On this day, 50 years ago

Maas Brothers in downtown Lakeland, photo circa 1980’s | Photo via Lakeland Public Library

Table of Contents

Great Scott! We’re firing up the DeLorean and stepping back in time to today’s date 50 years ago in 3, 2, 1.

Welcome to the ‘70s, Lakeland. On Oct. 19, 1971, President Nixon was in the Oval Office, and our local leadership was Mayor Joe P. Ruthven. Other local notables were Monroe Brannen, the Polk County Sheriff, and Bill Read, the Polk County School District Superintendent

We’re breaking down all the groovy goings-on. Let’s start with city news:

  • The Lakeland City Commission was presented with a $1.5 million contract with Wellman Power Gas, which would entail a $30 million power expansion for the city.
  • Dr. J Larry Durrance, a professor at Florida Southern College, addressed the Polk County League of Women Voters regarding political science issues. The league produced literature for Polk County citizens regarding issues within the United Nations.
  • John Milnor, a defensive back on Kathleen High School’s football team, was applauded for his efforts in Kathleen’s game against Santa Fe.
  • Watson Clinic announced the addition of 3 new doctors to their team: Dr. David L. Hall and Dr. Merlyn E. Eckerlberg in radiology, and Dr. R. Hank Jennings in obstetrics and gynecology. 
  • US Senator Lawton Chiles announced his upcoming appearance as Polk Community College’s convocation speaker on Friday. 
Senator Lawton Chiles | Photo via Florida Memory

Wondering how far your buck would get you in 1971? Let’s take a look at what deals Peacock’s Produce (3119 S. Florida Ave., now home to Waffle House) published in the Tuesday paper:

🥚 2.5 dozen eggs — $1.00

🥬 A “large bunch” of mustard, turnip + collard greens — $0.49

🎃 Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkins — $0.10/lb.

🥛 ½ gallon of milk — $0.50 

🥜 3 quarts of boiled peanuts — $1.00

In addition to your weekly grocery haul, you may want to pull out the old checkbook for one of these deals: 

  • Lakeland Lincoln Mercury (941 E. Main St.) advertised a hard top Lincoln Mercury Monterey on clearance for $4,029.
  • A 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom home on a half-acre, just 300-ft from Lake Hollingsworth, was selling for $36,500. The home boasted central AC and heating, a large attic, and even a basement. 
  • White German Shepherd puppies were on sale by owner for $35-$50
  • 4 weeks of sewing classes were $12.25.
  • A brand new 24 cubic ft. side-by-side refrigerator and freezer was $588 at De. Sear’s, (208 N. Florida Ave.).
  • A fifth of House of Stuart Scotch was $3.99 at Orange Discount Liquors (1938 E. Main St. and Longfellow Blvd. — now Pat’s Discount Beverage).
  • Maas Brothers on Kentucky Ave. was selling men’s shirts starting at $4.47, and ladies’ 3-piece wool suits for $39.90.
  • A fresh haircut, plus a free can of hairspray, was $10 at Ideal Beauty Salon (809 E. Palmetto St.).
Maas Brothers in downtown Lakeland, photo circa 1980’s | Photo via Lakeland Public Library
Maas Brothers in downtown Lakeland, circa 2021 | Screenshot via Google maps

Following an epic shopping spree, you’d be able to turn on the tube and catch one of your favorite evening programs, including The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, Walter Cronkite, and Twilight Zone’s episode titled “Dead Man’s Shoes.”

Swan City citizens looking for something on the Silver Screen could head to any of Lakeland’s 3 drive-in theatres or 2 cinemas for the following shows: 

  • The Filmland Drive In was playing “Big Joke,” “A Man Called Horse,” “Zacharia,” “Let It Be,” and “The Magic Christian.” Formerly located at 3310 Lakeland Hills Blvd., the drive-in theatre shut down in 1986, and is now home to the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Outpatient Care Center
  • Loew’s Grove Cinema was playing “Drive He Said” and “The Wishing Machine.” The theater (Grove Cinema I&II) once sat where the Grove Park Shopping Center sits now at 1617 Bartow Rd.
  • The Lakeland Drive In was playing “Hard Ride,” “Born Wild,” “Million Dollar Duck,” and “War Wagon.” The Lakeland Drive In went dark for good in 1984 to make room for Lakeland’s first Walmart and the Palm Center Shopping Mall, which still sits at 4231 S. Florida Ave.
  • The Polk Theatre was playing “Let’s Scare Jessica to Death” at all showtimes. 
  • The Silver Moon Drive In was playing “Female Bunch,” “Crazy Baby,” “Green Slime,” “Yog, Monster From Space,” and “Destroy All Monsters.” 

That was groovy, but it’s time for us to head back to 2021. 👋

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