Remembering St. Paul’s 1979 July 4th Celebration

The 2021 July 4th celebration in St. Paul has now taken its place in the annals of history. With that in mind, let’s set forth on a journey in the CVT’s time machine, back to a July 4th celebration from 42 years ago. Were you there? If so, tell us about it.

The accompanying write-ups for the photos below were transcribed from the yellowing pages of the July 12, 1979 edition of the Clinch Valley Times. Most of these photos were scanned from our archival collection of negatives. However, one roll of film seems to have been misplaced, so we’ve used photos copied from the actual back issue of the CVT. You can bet those negatives are here somewhere, though. The CVT office building is a time capsule.

[Below] The concession stand sold hot dogs, soft drinks, and home-baked goodies throughout the day.  Working this booth, which realized profits enough to pay for the fireworks display, were Debbie Domby, Benny Crowder, Pat Ward, Mary Kiser, Connie Livingston, Doris Fletcher, Lorraine Lucas, Ann Gregory, Kathy Stewart, Jeannie Long, Gaynell Stanley, and Joy Rudder.  The st. Paul Coca-Cola Bottling Co. provided all concession stand workers with Mello Yello T-shirts and contributed all the Coca-Cola sold at the stand.

[Next 4 photos] So many were interested in entering the sack race that 5 or 6 heats were necessary before the final race in each of the two age groups.  Winners in the grades 1-5 competition were (1) Stephen Gibson, (2) Tony Bush, and (3) Chris Bays.  Winners for grades 6-8 were (1) Johnny Stanley, (2) Steve Austin, and (3) Tammy Stargardt.  Charlie Collins and Chub Crowder directed this event and awarded the ribbons to the winners.      In the older age group, John Head won first, and Tony Martin second place

[Below} Almost all the kids participated in the Foul-Shooting Contest at the basketball court. Winning in the under-13 group were: (1) Tony Bush, (2) Steve Austin, and (3) Roger Mays. For the 13-16 year olds, winners were: (1) Gerald Salyers, (2) John Head, and (3) Tommy Kilgore. Winner among the big kids (17 and older) with 5 straight baskets was Aubrey Ward, second was Jim Bays, with Ron Cress third. Directing this event were Aubrey Ward and Charlie Collins.

[Next two photos] Pitching horseshoes is always a popular activity.

[Next 6 photos] The flatfoot dancers are serious about what they do, but they have a good time while they’re at it.  Winners in the men’s competition were (1) Hay Gibson, and (2) Randall Skeens.  Gladys Lane won first place in the women’s competition, and Lizzie Skeens was second.  Kathy Stewart was in charge, and awarded ribbons to the winners.

[Below] In case you don’t believe some heavy rain fell, this is what the playground area looked like after the storms.

[Below] Deep concentration marked the Checkers Tournament, ultimately won by Lorraine Chafin.  Big Stanley was 2nd, and Scotty Hamilton, 3rd.  Aubrey Ward and Big Stanley were in charge.

[Next 6 photos] The Watermelon Eating contest again proved to be one of the most popular events of the day.  The Town provided watermelons, and the youngsters provided the rest.  Winners in their age group were:  4-6 years, (1) Jennifer Gibson, (2) Ann Powers.  7-9 years, (1) Tammy Stargardt, (2) Richard Stargardt.  10 and over:  (1) Terry Allen, (2) David Gregory. Mary Kiser, Lorraine Lucas, and Pat Ward dispensed watermelon and paper towels.  The winners received ribbons.

[Below] An “unidentified” observer at the watermelon-eating contest felt compelled to sample the event’s props.  Fortunately, the lady was in charge of dispensing paper towels to the contestants.

[Next 2 photos] The Bubble Gum Blowing contest ws messy and fun for everybody.  The name of the winners, if the rain allowed any, were not available.  Lorrain Lucas was in charge of this one.

[Below] All ages participated in the golf putting competition, with the younger generation winning out.  First place winner was Mary Peyton Gregory, with Betsy Crowder second, and David Gregory third.  Eugene Stewart, Jr. directed this competition.

[Next 2 photos] The Hula-Hoop contest, an endurance test, brought out the experts, and the first division of the contest threatened to last all day long.  Winners in that group, ages to 8 years were (1) Heather Wright, (2) Stephanie Trent, and (3) Beth Livingston.  In the 9-over group, winners were (1) Betsy Crowder, (2) Tammy Verno, and (3) Teresa Long.  Connie Livingston was in charge.

[Next 2 photos] In addition to organized activities, there were opportunities for everyone to socialize.

[Next 2 photos] Plenty of food for everyone, and plenty of people to help prepare it.

[Below] The St. Paul Police Department and the St. Paul Volunteer Fire Department were in charge of the Fireworks Display, which was most impressive.  Ending a full day of activities, a lot of people went home when the last rocket had been shot, but a few stayed around for more music and dancing to the Country Aces.

Major contributors to the day’s events were the St. Paul Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Inc, Bolton Oil, the First National Exchange Bang, St. Paul town employees, the Town Council, and Mayor Livingston.  Many others contributed baked goods, equipment for the contests, and their time, for which Pat Ward, the chairman of the event, expressed the Town’s heartfelt thanks.  The day was a success, in spite of the storms, and the A. R. Matthews Memorial Park was mowed, clipped, and trimmed like never before, ready for the big day.

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