Forty years ago today, not much happened

I’ve always thought you can usually find something interesting in the newspaper every day. So, I thought I’d try March 10, 1971, forty years ago today. The headline sums up what I found.

There was almost no local news on the front page. A city council committee approved a 5 per cent hotel-motel tax, which would hopefully raise up to $300,000 a year. The lede story came from Columbus, where Gov. John Gilligan proposed some election reforms, including extending the vote to 18-year-olds (which happened later that year).

Front page, March 10, 1971.

A Bryan High School senior, Anthony Biel, scored points for honesty after he was awarded a four-year scholarship to Ohio University as a result of getting the highest score the Ohio History competition. He couldn’t have, he said: he became ill during the exam and didn’t finish it. A numbering mixup was discovered and the scholarship went to Cynthia Eppley of Zanesville.

On the inside:

The 7-1/4% home loan was alive and well at First Federal Savings of Toledo (“The one that’s on the way”) with a minimum down payment of 40% on newer, “well-located” homes. But, their ad said you could still get a rate under 8% with just 20% down.

It was food day (Wednesday) so there were ads from Joseph’s and Kroger’s. Joseph’s gave away CD Stamps while Kroger stuck with their Top Value Stamps. 5-Star and A&P didn’t give away anything. And while I am sure Food Town was around in 1971 I didn’t see their ad this week.

(As an aside, it was only three years until Kroger announced they would stop giving away Top Value Stamps at their stores in Toledo, Bowling Green and Defiance in March, 1974. They were the last of the local chains or independents to give away stamps, the others having dropped them in the previous six months. Kroger had closed two of its four Top Value redemption centers already, and said a “greatly reduced” number of service stations were giving out stamps thanks to the oil shortage.)

You can relive the thrill of filling a book here. It’s amazing what people hang on to and post on the Internet.

On the local news front, the big news was the introduction of Charles Whitten, 51, who was in town from Hartford, Conn. to meet the board of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority, the public entity that would assume control the money-losing Community Traction Co. Much of his work would involve that takeover, and helping speed a $5.2 million federal grant for new buses which were, at the time, desperately needed. The board was expected to offer him a two-year contract at $25,000 a year.

Whitten spent 15 years as the head of the transit authority and died in 1998.

An interesting wire story in the business pages reported on the newest advance in home entertainment: video cassette players. The only drawback was that the systems are mostly incompatible. And expensive. But many of the predictions in the story came true. “Companies are spending million of dollars to build hardware systems, but the consumer is still the big question,” said one industry expert. Even though VCRs themselves have come – and gone! – since then, replaced by DVDs and DVRs and streaming video, the concept is something consumers totally bought into.

In the Peach Section, Jack Benny had a pretty good special on TV that night, with guest stars George Burns and Lucille Ball. But out at the theaters, I couldn’t help but notice The Westwood was playing a film called The Stewardess. Was this actually the film The Stewardesses, the famous 1969 3D soft-core porn film? I would have to guess yes. Judging from the Wikipedia entry, it looks like the title was trimmed in the ad because there was no way it would fit in one column.

This got me thinking as to whether the Westwood Art Theater was still open, and it sure looks like it. It is listed in this 2003 survey of adult-oriented business in Toledo. It baffles (and annoys) this photographer on Flickr that a picture of the venerable porn house happens to be his most-viewed photo. I do believe I see an open sign lit up in this Google Maps take of 1602 W. Sylvania Ave. And last but not least there is a 2011 field report of someone’s trip to the Westwood, and if you use Google enough you can find it, but it would rate as adult content so I’m not going to link to it.

So we went from Top Value Stamps to buses to porn in one day: March 10, 1971. While the day may not have been interesting, it certainly generated a lot of subject matter.

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