Forty-two years later, Lindbergh would watch as America’s Apollo XI astronauts lifted off in another historic flight. And on July 20, 1969, 42 years and two months after his unbelievable flight, those astronauts landed on the moon. That was, coincidentally, 42 years ago today. It was a Sunday, here on earth. Many Americans did not yet own a color TV, but the events of the day were televised in black and white and shades of gray. If there was color, it showed up when that familiar red, white and blue banner was planted on the moon’s surface sometime in the late evening.
Personal stories of that day in Woodstock always include a grand event that occurred here on the same day. It was the dedication/open house for our hospital. One of the doctors noted that Woodstock had a hospital before it had a traffic light! The added element of the moon landing proved to be prophetic. It was a step into the future, much like the historic steps being taken on the moon. The modular building had been the “Hospital of the Future” at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. The use of microwave ovens and computers, and the futuristic hospital-in-the-round design, gave credence to the name chosen for the hospital, Cherokee Atomedic Hospital.
It was a medical facility for the atomic age. During construction, we called it our flying saucer. Appropriately enough, during open house, the TV sets in patients’ rooms were all tuned in to the moon landing. There is a wooden replica of the hospital at Dean’s Store. Occasionally visitors will comment about their confinement there, or about visiting someone there. The Dean family claims special memories.
Linton Dean’s grandson, Dean Drinkard, and Barbara Parr were married there, where Barbara’s father was a patient. Many families in town can attest to experiences there, most of which they would just as soon forget.
The hospital was in operation for 25 years, closing in 1994. Not long after that, the first City Hall constructed for that purpose was built on the site. Having occupied makeshift headquarters in other buildings, including the depot, city government finally had its very own digs. After all, the city was 100 years old about that time. Aware that nothing tangible seems to last very long, citizens are not surprised when City Hall continues its gypsy habits. And now the very space that was once occupied by the hospital, and City Hall, is a part of The Park at City Center, a fancy name for our park.
Not a smidgen of anything related to the hospital remains. There is a plaque commemorating its existence, and it will be mounted on the sound stage at the park upon completion next year. For now, we just have memories and stories.
Going back just one day on the calendar, we can’t forget July 19th, 1996. It, too, was a red-letter day. I can hardly believe it has been 15 years since the Centennial Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies in Atlanta.
It was hot, so very hot, from that day through the August 4 closing ceremony. Excitement and awe made lasting impressions. The Olympics brought the world to Georgia in more ways than one. Thousands of visitors took in sights and sounds, and took away memories and memorabilia to share with future generations. My very favorite personal example of the impact of The Games is my friend Pat Bull. She came from Long Island, N.Y., to visit her son at Georgia Tech during the Games, and after a few days in our own Garden of Eden, she called her husband and announced that they would be moving.
“Quit your job and put a for sale sign in the front yard,” or words to that effect. They’re still here, and loving it. And New York’s loss was our gain. Think I’ll watch my video of the ceremonies, sing along with Celine Dion, laugh a lot, cry a little, thankful for the opportunity I had in serving as a field marshal. I might get out some Woodstock scrapbooks to recall the hospital also. Seems a good day for a walk down Memory Lane.
Juanita Hughes is Woodstock’s official historian and the former director of the Woodstock Public Library.