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

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

THE SHADOWS OF HIS SMILE: An Ode to "Tee"


       With seventy summers behind him, William “Tee” Holmes, was forever young. Beneath that graying hair was still the same boyish face and the same impish grin.  Rarely did anyone ever walk away from him without a smile on their face.  Few people I have known have been so admired and loved by so many.

  Tee Holmes never knew his daddy.   They were both cut from the same cloth of one of Laurens County’s oldest families.  One was called “Willie T.,” the other simply, “Tee.”  And, they were both lieutenants.  

Willie T. Holmes joined the Georgia National Guard before his 20th birthday.   Holmes was transferred to  the 77th Division, which was heavily engaged in the siege of Guam and the deadly Battle of Leyte Gulf, where 1st Sergeant Holmes received a battlefield commission to 1st Lieutenant  for his heroic actions. 

The 77th was sent into Ie Shima, Okinawa to root out entrenched Japanese fortifications.  Before dawn on April 21, 1945, Japanese soldiers counter attacked in mass.  Holmes’  company, holding the left wing of the battalion’s position,  was overrun. The entire company was nearly wiped out.  Among the dead was Willie T. Holmes.  Several years later in the late 1940s, Willie’s body was brought home for burial in Northview Cemetery.  Willie’s brother took Willie’s son down to the depot to meet the train.  “I never knew my father,” said the boy.  “I knew it was a sad day.”

That young boy, born in the middle year of World War II, was William T. Holmes, forever known to all that knew him  as “Tee.”  “Tee” grew up in the in the Fabulous Fifties, the last decade of American innocence.  He lived on the edge of downtown Dublin and knew every spot in town and the places to have fun.  


“One of my friends threw a firecracker into what he thought was an empty drum at Laney’s Service Station,” “Tee” remembered.  “All of a sudden, it went ‘ka-boom!”  The empty drum was filled with something that exploded.  “We spent most of our Saturdays at the Martin Theater,” “Tee”  fondly remembered of the days when he and his friends roamed the town looking for fun things to do.   “There was always something to do downtown.”  Tee graduated from Dublin High School in 1961.  

“Tee,” after his graduation from Dublin High in 1961 and Middle Georgia College,  joined the Marine Corps and trained as a helicopter pilot.  In his book “Bonnie Sue, A Marine Corps Helicopter Squadron in Vietnam,” Marion Sturkey described “Tee” as  having a slow and nasal southern drawl, which no one could ever mistake as coming from a Yankee.  “ ‘Tee’ loved to play his guitar and sing.  In times of real and perceived crises, he always wore his perpetual and impish grin,” Sturkey fondly remembered.  

In early December 1965, “Tee” was sent to Vietnam.  When he arrived, he was told he would replace his friend Lt. Johnson, whom he had seen only eight days before back in the states.  “Tee” was devastated when he learned that his buddy had been killed in action in his first week in Vietnam.  “Tee” was assigned to HMM-64 to fly UH-34 helicopters.  Since “Tee” hadn’t flown a UH-34 in three and half months, he was told to wait and to go back to Okinawa for more training before he could fly any missions.  An operations officer came in the room looking for a copilot to fly on a “milk run” to Da Nang.  “Tee” felt comfortable in the UH-34, so he volunteered to go along for the experience, a decision he soon came to regret.

On the morning of December 8, 1965, the copter, with Capt. Jim Givan in command, took off for Da Nang.  It was raining.  Fog cut the visibility way down.  Givan and Holmes piloted the helicopter at a low altitude, just far enough off the coast as to avoid ground fire.  The weather took a turn for the worse.  While winds were gusting up to thirty-five knots, the flight to Da Nang was completed without any incident.  The crew unloaded their cargo, helicopter parts and equipment, and the necessary liquids, eighty cases of beer, before returning to their base.  The weather went from bad to worse.  Clouds had dropped down to two hundred feet above sea level.    While flying just above the wave tops with automatic controls, something went wrong, terribly wrong.


Tee (left) and his buddies in Vietnam

With no warning of any kind, the engine died.  Enemy fire from the beach riddled the air craft.  Being less than two hundred above the water level, there was no time to get out.  Within seconds, the UH-34 hit the water.  “Tee was the last one of the crew to safely exit the aircraft.    “I struggled for some time before I realized I had not released my seat belt and shoulder harness.  I was going to the bottom.  When I finally got out, it was a long way to the surface and it seemed an eternity to get there,” remembered Holmes.  The waves were eight feet high.  The salty ocean spray pommeled the four crew members.  The men were scattered and not able to see each other unless they were on the crest of wave at the same time.  The other ships in the flight returned to pick up their comrades.  The men in the water were in a dilemma.  If they waved their arms, they would alert the gunners on the beach.  If they didn’t, they might not be seen.  “It was an easy choice, I waved and splashed like a maniac!”  “Tee”, the captain, and the crew chief, Sgt. Glenn, were hoisted to safety.  Cpl. Corle, the gunner, didn’t make it. 

“Tee” survived his tour of duty in Vietnam.  After the war, Holmes worked a successful 25-year stint as a  sales representative of the Cram Map Company, followed by 17 years of service to Home Depot.   

As one of the ageless ones, “Tee’s” death from cancer  on June 16, 2013 came as a mind numbing shock to his scores of friends, who still see his perpetual smile and remember his endless wit.  

  “I shall forever on my days left on this earth miss ‘Tee’ Holmes and his smile and his stories and his friendship and his gentle ways,” wrote Anna Montford Shepard.

“Tee's” classmates in Paul Wilkes' chemistry class at Dublin High can remember the famous ‘Tee’ Holmes method" of problem solving, when he would sometimes arrive at a correct answer by an illogical injection of irrelevant numbers into an heretofore-unknown formula. There must have been a genius hiding in Tee somewhere, commented Phillip Haynes, who as a ground soldier in Vietnam, saw “Tee” and the chopper pilots  (and medics) as the heroes of the war..

           Outside of his wife Peggy and daughter Carrie, no one knew “Tee” Holmes better than high school classmate and friend of more than six decades, Earl Vaughn.  Holmes and Vaughn grew up in the exciting, carefree years of the 1950s in Dublin.  

They laid Tee’s body to rest, fittingly in the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, on Monday.  In his last final words to his best friend, Vaughn told “Tee’s” mourners what they already knew.  They had all listened to stories (laughing, crying or learning from them,) they all had listened to his music and everyone  present fondly  remembered the friend they had known since the first time they met him.
         
         “I'm fairly certain I have never used the word "precious" to describe Tee Holmes before,” Vaughn remarked.  But, I think it's safe to say that Tee was precious to all of us.  He was a loving husband and father to Peggy and Carrie, and a treasured friend to the rest of us,” concluded Vaughn.

Pete Jernigan and Tee Holmes
ca. 1960


It was in the year 1965, when we almost lost “Tee” for the first time,  when Johnny Mandel and  Paul Webster’s “The Shadow of Your Smile” was awarded the Grammy’s Song of the Year and the Oscar’s Best Original Song.  Webster’s opening lyrics perfectly capture the sentiment of the friends of the young boy whom they came to know and love; “The shadow of your smile when you are gone will color all my dreams and light the dawn.”


Steve Rainey, Tee Holmes, Pete Jernigan
ca. 1960


Thursday, June 20, 2013

BITS AND PIECES. PART 1

HIS FIRST TIME ON THE STAGE - Little Lorenzo didn't go the  movies very often as a child.  When he did go, he always sat in a certain section of the theater.  Lorenzo never got the chance to get close to the stage.  He always sat in the back, up the balcony.  He never even got to go on the main floor of the auditorium.  You see little Lorenzo was forced to sit in that section.  It was during the days before theaters were integrated.  Little Lorenzo grew up and left his hometown  for a higher education.  Little Lorenzo became Lorenzo Mason, an engineer for an architectural engineering firm.  Mason's firm was hired to design the engineering work for a theater.  Mason, as the chief engineer, designed the removal of the old balcony, which separated the patrons of the theater by race and which was replaced with a new balcony - this time for sound, light, and air conditioning equipment.  Mason and his colleagues had to find a way to keep the ground water out of the theater - a problem which plagued theater owners and patrons for forty years.  That problem was solved in short order.  Some of his friends and fellow construction personnel never knew that Mason was born and lived in that same town.  The time came for the final inspection of the construction work on the theater.  It was then, more than  thirty years later, when Lorenzo Mason finally made it to the stage of the Martin Theater (Theater Dublin) for the first time - this time as the chief engineer of the project to renovate the theater where, as a child, he was never allowed to go on the main floor. As suggested by Richie Allen of Allen's Plumbing and Heating.   

THE FEDERAL FUGITIVE - Young Robert Keen was not a bad boy.  He was a little bit devilish and liked to have fun on occasion.  About November 16th, of 1903, Keen decided to fire his gun.  He struck the target.  The crime was reported but no action was taken for nearly four months until deputy federal marshal George Thomas of Macon was notified.  Thomas came to Dublin in February of 1904 to serve an arrest warrant on the Keen boy.  Upon the advice of a local man, Thomas took J.D. Prince, Sheriff of Laurens County, with him on Route 6 out near Brewton.  When the officers arrived, they commanded Keen to come out and submit to the arrest.  Keen came out all right, but out the back door, running as fast as he could.  Keen ran so fast that he appeared to be in fear of his life.  The officers followed in hot pursuit.  Sheriff Prince tripped over his long overcoat and fell heavily to the ground.  Despite breaking his arm at the elbow, Prince continued the chase.  Meanwhile, Keen had also fallen a few yards ahead of Prince.  The sheriff managed to catch Keen and delivered him to Marshal Thomas.  It would appear that it was a terrible crime that the boy had committed.  After all, the federal marshal had to be called in.  Keen was taken to Macon and confessed to his crime before a U.S. Commissioner Irwin.  When Keen shot his gun, he violated federal law.  No, it wasn't murder or assaulting a federal officer, you see, all young Keen did was shoot a mail box. The Dublin Times, Feb. 6, 1904, p. 1.


CLASSIFIED BRIDE - A.A. Thomas was one of Dublin's most popular bachelors.  Thomas, an engineer at the electric plant, was determined to find a bride.  He placed an ad in the "The Atlanta Journal."  Numerous answers were received.  Thomas liked the tone of one and responded.  The couple exchanged letters and photographs for nearly two months.  Thomas then took the train to Atlanta where he was met by his prospective bride.  After talking the matter over, Miss Cora Lee Weaver, said "yes."  The Thomases married in Atlanta on April 6, 1904, and moved back to Dublin to make their home. Dublin Times, April 9, 1904, p. 1.

HONORABLE STUDENT - Sidney F. Brown was a quiet young man.  He was respected by most everyone who knew him.  Brown tragically lost an arm in an accident at a cotton gin.  Sidney never completed all of his primary education.  In his day, most farm kids never got the chance to receive a high school diploma.  Sidney was about to begin a new job.  He thought it best that he go back to school to prepare himself for any matter that might come up during his new job.  Sidney Brown was twenty-six, somewhat older than many of his classmates.  You see, Brown's new position was an elected one.  In 1904 Brown was elected Tax Receiver of Laurens County. Dublin Times, Sept. 24, 1904, p. 1.


AGAINST THE ODDS - A child has a one in three hundred and sixty-five and one quarter chance of being born on Christmas Day.  For most kids, that isn't so great when it comes to presents and birthday parties.  Christmas was a landmark day in the life of James Erwin Loyd of Laurens County.  Loyd was born on Christmas day in 1866.  He died on his 82nd birthday on Christmas day of 1948.  The odds of being born and dying on Christmas Day are one in one hundred thirty-three-thousand two-hundred twenty-five.  His wife, Leonia Wood Loyd, was born on March 15, 1876, known to many as the "Ides of March."  Mrs. Loyd died in 1944 - the date was of course, March 15th, her sixty eighth birthday.  The odds of a husband and wife both being born and dying on their birthdays is one in one hundred thirty-three-thousand four hundred and seven. The Loyds are buried in the cemetery at Union Baptist Church on the Soperton Highway just north of Minter.

THE LAST LADY IN GRAY - Anna Rainey was born in Pike County on January 11, 1871, nearly six years after the end of the Civil War.  She married Daniel L. Bennett whom she later divorced.  Her second husband was Dr. Luther J. Thomas of Laurens County.  Dr. Thomas served as Sergeant of Company B of the 27th Georgia Infantry, C.S.A..  He was thirty two years older than Mrs. Thomas.   Following the death of Dr. Thomas in 1923, Anna Thomas married again.  Mrs. Anna Rainey Bennett Thomas Parker died on August 27, 1964, nearly one hundred years after the end of the war.  The last surviving widow of a Confederate Soldier was laid to rest in Northview Cemetery beside her second husband. Northview Cemetery, p. 106, Dublin Courier Herald, August 28, 1964.

TWO GOATS, A DOZEN CHICKENS, AND A CAN OPENER - Laurens County Commissioner Robert Beacham grew up in southeastern Laurens County.  He was man of modest means and education but had  a sharp mind and wit.  Sometimes Beacham could solve the most complex problems with simple solutions.  One day in the early 1970s, the commissioner met with a representative of the Environmental Protection Department.  The issue for discussion was the disposal of solid waste - a problem which continues to plague communities today.  Mr. Beacham spoke up and presented his solution  to the government man.  "You see what you need to do is this.  You buy each family in the county two goats - a billy and a nanny, a dozen chickens - a rooster and eleven hens, and a can- opener.  Give your garbage to the goats and  chickens.  Take whatever the goats and chickens won't eat and open any cans and stomp them flat with your feet  and pave the rest of our dirt roads."  In one simple statement Mr. Beacham came up with a humorous, but interesting, solution to a major problem in our county. As suggested by H. Dale Thompson, Laurens County Attorney.

Friday, June 14, 2013

IT'S A GRAND OL' FLAG


The Emblem 
of the Land I Love


Sunday,  June 14th, is Flag Day, a day which commemorates the adoption of our flag by the Second Continental Congress in 1777 and  officially adopted by Congress in 1949.  What do you see when you gaze upon “Old Glory?”  Do you see a rectangle with thirteen stripes - seven red and six white?  Do you see a field of blue filled with fifty equilateral white stars, equally spaced in nine aligned rows?   Take a closer look.

Everyone knows there’s the red, white and the blue.   Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia upholsterer came up with idea, or so the history books say.    Some people say that the white represents purity and innocence.  The red denotes hardiness and courage, while others believe the brilliant color represents the blood of Americans shed for our freedom.  Blue, it is often said, stands for perseverance and determination.  

Every school kid knows, or should know, that the thirteen stripes signify the original thirteen American colonies.  They are also taught that the stars represent the fifty states of the United States.  The American flag has gone by many names over the last two hundred and thirty-four years, Old Glory, The Stars and Stripes, and The Star Spangled Banner.

That moniker was made famous by a Maryland lawyer, Francis Scott Key, as he watched from the last gleam of twilight from the British ship, HMS Tonnant, to see that the flag of the beleaguered Fort McHenry  still there during the dawn’s early light.    We all know the first stanza of our national anthem, but how many of you know the last three stanzas?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep, where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes.  What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep, as it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?  Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam in full glory reflected now shines in the stream:  ’Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore that the havoc of war and the battle's confusion? A home and a country should leave us no more! Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave. And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand between their loved home and the war's desolation! Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land. Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Within that red, white, and blue rectangle there are more than stars and stripes.  In the starry field of blue, I see the guiding stars of the heavens, leading us through midnight days of strife and tumult.  In those white stars, I see the twinkle in the eyes of a mother who is watching her daughter become the first in her family to graduate from college.  In those bright red stripes, I see the blood of Dublin High teenagers Randall Robertson and James B. Hutchinson on the dying beaches and killing hills  of Iwo Jima.
 
When you look upon the stripes, you can see the furrows of our farms.   You see the sweat and the grime of the farmer, who worked in the fields six days a week in intolerable conditions, just to feed his family and ours.  

In the stripes of pure white, there is the dedication of the nurses, the angels on Earth, who stand by our side day and night, comforting our fears and easing our pains.  

The blue reminds us of the men and women who stand guard in our streets and neighborhoods, protecting us from the evils of the world, at all hours of the day and all times of our lives. 

Red, a color of anger or power, is also a color of the love we should all share with  one another. That’s what I see in the stripes.  Blue, the calm, cool, comforting color, and a favorite of a lot us, represents the compassion we should bear for those who are hurting.  White, actually the absence of color, reveals the angels.  You know, the people  who come down from the heavens to watch over and guide us and those people living on Earth who come to our  side just when we need them most.  These are the colors of the flag of the United States of America.

In the threads of our flag, I see the delicate  hands of Dublin’s Carolyn Hall, blind since birth, and one of the most proficient knitters in the community, as she spent countless hours making articles for clothing to help win World War II on the home front. 

I see the love of our teachers as they lovingly and methodically mold the minds of our children into noble and productive citizens.

The comforting words and uplifting hands of the men and women of unconditional faith can be found in the stars of the heavens of blue as they praise God from whom all blessing flow to the troubled and the grieving.  Yes, there is heaven in the flag too.  Our forefathers made it that way on purpose.

Between the lines and among the stars, I see those who do good in their lives, every day with no desire of compensation, but seeking only the gratification that they have done the right thing when too many others do the wrong thing or even more regrettably, nothing at all. 

So, not only on Flag Day, but on every day of every year, salute our flag, wave it, fly it.  It  is our grand ol’ flag, the emblem of the land that I love.  I see many visions woven between the stars and stripes.  They are visions of our country and our people.  Finally, I see the flag my father fought for and was willing to die for.  I see my mother, who taught me about the colors red, white and blue and how to count the stars and stripes.  
Oh, say, what can you see?

Friday, June 07, 2013

SERVICE COACH LINES BUS STATION, DUBLIN, GA.

DUBLIN BUS STATION 
Dublin Courier Herald 
December 22, 1938










HU MCLAWS

Shining Through The Shadows

For most of his adult life, Abram Huguenin McLaws lived in the shadows of his father and his two older brothers.  Although he lead a highly successful and completely respectable life, he was always known as the little brother of General Lafayette McLaws and was never put up on a pedestal with his more illustrious sibling.

Both men were officers in the American Army during the Mexican Wars of the 1840s.  Both men were officers in the Confederate Army, Abram, a Major, and Lafayette, a Major General.   During the Civil War, Lafayette rose to prominence as a two-star, division commanding general.   Hugh, still suffering from debilitating war wounds, served in non-combat roles.  

After the war, Lafayette McLaws was granted political appointments as an Internal Revenue Service Collector and Postmaster in Savannah.  A.H. McLaws returned to Augusta, where he became equally prominent in local affairs.

Abram Huguenin McLaws was born on April 13, 1823 in the City of Augusta, Georgia as the sixth and youngest child of James McLaws and Elizabeth V. Huguenin..   Known as “Hu” to his friends and family, McLaws attended the prestigious University of Georgetown and William & Mary before standing for admission to the bar.   

As the war with Mexico began to break out in 1846, Hu McLaws joined the Richmond Blues, commanded by Capt. D. W. Dill and designated at Company B, 1st Georgia Regiment.  John Phinizy served as the company’s first lieutenant.  The 22-year- old McLaws was chosen as the second lieutenant.

Old veterans of the Indian War of 1836 joined new recruits brought the total company strength of the company to 105 men.  The Blues traveled to Columbus and then to Mobile, where they boarded a ship for the Rio Grande.  Massive sickness hampered the regiments efforts in the fighting across the border.  Hugh McLaws was apparently one of those soldiers who went off to war and came back not quite the same. The regiment was commanded by Col. Henry R. Jackson, of Savannah, who would become a major general in the Confederate Army

Brother, Lafayette, an 1842 graduate of West Point Military Academy, served as an infantry officer during the war.  The elder McLaws remained in the army going to the Far West, where he participated in the suppression of a Mormon uprising.  Lafayette even married well, taking the hand in marriage of Emily Taylor, niece of former general and then President of the United States, Zachary Taylor.

Twenty five years after the war, McLaws was elected as a General in the Mexican War Veterans’ Association.  In April of 1896, while still a resident of Dublin, McLaws’ military pension was increased to $20.00 a month by a special act of the United States Congress.
Disabled in the Mexican War, McLaws would be one of the last survivors of the Richmond Blues, who so gallant stormed the beaches at Vera Cruz a near lifetime before.  

A man of many talents, including agriculture, law, education,  business and geology, Deputy Clerk Hu McLaws  was appointed in 1850 to finish the remaining two years of the his father’s term  as the Clerk of the Superior Court and Inferior Court of Richmond County.  
When Lafayette McLaws resigned from the U.S. Army in 1861, one of his first orders of business was to seek out the aid of his brother Hugh as a part of his command.  Confederate President Jefferson Davis nominated Hugh McLaws as a Major in the Quartermaster Corps of the Confederate States Army in December 1861. 

As the war began in earnest in the spring of 1862, Hugh McLaws was named a brigade quartermaster in his brother Lafayette’s brigade in the Division of Gen. James Longstreet, who was a fellow West Point Classmate and family friend of the McLaws.   McLaw’s Brigade fought effectively at Harper’s Ferry and Fredericksburg.  At Gettysburg, Lafayette McLaws Division was heavily engaged in the Confederate Push against the Union left at the Peach Orchard and the Wheat Field.  

After the Battle of Gettysburg, Hugh McLaws, suffering from a double ruptured hernia, resigned his commission and returned to Georgia, where he was appointed the Confederate government as  an Inspecting Officer of the state.  In support of his transfer, Col. John S. Preston wrote, “He is understood to be an able, energetic officer in administration, who has served with much gallantry, and to possess not only the talent, but the force of character so essential in dealing with the business of conscription.”  

In that capacity, McLaws was in charge of enforcing conscription laws as well as duties supervising recruiting and training of new soldiers in Georgia.  Following the Battle of Atlanta, McLaws was transferred to Savannah as that’s city’s Chief Quarter Master.  

After the war, Hu McLaws returned to Augusta to lead a somewhat quiet life as a real estate agent.  He was appointed as Richmond County’s first School Commissioner in 1875.

When the former tiny village of Dublin began its explosive growth in the early 1890s,  McLaws  turned his hopes and dreams toward the southwest.  

On June 1, 1890, McLaws, in conjunction with James E. Hightower, published the first issue of “The People” newspaper in Dublin.  The new paper in town was printed in seven columns on weekly basis with an elegant four cylinder steam press.  McLaws left the paper in March 1891, turning his interest over to Lucien Quincy Stubbs.  

“He was a great believer of the future of Dublin and never let an opportunity to pass to say a good word for this city.  It was he who appropriately christened Dublin, “The Gem of the Oconee” a name which its people were quick to adopt,” wrote the editor of the Dublin Courier. 

In 1894. McLaws joined L.B. Lanier as local representatives of the Georgia Immigration and Investment Bureau, an organization designed to prevent good farmers from leaving the state and attracting new and good farmers to the agriculturally rich state.

“Major A.H. McLaws, the veteran newspaper man,  quietly enjoys himself in the piazza of his cozy office, daily watching the movements of all that pass by, Maj. McLaws has a cherry word for everybody,” wrote another traveling correspondent in  June 1893.

The husband of Sarah Twiggs Porter and the father of 13 children, Hu McLaws retained his ties to Dublin after he returned to his home in Augusta after 1896 to be near his family as  he engaged his in last battle against the debilitating effects of rheumatism.  Always considered an Augustan, at his death McLaws was still a member of the Laurens County Confederate Veterans Association.

On a Saturday morning, October 12, 1901,  Major A.H. McLaws crossed over the river and rested among the trees with his family beside him in his  home in the Sand Hills of Augusta.   A strong family man, Hu McLaws funeral was appropriately held in the place he loved the most, his family home.