Presented by the Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin, Georgia. For questions and information, please contact Scott B. Thompson, Sr. at dublinhistory@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

MORE UNCANNY TALES

Some of you might think I am a little weird and you may be right. I can't seem to get enough of the uncanny tales I told you about last week, so here's some more.

Stubborn as A Mule - Mules are stubborn. They are born that way. When a mule doesn't want to, he doesn't, or so they say. Actually, this highly intelligent hybrid between a female horse and a male donkey is smarter than both of its parents. In an effort to improve auto traffic between the Post Office and the First National Bank on East Madison Street, city officials decided to post one-way signs directing that all vehicles travel from west to east and not east to west.

Though people can read, mules can't. It seems this one john was used to going from east to west along the busy thoroughfare. While on his route his driver stopped to deliver ice. When the determined jack mule turned the corner and headed west, a traffic policeman tried to stop him. The mule kept on his determined path, ignoring the dray driver's cries. A half dozen men attempted and failed to aid the confounded cop. Though tired of fighting his human antagonists, the mule stayed his course, halting at the usual stopping spots until his duty was done. ( Macon Telegraph, 9-27-1920. )

The Dying Well - Tank Brown and Robert Sessions could dig a well with the best of them. Dr. W.B. Taylor hired the well diggers to construct a shallow well on his farm. Brown descended to about fifty feet below the surface in an attempt to remove an annoying rock. He placed a shot of dynamite next to the boulder and returned to the surface to ignite it. When the explosive failed to detonate, Brown left the site, only to return the following day. He slid down the rope to figure out what went wrong. Something did. The helpers up top felt him strongly pull on the cord indicating he was in trouble. When Brown was half way up to safety, he inexplicably turned loose from his secure grip and fell to his death.

Robert Sessions was summoned. He reluctantly agreed to fetch the corpse of his friend from the void. He managed to get a noose around Brown's lifeless body, only to realize that he too was in trouble. This time, his rescuers managed to hoist him to safety. When he was pulled from the mire, Dr. Taylor determined that Sessions had been overcome by nitroglycerine gas, which formed in the base of the well when the water saturated dynamite decomposed. (Macon Telegraph, 4-26-1921)


Acid Kills - In the 1960s, everyone was told that acid kills. Yes, strong acids do. One Laurens Countian found out the hard way. Knox Linder, a prominent farmer in these parts, was preparing for another day of work on the farm. The sixty-five-year-old farmer Knox didn't have the same get up and go that he used to. He had suffered through hard times, living out his childhood during the Civil War and his adulthood in the difficult decades of Reconstruction and its aftermath.

Linder was grasping in the predawn darkness for a bottle of tonic. He reached up on the mantel and picked up a bottle similar in size and shape to his trusty tonic, but instead chose a deadly bottle of carbolic acid. He took a swig and immediately realized the gravity of his mistake. He called out in for his son Glenn to rush to his aid. It was too late. Knox Linder was buried a day or two later in Northview Cemetery. (Macon Telegraph, 12-9-1921)

Help! Santa Claus Is On Fire! - Most of us always wondered why Santa Claus doesn't catch on fire when he crawls down our chimneys. We know that his red suit is incombustible. The same doesn't go for Santa's helpers, you know the guys who dress like Kris Kringle just before Christmas while the real Santa is busy at his toy factory at the North Pole.

The Sun Beams of the First Baptist Church in Dublin were enjoying their annual Christmas party. The children looked forward all year long to the time when Santa came to visit with them and hand out presents from under the Christmas tree. In those days, many Christmas trees were still lit with candles, not the electric kind but the real fire burning ones. Milo Smith, billed as one of the most highly esteemed young men of the city, was going about his business in his Santa costume giving out goodies to the kiddies.

All of sudden, Smith's coat tails brushed against the old tannenbaum. His red coat was engulfed with flames. The children screamed and ran, yelling "Santa Claus is on fire!"
Smith, now a blazing candle himself, fell to the ground while excited parents rushed to extinguish the previously jolly St. Nicholas. Physicians sent Smith home to rest for a couple of days in bed, believing that he would recover from the second degree burns which were confined to his hands and legs. (Macon Telegraph, 12-18-1920)

The Streaking Skulker - A skulker is one who lurks in hiding places and moves about stealthily out of cowardice. Such a scamp caught the attention of Dublin police and curiosity seekers as well in the fall of 1922. Most burglars dress themselves in dark clothing to avoid being seen as they burglarize homes and businesses in the dark of night. This particular prowler was slightly, well more than slightly, troubled.

For several days, residents of Dublin observed this malefactor moving about the city au naturale. Without a stitch of clothing on, the bare bandit made his way in and out of the creek swamps which ran though the city. Witnesses recalled that he made no effort to notice or speak to any one, nor did he seem to care if anyone noticed that he was completely naked. Though police believed the miscreant was not a thief, but a disturbed and deranged young man who was purposely trying to frighten women and children, they urged everyone to keep out a careful watch for the man, fearing that the public and the police would be further aroused. Yes, they really did say that. (Macon Telegraph, 10-25-1921)

There'll Be No Dime Shoe Shines, Boys! - In the old days, men had their shoes shined and often. Many shined their own, but there were times when the rush of time necessitated a trip to see the shoe shine boys, who set up their stands on the streets and the barbershops of the city. When times began to get tough after the boll weevil's devastation of the cotton crops, shiners of shoes needed a stimulus to keep on eating and living. Instead of a minimal increase, the bootblacks decided to up their nickel charge a denomination up to a silver dime.

The members of the Dublin city council took offense to the inflationary practice. After all, in those days, an extra nickel was a still a nickel. Some folks had to work an entire hour just to earn one of the buffalo headed coins. The council was determined to nip the dime shoe shines in the bud. An ordinance was passed placing an additional $50.00 a year tax on any shoe shiner who charged a dime a shine, never stopping to realize that if all of the shoe shiners banded together, they could easily absorb the extra cost with the first thousand shines. (Macon Telegraph, 1-10-1922)

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