1956 Governor Griffin at Memorial Home

On Wednesday, July 25, 1956, Marvin Griffin returned to Chattooga County for the first time as governor to speak at a meeting of the Chattooga County Committee for Better Roads. The meeting was held at the Memorial Home and followed a barbecue lunch.

State Representative James “Sloppy” Floyd acted as master of ceremonies. Dr. Hugh Goodwin, chairman of the Chattooga County Committee for Better Roads, gave the welcoming address. Summerville attorney Arch Farrar Sr., a former state senator, introduced Governor Griffin.

Griffin spoke of the four principle departments of state government – education, highways, public welfare, and public health. He told the crowd of 250 invited guests that two sections of four-lane highway along U.S. Highway 27 would soon be built in the county. One section would be built from Trion into Walker County. The other section would add lanes from the Floyd/Chattooga county line into Summerville. The governor stated the work would widen dangerously narrow bridges and eliminate numerous curves.

Governor Marvin Griffin (seated center) enjoyed a barbecue lunch at the Memorial Home prior to his speech. Seated right is Summerville attorney Arch Farrar Sr. The man standing center is unidentified.

Griffin told the Memorial Home guests the 6.5 cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline and the price increase on car tags were necessary steps in raising funds to match federal aid for highway projects.

speechAccording to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, "Upon taking office in 1955, Griffin reneged on a campaign promise and pushed through an increase in the state income tax, which was needed to offset an expected shortfall in revenues. After the tax increase, the Griffin administration accomplished a great deal for Georgia. The Rural Roads Authority paved nearly 12,000 miles of rural roads in the state. Appropriations for education increased by 50 percent, and teacher salaries rose approximately 25 percent."

shaking hands
After his speech, Governor Griffin shakes hands with an unidentified guest.

local vips
From left to right: Arch Farrar Sr., State Representative James "Sloppy" Floyd, (in back) unidentified, Governor Marvin Griffin, Dr. Hugh Goodwin, (partially hidden) State Representative Paul Weems, and unidentified.

Front row from left to right: State Representative James "Sloppy" Floyd, Governor Marvin Griffin, Dr. Hugh Goodwin, State Representative Paul Weems, and unidentified. In back are Arch Farrar Sr. and an unidentified man.

This photograph appears to be from the same event, but was found unlabeled in the archive. The man on the left is unidentified; the one on the right looks like future Congressman John Davis.

Despite many accomplishments, Griffin's administration was marred by charges of corruption, and a later campaign for governor was foiled by Carl Sanders. Griffin retired from politics, citing ill health, but not his own, explaining the voters were "sick and tired of me."

The information in the opening paragraphs is from the Summerville News. Photographs by T. Emmett Nunn. Courtesy of Chattooga County Library.

Copyright 2013 Greg W. McCollum.  All rights reserved.