Federal court hears NAACP suit against Harford over desegregation [50 years ago]

As taken from the pages of The Aegis dated Thursday, June 18, 1964:

The case of the NAACP against the Harford Board of Education was heard in federal court 50 years ago this week. The school board was called to defend its three-year desegregation plan after it was challenged by the NAACP.

NAACP lawyers contended the plan for elimination of the Central Consolidated and the Havre de Grace Consolidated schools needed to be done immediately for the 1964-65 school year instead of the originally proposed three years. Several Negro teachers also asserted that racial discrimination was keeping them from being considered for teaching jobs in the new segregated schools.

Superintendent Dr. Charles Willis said that only two Negro elementary school teachers would be assigned in the first year of the plan. Willis testified that 95 new white teachers had already been hired for the new school year and that eight of the existing Negro teachers were scheduled to be reassigned to the new segregated schools. An intensive inservice training program was planned because of the difficult adjustment.

"They have been teaching their own race for so many years that it is difficult to deal with children and parents of both races. However, this reference was made to both white and Negro teachers who must be trained to meet the new situation," Willis said.

The commissioners of Bel Air announced a proposed street and sidewalk construction program beginning July 1, 1964. Two streets, Maple View Drive and Old Orchard Road from Moores Mill to Howard Street, would be widened 900 feet. Hays Street from Baltimore Pike to Thomas Street would be widened 925 feet. The entrance to Hays Street from Route 1 was a particularly bad intersection but the street also carried traffic to a school, the Health and Welfare Department and the Department of Employment. Sidewalks would be constructed on the west side of Main Street from Lee to Gordon and along the east side of Rock Spring Road from Ellendale to Cressy. A new traffic light would also be installed at Churchville Road and Main Street. If the Churchville Road was ever widened to three lanes, the new light would be moved to the intersection of Hickory Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue near the library.

Aberdeen was the site for an exercise designed to test Harford's readiness to deal with a major disaster. Volunteer fire companies from Harford and Cecil counties, along with numerous Red Cross workers, took part in the drill, while Boy Scouts served as victims. The test began with a simulated fire at the Viele Lumber Company yard in Aberdeen. A short time later, an LP gas tank truck collision was simulated at a nearby downtown intersection, resulting in an explosion and other fires. At the conclusion of the drill, men from the University of Maryland's Fire Extension Service conducted a critique, offering suggestions and pointing out some valuable lessons. The operation was regarded as a success.

Jane Amoss of Model Farm in Fallston was crowned the 1964 Harford County Dairy Princess. She received a bouquet of red roses and after a year of appearances she was to receive a $500 wardrobe and participate in the 1965 Miss America Dairy Princess Contest held in Chicago each year.

Harford County Public Library acquired a new $10,000 bookmobile to replace the old one that had been in service since 1948. A contest would be held to find a suitable name for the new bookmobile. When the mobile was parked, a retractable step could be lowered to permit entrance to the door in the rear. Patrons could leave their books at a small desk as they entered and proceed down a 13-foot aisle lined with oak shelves six feet high. The total capacity of the bookmobile was approximately 1500 books. Patrons could sit on a small padded bench while looking through their books. The librarian could reverse the driver's seat so that it became the checkout desk. She could also access supplies from the cupboards over the front windows.

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