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In Russia Krushchev and his officials were celebrating the hundredth anniversary of Vladimir Lenins birth Troops were being stationed across New England to prevent violence as the Black Panthers were holding a supposedly peaceful May Day demonstration in New Haven Connecticut At Kent State University in Ohio students were up in arms after the National Guard had used tear gas and guns to break up a student rally at the center of campus Texas had just completed a controversial election with remarkably low voter turnout in which George Bush Sr had been elected as senator Meanwhile a small town of 50000 citizens in the Deep South was celebrating its centennial anniversary I was raised by southern parents and considered myself a Georgian for the first eleven years of my life but I have had little exposure to small-town life of any sort My home for the last ten years has been right outside Philadelphia a big liberal city in the Northeast My suburb of 80000 people had a semblance of a community atmosphere we celebrated Havertown Day with a parade every year but we were not nearly as close as the community of Longview I can hardly fathom the idea of a town where everyone knows one another I may thus have an inaccurate picture of the culture of small towns in the American South especially during the 1960s and 1970s I picture them as close-knit conservative communities with a great respect for their history and heritage though this may be an inappropriate stereotype In many ways the community of Longview in 1970 seems to have fit into this mold as evidenced by events of Centennial Week They revered their history and heritage their volunteer organizations were numerous and dominating and they saw religion as foundational to good citizenship However events during their Centennial Week also celebrated the uniqueness of Longview Longview was distinguished from other towns in that both its historic foundation and
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