March 22, 1946, in The Star: Maj. Gen. James E. Parker of Anniston, commanding general of the 20th Air Force, was today believed killed in a plane crash on northern Formosa. General Parker, who once upon a time was an Anniston Star carrier boy, was the only native of Calhoun County ever to become a general in the U. S. Army. He's the son of W. E. Parker, former sheriff of this county. The plane, which was reported piloted by Gen. Parker, has been missing since March 19. Gen. Parker, age 50, was born and reared in Anniston. The oldest of 13 brothers and sisters, he was a member of a widely known Alabama family and graduated from West Point in 1918. [The Star of March 26 confirmed that Parker’s body was recovered from the wreckage of the B-17.] Also this date: Jackie Robinson and John Wright, black baseball players for Montreal in the International League, will be prohibited from participating in an exhibition game with Jersey City in Jacksonville, Fla., by a regulation of the Jacksonville Playground and Recreation Board. A board spokesman said board rules and policies “prohibit mixed contestants in athletic events on their facilities.” The city official said the Montreal club could bring any black players it wishes, but they just won’t be able to play on the city field.
March 22, 1996, in The Star: Alabama’s legislature has given the green light for a new tourist attraction in the Birmingham metro area: VisionLand. No, it’s not an optometrist’s dream vacation site, it’s what Fairfield Mayor Larry Langford sees as a statement from the economically depressed area of western Jefferson County that they will no longer be ignored by motorists speeding through on the interstate. Gov. Fob James is expected to sign the necessary legislation and the big ol’ amusement park, featuring both rides and water-based attractions, should open in midsummer 1997. Also this date: Extremist hate groups have minimal influence within the Army and are not actively recruiting soldiers into the paramilitary world of bigotry and violence, a special Army task force reported yesterday. The task force, created following the December slaying of a black couple in North Carolina — allegedly by white soldiers linked to racist groups — found no organized extremist activity within the Army.