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

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

LOOKING BACK WITH GRATITUDE - 2013


As years normally go, this year flew by way too fast. Too many friends left this world.  On this Christmas Eve, I am thankful for them and many more things as well. 

I am thankful for those who take charge and give back, for old photographs and new visions, for losing weight and gaining jobs.

We lost a lot of fine Southern gentlemen in 2013.  State Senator Hugh Gillis moved on up to the golden dome of Heaven on New Years Day.  Gillis was one of the longest serving state senators in Georgia history. Two days later, my fellow historian, Milo Smith, Jr., left his earthly home to visit his beloved heavenly family. A week later, Curtis Beall, the oldest living male UGA cheerleader, a Semper Fi Marine, and an agricultural leader also died.

We lost a true friend and the epitome of compassionate judge when Judge William M. Towson died.  Judge Towson served longer than anyone as Judge of Laurens Superior Court.  The stands of Bush Perry Field will always be a little emptier after Perry Edge, a long time Irish baseball booster,  passed away. His spirit will be sitting by the Irish dugout for years to come.  

I am grateful for the patriotic dedication of Louise Purvis, one of the last Gold Star mothers, who rarely missed a Memorial Day or Veterans Day service at the VA Hospital following the death of her son Jimmy Bedgood in Vietnam.  And here's a toast to the late Patricia Belcher, who in her last years became the "Crazy Old Lady" in the commercials for Pitts Toyota.    Mrs. Belcher was anything but that, she was one of the most caring and kind women I have ever known. 

I am grateful for the simply fantastic photography of the late Irene Claxton, whose lifetime of magnificent images will soon be available for the world to see and enjoy. 

Then there was my hard working friend, Buddy Williams. Buddy worked for thousands of hours every year and counted at least that many friends.  That's why they called him "Buddy."

The man who taught us, "It's Nice To Be Nice" has moved on.  Duggan Weaver's endless stories and works of community spirit are gone, but the memories of his smile and public deeds of charity will never leave our minds.

And here's to the late realtor Robert Hill, who accompanied me to my first World Series game in 1991.  The Braves won on the last play of the game.  It would be the only time I would see the Braves win a World Series game in person. 

And, for the craftsmanship of the late Deonard Sanders, whose artistic carpentry schools are rapidly disappearing.  

We lost another Vietnam vet in 2013.  "Tee" Holmes, whose impish grin endeared him to a league of friends in his nearly 70 years, left us all too soon.  Without "Tee," our world will always be a little bit sadder. 
This past year was sadder for those of our friends and family have left this Earth.  But, it was  much richer you see for the gifts they gave to you and me.

And, I am grateful for the life of Montrose's Jeralean Kurtz Talley, who turned 114 years old this year. She hasn't left this world yet.  Mrs. Talley is the oldest person in the world outside of Japan.  

I am thankful when I hear a Jim Croce song on the radio. If you ask  yourself who is Jim Croce, then you are part of a generation who missed the greatest music of all time.
.
A big hand goes to the wheel chair ramp guys of the Dublin Civitan Club, who give up their evenings to build ramps for those who can't leave or enter their own home without help.  
I salute my good friend Pete Tyre, who serendipitously found himself as a medic in Vietnam, quietly and compassionately saving many lives along the way.   

I am grateful for the opportunity to commemorate with 15,000 others General George Pickett's failed grand and glorious charge at Gettysburg, 150 years later to the moment on the same ground.  For the opportunity to watch the play, "The Lost Colony" on Roanoke Island on the same exact spot where the first American colonists came in 1587 and to walk on the exact spot where Orville and Wilbur Wright led humanity into powered flight.

I am grateful for those who give with no expectation of any reward, those who serve with no hope of recognition and those who have the ability and desire to help others and do so.

I am grateful for the smell of daffodils on a early spring morning, the smell of fresh rain drops on a hot July evening, the aroma of fat lightered smoke floating the brown autumn countryside and the smell of evergreen in the early winter.  

For old memories remembered and new thrilling experiences, I am grateful.

For educators, who strap on their bent, but not broken, hearts every day or for as many days as the politicians will allow them to teach.  I will be grateful for the politicians when they finally learn that education is the most important thing in our country.  Speaking of education, I am grateful for the new Career Academies.  Finally someone in Atlanta realizes that technical education is critical in our ever increasingly technological world.  

For those who hold on to hope, keep their faith and try to love one another right now. For heroes, those who give all of themselves to others just when they need it most. For those who are simply grateful for what they have, I am grateful. 

To my readers in print and to the third of a million times people who have read my articles online  in the last five years, I say a great big thank you.  My greatest compliment is from those who cut out my articles and keep them to share with others or read over again.  My greatest joy is when I can make some one laugh or think back and smile and yes, even cry with the words I have been blessed to write. 

And, on this Christmas Eve, may I repeat the sounding joy that  I am grateful for the wonders of His love.  May your Christmases be merry and bright and the days of your lives be filled with goodness and everlasting light. 

And to my wife and best friend Kathy, my kids, Vicki, Scotty and Mandy, and our dogs, Bertie, Charlie, Sugar, Winston, Maggie and Emma, our cats Kit Kat and Tiger, and all of my friends, my life is much more wonderful with you in it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

LOOK UP IN THE SKY!

       
A hundred autumns ago, its stone-covered facade rose high into the Emerald City sky.  It was the tallest building between Macon and Savannah.  It is still one of the tallest buildings between the Central City and the Hostess City of the South. A century ago, the six-story super structure represented the zenith of Dublin's meteoric growth as a regional agricultural, economic and political center of east-central Georgia.  Today, she stands on the cusp of her former glory, awaiting the day when she will rise as a phoenix once again.
The First National Bank was chartered in April 1902 with an initial capital stock of fifty thousand dollars.  The principal stockholders were Frank G. Corker, William S. Phillips, and J.E. Smith, Jr., the latter being one of the top three movers and shakers in town.  

The First National's directors chose a prime location on the northeast corner of North Lawrence (Laurens) Street and West Jackson Street.  As Dublin grew, so did the First National Bank.  The board of directors began to look around for a site to build a new bank.  They were looking for a site which would be close to the leading commercial concerns.  At that time, the commercial center of Dublin lay between Jackson Street on the north, Washington Street on the east, the railroads on the south and Monroe Street on the west.  The center of the district was at the intersection of South Jefferson and Madison Street and that's the spot where Corker chose to build the new bank.  Corker chose the old post office site on the southwest corner of the intersection.  The directors wanted to erect an impressive structure, not just one which would draw customers from competing banks, but one which would also lure professionals and businessmen from the agribusiness, which sprung up during the city's golden age.

The bank secured the services of A. Ten Eyck Brown, an Atlanta architect and  one of the leading architects of the Southeast.   Although he was primarily known as a designer of public and office buildings, one of Brown's earliest designs was the fabulous Georgian Hotel in Athens, Georgia, which was completed in 1909. The hotel was as elegant as any hotel outside of Atlanta. Five years later, the Clarke County Courthouse, a four-story yellow brick building, was completed next door to the hotel. The courthouse in Athens was one of three major courthouses designed by Brown and completed in 1914. Brown designed the Neo-Classical Revival style courthouse in Salisbury, North Carolina. The Rowan County Courthouse features huge Ionic columns on its portico. 

Other noteworthy Brown buildings in the Atlanta area include: the Ten Park Place Building near Five Points, which features the rare modernistic style of architecture; the Cooper Street School and various schools built in the 1920s while Brown was the supervising architect of Fulton County Schools, Spotswood Hill - the home of Georgia's premier historian, Lucian Lamar Knight - The Atlanta Municipal Market, St. Anthony's Church, the Luckie Street YMCA, and the Thornton Building on Pryor Street. Brown also designed the Third National Bank and the Guarantee Trust Bank. Countless other buildings designed by Brown have fallen victim to the agony of progress.

        Brown's most famous design outside of Georgia was the Miami-Dade County Courthouse. Construction on the twenty-seven story, three hundred fifty foot tall, building began in 1925. A powerful 1926 hurricane delayed the construction period to a total of three years. The base of the courthouse is made of Stone Mountain granite, while the upper portion is constructed of terra cotta, much like the First National Bank building in Dublin. Brown designed the four-million dollar building, which was once one of the tallest buildings in Florida, in collaboration with August Geiger.


While standing nearly one hundred feet tall, the building was narrow, only thirty-one feet in width.  The first story, twenty-two feet in height, featured a mezzanine over the main floor of the bank.  As one entered the lobby, the president's office and the cashier's office were located on the right.  Behind the main office of the bank in the center of the first floor were the vaults.  The director's room was situated at the front of the mezzanine level.  The clerical staff kept the records at the rear of the mezzanine.

Most impressive were the marble floors and walls of the main banking room.  In the lobby was Dublin's first elevator, one which ascended six floors of the tallest building between Macon and Savannah.  Ornamental plaster patterns and elaborate bronze teller screens, as impressive as any in a metropolitan bank, were Brown's finishing touches to Dublin's first skyscraper.  The vaults, which included four hundred safety deposit boxes, were designed to be fireproof.  As a matter of fact, the building was constructed primarily of concrete, stone and steel and was itself virtually fireproof.  Above the bank were sixty-four office spaces, equipped with the modern conveniences of lighting and heating. However, there was no air-conditioning, except in the form of electric fans and open windows, the latter of which was most effective on the upper floors which were impervious to flying insects.  Construction of the building was completed in November 1913.  Tenants began moving in on December 5, 1913.  

The First National Bank, the last Dublin bank to survive the economic collapse following the coming of the boll weevil in 1917, closed its doors in 1928.  A receiver was appointed to disburse the remaining assets between depositors.   Mills Lane, President of the Citizens and Southern Bank of Savannah, came to the rescue of Dublin's remaining business interests by first establishing a private bank, and then in the early thirties, establishing the Citizens and Southern Bank of Dublin, which remained in the First National building until the early 1950s.

When George T. Morris incorporated Morris State Bank in the 1950s, he looked around to find a prominent location of what was then Dublin's fourth bank.  Morris State Bank occupied the bottom floor while many of the professional offices remained.

As the boom of modern banks and professional buildings began in the early 60s, the skyscraper's tenants slowly began to move out to newer quarters.  

In the late 70s, the building began a four-decade long decline.  Apathy set in.  Investors feared the cost of remodeling.   

The solid structure stood resolute against the sands of time.

Enter Gainesville attorney's Dan and Chandelle Summer.   One day, the Summers were driving home from Dexter, where Chandelle's grandfather, Cy Dozier lived.    Lights went on in their heads.  The bought the building and set out to restore it to its former grandeur, as they have done with a couple of buildings in Gainesville.    Their attempts were all for naught. 

The Dublin Downtown Development Authority has been working with a developer to renovate the old First National Bank Building for mixed commercial and residential uses. Architect Robert Brown of BBTB, Inc., in Macon, Georgia, has drawn conceptual plans for each floor, ranging from a grand bank lobby on the ground floor to a sprawling 7th floor penthouse apartment. These plans would bring the building up to 21st century fire code while retaining its historic elements. 

"The key to the DDA's plan is the ability to qualify the plans for historic tax credits, which would save the developer hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovation costs," commented Joshua Kight, the Executor Direct of the DDA. 

"While the project is still in its early stages, the DDA is working hard to give Dublin's landmark historic building another century of life," Kight added.
As she starts her second century, we can all hope once again that the no longer silent sentinel will mark the dawn of a new Golden Age for our community.  What a fitting tribute it would be to the new Emerald City for the First National Bank for all to see as we look up into to sky.


THE NAUGHTY AND THE NICE

       December 1913 was a rather eventful Yuletide season.  There were days of pleasant and nice news.  And, there were nights when the naughty ran amuck. 

The final month of the year brought the good news that everyone in Laurens County already knew. For the third year in a row, the county led the state in the production of cotton with a 50,000 plus bale crop.  

Accordingly, the banks of Laurens County reveled in their prosperity.  The county's six banks saw a one-third increase in their deposits.  Most pleasing to their stockholders was the virtual elimination of all bank debts.   The six-story First National Bank building was open for business. 

The Brandon triplets were all christened by Rev. W.R. Smith, a former minister of the First Methodist Church.  The impressive ceremony was the first known and probably only triplet christening in the history of the city.  

Once the Sun went down and the nights turned cold, things began to change.

A band of miscreants set their sights on the safe of the Bank of Dudley.  Housed in a simple wooden structure in the sleepy, isolated town of Dudley along the tracks of the Macon, Dublin and Savannah, the safe would be an easy target.  

As the criminals entered the town, they cut all of the telephone and telegraph lines, or so they thought.  They had hoped to be long gone before the town's residents could get word to the Laurens County Sheriff, some dozen crow-fly miles away in Dublin.  

The outlaws pilfered a railroad tool box, taking a pick and crowbar.  A local hardware store provided the necessary tools to pull off the caper, eliminating the need to bring their own explosives and equipment.   To their delight, the burglars found a cache of four shot guns and a half case of shells.  Twenty-five horse blankets were also taken in a futile attempt to muffle the explosion. 
The malefactors picked and hacked their way through the wall of the vault to find the iron safe.  When the nitro ignited, the safe door was blown clean off.   Inside, the hoodlums found the disappointing, but still rather large, sum of $412.00 in cash. What the culprits didn't realize was the bank kept most of its cash in a safer vault in a Dublin bank.   Leaving twenty dollars in small coins behind, the men dashed off into the darkness, confident that their scheme would be successful. 

A.P. Whipple, living nearby,  was awakened by three explosions of nitroglycerine.  He jumped from his bed, gathered his night clothes and sought out to investigate the source of the explosion.  Whipple spotted the band of yeggmen firing his gun and ducked as the fleeing felons escaped into the moonless, cold, rainy evening.  He suffered a slight wound in his thumb when the night watchman  fired back after Whipple refused his order to return to his quarters.   

Turns out, the rogues forgot to cut a single, yet critical line of communication, the main telegraph line of the Macon, Dublin and Savannah Railroad.  

As the town's folk rushed to the scene, a telegrapher was summoned, sending reports of the crime throughout the state.   Within minutes nearly every sheriff in the State of Georgia was alerted to the despicable act.  

As the dawn broke, quickly organized, heavily armed  posses set out on foot, on horseback and in automobiles to scour the countryside for any sign of the gangsters.  When the trail turned cold,  law enforcement agents gave up. 

Two days later, former railroad engineer J.H. Dover  and Thomas Daly, believed to have been the ring leaders of the Dudley robbery, were arrested when they arrived at the Central of Georgia Railroad Depot in Augusta.  Among their effects were portions of the money and checks taken from stores in Green's Cut on the night of the third of December, along with a quantity of nitroglycerin, guns and ammunition.  

Down the road in Cadwell, the theretofore silent Christmas night was shattered as Town Marshal John Owen went to the home of Henry Mullis to arrest one of his kinsmen.  When Marshal Owen attempted to leave the Mullis home, a multitude of Mullises pulled their pistols, furiously firing at the beleaguered marshal.  When the firing ceased, both Mullis's and Owens's bodies were bleeding a bright Christmas red all over the floor. Mullis was wounded by friendly fire from an inebriated ally.  Both men recovered.  Apparently, only F.M. Joiner was arrested and placed under a $1000.00 bond.

The Christmas season of 1913 was not so jolly for one Lewis Davis, alias Lewis McLaughlin.  Davis was tried  in August  and convicted of the 1904 murder of his wife Selma in the Brewton home of Ben Burney, the victim's father.  Davis, in the presence of several competent witnesses,  shot his wife three times and fled to Key West, Florida and Cuba  After a nine-year absence Davis returned for a picnic in Ocilla when the sister of his former wife spotted him and reported his presence to authorities, who immediately took the felon into custody.  

At his trial, evidence was introduced that Davis came in "talking big," that is until his wife and mother-in-law confronted him.  Davis, in his own defense, told the jury that his father-in-law attacked him with a stick of stove wood. Davis testified that he pulled his pistol and shot his wife  in self defense.  In the commotion which followed, Davis slipped away and wasn't seen in nine years.  

His attorneys appealed his conviction to the Georgia Supreme Court, which affirmed his death sentence on December 12.       On the day after Christmas, Judge Hawkins set his date with the hangman for January.  Despite the passionate pleas of Davis' attorney, R. Earl Camp, the execution remained on schedule.

As the January 24  hanging approached, Laurens County Sheriff J.J. Flanders began to make the necessary preparations for the indoor hanging in the Laurens County Jail.  To start out the new year right, Sheriff Flanders purchased a new grass rope which he boiled in tallow.  To make the hanging apparatus work properly, the Sheriff walked next door and picked up a tombstone from the  Laurens Marble Company, which was located in the former courthouse building.  The dense stone  made an ideal weight to hold Davis' flinching, wiggling, dying body until he drew his last gasp of breath.  

Davis's pastor made yet one final futile plea to spare his life.  He asked for a 30-day respite to allow the condemned man ample time to make peace with his God.  

 Promptly at 1:25 on a Saturday afternoon, Davis walked calmly to his death.  He confessed that he did indeed kill his wife with malice aforethought as he affirmed that he was ready to go straight to God's glory.  Twenty minutes after the trap dropped, the attending physicians pronounced that he was dead.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

THE LAST CHRISTMAS

THE LAST CHRISTMAS
Christmas in Laurens County in 1940


The year was 1940.  It would be the last Christmas before the war.  It was a Christmas when Dubliners and Laurens Countians put their differences aside and celebrated the birth of Christ in its true form. A little commercialism could be found, but the main focus was the religious aspect of the 25th of December. Many were worrying about the impending war in Europe.  More than a hundred local men and boys in the Georgia National Guard were training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina for a war they hoped would never come.

A county-wide celebration began on the courthouse square in the late afternoon of the 12th.   Several thousand citizens gathered in downtown.  Streets were blocked off for several blocks in all directions.  Late shoppers were serenaded by the bands of Dublin High School and the Laurens County Marching Band seated on a specially constructed grandstand.  Music filled the air -  broadcast from loud speakers in the courthouse tower.  The boys of Cadwell, Dudley, and Rentz vocational classes aided Georgia Power employees in stringing the lights on trees and the courthouse itself.  A manager scene was constructed on the grounds.  The lighting also included the traditional tree of lights on the Carnegie Library grounds (now the museum).  Another part of the display of lights was a new neon sign placed on the steel frame of the river bridge wishing new comers a "Merry Christmas!"  Later the sign was change to read "Welcome to Dublin" for west bound travelers and "Thanks, Come Again" for east bound visitors on their way out of town.

Dr. C.H. Kittrell, President of the Dublin Lions Club, served as the master of ceremonies.  He hailed the gathering "as the most impressive Christmas display our community has ever had."  Dr. Kittrell praised the unity shown by members of the community and its significance in the Christmas season.  The Rev. Claude E. Vines prayed for world peace in his invocation.    Bob Hightower, chairman of the event, praised the spirit of cooperation by the business and professional men of Dublin, except the five "scrooges" who refused to donate to the program.  In all, Hightower and his associates raised more than fifteen hundred dollars.   Rev. W.A. Kelley, Superintendent of the Dublin District of the Methodist Church, called for a renewed observation of the spiritual significance of Christmas.  By then, children began tugging on their parents sleeves asking "when are they going to turn on the lights?"  Mae Hightower made here way to the stage where she threw the lights, just at the moment of dusk.  In eclectic voices the crowd filled the air with "oohs", "aahs", and "wows." 

The second phase of the celebration came five days later.  The ladies of the Dublin Garden Club, led by its president, Mrs. Carl Nelson, sponsored a city-wide outdoor Christmas lighting contest.  Mrs. Howard L. Cordell, Sr. and Mrs. Marion Peacock headed the committees which were able to secure out of town judges to evaluate the fifty-four contestants.  The judges made their decisions based on the suitability of the lights to the type of home, the size of the decorations in proportion to the size of the house, and the total artistic and color effect of the decorations.

Mr. and Mrs. O.L. Chivers, whose home still stands on Bellevue Ave. across from the Piggly Wiggly, won the first prize.  The George T. Morris home, now home to the Chamber of Commerce, finished in a second-place tie with "Green Acres," the home of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Geeslin.  Third place was awarded to Mr. and Mrs. James F. Nelson, Jr.

Rev. Ralph Gilliam led an impressive and inspirational candlelight service at Henry Memorial Presbyterian Church on the Sunday before Christmas.  Participants in the program included Blanche Coleman, C.C. Crockett, Leah Kittrell, Charles Alexander, Sara Veal, Noble Marshall, and the music club of Dublin High School.  The choir of the First Baptist Church presented a cantata at the regular Sunday morning worship service. Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus came to Buckhorn Methodist Church for an "Old Time" Christmas.

The third major event of that Christmas was a county-wide Christmas Carol program on the courthouse square, just two days before Christmas.  A.J. Hargrove, the master of ceremonies, presided over a program which featured thousands of local school students.  The children assembled at the school building downtown (now the City Hall.)  One group, after another, formed on the school grounds and marched to the courthouse serenading parents, shoppers, and merchants along the way.  At the courthouse they did an about face and marched back down the other side of the street. At four o'clock many church choirs assembled at the courthouse for the main part of the program which featured the traditional songs of Christmas, featuring soloists Mrs. Annelle Brown and Blanche Coleman.

An integral part of that Christmas in 1940 and each one since then has been the giving of gifts, especially the toys for the children.  Smith's Jewelry had special last minute gifts for momma and daddy or for the special girl or man.  Silverware sets sold from $15 to $150.00.  Bill folds and belt sets were popular at two dollars or so.  Bulova, Waltham, and Elgin watches were the most popular, all for less than forty dollars.  A solitaire diamond engagement ring sold for $49.75 with the matching wedding duet for only $24.75.  America's finest glassware sold from 25 cents up to $12.00.  

Across the street at Lovett and Tharpe, shoppers could shop until 10:30 on Christmas Eve for the last minute gifts.  For the boys, Daisy air rifles were a dollar, Wilson basketballs were two dollars and seventy-five cents, and Wilson footballs sold for a dollar and twenty-five cents.  The Westfield  bicycle, the top of the line, went for the sum of twenty-eight dollars.  Tricycles were four dollars and wagons brought three dollars apiece.  For the lady of the house, a husband could pick up a new Frigidaire refrigerator, range, or water heater for $120.00 and up.  Tree light strings, the old-fashioned kind with larger light bulbs, sold for fifty cents to a dollar.

Santa Claus came that night.  Toy lead soldiers, baby dolls, comic books, and tea sets, along with the requisite new sets of clothes found their way under the trees.    For the last two decades the county and city had suffered through a long and dark economic depression.  Things were beginning to change.  As Charles Dickens said in his "Tale of Two Cities," "It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times."  Our country was about to enter into a world war that would change the course of the history of man forever.

That joyous season of Christmas had  two sad postscripts.   Homer Jordan and M.C. Kincey broke into McLellan's Department Store.  The two men helped themselves to the contents of the store early on Christmas morning.  Otherwise, Sheriff I.F. Coleman and Chief J.W. Robertson reported that the day passed quietly, the only Christmas in recent memory that they didn't have to lock up a few drunks."  While all but ten local National Guardsmen returned home for Christmas, two Monroe Georgia soldiers were passing through Dublin on their return to Camp Stewart.  Just as Sgt. Roger Malcom and James Peters passed under the Merry Christmas sign on their way to Hinesville, they lost control of their car and crashed into the bridge.  Sgt. Malcom didn't survive. It was his last Christmas.  Christmas is a time to cherish with your family and friends.  Remember the true "reason for the season" and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

DUGGAN WEAVER


The Nicest Man In Town

The late Duggan Weaver knew it was "nice to be nice."  He spread that message for most of his adult life as an insurance agent, Sunday School teacher, Mason, Lion, Gideon and library supporter.  His multitude of friends knew him in those ways.  You might not know that Duggan served our country as a member of the US Navy for nearly four years. This is a little told story of Duggan Weaver and how the events of December 7 , 1941 changed his life forever.  Here is his story in his own words of that fateful day, seventy two years ago this week. 

"I was working in Louisville, Kentucky living at the YMCA. I was across the street at Taylor's Drug Store drinking a cup of coffee; a boy came in and said the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor," Duggan recalled in an interview with Mac Fowler of the Laurens County Historical Society.  

"I thought he was kidding, but he said, "No". I thought some crazy nut had come by and dropped a bomb. I walked across the street to the Y and people were gathered all around listening to the radio. The news caused the hair on your arm to stand up! It was a day one will never forget." 

"The next day I went to work at Belknap Hardware Manufacturing Company. They distributed radios, which was very rare. Not many people had radios (especially in Dudley, Georgia. We didn't even have electricity in Laurens County). The company distributed radios all over to the place there were about 1500 employees. We listened to the news and everyone was afraid." 

"That night I went to the Navy Recruiting office and signed up for the Navy. I had been turned down by the Army before leaving Laurens County and placed in 4F. The Navy took me. If you were warm, I think they would take you. I left Louisville on the 19th of December 1941. They put me on a train to Great Lakes, Illinois. The Naval Training Station at Great Lakes was running over. They issued us a few clothes, I was there two or three days and they sent some of us to the Naval Pier in Chicago, Illinois. The Naval Pier was built some fifty years before the war. It had nothing to do with the Navy. The Navy had taken it over about six months before the war. It was going to be converted to a school to handle about eight thousand men, but it was not ready and we had a solid mess. They did not have the equipment to issue dog tags and other identification. Three weeks from that day, most men had been inoculated and they were sent to sea. Sam Rundell, a fellow I had met there and I had the highest test grades and didn't go." 

"They sent us back to the Great Lakes and we slept in hammock in an Air Force hangar. Then they put us in a barracks and we went to school from 8:o'clock in the morning until 8 at night. I was in Quartermaster Signal School. The later part of June 1942, they sent us to Norfolk, Virginia to broad the Ship USS Merak. They took us to Cuba. Most of the outfit stayed in Cuba, but after a few days, they put me on another ship, USS Pollux, a brand new ship on it's first run. We went to Puerto Rica, Virgin Islands and left there and went to Trinidad to a PC Base. After two weeks, they sent us to downtown Trinidad, about a block from our Naval Headquarters."  

"I will never forget, we came into Key West and the Captain ordered and had me send a message "We need 150 bunches of bananas at least". We had about sixty monkeys plus some apes or whatever you call those bigger ones on board. They were for a wildlife preserve owned by one of the Roosevelts" 

"The ship was loaded with we had smelted copper bars and palm oil out of Africa. It had been built to haul tung oil out of the orient. There was a fine crew on there. I loved everyone that I had anything to do with. They treated me like a King and they gave me my own room and bathroom. These Norwegians hated the Germans. This ship left Oslo, Norway, the day the Germans moved in." 

"I stayed at Key West two or three days and fussed with them and fussed them. I kept telling them that Carl Vinson was our Secretary of the Navy and he was from my District and that I was going to call him. I always tried to wear my hat square and be a good Navy man. I got into a lot of real situations that were real bad. One was that I couldn't even get on a Base and get any food. The Navy had a place there that I could sleep. After fussing, I got over the fence and got something to eat. I got a man to write me a note saying "Let this man in and out whenever he wants to," After about a few days, they put me on a ship, US Kansan and back to Trinidad. I stayed there two or three days. I had to carry my entire luggage plus a lot of signal equipment." 

         " I left Trinidad and went back to Key West. After two or three days, they put me on a British ship,. We came to New York, then back to Guantanamo Bay. I was the only American on board. We had a strange kind of thing to happen. I would flash the lights and hoist the flag and things that the Commodore would tell me to do. There was always one American signalman on every ship regardless of what country it was from to tell the Captain of the Ship how the Navy wanted him to do.  The Captain went ashore and came back laughing and said "Some man over there asked me about you being on this ship and said he'd give me every map of this whole area if I'd get you ashore."  The British Captain went ashore (we had to buy our food). He came back and said that they had us down as being lost at sea for a week. The Captain and his ship were going to Nova Scotia, I told him, "Nobody's told me what to do, I don't know." The next morning, I was ready to go. We went up through the East River and there was a place there where we took on a new pilot. He said, "I expect you better get off. I don't know where we're going or what you're going to do." I got off and the Coast Guard got me and kept me all day under house arrest. 

I didn't have any ID; I didn't have any orders. They wanted to know why an American sailor was on a British ship. I could talk all day about that day! I told them I had heard of the Armed Guard Center over in Brooklyn. I was not in the Armed Guard, but I thought that's where I need to be. I called the Armed Guard Center and decided that's where I should be."

I was born with a hernia; it was bad.. The Navy took me but standing all day long on those decks I was having a fit. I went to see a Dr. in Brooklyn and he told me, "Man, yeah you need to get something done about this." He sent me to the Brooklyn Navy Hospital. I got to come home to Dudley from the hospital and went back. The weather was horrible back to Brooklyn. It was January.. I had pneumonia and almost died.. 

I got back to Trinidad and they put me on the same ship, the Columbia. ans Army transport that they had named the Gen. Harry Rethers. I was in good shape there because they had an Army gun crew and we ran by ourselves.  A few times, I put up a flag and answered airplanes or something like that. We went to British Guinea and Dutch Guinea. I was there for a few weeks and went back to Trinidad but I don't remember the name of the one I was on but it was a nice one. It was taken from Germany during World War I. They had cleaned it up and it was in A-1 shape. I got to New York and they told me I had plenty of time. I went over to the Signal Shack and I had plenty of points to go home, but we've got to have sailors, we have sent for sixty five today that had gone home. They assigned me to a tanker, the Axtel J. Byers. Our first trip was to Russia; British Isles, Scotland and we left there on my birthday, September 15, 1943. We lost nine ships, I didn't know if I would ever see Dudley again! Horrible! Horrible! I had seen ships blown up before but this was a terrible situation. We got back to New York and I thought they would let us go home. They sent us straight to Tampa, Florida for dry dock because this ship had been torpedoed before I had gotten on it. We had some Navy men on board, but I was responsible to the Merchant Captain. My job was to keep him happy. We got along fine. So I got to come home for two or three days. When I got back, we made two or three trips into the Mediterranean, three to the British Isles, five to Venezuela and eight or ten times to the Texas area"  I was discharged September 14, 1945."