RUNNING THE GREAT AMERICAN RACE - Ben Lane, of Wrightsville, Georgia,
driving a 1966 Chevrolet, placed 26th in the 1967 Daytona 500. Lane, whose prize winnings totaled
$1120.00, finished 141 of the 200 lap race, just two spots behind David Pearson and ahead of racing
greats Buddy Baker, LeRoy Yarborough, A.J. Foyt, Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison. The race
was dominated by Mario Andretti and Fred Lorenzen. Greensboro Record, February 27, 1967, p.
LIGHTS OUT! WATER TOO! - In the early months of October of 1917, the lights went
out in Wrightsville. The broken-down power house was unrepairable. The town’s citizens came
together in a mass meeting to attempt to quickly resolve the problems, bu to no avail. J.H. Harrison,
the powerhouse superintendent, set out to complete rebuild the power plant. Electrical service was
sporadically restored, but a severe winter storm and vandals kept the lights out until mid-February
of 1918. And to make matters worse, there was a shortage of water and when water was plentiful,
the lack of electricity made it nearly impossible to pump it to homes and businesses. Macon
Telegraph, Oct. 12, 1917, Feb. 4, 1918.
HOME MAIL DELIVERY - In today’s world when the practice of U.S. postmen delivering
mail to the mailbox on your front door beginning to slowly disappear, the family of W.E. Parker, of
Wrightsville, Georgia would have preferred that the mail man leave their mail in the box out by the
street. Early in the predawn hours of January 16, 1960, mail truck driver Benjamin Hull fell asleep
at the wheel, left the roadway some 165 yards from the Parker home and made a bee line through
the Parker’s storehouse, striking the wall of their home and landing in the kitchen. Miraculously the
family wasn’t preparing an early breakfast and no one was injured, except the house which suffered
approximately $1000.00 in damages. Augusta Chronicle, Jan. 20, 1960, p. 3.
THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED. Two cars were approaching each other on Highway 319
near Wrightsville, when the car occupied by Herbert and R.W. Jackson of Bartow veered into
another car which was headed from New York to Marianna, Florida and driven by Lucille
Colosimo. Colosimo’s husband Philip and Salvatore Carbone along with Lucille were killed. Two
other passengers, N.J. Zelman and Jack Shomer, were injured. What was remarkable was that
Lucille, Philip and Salvatore were the lead vocalist, saxophonist and trombonist of Ray Eberle’s
band. Eberle, a main member of Glenn Miller’s band, led his own band after Miller’s untimely
death in World War II. The Bridgeport Post, January 20, 1958.
CELEBRATED SURVIVOR - In the early days of February 1944, a United States Army
Air Force plane’s crew parachuted to safety after the pilot lost control of the plane over Wrightsville.
The plane crash and crew’s survival was somewhat unnewsworthy except one of the crew, Lt.
William Arnold, was the son of Edward Arnold. The senior Arnold was a leading Hollywood actor
for four decades and a President of the Screen Actor’s Guild. Omaha World Herald, February
LAST ONES OUT - The beginning of the end of the Vietnam War began in March1973.
Among the last troops to leave was Claude Green, of Swainsboro, Ga. As one of the last 1100
combat troops to return home to the states, Specialist Four Green remarked, “The people of Nam
were good. I am just glad to be out of it.” Boston Herald, March 30, 1973.
I LIKE IKE - Ray Brinson, a 36-year-old resident of Swainsboro, was proud of his
community and proud of one of its greatest resources, the pine tree. He was determined to take of
pine seedling and deliver it to the President of the United States, even he had to deliver it on foot.
So when President Eisenhower spent his Christmas vacation at Augusta National Golf Club, Ray
Brinson decided he would walk the 63-mile trek and hand deliver it to Eisenhower himself. Brinson
set out walking north from U.S. Highway 1 in Swainsboro at noon three days after Christmas and
arrived late the next day. After a much needed rest, Brinson hoped to hand deliver the prize seedling,
but was met by the President’s aides, who presented to Cliff Roberts, the Club Chairman, who
instructed the groundskeepers to plant it on the club house grounds. Omaha World Herald,
December 31, 1953.
VOTE FOR DURDEN - To some, election ballots can be confusing. To the voters of
Emanuel County in the autumn of 1957, the ballot was more confusing than usual. The incumbent
Judge of the Court of Ordinary, known today as the Probate Court, had been appointed to the
position. Judge Durden chose not to seek election for a full term causing a special election to fill the
vacancy. Running for the post were Kelmer Durden and Geroude Durden. When the ballots were
counted, Kelmer Durden was declared the winner by 181 votes. Dallas Morning News, December
POSTMASTER PRESIDENT - William C. Layton, Swainsboro’s postmaster, was chosen
to lead the National League of Postmasters at their organization’s convention in the summer of 1960.
Washington Evening Star, August 7, 1960.
AND THE WINNER OF IS - The people of Swainsboro were very proud of their
community’s title as the “Turpentine Capital of the World.” So proud, that they sponsored a farm
queen contest. They even were able to secure Georgia governor Marvin Griffin to travel to
Swainsboro to announce the winner. After the elimination rounds, only Janice Ridgdill and Sarah
Ellen Phillips remained. Ridgdill, described by a UP writer as pert and pretty, was the unanimous
choice of the three judges. But, when Governor Griffin announced that Sarah Ellen Phillips, “a whiz
in 4-H Club activities,” as the winner, the judges were shocked. When the opinions of the judges
were made public, protests within the community abounded, even among the community’s most soft
spoken leaders. Ridgdill, an Oak Park junior, had her winning name removed from the judge’s
envelope during a secret meeting of the Farm Bureau’s directors, reportedly because Sarah Ellen
was more talented when it came to 4-H club activities. She accepted the decision with charm and
grace, bowing out when the controversy began to expand. Later in the year, Janice proved her
worthiness in 4-H activities by capturing the award for the most progress in the club during the year
and a state award for her entomology project. Miss Phillips, the official winner and a senior from
Graymont, felt sorry for Ridgdill but vowed to take the crown and carry on her assigned duties.
Augusta Chronicle, May 8, 1955, Dec. 26, 1955.
THE LEADERS’ LEADER - The Jaycees, United States Junior Chamber of Commerce
make it their mission to train through community service to become leaders of their community. The
state leaders of this national organization came together in Miami, Florida in 1951 to elect their
national president. The delegates chose Lee Price, a Swainsboro, Ga. attorney and Coca-Cola
executive. During World War II, Price worked for the OSS in Norway in espionage work and
surpvervised European immigrants coming to the United States after the war. Price joined Coca
Cola in 1951. He was named Vice President of Personnel in 1954 and Vice President of Public
Relations in 1960. Price tragically died in 1962 from a heart attack at the age of 44 years.
Greensboro Daily News, June 9, 1951, Augusta Chronicle, February 8, 1962.