

Other charter directors were Dick Fritz, John M. Weed Sr., Al Goehler, Louis Gest and Alex McLeod.

A charter was approved and directors began searching for a Chamber manager. Wiley Gilmore was named temporary manager and the Chamber set up a temporary office at the Phillips & Luckey Company.

Bob Greenwald of Karnes City was named first full-time manager in the fall and a permanent office was created at City Hall.

That was 60 years ago. But, as was pointed out Thursday night, it’s only the first 60 years. Happy anniversary, Rockdale Chamber of Commerce.—M.B.

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2012-04-05 digital edition

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