Editor’s note: This article features news and photos from past editions of the Watauga Democrat.
Dec. 10, 1936
“During the last week of the administration of Sheriff A. Y. Howell, the capable law enforcement officer instituted a raid into Beaver Dam township, resulting in the seizure of a large copper still, two still worms and the destruction of (100) gallons of beer,” according to a Dec. 10, 1938, edition of the Watauga Democrat. The article is titled “Sheriff seizes 74 distilleries.”
“An alleged operator of the illicit plant was taken into custody and was bound for his appearance at the April term of superior court. Subsequently, it is revealed that the seizure brings to 74 the number of liquor manufactories which have been destroyed by the vigilant officer during the four years of his tenure,” according to the article.
“Forty men were taken in connection with their operation ... Howell has taken more stills and more of the operators thereof than have fallen into the hands of the law for a period of perhaps more than 15 years.
“The record also shows that Howell has taken more than (100) escaped convicts — robbers, murders, etc., wanted by other states and counties. The key to the county jail has been turned on 2,500 men since Howell has been holding forth, and 5,000 arrests have been effected. Automobiles without number have been seized and the whiskey carried destroyed by the hundreds of gallons,” the article stated.
Nov. 28, 1963
The news of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination dominated many of the headlines in the Nov. 28, 1963, issue of Watauga Democrat. ‘Wataugans Grieved At Slaying Of President” read a large headline alongside a headshot of Kennedy.
“Citizens clustered, wearing stunned expressions, to hear radio or TV reports after having learned that President Kennedy had been shot,” the newspaper reported. “Occasionally the announcer’s voice was interrupted by exclamations from listeners, echoing emotions throughout the country: ‘Why?’ ... ‘I can’t believe it’ ... ‘How could this happen in a civilized country?’”
“Business in Boone was practically at a standstill,” the article continued. “Phone calls poured into the radio station and the Democrat office, from stunned people who had just heard the news, hoping against hope that the reports had been wrong.”
“A Democrat reporter, alone in the outer office, moved his car from the rear parking lot to the street, where he could hear radio reports and still keep one eye on the office. Workers all over town were doing the same thing, and soon sizeable crowds were gathered on the sidewalks around the open doors of automobiles.”
“Blowing Rock Ski Lodge Gets Ready for Southern Ski Boom” read another headline. “Blowing Rock Ski Lodge (the forerunner of Appalachian Ski Mtn.) is getting ready for a population explosion in the ranks of southern skiers,” the article stated.
M.E. Thalheimer, president, told the newspaper that he expected demand would double over the ski resort’s first year, which admitted more than 15,000 skiers.
“The ski boom in the South has just begun,” Thalheimer said.
Dec. 14, 1984
The Watauga Democrat published an article titled “Shelter: Hospitality House Set to Open Jan” Dec. 14, 1984, announcing the “scheduled kick-off date for the Hospitality House at 410 East King Street where local organizations (were) adding to the $110,000 anonymous donation made to help lodge persons in need.”
“In Watauga County alone, the number of homeless who contacted local churches for lodging assistance in excess of two days rose from 49 family units in 1982 to 126 family units in 1983,” according to the article.
Ron Hester, a Hospitality House board of directors member, said, “A lot of the churches are adopting rooms in the house to refurbish. The (First Presbyterian Church) is doing two rooms ... it’s just been really good.”
“The whole project was originally started and originated by the Coalition of Churches,” Hester also said.
The article continues, naming main contributions from the community, including “St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is renovating the living room” and “King Street Pharmacy is having an upstairs room fixed as are the Boone Kiwanis Club ... “