The Week of December 6th
by Damon_Poirier
 MDJ Time Capsule
December 07, 2012 01:03 PM | 3093 views | 0 0 comments | 95 95 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
In this week’s Time Capsule, we look at Lockheed being allowed to continue testing a nuclear-powered space engine and the murder of Sara Tokars, which set in motion the high-profile Fred Tokars murder trial.

100 years ago …

In the Friday, Dec. 6, 1912 edition of The Marietta Journal and Courier there was a story about Mariettan John D. Northcutt having sold his apple orchard in Gilmer County to W. A. Gatlin for $23,000. The property, which had more than 6,000 trees of eight apple varieties, covered nearly 650-acres in the north Georgia mountains.

Tax Collector W.P. Stephens had an ad on the front page of the newspaper that week announcing that there were only 16 days until State and County taxes were due. The ad also stated that 4,372 people had not yet paid their taxes.

Another ad on the front page was for The Marietta Book Store which announced it was Santa Claus’ headquarters for games. Games of every description from Jackstones to Mumble Pegs, card games, Tiddle-de-Winks, Old Maid and dozens of others were on sale for five cents to 10-cents.

50 years ago …

Skin divers were reported as combing the bottom of the Chattahoochee River in the Sunday, Dec. 2, 1962 MDJ in search of two pistols used in the slaying of a Cobb service station attendant, mentioned in last week’s column. Divers were called in after dragging teams, using three large magnets, worked for four days in up to 15 feet of water near the Powers Ferry Road bridge without finding the weapons.

The Cobb Advisory Board in the Tuesday, Dec. 4, 1962 paper ordered a uniform policy drawn up governing when the county would pay for autopsies on accident victims and when it would pay medical bills for jail inmates who needed hospitalization. Board chairman Herbert McCollum, the county commissioner, said what he considered to be unnecessary autopsies were costing the county thousands of dollars a year.

The transfer of the Georgia Nuclear Laboratories at Dawsonville to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was expected to open a new chapter in space work done in Georgia, according to the Wednesday, Dec. 5, 1962 paper. The AEC intended for Lockheed to continue to operate the labs, which previously operated them under lease from the Air Force in a contract set to expire in April 1963.

Lockheed was participating in the reactor-in-flight-test (RIFT) program at the labs, which was the testing of a nuclear-powered space engine. The company was excited because the AEC had made a statement that the Georgia labs seemed suited for testing space engines even more powerful than the RIFT engine as well as programs related to electrical nuclear propulsion.

The development of a nuclear-powered rocket engine began in May 1962. At that time, NASA awarded Lockheed $180 million to test the engine. The first nuclear-powered rocket stage was expected to be ready for launching by an advanced Saturn booster in the 1966-1967 period.

Also that day, Marietta Mayor Sam Welsch said he would move that the city council consider adopting an ordinance making it a violation of the city code to show obscene movies in Marietta. The mayor had received telephone calls complaining about a film that was currently being shown.

20 years ago …

In the Wednesday, Dec. 2, 1992 MDJ, there was a story about how 39-year-old Sara Tokars of east Cobb was killed by a single shotgun blast to the back of the head. Mrs. Tokars was killed by a person who abducted her and her two sons from their home at gunpoint after they returned home from a Thanksgiving holiday trip to visit family in Florida.

Mrs. Tokars was driving along Powers Road less than a mile from her home when she was shot by the man sitting in the backseat. Her late-model Toyota 4Runner then veered off the left side of the road, through a row of brush and small trees before coming to a stop 75-feet into a vacant lot.

The case would eventually become one of the metro area’s high-profile murder cases of the 1990s.

Damon Poirier is the Newsroom Administrator for the Marietta Daily Journal.

If you are interested in learning more about the stories that were presented in this week’s column, you can search the newspaper’s digitized microfilm archives online. NewsBank, which hosts the archives for the Marietta Daily Journal, charges a fee for retrieved articles and has various price packages available. If you have any trouble with your username, password or payment options, please contact NewsBank at 

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