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

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A TRIBUTE TO NEIL ARMSTRONG

From July 2009

FLY ME TO THE MOON PLEASE
Confessions of a Lunatic


It is hard, if not impossible, for me to believe that it has been forty years since man first walked on the moon.  If you are over the age of forty-five, you can remember the night when Neil Armstrong took a giant leap for mankind.  I do.  I remember it as if it were yesterday.  And it was yesterday, but that was four decades ago.

It was way back in the late 1950s, when I went outside one night to see something in the sky.  To this day, I don't remember exactly what it was, but I wasn't alone.  As my parents, my sister and I  came outside on a warm clear evening, there were many people standing in front of their homes on Stonewall Street.  I believe it was some kind of satellite, American or Russian, I really don't know.  Judging by what I remember of the number of  people looking toward the heavens, I will assume they were patriotically looking for an American object orbiting the earth.  Someone spotted the white light as it crossed the sky and yelled "there it is!"

I began to look more at the sky, the stars, the planets, and the Moon.  I remember watching Alan Shepard and his rocket on our little black and white television.  I remember John Glenn as he orbited the earth.  The significance of these flights and the competition with the Russians was lost on me.  I was only five to six years old.  I had a hard time riding a bicycle, let alone ever thinking  about climbing in a capsule and being blasted into space.

It was about 1963 when I came in contact with the space program.  Well, not really, but it was close.  I was with my family on vacation at Jekyll Island when I had heard my mother and grandmother talking about the fact that Dr. Werner Von Braun and his family were staying at the Buccaneer Motel where we were staying.  I only knew he had something to do with the space rockets.     I was playing in the kiddie pool with a blonde haired kid I didn't know.  He told me that his name was Peter.   After having a great time playing with Peter, we heard someone calling his name.  We looked up to the penthouse apartment.  It was his parents calling him to come up to their room.  It never dawned on me until later that I was playing in the pool with the son of the man who practically invented space rocketry.  That was the same trip, 46 years ago yesterday,  when the moon covered the sun completely across the northern United States.  I remember seeing my first eclipse on television.  I wanted to go out to the beach and watch it, but my mother said that the sun would burn my eyes.  I went outside anyway and squinted to get a quick view of a partial eclipse before my eyes, or at least one of them, got fried.

Every chance I got, I watched the space flights on television.  I watched Walter Cronkite on CBS tell me and the rest of the country what the astronauts were doing way up there in the heavens.  I read the newspaper articles about the Gemini space flights.  I never read anything else in the newspaper unless it was a story about the Dublin Irish football game, the Braves score, or if my name was in the paper.  On one of his trips to Washington, D.C., my daddy brought me a N.A.S.A. book  showing photographs taken by Gemini astronauts of the earth below.  That was it.  I was hooked and I wanted to go into space.

The moon has also been a special place to me.  Just call me a lunaphile.  I never get tired of looking at it as it changes its face every day.  I was a teenager when I learned that when the moon was full that the waves at the beach were the best late in the afternoon.  There is something  special, almost spiritual, about seeing the reflection of the moon shimmering in the water or seeing it peaking out from behind the buttermilk clouds of the night.

As our country was being torn apart by political strife at home and across the world in 1968, it came together if only for a moment on Christmas Eve.  My family was making our annual visit to my Thompson grandparents that evening when we walked into the living room.  In the corner, I saw that the television was on, tuned to the flight of Apollo 8.  I knew what was going on.  I had been a space geek since the flight of Apollo 7, when I began to make scrapbooks of each of the Apollo flights, cutting my clippings from newspapers and magazines.

I was only twelve, but I was deeply moved as I listened to Commander Frank Borman read from the first verses of the Book of Genesis.  I wanted to be there.  I still want to be there.  That night, my grandmother presented me with a present.  It wasn't in a box, but it came in an envelope.  She told me she got it on a trip to Florida, where she and my grandfather once lived and worked to make it through the Great Depression.  It was only a piece of paper, but my oh my, what a piece of paper it was.  It was a deed.  My lawyer daddy told me that a deed meant that you owned land.  My eyes bugged.  It was deed to a piece of the moon.  Though it wasn't a real deed  - a fact that I knew - it did say that I, Scott Thompson, owned an acre on the moon.  Wow!  It would be some thirty-five years later when I actually bought a small speck of lunar dust taken from the equipment brought back by the Apollo 12 astronauts at a much higher cost than what my grandmother paid for my pretend deed.

Then, the big event came. It was a time I had been waiting for a decade. It was an event that man had been waiting for since Adam took a walk on his first evening on the earth.  I had seen the launch, recording  it on my father's tape recorder so I could listen to it over and over again.  A  few weeks later that my mother would pick up a souvenir 45 rpm record at Winn Dixie with special audio moments of the entire mission.   Later that next year,  I  built a capsule from a dishwasher box (my mother's first), complete with a tape recorder,  television, periscope, and lighted panels fashioned from my mother's blinking Christmas tree lights.

It was a Sunday evening, July 20, 1969.  My mother had planned one of her famous theme parties.  Guess what the theme was that night.  The lunar module Eagle landed just after 3:15 that afternoon.  The moon walk was scheduled for later that evening just before 10:00 p.m.  I don't remember what I ate that night, just  going in and out the door to see what I could see in the sky.    It was my mission to watch the moon landing on television and at the same time watch the moon as well.  I had enough engineering skills to accomplish my objective for the night, but  I still tested my equipment a few times before the company came.  This was no easy task since we had only two televisions and only one cable outlet in the family room, too far away from the sliding glass doors to see the moon and the tv at the same time.  So, I got some regular electrical cord, stripped the wires on one end and wrapped them around the screws on the back of the main television and peeled back the covering of the other end of the wire and hooked it to the upstairs tv, which I set in a strategic  place on the patio just at the spot where the  moon peeked through the oaks of Hunger and Hardship Creek swamp.  

As long as I live, I will never forget the sight of Neil Armstrong coming down the ladder of the LEM and stepping onto the surface of the moon.  I watched astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin late into the night as they walked and hopped around and planted the flag, our American flag, on the surface.  I kept on watching the astronauts on the moon until the last lunar flight of Apollo 17.   I felt closest to the Apollo 13.  Jim Lovell, the commander, was and still is, my favorite astronaut and  a true American hero.  This was the Saturn V  rocket I saw on my first trip to Cape Kennedy on a church choir trip during spring vacation in 1970, just weeks before the fateful flight almost ended in disaster.   I spent that weekend with a man who was on the ground crew.  He took me back out near the cape  to see the illuminated rocket, shining like a beacon in the night.

I never have lost sight of the moon.  Every day I see it in my kitchen, perhaps the only kitchen in the country decorated with the "the man in the moon."   I did meet moonwalker Buzz Aldrin in Atlanta when I opened the door for him and gave one of my heroes the directions to the autograph show.  I could have met John Young when he spoke to the Dublin Rotary Club, but my darling brother didn't invite me as his guest.

On this 40th anniversary of the first landing on the moon, I am anxious to walk on the moon and right now!  I know my heart wouldn't hold up to the grueling gravitational forces  necessary to escape the Earth's gravity. But, I am ready, so fly me to the moon, please!

P.S.  Walter, when I get there, I'll see you at Tranquility Base at the third crater on the left.

CLARK GRIER


Firing Up the Bull Moose


"Politics," Sir Winston Churchill once said, "is almost as exciting as war and quite as dangerous.  In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times."  That evaluation was never more true than in the first quarter of the Twentieth Century when one Dublin man was assaulted with factional shots, only to persevere through one of most political divisive periods in American history, not only between the Democrats and Republicans, but between the divisions of the Republican party as well.  And, right in the middle of one of the greatest chasms inside the Republican Party, this man led a revolt at the Republican Convention of 1912 resulting in creation of a new party known as the Progressive Party, or the "Bull Moose Party," which was led by former president Theodore Roosevelt, rated by many as one of the greatest presidents in American history.

Clark Grier was born on August 11, 1860 in Griswoldville, Georgia, a railroad village established by his grandfather, Samuel Griswold.  A son of E.C. and Eliza Griswold, Grier moved to Dublin in the late 1890s as the manager of the local office of the Southern Bell Telephone Company.    Grier was active in business circles as a member of the Dublin Board of Trade and a promoter of the Dublin Chautauqua Association.  A director of the City National Bank, Grier earned most of his income as the owner of the Dublin Real Estate Company.  

It was the custom on those days for the President of the United States to appoint the postmaster of every post office in the country every two years.  Competition was frequently  fierce and egregiously brutal.  In December of 1899, President William McKinley appointed Grier to the coveted job.  In those days when the Republican party dominated the White House for sixteen years,   the only Republicans to hold public office in the South were those who were appointed by their party's president.

Just two years later, Grier's reappointment for a second term was challenged by E.R.  Belcher, a black Republican leader from Brunswick, who wanted to replace Grier with Allens Simmons, a choice which would have given Dublin its first black postmaster.    Grier and Belcher were also competing for the chairmanship of the Georgia Republican Party,  which at the turn of the 20th Century was primarily composed of black members in a solidly Democratic state.     Belcher accused Grier of being a racist in that he cared nothing of the black citizens of the state, a position which was disavowed by the majority of local black Republicans.

In 1903, Grier's highly esteemed position came within the sights of Herman Hesse, a German immigrant and local plumber.  Hesse, supported by a large portion of the black members led by John Dasher, failed in his bid to oust Grier from office.  

Grier was reappointed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 for his third two-year term.  He served until 1908 when he announced his intentions to once again seek the chairmanship of the Republican Party.  Roosevelt kept the office in the family when he appointed Grier's wife Clara.  Her assistant was Herschel V. Johnson, grandson of former Georgia Governor and 1860 vice-presidential candidate of the same name.  

A year later, Grier suffered a personal and financial setback when he was forced to  declare that he was bankrupt.

The 1912 Republican Convention in Chicago promised to be a electrified one. And, it was just that.  Roosevelt, still a favorite of the common people,  realized that though he had the lead in committed delegates over President William Howard Taft, the choice of the professional politicians,  going into the convention, he didn't have enough to win the nomination to face Woodrow Wilson in December.

"When the delegates were elected, there was nothing to do but accept it and inevitable  defeat in November," Grier, who had previously supported President Taft,  told reporters prior to the opening of the convention.  "With the announcement of Col. Roosevelt's entry into the race, the party was given new life," Grier added when he announced, "I am going to vote for Col. Roosevelt because Taft is threatening to remove my wife as postmistress of Dublin."   

Postmaster J.H. Boone of Hazlehurst jumped on the band wagon, which was about to begin steam rolling throughout the convention hall.  Three of Georgia's black delegates joined Grier and Boone.  At one point, the remaining twenty-three black delegates announced they were reversing their positions as well, each thinking that delegation as a whole was going to vote for Roosevelt.  

A near riot between the white and black delegates ensued.  When Boone lost his temper and called his colleagues "infernal scoundrels," they approached him and demanded an apology.  When Boone refused, some of the angrier members picked up weapons and threatened him with immediate bodily harm.  The Mississippians joined in the pro Roosevelt movement.  When the convention chairman finally restored order - a moment of quiet ensued.  That is, until Grier rose and spoke. "Mr. Chairman, I make the point," he exclaimed in a loud laugh, "that the steamroller has exceeded the speed limit." Bedlam followed and lasted until a chorus of Nearer My God To Thee quieted the ruckus to a dull roar. 

Roosevelt, seeing that his efforts to obtain the nomination were futile, led a walkout of his supporting delegates to form a new party.  Just as Clark Grier had predicted, the split in the Republican Party led to the election of Woodrow Wilson, a fellow Georgian, as President in 1912. 

Clark Grier moved to Augusta in exile during the Wilson administration.  In the summer of 1920, Grier returned to the national scene as a delegate. Once again, he was in Chicago and thoughts of his glory days returned to his now aging body.    Grier still had his political enemies and many of them were Republicans.  In 1922, the Federal District Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia indicted Grier for violating prohibition laws.  It was alleged that Grier took possession of 86 gallons of whiskey and kept the same in violation of his duties as a prohibition officer for the Gulf States Department.  Grier had been indicted twice before and was acquitted both times.  It seems that the charges leveled at him came not from his actual guilt but from his disloyalty to the party, a finding confirmed by the majority of the members of the state party.  His final indictment came in Savannah in 1924.  Once again, Grier was defamed in the newspapers and exonerated in a court of law.  Nevertheless, Grier once again returned to the national convention as a delegate committed to Calvin Coolidge.  

In the last years of his life, Grier and his family moved their official residence to Macon.  Clark Grier continued to serve in the Hoover administration in Washington, D.C., where he died on July 21, 1930 after suffering a stroke.

Maybe, just maybe, now a century later, it is past the time when we should resurrect Clark Grier and send him to both upcoming national conventions and fire up the ol' Bull Moose!

Friday, August 17, 2012

THE KINGS OF CROWNS


The game of checkers and its predecessors has been around for thousands of years.  The British called the popular game "draughts".  In America, we called it "checkers."  It was about 90 years ago when checkers skyrocketed to popularity in the latter years of World War I and the decade thereafter.  


The people of Dublin were right proud of their checker playing abilities.  In the summer of 1910, the greatest checker players in the South gathered in Macon.  Dublin City School Superintendent Roland Brooks was there too.  It was claimed that he was the best checker player in Laurens County.

When the game's popularity really began to soar in 1921, the checker afficionados of The Emerald City formed the Dublin Checker Club, said to be one of the first in the state, although  it was actually, only the first in the East Central Georgia area.  

L.G. McNeely was elected president.  The organization's first vice president was George W.  Shepherd.  H.M. Hatcher served as secretary.  Shepherd was hailed as one of the best checkers players in the state, finishing fifth at a past state convention. 

The real Kings of Crowns, in their own humble opinions, resided in the city of Irwinton, Georgia in Wilkinson County.  

Whenever a visitor or novice player came into town, he was pitted against Herschel Dominey.  If he managed to best the mediocre Dominey, the winner then faced, H.B. Adkins, who would pull out his pipe, "Old Betsy," to show the optimist who was really the best.   Then if he was a pretty fair checker man, Ol' Lum was called in to defend the honor of Wilkinson County.  And, if that failed, George H. Carswell, the reserve King of Crowns,  No one, ever beat Carswell.  And if such a travesty ever happened, there was always the threat of showing the purported champion a swift, and not so pleasant, way out of town.

The clock was just about to strike high noon on a hot August Saturday in 1924.  H.F. Heywood had just lost his 22nd game in a row to Herschel Dominey.  George H. Carswell, the local king of crowns, had just wagered four to one that Captain Skelton didn't get into heaven.  An intense argument arose over the issue of tariffs.  Among the assembly of the checker players and onlookers, politics was the main topic of discussion.   

Clang! Clang! rang the bell at the old Union Church.

Instantly everyone thought fire!

The memory of the cremation of the courthouse some six months earlier was still on everyone's mind.    Eyes turned to look for fire hoses.  Eyes looked toward the roof tops and tree lines for signs of smoke.  With not a single plume in sight, the crowd frantically began to collect buckets and fill them with water.  

Not knowing which end of town was on fire, one resident threw down a plug of Brown Mule tobacco which he was cutting for a customer, commandeered Tom Murphy's 1909 Ford, and dashed throughout the town looking for black smoke and flames.  The manic merchant nearly careened into the checker crowd which had assembled at Lum's corner drugstore.  Riding only on two wheels as it rounded the corner, Murphy nearly sideswiped Miss Pinkie Adams' rooster as he was in a wild path while on the way to see a flock of hens.  A pack of agitated hounds followed the swirling trail of dust.

And, the bell rang and rang and rang. 

Mrs. H.B. Adkins, in obedience to the Reverend's request, rang the bell at the appointed hour to remind townsfolk of the beginning of the revival on Sunday. 

Once the excitement was over, the games resumed, but not for long.

"All good things come to end," so they always say.  And so did the checker playing in Irwinton.  Or so, it was said.

Seems that the main topic of the Christian reawakening was the perniciousness of the grand old game.   Rev. Barron, the visiting minister, warned the congregation that checker playing was sinful.  The church members, composed of Methodists and Baptists, were somewhat divided on the issue.  A large number of the Methodists insisted that checker playing was not a sin, since it is not specifically mentioned in the Bible as being in derogation of God's word. The Methodists proclaimed it was only a sin for the Baptists to take part in the game.  Other Methodists remained insecure about the consequences of resuming the games, if indeed Rev. Barron was correct.

Doomsayers predicted the church imposed ban would ruin the city by turning away visitors and prospective citizens who had a passion for the game.  

It wasn't long before checker addicts reasoned and rationalized Rev. Barron's stern warnings.  When it was announced that the recent state championship was determined to be undetermined, those who had the ultimate confidence in their abilities began to wonder what would have happened had they taken a secret trip to Macon to compete and possibly win.  They had no doubt that someone in Wilkinson County would have come back with high honors.

After the ban on checkers was declared, Carswell, a devout Baptist, returned from a trip to Atlanta.  Checker fans held out all hope that since Carswell was not present in church when the matter was cussed and discussed, that the town tradition would resume and the Baptists would soon begin backsliding toward their normal behavior, saving the town from an abomination.  

Apparently, their wishes came true.   When plans for the new courthouse were announced and no steeple or clock was included, town residents went into another frenzy.  Some, like Lum Fleming who cussed the county commissioners for not promptly rebuilding the courthouse,  wanted a steeple like every other courthouse they ever saw.  While others insisted that a large clock be placed on the tower, to remind the checker players that it was time to go home for lunch and avoid the wrath of the beloved wives.

  Victor Davidson, an attorney and Wilkinson County historian, reported, "The checker board at Heywood's store has been consigned to utter destruction and the one at Thads', although still in existence, presented a forlorn and deserted appearance."  Davidson woefully stated that a 50-cent harmonica had taken the place of the checker board at Heywood's.  
When the church folk effectively  pinned the Kings of Crowns in a zugswang*, they resigned their games, removed their boards from the sidewalks  and took their draughts men to the back rooms where the games resumed out of plain sight of the ardent Baptists.


* Zugswang is where one player is put at a disadvantage because he has to make a move when he would prefer to pass and make no move. The fact that the player must make a move means that his position will be significantly weaker. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

LOOK UP IN THE SKY!

IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A PLANE,


IT'S THE MAILMAN!


In these days of instant messaging across the room and around the world, the mere thought of carrying a stamped letter in a prop engine plane seems altogether primitive and overly useless. But back in the 1930s, having your very own letter put in a mail sack and tossed into a biplane was a big deal, a real big deal.

In the first air mail delivery in the United States in 1793, Jean Pierre Blanchard, a French balloonist, carried a personal letter from George Washington to whom it may concern, that is the first person whom he saw when he landed. Fred Wiseman was the first pilot to carry the mail, albeit three letters, in an airplane in the year 1911. The first true, regularly scheduled air mail flight in the United States took place on May 15, 1918.

To that point, mail had first been carried on foot, on horseback, by wagon, by train and by boat. With the advent of railroads and then automobiles, mail was transported faster than it had ever been before.

It was in the years after World War I when more and more random flights into and out of Dublin began to rise, although the rare sight of a flying machine here always brought out a crowd.

Georgia Governor E.D. Rivers saw the importance of carrying mail on air plane flights both within the state and across the nation, so he declared Georgia's own "Airmail Week," in the summer of 1937.

Frank W. Hulse, the popular manager of the Augusta Airport, arrived in Dublin just before dark on the evening of August 8, 1937. During World War II , Hulse trained more than 25, 000 pilots and began to develop a network of air service among the smaller cities of the South. Hulse founded Southern Airways, which became "Atlanta's Own Airline." Hulse, an inductee into the Georgia and Alabama Aviation Halls of Fame, sold the company to Republic Airlines, which in 1980 was the largest airline in the United States with the number of destinations served.

At the crack of dawn, Hulse was warming up his single-engine, Southern Airways prop airplane. Some 75 persons got up early to see the historic event. It would be the first regularly scheduled airmail flight out of Dublin. Mayor Marshall Chapman, Postmaster M.J. Guyton, Assistant Postmaster Clifford Prince, Rural Mail Carrier D.A. Moorman, Pilot Hulse, School Superintendent A.J. Hargrove, joined ordinary citizens, P.M. Watson, Sr., Albert Hattaway, M.B. Carroll, and Moody Brown and his son as they posed for a picture with the mail bag in front of Hulse's plane.

Hulse (left) flew east into the rising sun stopping at a suitable landing strip in Swainsboro, flying north along U.S. Highway 1 to Louisville, before turning west to Milledgeville. Allotting only five minutes on the ground at each stop, Hulse made it to the end of his wild, three-hour flight in Macon.

On that first day, Louisville topped the list with some 1500 pieces of mail. Dublin was second. Postmaster M.J. Guyton and his assistants placed a 25-pound mail sack, containing more than a thousand airmail letters in special cachets bearing the mark, "Dublin, the town that doubles."

One of the thousand letters was addressed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt, the nation's most famous philatelist, possessed one of the nation's largest stamp collections, augmented in large part due by contributions of thousands of his adoring admirers. who regularly sent stamps to the beloved four-term president. Other Dubliners took advantage of the occasion to send letters to far away relatives and friends.

From Macon, the mailbags were flown to Candler Field in Atlanta, where they, along with other air mail flights originating from Alma, Folkston, Macon, Dalton, Rome, and Lavonia, were loaded on Eastern Airline planes for delivery to all of the 48 states and 26 nations around the world. In all, nearly 17,000 pieces of mail were flown in from every corner of the state.

Postmaster Guyton, competing for the highest volume of mail with other postmasters around the state, established a special box in the new post office on the Courthouse Square, but informed everyone that they could deposit their airmail letters all week in the various street corner mail boxes around the city as long as they affixed the 6-cent airmail stamp, twice the rate of the normal cost to mail a one-ounce letter.

To enhance the effort to promote airmail, Postmaster Guyton installed in the post office lobby a large gong, which was struck by a customer each time the patron tendered an airmail letter.

Dublin Mayor, Marshall A. Chapman declared August 9-16 as "Air Mail Week" and urged all citizens to support the movement.

Even the youngsters of Dublin were invited to join in the celebration. The Post Office sponsored a model airplane contest. The winners were Herbert Moffett, Jr., Clifford Prince, Jr., Billy Keith, McGrath Keen, Bluford Page, Jr., and Charles Moore. Two of the boys continued their fascination with airplanes. Keen became a bomber pilot in World War II. Page served as a pilot in the Korean War. The winning entries were displayed for all to see in the post office lobby. The Courier Herald handed out the prizes, $2.50 to the winner, $1.00 to the second place finisher, and a fifty-cent airplane model to the third place winner in each age category. Each plane had to be made in the boys' homes and cost 25 cents or less.

At the end of the week, after the echoes of a hundred bangs of the gong had died away, the total number of airmail letters stood at 1,270.

It was hoped by all that Dublin would become a regular stop in the air mail network in Georgia. Of course, it never did. The idea of a vast network of airmail flights in and out of dozens of Georgia cities never caught on. It soon became all too evident that it would be more economical to transport the mail by truck to the larger airports in the state where they could be flown to far away destinations.

But, it was during this very week seventy five years ago, when the citizens of Dublin looked up and for the very first time, saw the mailman bound into the morning sky.









Tuesday, August 07, 2012

THE KEEPER OF THE DREAM



Dreams do come true. This Jeff Davis knows. When he was five years old, Jeff climbed the steps of a castle. His father helped him through the "rolling doors." His eyes beheld a dream. And, one day, he told himself and his daddy, that the old Post Office on Madison Street was going to be his very own building.

And, today, on the 100th anniversary of the building's opening as the Dublin Post Office, Jeff Davis's dream has come true. To celebrate the occasion, he has invited his friends to commemorate the beginning of the second century of a true Dublin landmark.

"I remember the steps. And, when I got to the top, it was the biggest building that I had ever seen. I didn't know what to do at the door. My dad came and got me. And, I came in the lobby and thought it was a castle. Even at five, the building floored me," Jeff recalled.

It was on August 2, 1912, when Dublin's grand new post office opened for the first time. Situated on East Madison Street in the heart of the agra-industrial district of the Emerald City, the post office was the one of the city's focal points for businessmen and residents.

Too small even from the beginning to accommodate a post office in a burgeoning city, the capacity of the building was furthered reduced by the need for a Federal court room, a move necessary to accommodate the rapidly growing number of moonshine cases in the district. Accordingly, the Federal government constructed a courtroom above the main workroom of the post office in the late 1920s. Within five years, plans were underway to build a new Federal building on the courthouse square, leaving the Madison Street Post Office to be occupied by sundry offices of county and state government in 1937.

In the early 1970s, Laurens County sold the building to Joe Rutland, who operated a pawn and antique store in the building for three decades. Over the next few years, the building housed a restaurant and a bar, before becoming the home of Will and Jennifer Carter.

"You have to give all the credit to Will Carter and his wife, Jennifer, because they lived here and this building was their home. They loved it and they were good caretakers of the building," Davis proclaimed as he praised the Carters, who knew all the original details and never harmed anything which was original to the building.

After watching the activities in the building for several years and appreciating the rebirth of the downtown area, Davis contacted Carter about purchasing the empty structure. The Carters agreed to sell what was once their dream as well. The Carters even attended Rutland's estate sale, where they spotted and retrieved the building's original blue prints, which now hang in the lobby of the post office building, professionally framed underneath special light resistant glass.

Davis, the current Dublin Rotary Club President, was looking for a new location for his growing data storage business, Alterra Networks, a full service information technology solutions provider.



"From a business and a technology standpoint, Dublin is well located for a data center," said Davis, whose new quarters has a 4500 square foot basement. The Dublin native approached the project with the goal to make the main floor and the second floor like it was on Day One in 1912, adapting them to house his offices and getting a data center in the basement for free. To add icing on the cake, the building is located along the city's fiber optic network line.

"When I bought the building, it took me about four or five times in there to realize that about 85 percent of the building was still here," remarked Davis, who personally flyspecked every nook and cranny of the sturdy structure finding hidden clues to its past. Sometimes the clues came to him in the form of stories of bygone days and visitors to the building. He discovered secret windows in the top of the work room, where the postmaster and inspectors could spy on employees, looking for sticking fingers while they were sorting mail and taking money orders.

There are large fixtures intact as well as small ones. In Davis's personal, second-story corner office, there is an original light switch. There's even a triangular sink in the corner right next to a century old towel holder. From his vantage point, Davis can look out the window gazing toward what was once the heart and soul of the industrial and agricultural center of Laurens County.

He can even tell you where the post office bought their sweeping compound, toilet paper, coal and light bulbs from. He knows this because he contacted the National Archives and received more than 1500 pages of records, which document in exact details all of the activities which went on during the construction and operation of the building during its early years.

With most of the original plans in hand, Davis set out on a passionate mission to restore, replicate, or replace as much of the original building and its fixtures as he could. He doesn't see it as one shot deal, but a long term process.

"Everything that is not here can be put back with one hundred percent certainty," Jeff maintains.

One of the first things Davis noticed was that the original lobby clock was missing. After examining his mounds of documentation, he determined that it was a Seth Thomas Model 21, 14- inch gallery clock, the only one they made that year. Davis went on eBay, quickly found one, and bought it at a price less than a modern day clock would cost. Although the original clock had to been wound by hand, Davis adapted the replacement clock to run off long lasting batteries.



Obviously missing were the original post office boxes, which were removed when the county took over the building in the 1930s. Davis had seen an original one in the Dublin- Laurens County Museum and set out to research the kinds of boxes which were originally installed. It was back to eBay, where he purchased similar boxes by the hundreds, which he then had polished and reinstalled exactly where they were a century ago.

There is one thing that Jeff Davis doesn't plan to immediately restore. There is a row of windows for different types of services which the postal service provided. In front of the main stamp window, there is a bare spot, where the feet of hundreds of thousands of customers completely eroded away the marble floor.

One day he was outside and noticed several dozen people posing for a picture on the front steps. The group assembled there to remember the day many decades ago when the patriarch and matriarch of the family met for the first time. Their descendants gather there periodically to remember the seminal event which led to their becoming a family.

"I don't know anybody who hasn't walked through that revolving door whose breath is not taken away," said Davis about the building's most striking feature.

In 1937, when the county moved in, the building was only a quarter century old and lots of changes had already been made.





"The biggest sin which was committed against the building was the by the Federal government, putting in that temporary courtroom, cutting that room in half. Just to undo that and get the light flowing again and getting the windows uncovered, that is the thing that I am most proud of," said Davis.

"The public has not seen the building like this for 80 years. No one alive, other than the workers, has seen the building in 80 years without the temporary courtroom," said Davis, whose workers had to strip away three coats of paint on each side of the lobby windows to remove the impudent impediments to the building's original grandeur. .

"This building is all about light, natural light. There are very few light fixtures in the building," Davis commented as he pointed to the fact that he and his employees work until early in the evening without turning on a single light.



"I want it to be downtown's formal living room. I want it to be a gathering place," says Davis, who believes that the building is just warming up.

"This building was built when this country was very rich and architecture was an honored discipline. There was a real good quote from the Secretary of the Treasury at the time, 'We can use these post offices in small towns to inspire the citizens. We can put the most architecturally beautiful building in a community and hope that we can inspire the other citizens to build to that level,'" says Davis, who believes that the building was built to make a statement and still can.

"There will never be another one like this building. Even though I am the caretaker of it now, this building belongs to everybody. When you put yourself in that context, you can't really say that you own this building," Davis believes.

"My inspiration comes from thinking about the day when the folks we read about in the history books who built houses on Bellevue came through those doors. They did business down here. And, then there were people who were just regular folks and did business here at the post office," Jeff remarked.

Davis can even imagine the building being here after another 100 years or even a thousand years from now. He foresees, "There will be a day when school children will come here and be informed that once we sent paper to each other and we had to build these buildings to receive and route these paper communications."





"It's a special building. It holds a special place in people's hearts," Jeff Davis believes.

In particular, the building always reminds Jeff Davis of that unforgettable autumn day when his late father stopped in to pick up some shot gun shells to go on a dove hunt out a James Rawls' farm. It was that day, the very first day, when Jeff began to imagine his dream.