HUNTINGTON THROUGH THE YEARS
Through the years, the residents of Huntington have cried, laughed, and loved together. We have faced tough times and came together to help our fellow citizens get through. We celebrated victories together and partied together and shared success together. Through the years, Huntington has stayed together. We are Huntington. I grew up in Huntington after moving here in the mid 70’s.
The 70’s started out in tragedy. I did not live in Huntington at the time but even as a boy in Cumberland, Md I remember hearing about The Marshall Football Team Plane Crash. The horrendous crash happened on November 14, 1970 and claimed the lives of 75 people. According to the website “November 14, 1970 ... Remembered Memorial of the 1970 Marshall University Football Team Plane crash Crash”http://www.marshall.edu/library/speccoll/virtual_museum/Memorial/default.asp “On a rainy hill side in Wayne County, West Virginia, the lives of 75 people were lost in the worst single air tragedy in NCAA sports history. Among the losses were nearly the entire Marshall University football team, coaches, flight crew, numerous fans, and supporters. The event marked a boundary by which an entire community would forever measure time... before or after "The Crash". It took time to recover from the accident and in many ways we still have not recovered as the pain of the accident and the loss of loved ones will always be within Huntington city limits. But, Marshall football has risen like a Phoenix and given Herd fans much to celebrate. “We Are Marshall” was a successful movie about the crash that was released in 2006. The widely acclaimed movie brought both smiles and tears to Huntington residents. Marshall was the winningest college football program in the 90’s with 114 wins. We cheered watching the heroics of Randy Moss, Chad Pennington, and Byron Leftwich. The Thundering Herd won the NCAA Division 1-AA National Championship in 1992 and again in 1996.
Tragedy visited Huntington in the 70’s and 80’s when Huntington Police officers were murdered. I remember reading about the murder of Clemmie Curtis not long after I moved to Huntington. The chilling murder has stayed in my mind for years. He died on August 3, 1976. From The Officer Down Memorial Pagehttp://www.odmp.org/officer/3728-patrolman-clemmie-e-curtis “Patrolman Curtis' body was found handcuffed near his patrol car in a wooded area just outside of the Huntington city limit. He had been shot through the chest once. In January of 1985 one of America's worst serial killers, Henry Lee Lucas, on death row in Texas confessed that he and his partner Ottis Toole, on death row in Florida, had killed Patrolman Curtis. Lucas died in prison in March of 2001. Toole is the primary suspect in the death of Adam Walsh. Police were still investigating the murder when Toole died of cirrhosis of the liver in prison in September of 1996. Patrolman Curtis had been with the agency for nine years.”
officer Clemmie Curtis
After returning home from working the evening patrol shift an unknown assailant ambushed officer Mills. Officer Mills was shot once, leaving him paraplegic. He succumbed to his injuries five years later. Read more: From The Officer Down website: “December 14, 1981, Police Officer Paul Harmon was shot and killed while investigating a break-in at approximately 1:45 am. The two suspects were escapees who were burglarizing the service station. The suspects attacked him and struck him in the head. They then obtained control of his service weapon and shot him several times. Both suspects were convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life. One died in prison in 2000. Officer Harmon had served with the Huntington Police Department for seven years and had previously served with the United States Air Force. He was survived by his wife and two daughters.”
Officer Paul Harmon
“December 15, 1981- After returning home from working the evening patrol shift an unknown assailant ambushed officer Mills. Officer James Mills was shot once, leaving him paraplegic. He succumbed to his injuries five years later.”
There were many sad times but Huntington citizens survived the pain – together. The victories were many as well. Not just Marshall Football but Coach Rick Huckaby ignited Marshall’s Basketball team in the 80’s (1983-89) and were known as Huck’s Herd. What I have most loved about Huntington through the years is that it is a close-knit community who stands together through good and bad. If tragedy strikes Huntington residents are there to do their part and when Huntington is successful, the city celebrates together.
Although I live in Huntington, there are some things I miss about Huntington. I miss the chocolate cake with vanilla icing from Big Bear bakery. I miss the smell of freshly made donuts from Ward's while walking Fourth Avenue. I miss how great Dwight's Kingburger was at 4 am after a night of clubbing with my friends, and the smell of popcorn when you walked into Hill's. I miss the pepperonis under the cheese of Delapa's Pizza in Proctorville. I miss The Hot Dog Special at Frank's Sandwich shop and fries and blue cheese of Julio's. I miss buying an out of town paper at Nick's News, cassettes at National Record Mart, 45 rpm's at Davidson's, and import albums at Opus One and Sight N Sounds. I miss the Huntington Blizzard, The Huntington Cubs, Huck's Herd, and the Marshall football Herd playing for 1-AA Championships. I miss a hot summer day at Olmpic Pool. I miss Georgie from The Copa, Blondie from Davis' Place, fistfights at Verb's, happy hour buffet's at Robby's, one armed Harry Hill at the after hours bar Old Coachman's Club on Fifth Street, comedy night at The Old Library, drinking ice teas from mason jars at Bojangles, Ali at Rockers, and John Black's cackle at the old Jake's. I miss the music of Foxwagon, James Murphy and Zachariah, and Menlo Park. I miss Billy Ray and The Players packing the Ragtime Lounge full of hot women every weekend. I miss drinking beer on Big Bear parking lot after a long night of work. I'll always remember drinking Stroh's Beer on the porch listening to the Cincinnati Reds on WGNT. Also, there was Bob Miller in The Morning and Trivia on WGNT, Gary "Music" Miller on WKEE, Dr. Demento, King Biscuit Four on the FM radio. Of course, Mr Cartoon and Beeper on TV 3 and Ernie Salvatore writing about Mary ex-Model's Derby Day bet. I don't miss paying a dime to cross the 6th street bridge, the long traffic on the bridge or the many years we had to wait for The East End Bridge. I don't miss Dave Peyton writing for The Herald-Dispatch. I don't miss Cruise Ave but I do miss Chi-Chis. Huntington has grown bigger with Pullman Square, Wal-Marts, and consolidated high schools. I miss the freedom of the safety of being out at night and being able to walk downtown without bums begging for money. I'm still in Huntington and still love Huntington, a part of me still longs for the innocence of Huntington of the 70's and 80's. Was it Huntington or just the time period?