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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

THE WRECK OF THE FLYING BOATS




In their early days, PBYs, or patrol bombers, were the fastest thing in the sky.  Designed to float on the seas and fly in the skies, the floating bombers were used for a variety of missions from bombing to patrolling to search and rescue missions.  

PBYs were not designed to fly in close formation.  That was the case seventy five years ago off the coast of San Diego, California. Two ocean skimming  planes collided in mid air.  Ten naval airmen were killed. One of them, Julian Rawls, was a Dublin man.  At the time, it was the worst air disaster in the history of the United States Navy.

The Navy brass in Washington were planning for a possible invasion along the western coast of the United States in the latter years of the 1930s.  Although the true amphibious attack never materialized, the Navy kept preparing for the worst case scenario. 

Rain was forecasted on a cool, cloudy Ground Hog Day evening on February 2, 1938.  With a  moderate northwesterly wind was blowing in to the shoreline, it was not going to be a good day for flying.  Flying at night would be worse, much worse. 

More than 100  sea going vessels, 250 planes  and 40,000 men were engaged in war maneuvers some 70 miles southwest of Point Loma, California.  The San Diego Union reported that nearly all of the personnel in San Diego were out at sea participating in the war games. 

The time was 20:37 hours.  Pitch black, moonless skies, permeated with low lying, rainy, rapidly moving clouds and augmented by  heavy squall winds,  obscured the visions of the flying boat pilots. Lt. Elmer Cooper, (LEFT) flying 11-P-3 and Lt. Carlton Hutchins flying 11-P-4 began to drift dangerously close to each other.  Then in a deadly instant, the two flying boats became entangled.

Sailors as far away as San Clemente Island saw the brilliant flames illuminating the dreary night sky.  Crash boats of the U.S.S. Pennsylvania picked up the four survivors; D.B. McKay, V.O. Hatfield and L.S. Carpenter, all from the crew of 11-P-4.  J.H.  Hester, Rawls’ counterpart aboard the other doomed plane,  survived the initial collision but later died aboard a hospital ship.

Chief Machinist’s Mate, V.B. McKay, one of the three survivors, told friends, “We were flying through a rain squall with no visibility. We were flying in close formation between 3000 and 4000 feet above the ocean.”

“The plane 11-P-3 nosed into our tail.  The other ship caught fire. Ours went into a spin and fell toward the ocean,” said McKay, who suffered a broken leg.

“Lt. Carleton Hutchins (the commander of 11-P-4) ordered all of the crew to abandon ship. All of them got free either by using parachutes or in some other fashion. Two or three of us tried to hold Lt. Hutchins above water.  He was unconscious.  We managed to keep him up for about half an hour and then we finally had to let go,” McKay recalled. 

Lt. Hutchins, (LEFT) who remained at the controls until his men bailed out of the crippled plane, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism.  The ultimately noble citation read, “Although his plane was badly damaged, Lieutenant Hutchins remained at the controls endeavoring to bring the damaged plane to a safe landing and to afford an opportunity for his crew to escape by parachutes. His cool, calculated conduct contributed principally to the saving of the lives of all who survived.  His conduct on this occasion was above and beyond the call of duty.”

Lt. Hutchins was further honored in 1942 when the destroyer, the U.S.S. Hutchins was named in his honor.  Lt. Cooper was also honored with a destroyer, the U.S.S. Cooper named in his honor. 

The seven-man crew of 11-P-3 never had a chance.  Radio man Rawls barely had time to send out a Mayday message. P-3 Pilot  Cooper did all that he could, never having the time to think about his beloved wife Frances and son Petie back at home.  The 105-foot wide plane burned and exploded into unrecognizable pieces. 

Four fortunate survivors of 11-P-4 had enough time to don their parachutes and jump to safety.  There were no survivors aboard 11-P-3. The bodies of the ill-fated crewmen of 11-P-3 were found except for Julian Rawls, John Neidsweicki and Martin Woodruff. 

Julian Rawls, (LEFT)  a native of Dublin and then a resident of Chula Vista, California, had been in the service for seventeen years, two years in the Army and fifteen years in the Navy.  Rawls, a radio operator, was eligible  for retirement in 1940.

Rawls, the husband of Evelyn Prince Watson, was born in Dublin in 1901 .  A son of O.H.D. Rawls and Julia Rawls, Julian grew up in a couple of homes on North Jefferson Street.  

All movements of the fleet ceased. Radio silence was lifted to initiate a search for survivors.  The search lights of 98 ships illuminated the crash zone in hopes of spotting survivors, any survivors.  At dawn, every ship, boat and plane were pressed into search and rescue operations.  No signs of survivors, victors, or Rawls’ PBY were ever found. The search was called off the following evening.    

The war games resumed.

Admiral Charles Blakey instituted an investigation of the cause of the collision and promised that the regrettable and costly accident would help the navy to prevent future accidents like this one.

The collision and resulting crashes of two PBYs were reported to be the greatest loss  of a heavier than air aircraft disaster in the history of the United States Navy.  Eleven men died that fateful night. 



Training accidents, a fact of life in the service, were common in World War II.  The collision was the third in six months in the area, leaving an even two dozen men dead.

The body of Dublin’s Julian Rawls, was reportedly never found. There is a cenotaph marker in North view Cemetery (Sect. D, Row 3) to mark the life of this man, perhaps our county’s first casualty of World War II.  

Yet, his grave marker does not indicate that he was a member of the U.S. Navy - only a worn tattered flag indicates that he was a patriot.  And,  Rawls’ name is not inscribed on the World War II monument on the courthouse lawn.  Now and forever, let us  remember Julian Rawls and his fellow men who gave their lives to protect our country, seventy five years ago this week.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.



THE FIRST PUBLIC SPEECH OF
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.


     On April 17, 1944 the Colored Elks Clubs of Georgia held their state convention at First A.B. Church in Dublin.  The event was hosted by the Norman G. McCall Elks Lodge of Dublin.  The Georgia Elks clubs each sponsored a high school student in a statewide oratory contest.  The winner of the contest was from Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta.  In his  speech, the fifteen-year-old student, who would enter Morehouse College in the fall, spoke on the topic of "The Negro and the Constitution."  

The young man called for the better health and education of his people.  He spoke of Christianity and the Golden Rule.  He urged fair play and free opportunities at home, the same as we were fighting for in Europe and Asia.  He suggested that if Negroes were given the franchise, "they will be vigilant and defend, even with their arms, the ark of federal liberty from treason and destruction by her enemies."  Little did the audience realize what they were witnessing.   

In a compiled autobiography, the young man recalls that the reading of this essay was his first public political speech.  The young man spent the next twenty four years of his life fighting for the constitutional rights of the people of his race.  By now, I know you have guessed who he was.  The young man, who came to Dublin sixty nine years ago, was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 








Here is Martin Luther King's speech:


"My heart throbs anew in the hope that inspired by the example of Lincoln, imbued with the spirit of Christ, [America] will cast down the last barrier to perfect freedom," said the young King. "And I with my brother of blackest hue possessing at last my rightful heritage and holding my head erect, may stand beside the Saxon--a Negro--and yet a man!"

Negroes were first brought to America in 1620 when England legalized slavery both in England and the colonies and America; the institution grew and thrived for about 150 years upon the backs of these black men. The empire of King Cotton was built and the southland maintained a status of life and hospitality distinctly its own and not anywhere else.

On January 1, 1863 the proclamation emancipating the slaves which had been decreed by President Lincoln in September took effect--millions of Negroes faced a rising sun of a new day begun. Did they have habits of thrift or principles of honesty and integrity? Only a few! For their teachings and duties had been but two activities--love of Master, right or wrong, good or bad, and loyalty to work. What was to be the place for such men in the reconstruction of the south?

America gave its full pledge of freedom seventy-five years ago. Slavery has been a strange paradox in a nation founded on the principles that all men are created free and equal. Finally after tumult and war, the nation in 1865 took a new stand--freedom for all people. The new order was backed by amendments to the national constitution making it the fundamental law that thenceforth there should be no discrimination anywhere in the "land of the free" on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.

Black America still wears chains. The finest Negro is at the mercy of the meanest white man. Even winners of our highest honors face the class color bar. Look at a few of the paradoxes that mark daily life in America. Marian Anderson was barred from singing in the Constitution Hall, ironically enough, by the professional daughters of the very men who founded this nation for liberty and equality. But this tale had a different ending. The nation rose in protest, and gave a stunning rebuke to the Daughters of the American Revolution and a tremendous ovation to the artist, Marian Anderson, who sang in Washington on Easter Sunday and fittingly, before the Lincoln Memorial. Ranking cabinet members and a justice of the supreme court were seated about her. Seventy-five thousand people stood patiently for hours to hear a great artist at a historic moment. She sang as never before with tears in her eyes. When the words of "America" and "Nobody Knows De Trouble I Seen" rang out over that great gathering, there was a hush on thee sea of uplifted faces, black and white, and a new baptism of liberty, equality and fraternity. That was a touching tribute, but Miss Anderson may not as yet spend the night in any good hotel in America. Recently she was again signally honored by being given the Bok reward as the most distinguished resident of Philadelphia. Yet she cannot be served in many of the public restaurants of her home city, eveen after it has declared her to be its best citizen.

So, with their right hand they raise to high places the great who have dark skins, and with their left, they slap us down to keep us in "our places." "Yes, America you have stripped me of my garments, you have robbed me of my precious endowment."

We cannot have an enlightened democracy with one great group living in ignorance. We cannot have a healthy nation with one tenth of the people ill-nourished, sick, harboring germs of disease which recognize no color lines--obey no Jim Crow laws. We cannot have a nation orderly and sound with one group so ground down and thwarted that it is almost forced into unsocial attitudes and crime. We cannot be truly Christian people so long as we flaunt the central teachings of Jesus: brotherly love and the Golden Rule. We cannot come to full prosperity with one great group so ill-delayed that it cannot buy goods. So as we gird ourselves to defend democracy from foreign attack, let us see to it that increasingly at home we give fair play and free opportunity for all people.

Today thirteen million black sons and daughters of our forefathers continue the fight for the translation of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments from writing on the printed page to an actuality. We believe with them that "if freedom is good for any it is good for all," that we may conquer southern armies by the sword, but it is another thing to conquer southern hate, that if the franchise is given to Negroes, they will be vigilant and defend even with their arms, the ark of federal liberty from treason and destruction by her enemies.

The spirit of Lincoln still lives; that spirit born of the teachings of the Nazarene, who promised mercy to the merciful, who lifted the lowly, strengthened the weak, ate with publicans, and made the captives free. In the light of this divine example, the doctrines of demagogues shiver in their chaff. Already closer understanding links Saxon and Freedman in mutual sympathy.

America experiences a new birth of freedom in her sons and daughters; she incarnates the spirit of her martyred chief. Their loyalty is repledged; their devotion renewed to the work He left unfinished. My heart throbs anew in the hope that inspired by the example of Lincoln, imbued with the spirit of Christ, they will cast down the last barrier to perfect freedom. And I with my brother of blackest hue possessing at last my rightful heritage and holding my head erect, may stand beside the Saxon--a Negro--and yet a man!




   
Photograph at the top is @ Scott B. Thompson, Sr.  It was taken on April 15, 2012 of Joey Howard of Dublin as he recited Dr. Martin Luther King's speech at First African Baptist Church, Dublin, Georgia. 





DEAR UNCLE FRANK - AN INVITATION TO DIE



Dublin, Ga. Dec. 13th 1912.

Dear Uncle Frank,



Alonzo and the children is planning to go and getting ready to go to Wilkes Co next Tuesday, they will be gone three days you don't know how desolate it is out here when me and the baby is left alone. We cant all leave on account of our stock. We have plenty of lightwood ready cut. You can come In your wagon every day and get a load I will give you a good, good good dinner. Please come visit me in my loneliness. You will never regret the time. 

Alice Lynn

Route 6
Dublin, Ga.



Frank Hightower had seen death before.  As a twenty-five-year-old lieutenant in the 49th Georgia Infantry, Hightower had seen the slaughter of thousands at Gettysburg and on  the killing fields of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Spotsylvania in Virginia.  When he inscribed his name to enlist in the Confederate army on March 4, 1862, Frank knew that he may die.  But, when he received an invitation to come stay with his lonely niece, Alice Lynn, Francis Marion Hightower, he never dreamed what was about to happen.

On a cool clear Tuesday morning, Frank Hightower set out to visit his niece Alice.   The Hightowers had known the Lynns for quite a while.  J.F. Colley, brother of Hightower's wife Mary, had adopted the orphaned Alice and treated her like his own daughter.  Alice married Alonzo Lafayette Lynn, a blacksmith and engineer, in 1900.  By all accounts, the Hightowers and Lynns were good friends.  Not a bad word was ever known to have been spoken between them until just a few weeks before when Mr. Hightower uttered a remark which offended his niece.  Those who heard the remark saw no reason to classify it as a reason to murder the old gray rebel.  

When Hightower arrived in his wagon at the Lynn farm house, some seven miles east of Dublin, he spoke to Tom Hart, the Lynns' neighbor.

Hightower told Lynn that he came to pick up a load of lightwood and to deliver some flour and lard as his niece had requested.

From that point on, the accounts of that day differ.  According to Mrs. Lynn, Hightower drove up to her house and she invited him in.  Lynn stated, "He took off his coat and laid it on the bed together with his hat." The seventy-four-year-old took a seat to rest in a rocking chair between the bureau and the shed kitchen door.  As she was passing by the chair on her way to the kitchen to cook dinner, Alice Lynn alleged that Hightower took her hand and commenced to insult her with the most vile suggestion.  Fearing for her safety, Alice, understandably nervous and excited,  maintained that she reached for the bureau, took a five-shot pistol and fired it until it was empty, though she could not remember just how many times she shot.   Later Alice Lynn testified, "When he came, he asked me where my husband was.  I told him he was in the field picking cotton.  He said, 'I had an excuse to come here for a load of lightwood, but I came for something else and I intend to have it.'" Alice added, "Don't bother me, you see my condition.  He then caught my hand and I shot him."


The Defense's theory - an unwarranted assault on Mrs. Lynn


It was then when Tom Hart, who was working on a well,  heard the scared screams of Mrs. Lynn about 30 minutes past noon.  Hart, along with his son,  ran as fast as they could, only to discover the horrible sight of Hightower lying on the floor,  his snow white hair saturated with bright crimson blood, his brains oozing  from  five gaping wounds to the back of his head.  Blood covered at least a third of the bedroom floor.  Interestingly, two more frontal entrance wounds were found  in his abdomen.  Hart screamed, "How did this happen?"!  Mrs. Lynn replied, "I shot him.  I had to do it; he attempted to assault me."  

Hart called out for Alonzo Lynn, who came running toward his home from a nearby cotton field across the branch.  The Lynns went to another neighbor's house to await the arrival of the sheriff.  Mrs. Lynn was already in a delicate position as she was in her last months of a pregnancy with her son Joseph.  During his trial, Lynn stated that he and Hart took Alice out of the house and began to bathe and clean her face with camphor.  Lynn testified that when his wife regained her composure she said, "I had to do it.  It looks mighty bad for Uncle Frank to impose on me as he did. I knew nothing from the time I began to shoot until I found myself seated in the chair in the yard with my husband and the neighbors gathered around me in a group."  

Lynn later told his jury that in response to his wife's story to the sheriff,  Flanders responded, "Any man who would undertake to overpower a woman, no matter what her condition, ought to be hung up and shot full of holes." 
        
Hart called Hightower's son, long time Dublin Chief of Police, J.B. Hightower.  Chief Hightower procured an automobile and asked Sheriff J.J. Flanders to accompany him to the murder scene.  Hightower immediately began to doubt his father's alleged overtures toward his adopted cousin.  The Laurens Herald called the victim "one of Dublin's oldest and most respected citizens."  Hightower was known to have lived a pure and blameless life and was one who had the respect of all who knew him, particularly for his generosity and love of little children.  Initially, Chief Hightower and those who knew his father believed that Mrs. Lynn had a nervous reaction to an innocent brush against her as she passed by.


Dr. J.L. Weddington was called to examine Hightower's body.  The doctor found five entrance wounds at the base of back of his skull and the top of the victims' neck.  All five rounds exited the body through the front of his face and throat.   

Sheriff Flanders found empty shell casings in back of the chair where Hightower was sitting and two  other shells in front of and to the side of the chair, indicating that the victim may have been shot from two different angles.  The evidence at the crime scene indicated that the shells behind the chair were splattered with blood, a clue that Hightower remained upright for a short time before falling, or being pushed, to the floor.  No evidence of a struggle could be found.  Hightower's hat was right where it was when he entered the room.  

Three days later, Frank Hightower was buried with Masonic honors near the front gate of Northview Cemetery, just up the street from his former home.  

The Lynns secured the services of George B. Davis and Stephen Parker New, two of Dublin's newest and most promising attorneys to represent them against the charges of murder at a commitment hearing on January 8, 1913. More than two weeks after the shooting, Alice Lynn was arrested.  Davis and New attempted to get their clients out of jail on  bonds.

In support of their motion, the attorneys introduced the affidavit of Lanthers Lynn, the couple's eleven-year-old daughter.  Miss Lynn swore, in a completely self-serving affidavit, that her father was in a cotton field and could not have been present at the time of the shooting.  To contradict Miss Lynn's testimony, Tom Hart signed an affidavit stating that Alonzo Lynn would have had the time to escape from the rear of the house and come  back to be the first person he saw near the house.  Hart firmly believed that neither Lynn nor anyone else could have run that fast from the cotton field, where Lynn maintained he was at the time of the shooting.  In his sworn statement, Hart recalled seeing the impression of a hand or arm in the middle of the bed as if it had been resting on the bed.   




To prove his case, Sheriff Flanders had  Detective C.W. McCall  fire four rounds from inside the Lynn house.  Flanders stood at a point, much closer than a Negro girl or Lynn were when they claimed they heard the shots being fired.  Flanders told the court that he could not hear any reports of gunfire. Superior Court Judge Kendrick J.  Hawkins found that it was Alonzo Lynn who actually wrote the  letter asking Hightower to come out to stay with his wife, who actually signed the letter.  Judge Hawkins  remanded the Lynns back to jail and set Mrs. Lynn's bond at $5,000.00 on account of her delicate condition.  




Hundreds of spectators gathered inside and outside of the Laurens County Courthouse on the Tuesday  afternoon of February 5, 1913.  Messers Davis and New immediately filed a motion to quash their clients' illegal indictment by the Grand Jury.  More than one hundred white male jurors were voir dired before a dozen were impaneled.  Arthur Graham, B.M. Lewis, A.K. Hawkins, R.M. Arnau, J.M. Jones, D.B. Bass, B.A. Hooks, John Ellington, Jerry Ussery, W.E. Silas, John Daniel, and Calvin Tyre took their seats in the crowded courtroom.  On the morning of second day of the trial, Juror Tyre fell ill.  Owing to the urgency of continuing the case, the parties agreed to proceed with eleven jurors.  

One of the state's earliest and most critical witnesses was Raymond Blash, who testified that he was in the field near the Lynn house when he saw Mr. Lynn go into his house about five minutes before the sound of gunfire.  Blash testified that after he saw Lynn run out of the house, he heard two more gunshots.    George Davis relentlessly cross-examined the damning witness.  Col. Davis attempted to show that Blash was simple-minded, a fact which was stipulated by the state.  In an attempt to  prove his claim, Davis handed Blash a watch and asked him to tell him what time it was. Blash quickly gave the correct time.  Davis continued to hammer the witness by asking, "Do you know where people went who told lies?", to which Blash quickly responded, "They will go to Hell."  Spectators in the room erupted in laughter and accord with the witnesses' profound answer.  Both sides put up witnesses to solidify or attack the character of Blash.  The state showed that he knew the value of money and that when he was not confronted, Blash could speak normally.  The defense produced one witness after another who said Blash was an undependable idiot.  



Davis and New even attacked the character of the deceased by producing witnesses who testified that they heard that victim was a deserter during the war and that this caused much consternation among the local camp of Confederate veterans.  

The state hired surveyor and city engineer, M. J. Guyton,  to survey and plat the site of the crime.  Guyton took with him a photographer from the Guarantee Photography Studio in Dublin to take photographs of scenes recreating the prosecution's theory of the murder.   The photographs you see are the actual original ones used by the state in the case. 

During their time in jail, the Lynns were subjected to subterfuge when Detective McCall secretly installed a dicta graph machine in their cell.  Listening in on their privileged conversations, McCall later told the jury that he overheard Mr. Lynn tell his wife that she should have told the authorities that Hightower held the other hand instead of the left.  McCall also stated that Mrs. Lynn said, "Oh, God!  I wish I hadn't told a lie about it."  The detective said to the jury that when he confronted the  defendants with the damning evidence, neither one of them denied his assertions.  The Atlanta detective's eavesdropping machine didn't work as well as planned.  Only a few disjointed sentences could be heard when the recording was played back, forcing McCall to testify as to what he personally heard.  

Lynn and his wife remained calm throughout the hoopla and the entire trial.  Lynn was frequently seen smiling while conversing with his attorneys.  Court room observers spotted no discernable reaction on their faces during the testimony of Dr. Weddington, who spoke of the gruesome details of Hightower's corpse.



The testimony continued through Saturday. The defense called several medical experts to prove that  Hightower was suffering from dementia.  Alonzo Lynn took the stand to make an unsworn  statement, one which could not be cross examined by the state.  In one of the longest ever made by a defendant, Lynn carefully, calmly and methodically spoke to the details of the charges against them for two hours.  He lambasted the way he was treated by Sheriff Flanders and others in the jail.  Lynn spoke of his long and solid friendship with Frank Hightower and that he would trust him anywhere at any time.   In answer to the allegation that his letter to Hightower was a lure to kill him, Lynn stated that his wife asked him to write the letter to help her during his absence, but that when the time came, he stayed home because he was too fatigued to travel.  Lynn reiterated his alibi that he was in a nearby cotton field picking cotton with his children; Lanthers, Aaron, Annie, and Janie.  He claimed he helped a Negro man roll a log in the field.  Lynn attempted to contradict the testimony of a Mr. Gibbs, who told the jury that he was in the field between the hours of ten and eleven on the morning of the shooting, by stating that he was behind a barn and could not be seen.  



Lynn went on to describe his dash to the house and his conversation with Tom Hart.  "He told me that his wife had killed Mr. Hightower to which I asked, 'which Hightower?"  When Hart replied that it was Frank Hightower, Lynn said, "Lord have mercy! I wouldn't have had it done for anything."  In closing, Lynn blamed Hart's damaging testimony as his way of acquiring Lynn's land and blamed the actual shooting on a Negro, a claim which did not coincide with his wife's claim of self-defense. 

Alice Lynn calmly made a very short statement.   She repeated her claim that her uncle attempted to sexually molest her.  Mrs. Lynn further accused Florence Flanders, the wife of the sheriff, of attempting to coerce her into confessing by threatening that she would be hung for the murder of Mr. Hightower. 

Dr. Sidney Walker was called by the state to rebut the allegations of Hightower's dementia stating that he had personally examined the victim and that he exhibited no signs of senility nor sexual insanity.  Sheriff Flanders and Charlie Hart once again repeated their testimony that during a test,  they could not hear any gunfire from the spots where witnesses testified they did hear the shots. B.A. Garrard testified that Mrs. Lynn told him that she did not know how to unbreech, load, or unload a gun and had only fired a gun once in her lifetime.  Mrs. Lynn's attorneys requested that she be allowed to demonstrate that she could do just that, which she did.  The court allowed the jurors to be excused on Sunday to attend a church as a group.  

The closing arguments began on Monday morning and  lasted more than ten hours.  All those present agreed that they were among the  most powerful pleas ever delivered in the Laurens County courthouse.  Judge John S. Adams, mesmerized the jury as he spoke only to the eleven men, detailing all of the facts of the case and applying the law to them.  Adams urged the jury to uphold the law and put justice over sympathy  for the defendants.  Davis was equally eloquent in his delivery of an oratorical gem.

For two days the jury remained hopelessly deadlocked.  After one recharge after another, the jury appeared to experts to be leaning slightly in favor of a conviction of both defendants.  


The State's theory of the murder with Lynn as the shooter from behind. 

At two o'clock  on February 13, after a week of testimony by fifty-seven witnesses and a seven-day trial, solicitor E.L. Stephens, Sr. arose from his seat, walked over to the jury foreman J.M. Jones, took and opened the folded piece of paper, and read the verdict, "We, the jury, find the defendant A.L. Lynn, guilty of murder and recommend life in the penitentiary. We find the defendant, Mrs. A.L. Lynn, not guilty."  Both defendants sat motionless.  Mr. Lynn appeared to smile just for a moment as his attorney spoke to him.  Mrs. Lynn's one instant of relief on her part was promptly replaced by contempt for the process.  Before Judge Hawkins dismissed the jury, he thanked the men for their service and their righteous verdict, one in which he wholeheartedly concurred.  


Judge Hawkins commanded Mr. Lynn to rise.  The judge, reluctantly bound to accept the jury's recommendation,  pronounced the sentence of life in prison.  After a few minutes the once teeming courtroom was quiet.  Lynn's attorneys filed a motion for a new trial.  Judge Hawkins' ruling denying a new trial was appealed to the Supreme Court of Georgia, which affirmed the trial court's decision in late July following its usual precedent of upholding the discretion of the trial jury unless unusual circumstances dictated a reversal.

Lynn would not concede his guilt.  A move was made to indict Blash for perjury in the case.  When the Grand Jury refused to issue a bill of indictment, nearly all hope for a new trial had evaporated.  An attempt was made to appeal the Georgia Supreme Court's affirmation of the verdict to the United States Supreme Court, a tactic that never materialized.  Alonzo Lynn was sent to Toombs County to spend the remainder of his life on the chain gang eighteen months after his conviction.  Alice Lynn moved to Atlanta before 1920, when she was shown as a widow in the census.  Alice lived there until her death in 1960.  



The only eye witness to the shooting was the infant Harrison Lynn.  No motive, and certainly no premeditated motive,  for murdering Uncle Frank was ever attributed to A.L. Lynn.  The verdict, by today's standards, was questionable in that it was based partly on circumstantial and often contradictory evidence, which was bolstered by now illegal eavesdropping evidence of a legally protected confidential conversation between a husband and wife.  

.


In the end, it appears that the split verdict was a result of sympathy for a fine man and the expectant defendant.  Today, Uncle Frank Hightower lies in peace under the shade of  an ancient moss-draped oak.   His name and the date of his death have all but eroded away from his slab.  But, if you look closely, you can still see  scrawled in concrete,  his final engraved invitation, an invitation to die. 

     




EARL WEAVER - 1930-2013


Earl Weaver is dead.

Somewhere devilish umpires are laughing out loud.

But, there is no joy in Baltimore tonight.

The king of bad umpire loathing, dirt kicking,  tantrum throwing, hard cussing, jaw chewing baseball managers has been ejected from the game of life. Earl Weaver knew what epithets were and he knew how to use them, often, and with enthusiastic fervor.   

The little round man, loved by Oriole fans and loathed by losing opponents and irritated umpires, died on a baseball fan cruise on Friday night.  He was 82 years old.  

The Hall of Fame manager, who led his beloved Baltimore Orioles to six Eastern division championships,  four American League pennants and a single World Series title, served as the player-manager of the Dublin Orioles in 1958.

After one year without baseball, Dublin returned to the minor leagues, this time in the Georgia-Florida League.   The league fielded  six teams in its Georgia division:  the Dublin Orioles, the Valdosta Tigers, the Albany Cardinals, the Brunswick Phillies, the Thomasville Dodgers, and the Waycross Braves.

The Dublin team, which heretofore had veteran baseball men at the helm, took a chance on a 27-year old player who had bounced around the minor leagues for ten years. Before he began his major league managing career, Earl Sidney Weaver began his minor league career as a 17 year old in West Frankfort in 1948.  He enjoyed his best seasons in the minor league at St. Joseph in 1949, Omaha in 1951 and Denver in 1954.  In 1957, he played his last season as a regular player with Fitzgerald in the Georgia-Florida League.  

During the 1958 season, Earl played in thirty seven games, tallying  twenty five hits, four home runs, and twenty one runs batted in.  In his  eighty five at bats,  Weaver hit for a .294 average with six doubles and twenty seven runs scored.  Earl mainly played at second base, but moved himself to left field when the situation required it. 

Weaver managed two future major league stars in Dublin.  Dave Nicholson, (LEFT) a hard swinging power hitter, once signed the largest rookie contract in the history of baseball.  Nicholson played seven seasons in the "big show", including a season with the Braves. His 61 home runs were overshadowed by his 573 strikeouts.   Steve Barber, (BELOW)  a fire-balling southpaw, was a member of the pitching staff of the Baltimore Orioles,  which rose to prominence in the 1966 World Series.  Steve led the American League in shutouts in 1961, finishing with an 18 and 12 record. Barber pitched in the majors for 15 years with many teams including three seasons with Atlanta.   Despite their future major league performances Barber and Nicholson failed to receive any post season honors in the Georgia-Florida League.  First baseman Dave Bednar, outfielder Dick Ewin, and pitcher Ron Pearson were named to the Ga./Fla. All-Star team. The Orioles led the league in the number of players on the team.  Bob Bird was voted the team’s  most valuable player and Pearson was chosen as the most valuable pitcher for the Orioles.

The Orioles played well that year, especially for a new team.  They were consistent winners, especially in front of the home crowd.  The Birds finished in third place in both halves of the season.  Albany won the first half and Valdosta the second half.  The Valdosta Tigers won the post season playoff.   

The 1958 Ga./Fla. League was one of the better Class D minor leagues.  Several of the players went on to play in the major leagues.  Valdosta Tiger Dick McAuliffe, a three time All-Star, was regarded by many as one the best American League shortstops of the 60s. He played 16 seasons for the Tigers and the Red Sox.  McAuliffe, who led the AL in runs scored in 1968, was a leader of the 1968 World Champion Tigers.  Don Wert, also playing for Valdosta, led the AL in fielding percentage in '65.  Wert enjoyed his best season in 1968 playing on the all-star team and third base for the World Champion Tigers.   Mike Shannon, an outfielder for the Albany Cardinals, played third base for the World Champion Cardinals in 1967.  

Weaver was hired as a coach for the Orioles in 1968. He finished out that season as the manager with a winning record.  In his first season, he led the Orioles to the American League Championship, before losing the World Series to the "Miracle" Mets.  Weaver led the Orioles to the World Championship in 1970.  The Orioles  won a third consecutive league title in 1971, losing to the Pirates in the World Series.  The Orioles came back in 1973 and 1974 to win Eastern Division titles.  Weaver's last pennant was in 1979 when the Orioles lost to the Pirates in the World Series.  

Earl Weaver was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on August 4, 1996, becoming only the 12th manager to be enshrined.  His .583 winning percentage ranks him fifth on the modern all time list.  Weaver, known as a fireball when it came to arguing with umpires, was most proud of the fact that he was never fired.  Weaver had more 100-win seasons (5)  than any other manager except Joe McCarthy of the Yankees.  He only had one losing season, his last, in 1986.  Weaver ranks seventh all time in winning percentage (1,480-1060 - .583%) and first among managers who began their careers after 1951.  


His 98 ejections are an American League record.  Once he was ejected from a game for smoking in the dugout.  In the next game, he presented the lineup cards with a candy cigarette in his mouth.  He got tossed again.


Somewhere you will find Earl Weaver on his perch,  following the ball, eyeing every check swing, every tag play, ready to fly out of the dugout, pounce on and  devour anyone who got in the way of his team winning the game.  

Love him or lose him, Earl Weaver was a winner.  He would settle for nothing less, for in his own words he was “the sorest loser who ever lived.”

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

LARRY MORRIS, THE BRAHMA BULL


HAIL AND FAREWELL TO THE BRAHMA BULL


The Chicago Bears have long been known for their linebackers.  Names like Bronco Nagurski, Bulldog Turner, Clyde George, Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher have struck shear terror in the minds of opposing ball carriers  for nearly a century now.  For a short while, you could add the name of Larry Morris to that list.

Who is Larry Morris you say?  And, what does he have to do with Laurens County?

Well, I will tell you.

Larry Morris was born two weeks before Christmas in Atlanta, Georgia in the dark depression year of 1933.  As a member of the Decatur High School football team, Morris led  the Bulldogs to undefeated seasons in his junior and senior seasons.  

Morris signed a scholarship to play football for his hometown Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.  It didn't take very long before Morris made a solid impression on his coaches.  Tech Assistant Coach Frank Broyles, later an iconic coach at Arkansas, instantly knew that Morris was going to be an outstanding player.   In his freshman season, Morris cracked the starting lineup in the SMU game and never looked back.

"As a player and as a human being, he was one of the best," Pepper Rodgers, a teammate and later a Tech coach, told a reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Morris's winning ways in high school continued in college.  The Yellow Jackets boasted a record of 23-0-1 in his first two seasons, claiming two SEC championships along with the 1952 National Championship banner.
Named thrice to the all-SEC team, team captain Morris put an exclamation point on his career at Tech in the 1954 Georgia game.  Playing both ways at center and linebacker, the "Brahma Bull"  was credited with  two dozen tackles in the Yellow Jacket's  7-3 victory at Sanford Stadium in Athens.  Morris' superlative game earned him National Lineman of the Week honors. 

"Morris was everywhere, including rushing the passer. He stopped plays over the middle, off the tackles and around ends," wrote Harry Mehre, former Georgia coaching legend.  

Larry Morris, a member of the 1953 and 1954 All American teams,  was selected by the Los Angeles Rams as their 7th pick in the 1955 NFL draft, making him the 3rd highest pick in Tech history.

Morris played for three seasons in the exciting surroundings of Los Angeles and Hollywood in the mid 1950s.  In his rookie season, the Rams, under head coach Sid Gilman, lost to the Cleveland Browns  in the championship game.  Morris  started twelve games in his rookie year, but saw limited action in the 1956 and 1957 campaigns.   Morris was traded in the 1959 season to the Chicago Bears, coached by the legendary George Halas. 

December 29, 1963  was a bitterly cold, 10-degree, bright and sunny  day in the not so friendly confines of Wrigley Field, Chicago.  On that day, Larry Morris became a legend in the long, legendary annals of Chicago Bears history when the temperature was hovering around ten degrees.  

The Bears'stingy defense, known as "The Monsters of the Midway" and coached by future Redskins head coach George Allen, were ranked by ESPN as the 9th best defense in NFL history.  Their opponent was the New York Giants, the league's best offensive team.  Giant quarterback Y.A. Tittle was averaging nearly three touchdown passes per game.  




With his team trailing early, Morris stepped in front of a Tittle screen pass, grabbed it out of the freezing air and stampeded for sixty-one yards down to the Giant 6-yard line.  A few plays later, the Bears tied the game, 7-7. To see the play, go tohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUrDH94rYKA. (11 MIN. 23 SECONDS.)


"I was so tired I knew I was going to get caught,'' the fleet -footed outside linebacker recalled. 

After the Giants regained the lead in the second quarter, Morris sacked Tittle, damaging the Hall of Fame quarterback's knee, forcing him out of the game until the end of the half.  With an ineffective Tittle at quarterback, the Giants failed to score in the second half and the Bears went on to a 14-10 victory in the 1963 NFL Championship game.  

"I hit him just as he tossed that pass. His left leg was rigidly set on the ground and I slammed him just at the knee, " Morris recalled.

 "The first time it didn't hurt too much, but the second time it really hurt. I felt it pop," recalled of the Hall of Fame quarterback who was rendered virtually ineffective after the Morris hit. 
   
It was the first televised game that I remember seeing on TV.  I was only seven  and alas, I was a Giants fan.

Morris played for two more seasons with the Bears before demanding a trade to the new team in his hometown, the Atlanta Falcons.   After many batterings, heavy bruises and knee injuries, Morris retired after the 1966 season, the team's first season in the league. 

Larry Morris earned his share of accolades in his sixteen-year career in football.  He was runner up to the NCAA Lineman of the Year in 1953,  a two-time All American, a three-time selection to the All-SEC team and  a member of the NFL 1960s all-decade team. Inducted into both the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame, Morris was also the recipient of the highly coveted NCAA Silver Award for outstanding contributions since his graduation from college. 

After leaving football, Morris was elected to represent DeKalb County in the Georgia legislature.  Morris went on to establish a highly successful real estate and insurance business in the Atlanta area.

One of Larry Morris' personal real estate holdings was Laurens Hill, the old Harvard plantation house on Georgia Highway 26, southwest of Dudley.  Morris and his wife Kay restored the 1840 mansion into their summer farm home.

But, as they say, all good things come to end.   Football, which brought fame to Larry Morris, wound up destroying his life.  After twenty years of playing  in high school, college and in the pros, Larry's brain was bruised and battered too many times.  Like other former pro football players of his day, Morris suffered early dementia and spent the last two decades of his life a shell of the former outgoing, personable and a successful businessman he was.  In fact, it was his illness which led to the financial ruin of his family.

Peace finally came to Larry Morris and his family, who had been tormented by the ravages of his injuries. Morris died on December 19, 2012.  A memorial service was held last Friday.

Former teammate and close friend, Dick Inman, recalled, "One tough guy, he had no fear on the football field and basically he was kind of a gentle person."

I still remember my one conversation with Larry, some twenty years ago.  It was right before his induction into the College Hall of Fame, which fittingly will move to his hometown in Atlanta in 2014.  I don't quite remember what was said, but I do remember that he was just like those who knew him best, a real gentleman.  

So hail and farewell to "The Brahma Bull," may you always be the hero you always were.