Fluoride Action Network

Wilmington. Back Then: Fluoride in the water? Council wavers in 1956

Source: StarNews Online | August 3rd, 2016 | By Scott Nunn, StarNews Staff

From the StarNews archives.

60 years ago

July 25, 1956: People were more reserved in the 1950s, so it’s no surprise that there were no gloom-and-doom comments from local leaders. But it’s hard to imagine they were not reeling over the news from December of 1955 that the Atlantic Coast Line railroad was moving its headquarters to Jacksonville, Fla. There had been talk for several years about the ACL possibly leaving, so it it didn’t come as a complete surprise. Wilmington had become a boomtown during World War II, with more than 20,000 people employed at the N.C. Shipbuilding Co., and nearby Camp Davis employing thousand of soldiers and civilians — many of whom lived in Wilmington. The city had hoped the shipyard would remain open for civilian purposes after the war, but that was not the case. So the ACL was the biggest game in town.

On this date 60 years ago, the StarNews reported that the newly formed industry recruiting group, the Committee of 100, had named a 10-man executive committee to enact recommendations from an outside consulting company. Committee members said the 129-page report gave them the tools they needed to help recruit industries to the area.

Members of the executive committee were: A.E. Jones, president of the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce; Mayor Dan D. Cameron; County Commissioner J.M. Hall Jr.; E.L. White of Industrial Properties Inc.; StarNews Publisher Rye B. Page; E.A. Laney, Marcus Goldstein, W.B. Berry, Fred Rippy and Charles Harrington. I found out that Industrial Properties of Wilmington had been established by local business leaders to raise funds that could be used for economic development purposes.

(It would take a while, but the work of the committee paid off as the area eventually landed DuPont, General Electric, International Paper and Corning, among others companies. The group continues that work today as Wilmington Business Development).

July 26, 1956: After it was done for less than a year, the Wilmington City Council suddenly decided to stop adding fluoride to the municipal water supply. Council W. Ronald Lane, who backed the proposal, said he had “heard bad things about fluoride” and “Our job is to supply our citizens with pure water, not medicated water.” Dr. C.B. Davis, county health officer, told council members that fluoride was not a medicine. In May of the previous year, voters had been asked on a ballot if they wanted fluoride added to the water. Nearly 6,000 supported the plan, and about 3,000 were opposed.

July, 27, 1956: Never mind. Only a day after ending water fluoridation, the council reversed its decision and resumed the program it had recently begun. Mayor Dan Cameron said the council had acted hastily, and noted that although several of the council members — including himself — were opposed to water fluoridation, the council wanted to follow the will of the voters. (Water supplied by Cape Fear Public Utility Authority today has fluoride added).

July 27, 1956: New Hanover football stars Jimmy Allard and Lindsey Frost were in Greensboro as part of the State All-Stars program. Danny Casteen was named to the basketball all-star squad, but was not in Greensboro due to the American Legion baseball playoffs.

July 28, 1956: Wilmington Police officers and Alcoholic Beverage Control officers raided 70 known moonshine stills in the city and recovered about 100 gallons of illegal liquor.

July 29, 1956: Thieves broke into New Hanover High School and used a drill to break into a safe in the principal’s office. They made off with $100 in cash and $3 in postage stamps. They also tried to open the cafeteria safe, but were unsuccessful.

July 29, 1956: Plans were announced for Marine Life Gardens, billed as the nation’s largest saltwater aquarium and to be built five miles north of Wilmington on U.S. 17. Land had been purchased and the facility designed, the StarNews reported. (Anyone remember this? Was it ever built? I’ve never heard of it. Please drop me a line if you know any details.)


A previous Back Then item listed members of a committee that had been formed to secure a new hospital for Wilmington. It was good to hear from Lucretia Thornton McDaniel of Wilmington, daughter of one of the members. She pointed out that we misspelled her father’s name — it is J. Goodlet Thornton, not Thornmon.

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