Remembering Vinton: Fifty Years Ago in Vinton – 1967


The East End Grocery was robbed in 1967.

Browsing through the archives of The Vinton Messenger from 60 years ago– 1967– shows that much remains the same in a small town, year after year.

James Childress set a record at William Byrd High School, scoring 59 points in a basketball game.

Topics covered in news articles involved town council, the schools, clubs, weddings, funerals, small crimes, emergency services, and high school basketball.

James Childress set a school record in basketball at William Byrd High School that year– scoring 43 points in just one game, but then broke his own record just weeks later with a 59-point game.

The article on the first game says, “With 11 straight wins to their credit, it appears Byrd’s Terriers haven’t yet figured out a way to lose a basketball game this season. And with Jim Childress and Robert Wimmer getting even better with every ball game, it appears that this is the year that will be a standard of comparison for coming generations at Byrd.”

The East End Grocery on Cleveland Avenue was robbed of a “small, undetermined amount of money” in 1967. Owner R.E. Vernon “sustained a lacerated right hand during a struggle with one of the knife-wielding bandits.”

According to the news story, “Mrs. Vernon said both she and her husband were in the store when three men entered about 8:30 Monday night. One of the men held her captive in the rear of the store, telling her, ‘Don’t make a move.’ The other two men demanded a wallet from Mr. Vernon.”

“I told them,” Mrs. Vernon said, “You should be ashamed doing a thing like this to two old people.”

The Vinton First Aid Crew purchased and converted a new emergency vehicle.

“Vernon said he handed the two men a change purse but simultaneously pulled a hammer from under the counter,” the story continued. “Vernon said he struck one of the men alongside the head with the hammer. The man reeled backward but the other attacked with the knife.”

“I hit the other one,” said Vernon, “but he managed to get the hammer away from me. He was jabbing at me with a knife and cut my hand.”

Mrs. Vernon said that at this point one of the men said, “Let’s get out of here!”

The trio fled on foot, toward Vinton. Vinton police were summoned. When they could not stop the flow of blood from Vernon’s hand, the Vinton First Aid Crew was summoned and Vernon was taken to the hospital where the wound was stitched and he was released.

Mrs. Vernon said, “It is the sort of thing you read about in the papers, but never think will happen to you.”

The First Aid Crew purchased and converted a new 1967 Chevrolet station wagon that year for use in rescue operations.

Vinton pharmacist Wallace Cundiff was appointed to the Roanoke County School Board. The school board had re-organized and he was appointed to represent the Big Lick District. It seems that redistricting had changed the magisterial district boundaries. That led to two members from Vinton on the board, including Hildrey Pollard, for a total of seven serving.

There had been no school board for about a month after the redistricting and members were “busy the rest of the week catching up with the board’s accumulation of business from the past month, primarily in the payments of bills, and looking into the school programs.”

Wallace was well-respected in the community and had served as president of the Vinton Chamber of Commerce, the Roanoke Valley Pharmaceutical Association, the Dogwood Festival, and the Vinton Lions Club, and was an “active member of Vinton Baptist Church.”

Pharmacist Wallace Cundiff was appointed to the School Board.

Speaking of schools, in 1967 the Vinton newspaper usually published the school menus each week in advance. During one week in April at the high school, each day students were served vegetable soup. Other menu items that week included beef stew, sauerkraut, glazed carrots, Waldorf salad, corn muffins, pork and beans, buttered spinach, cole slaw, fruit Jello, creamed turkey on noodles, pineapple and cottage cheese salad, spaghetti, banana pudding, prunes, fish squares with tartar sauce, buttered cabbage, head lettuce salad, stuffed celery, navy beans, and spiced beets.

The band boosters were holding their annual Easter egg sale that year with the money going for new uniforms. Volunteers gathered in the Vinton Volunteer Fire Department kitchen to make chocolate-covered Easter eggs to sell.

In town news, Town Manager Guy Gearhart was recommending that the town develop its own independent water system which would cost a half million dollars, but could be done in stages. At the time, Vinton was purchasing water from Roanoke City. The Valley Regional Planning Commission was recommending that local governments combine to provide water and sewer services on a valley-wide basis by 1974.

And cake mixes could be bought on sale at Harris & Huddleston Supermarket for 19 cents.


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