In the 1960s, the Hannah-Adams home electronics and appliance store on Brainerd Road was a go-to destination for those in need of a clothes washer or a color TV.
Located for years at the intersection of Brainerd Road and Belvoir Avenue, the store was in a high-traffic area that made it ideal for the kind of “outdoor sale” featured in this 1969 photo. The photograph is part of a collection of EPB images included on the website ChattanoogaHistory.com.
According to old newspaper reports, the store was established in 1953 by Hugh H. Hannah Jr., a Cleveland, Tennessee, native and World War II veteran who attended the Baylor School here and the University of Notre Dame.
According to Hannah’s 2010 obituary, he returned to Chattanooga after the war and sold private airplanes for a time. He later became general manager of Wholesale Tire and Supply. Then, in the early 1950s, he opened the Hannah-Adams store here and another location in Knoxville. The stores sold TVs, appliances, furniture and recreation vehicles. Hannah retired after more than 30 years in the business.
In a 1956 classified advertisement in the Chattanooga News-Free Press, the Hannah-Adams store offered a wringer washing machine for $60 and a 21-inch Motorola television for $159.
Also that year, the store bought newspaper ads touting the then-new portable TVs, which the ad called “the smartest, smallest TV ever built.” The ads encouraged customers to buy on credit and touted terms as “25 cents a day with no down payment.”
By the late 1960s, the store’s advertising was focused on color televisions, as the technology took America by storm. One 1969 newspaper ad contained a drawing of an excited child along with the words: “Mommy, here comes Hannah-Adams with our new color TV. Oh, Boy! Now we can watch ‘Lassie.'”
In 1969, an RCA console color TV sold for $497 at the Hannah-Adams store, which would translate to about $4,000 in 2023 dollars, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This week, Walmart has 50-inch Vizio TVs on sale for $268. Reversing inflation, $268 in 2023 compares to $32 in 1969.
By the time the store closed for good in 1986, it was in a warehouse on Highway 153 near the Shallowford Road exit. A March 1986 newspaper ad contained these words: “We have served Chattanooga for 33 years — now we are closing forever.”
‘Romper Room’ update
Last week in this space, we featured a photo of the “Romper Room” television show from 1969 on WDEF News 12 Now. The “teacher” in the photo was identified by several sources as Clara Register, then a young mother and former elementary school teacher.
On the day the article published, we received an email from Register, who moved away from Chattanooga for a stretch of years but has moved back to the Scenic City.
Her email read, in part:
“I taught school for 54 years after ‘Romper Room.’ Three years after retirement, my husband and I moved back to Chattanooga. I am enjoying Chattanooga very much. I am involved as a volunteer at the McKamey Animal Center and the Chattanooga Ballet.
“I went further with my education and received a master’s degree from Clemson University in literacy and became a National Board Certified Teacher. Over the long span of my teaching career, I have taught everything from kindergarten to college. I taught for the Department of Defense in Germany and Spain. While in Spain, I met my present husband, while he was on active duty in the Navy.
“The Magic Mirror (a segment of the ‘Romper Room’ show) was real, and I certainly could see all the children,” she added.
Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, ChattanoogaHistory.com is maintained to present historical images in the highest resolution available. If you have photo negatives, glass plate negatives or original nondigital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.
Follow the “Remember When, Chattanooga?” public group on Facebook, and read earlier installments of this series at ChattanoogaHistory.com.
“Remember When, Chattanooga?” publishes on Saturdays. Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6645.