Forty-four years have passed in just the blink of an eye.

But, the memories — with a push and a shove from friends here and there — can still be as fresh as yesterday.

Climb into my Time Machine and let me take you on a nostalgic visit to the Hopkinsville of the past.

The destination is June 25, 1974.

It was a different time, for sure, for any folks — now “seasoned” or advanced in years like me — who were lucky enough to be hanging around to experience the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Guys wore their hair long, Elvis was still alive, and the Vietnam War had only 10 months to go before forever becoming a bitter memory for most Americans.

The average price for a gallon of gasoline was 55 cents, and Ray Stevens’ chart-topping hit — ”The Streak” — was playing over and over again on the radio.

Fewer than 25,000 people lived in Hopkinsville back then, with George L. Atkins Jr. — a future state auditor and finance secretary — the duly-elected mayor of the city. William Edmunds was serving as county judge and presiding over Christian County government.

Fair Board President Tom Wade had a secret that soon would be dropped on the community about the entertainment package for that summer’s Western Kentucky State Fair. Black Oak Arkansas — backed up by Bad Company — had been signed to perform two rock ‘n’ roll shows, with tickets to cost $6 at the door. Country music stars Jerry Reed and Tom T. Hall were booked to provide free entertainment for fairgoers.

That particular day’s edition of the Kentucky New Era — available for a price of 10 cents — was loaded with news and ads that most certainly captivated the entire community.

Residents learned that — for the first time in history, thanks to a major realignment initiative — there were now more voting precincts within the Hopkinsville city limits (17) than out in the county (16).

Officials announced that Margaret Riley — wife of Dr. Thomas L. Riley, president of Hopkinsville Community College, and mother of five — had been named chairman of volunteers for the Christian County chapter of the American Red Cross.

The impeachment inquiry targeting President Nixon was heating up in the nation’s capital, and stocks were making a healthy rebound on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones average hitting a high of 823.

For local sports fans, it was a banner day after the big trade of a former Hopkinsville basketball player to a team in the American Basketball Association (ABA). The San Antonio Spurs sent William “Bird” Averitt — a Hopkinsville High School legend and later Pepperdine College star — to his home state to play professional hoops for the Kentucky Colonels.

In that day’s classified ads, brand-new homes at choice locations throughout town were listed from $24,750 to $49,500, and somebody was trying to sell a 1968 Chevrolet BelAire — in “excellent condition” — for $550.

Moviegoers could go and see “Macon County Line” at the Alhambra Theatre in downtown Hopkinsville or catch a double feature — ”Policewomen” and “Superchick” — that night at the Skyway Drive-In on the Boulevard.

Talk about some great bargains for shoppers. Cayce-Yost in bustling downtown Hopkinsville had a Sealy Luxury Guard mattress on sale for only $69.95. At Grant City — located in Grant Plaza on the Boulevard — their most powerful air conditioner (26,500 BTU) was priced at $399.96. Last but certainly not least, men’s suits were selling from $56.25 to $150 at Golden-Farley of Kentucky in what was then known as the Pennyrile Mall.

It’s time to get back to the present.

Hopefully, everybody enjoyed taking that blast into the past as much as me.

Let me confess that June 25, 1974, is special and sticks out in my mind for a personal reason.

It just so happens that the Dollar family — Dad, Mom, me (then a 17-year-old high school student), and three younger sisters — was settling into a new house on Sherwood Drive after moving to town only days earlier from nearby Fort Campbell.

My father, who, at the time was an Army officer just three years away from retirement, decided to buy a house in Hopkinsville and adopt the city as our hometown.

Dad and Mom, you see, fell in love with that old Hoptown, preferring its slow-living lifestyle over the craziness of Clarksville, Tennessee.

Bigger is not always better. It’s something to think about on a slow, peaceful day.

ROB DOLLAR was a reporter and editor for the Kentucky New Era for 20 years. A resident of Hopkinsville, he has authored three books on topics of local interest in recent years. He can be reached at theezywriter@yahoo.com.

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