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

Saturday, February 06, 2016


The Dublin Athletics

In the dark days of the Great Depression, it seemed the whole world had two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.  It was a time when despair and desolation enveloped the nation but couldn’t kill it’s soul, the game of baseball - the national pastime.  Most  its players played for free or just enough for pay for a hot meal and a soft bed.  The blessed got paid.  Some like Babe Ruth were paid $80,000 a year. Then there were the barnstormers, men who played day after day anywhere anyone would show up and pay to see a good game of baseball.  This is the story of a group of Dublin based men who enjoyed successful seasons in one of the minor Negro leagues of the South in 1932 and 1933.

Carved out of a rolling meadow of the fully undeveloped Dudley Cemetery on East Mary Street, the team’s sand lot paled in comparison to the cross-town 12th District Fairground diamond where the self-styled “Gas House Gang” and World Champion St. Louis Cardinals took on the university boys from Athens and Atlanta. Semi adequate backstops and invisible outfield fencing rarely contained out of play balls which often sailed into the thickest of thickets or over nameless graves of once beloved souls.  Attendance varied according to the what time of the day the game was played.  Those who had jobs could scarcely slip away to watch the game, while those who didn’t have a livelihood watched for free from afar or opted instead to spend their pennies on a much coveted hot meal.

When the 1932 season, opened the team didn’t even have a nickname. Suggestions were sought. But since no better name was suggested, Courier Herald sportswriter Joseph Leath began calling the team the “Dublin Athletics” or the “Dublin A’s” for short.  Leath, who reported the highlights of the A’s games in the “Colored News” section of The Dublin Courier Herald, chose the name because of the success of the Philadelphia Athletics on the National League, who had just that year posted the highest winning percentage of any team in the decade of the 1930s.  Leath also solicited names for the park, but the team settled on the generic “Mary Street Park.”

Picking a winning team wasn’t an easy task.  There was no draft and no minor leagues.   Better Georgians like Josh Gibson and Jackie Robinson played for the real Negro League teams in the big cities.  Former Dubliner Quincey Trouppe played for many teams during his highly successful two decade career.   The league was an association of south Georgia teams composed mainly of local men, sometimes boosted by a unknown phenom signed before another team could grab him. Team rosters changed and often.  New players, who shined in tryouts, beat out those who struggled in the field and behind the plate.  Luther Hendricks, who lived on Vine Street, managed the team in it’s first year.  The first reported game, an extra inning affair, resulted in road victory over Wrightsville 11-9. Playing for Dublin were Kiler, 1b; May, rf; Frank Howard, 3b; J.D. Howard, Captain and cf; Butler, c; Brown, p; Horne, ss; and Gilliard, 2b.  About a month into the season, the A’s added Gillis, Brooks, Jenkins, Oliver, Chesnut, Kiler and Newton to their team.  The latter three men came on to lead the A’s to an outstanding second half of the season.   Reese, perhaps the Jimmy Reese who played for the Atlanta Black Crackers in later years, had an outstanding season on the mound for the A’s.

In the 1932 season, the Athletics played teams from Jessup, Hawkinsville, Wrightsville, Sandersville, Macon, Ailey, Gordon, Vidalia, Milledgeville, Forsyth, Wrens, Augusta and Athens.    The highlight of the season was a two-game series against the Chattanooga Black Look Outs on August 3rd and 4th.    The A’s held the powerful Black Look Outs to a 1-1 tie in the first game with Big Lefty Chestnut (No.44) going 2-5 and holding the team, which once included the legendary Satchel Paige in his first year of professional baseball.  The A’s lost a heartbreaker (5-4) in the second game against the visitors, who were on a barnstorming tour of Georgia.    As the A’s enjoyed great successes, attendance swelled.  Many white fans came to watch the best game in town.  A second highlight came a week later when the Athletics defeated the Macon All Stars, who lost their first game of the season.    The season ended with a tie with the Augusta All Stars followed by four consecutive two-game sweeps of Augusta and Athens and  Chestnut’s 16 strike out victory over the a team from Jacksonville, Florida, just days after he pitched a one hit shut out of the Augusta team.

The 1933 A’s opened their season with a tilt against Greenville, S.C., with J.H. Hicks managing new players Garner, Blacker, Bush, Book, Kiler, Ford, Davis and Major Freeman.  Within a month, Luther Kendrick returned to the helm of the team and brought back some of the outstanding players from the ‘32 season.  The 1933 team played some new teams, the Augusta Wolves, Macon Red Sox, Augusta Giants, Columbus Red Caps, Macon Peaches, Eastman White Sox, Atlanta Blues, Forsyth, Fitzgerald, Glenville, Wrightsville, Waynesboro, Savannah All Stars, and Chattanooga.

The Athletics featured a powerful lineup: Vondale, 2b; Will Hayes, ss; Jake D. Howard, lf; Squat Jones, cf; Jimmy Reese, p, 1b; Herb Barnhill, c; Chestnut, p, rf; Massey, 3b and Emory Davis, p.

It is quite possible that the center fielder, Squat Jones, was actually Harry Squab Jones, of Athens, who was a long time fixture on the side lines for six decades as an athletic assistant for the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

Without a doubt the most valuable player for the A’s was the man with no first name. Known simply as “Chestnut,” or “No. 44," the tall lanky southpaw dominated every team he faced.  In 1933, he compiled a record of at least 14 wins with only one known loss, that loss coming at the hands of the powerful Montgomery Grey Sox of the Negro Southern League.   In his sole defeat, “No. 44" struck out 14 Grey Sox and allowed five hits, but lost a twelve inning 2-1 game.  Chestnut struck out 18 Atlanta Blues batters surrendering only 1 hit win following a nineteen strike out one hitter against Forsyth.  “With big league control and the steam of a pile driver,” Chestnut defeated the Macon Peaches in five games, including driving in the winning runs with two out in the bottom of the 9th inning in front of 500 fans. It has been said that he had such good control that his catcher could turn around, squat and catch the ball between his legs.

Following a successful 4th of July series, it was announced that the team was on the verge of bankruptcy.  Manager Hendricks resigned when players went to Sheriff Wiley Adams and demanded that they be paid the team salary of $75.00 for the past two weeks.  Hendricks contended that he had paid his players with money he had personally borrowed and hoped to pay back out of gate receipts.   The Athletics surfaced from the storm with a new name and new uniforms.  The Dublin All Stars under their new manager and left fielder Jake Howard and their new owner Bracewell Troup began to play better teams throughout the Southeast, including the Jacksonville Red Caps,  Montgomery Grey Sox and the Tampa All Stars, whom the Dublin Stars defeated in the self styled Georgia Florida championship.

Jimmy (Lefty, Big Jim, Slim) Reese won 20 games for the Atlanta Black Crackers in 1937.  The tall lefthander and Morris Brown College graduate taught school in Atlanta before he was signed by the Indianapolis ABC’s in 1939.  He finished his short career in 1940 as a member of the Baltimore Elite Giants.

Herbert “Herb” Barnhill spent nine seasons in the Negro American League. He caught for the Jacksonville Red Caps in 1938 and again in 1941 and 1942.  In the intervening years the Red Caps played in Cleveland Ohio under the name of the Bears.  In 1943, Barnhill signed with the Kansas City Monarchs, one of the most famous teams in Negro League history.  Considered an average catcher and a weak hitter, Barnhill spent his last three seasons (1944-1946) as a member of the Chicago American Giants.

While a member of the Red Caps, Barnhill, along with his teammates, worked as a railroad porter from September to March.  His right thumb permanently bent back at a right angle was the result of catching some of the great pitchers of the Negro Leagues for more than fourteen years.  One of the biggest highlights of Barnhill’s career was pushing a batter out of the way and tagging out Jackie Robinson at home plate.  More than fifty years after he retired, Barnhill still remembered the sting of racial discrimination, but was contented with the fact that more people attended the Negro League games than their white counterparts.  Herb Barnhill passed away in Jacksonville, Florida on July 25, 2004.  He was the last of the Jacksonville Red Caps and the last of the Dublin Athletics.

The 1933 Dublin Athletics/All Stars ended the season with a documented record of 31-11 and were credited as being one of the best teams in the South.   But the question remains, what ever happened to ol’ Chestnut, “No. 44?”  Like the legendary Satchel Paige, the dominating lefty always wanted to pitch both ends of a double header.  Perhaps he moved on to a new team with a new name and made
it to the big leagues. Or perhaps today  after the death of his catcher Herb Barnhill, the last survivor of the Dublin Athletics, “No. 44" is still mowing them down on the fields of dreams across the heavens. 

Friday, February 05, 2016


During the first 50 Super Bowls, three Laurens Countians have played in the Super Bowl (Willie Hall, Willie Jones and Demaryius Thomas.)  Erik Walden was a member of the Super Bowl 2010-11 Green Bay Packers team.  Before the Super Bowl, the NFL Champion was crowned in the NFL Championship Game.  Theron Sapp, of Brewton, played in the 1960 game for the victorious Philadelphia Eagles.

Theron Sapp - Born in Brewton, Ga. 
 Philadelphia Eagles 
1960 NFL Champions. 

Willie Hall -  Born in Montrose, Ga.
Oakland Raiders
Super Bowl XI Champions

Willie Jones - Born in Dublin, Ga. 
Oakland Raiders
 Super Bowl XV Champions

Erik Walden - Born in Dublin, Ga. 
Green Bay Packers 
Super Bowl XLV Champions

Demaryius Thomas
Born in Montrose, Ga.
Denver Broncos
Super Bowl XLVIII
Superbowl L (50) 


    “Hub” Dudley was a credit to his race, the human race.  In an era when it seemed that the frayed chain  of humanity was going to explode into a mass of broken fragments, Dudley, a Dublin businessman, was the indestructible center link which bound the two races of Dublin and Laurens County together in the calm of a maelstrom which swirled about the country.

Herbert Horatio “Hub” Dudley was born in Cordele, Georgia in 1897.  “Hub” came to Dublin with his parents, Clayton D. Dudley and Katie Ford Dudley.  The Dudleys came here for a new beginning, a beginning which  led to a dream which still lives on today almost twelve decades later.

Clayton Dudley set out to build a business empire to meet the needs of African-Americans, who were not being completely served.   “Hub” adopted that same philosophy.

“Hub's philosophy on life was to build businesses and offer what was needed by the black community," his niece,  Thomaseanor Pearson, remarked. "Whatever we had, we had because it was needed," Mrs. Pearson told Theresa Harvard of the Courier Herald in a 1996 interview.

Herbert Dudley married Mayme Ford, a Washington, D.C. school teacher.  Her sister, Jenny Ford, was the mother of Thomaseanor Pearson.  He and Mayme  virtually adopted Jenny’s daughter, Mayme Thomaseanor, who would marry Alfred Pearson, Sr. to become the matriarch and patriarch of the Pearson family in Dublin.

The Dudleys opened a meat market and grocery store in 1922  in the building now occupied by Dudley Funeral Home.  Over the next two decades, the father and son team built an empire along East Jackson Street and the Five Points area of downtown.

There was a savings and loan, a restaurant, The Dudley Motel (modernized in 1958,) the Laborers-Mechanics Realty and Investment Company (a savings and loan association),  a shoe shop, a saw mill, a roller skating rink, a drug store, a poolroom, a barbershop, a guest house, The Laurens Casket Company, Dudley's Funeral Home, and in September 1936, the Amoco # 2 service station.   Dudley established a beauty shop and named it for his foster daughter, Thomaseanor, who was never a beautician.  The Dudleys also developed “Dudley’s Retreat” in the rear of the service station as a gathering place for the community. During World War II, Dudley worked to establish a USO for black servicemen on South Lawrence Street.

Dudley Funeral Home 

Dudley, a home schooled student and an aspiring student of the law, was  hired by W.H. Lovett, owner of the Courier Herald, to write a column relating to the activities of African Americans in the community.  Dudley called his column, Of Interest to Colored People.  It ran from November 11, 1935 through the end of 1936.  Before and after then beginning in June 1930 and  until September 18, 1968, the section was called Colored News.

Dudley Service Station

Dudley, always known to pour his heart into each task he took on, hoped to obtain a thousand subscriptions from his readers to justify a whole page “colored section.”

For most of his adult life, “Hub” Dudley was known as a healer, a mediator and a man of impeccable honesty and trustworthiness.  Thomaseanor Pearson once told the story that her “Duddy” convinced Dr.  Martin Luther King, Jr. from staging  a massive demonstration in Dublin over unfair labor practices.  King stayed at Dudley’s motel on East Jackson Street, then the major east-west traffic artery through Georgia.  She also remembered the night he stayed at the Dudley Motel.  Pearson, who was initially scared because of the fear that King was being tracked, met the American icon in person and fondly recalled the night she stayed up “all night” talking to the civil rights champion.  Mrs. Pearson also remembered another Civil rights advocate,  Atlanta Mayor and U.N.
Ambassador, Andrew Young, stopping into their business.

Retreat Cafe

“Hub” Dudley was a born giver. In fact, he was the “Colored Chairman” of the multi racial United Givers Fund in the 1960s.   A long time supporter of the American Red Cross, Dudley helped to lead War Bond drives during World War II and the establishment of a public housing project for African Americans, which was named for his mother Katie Dudley.  A life long member and leader of St. Paul A.M.E. Church, Dudley helped to enlarge and modernize the Colored 4H Camp of Georgia on the current grounds of Riverview Golf Course.

In his early years, Dudley remained loyal to the Republican party, the party of Abraham Lincoln.   Dudley organized a Voter’s League in the mid 1950s.  Later, he became the essential keystone for candidates seeking political offices.  During the 1940s and 1950s, Hub was often courted by the members of the Herschel Lovett and Sheriff Carlus Gay factions for his critical endorsement.

Known by many important African American figures of his day, “Hub” was a  friend of George Washington Carver and composer W.C. Handy.

Courier Herald columnist and former minor league baseball pitcher, “Bo” Whaley, came to admire Dudley, who took in, boarded and mentored Sammy Buell and Bill Causion, the Dublin team’s first black players.

Hub Dudley’s wonderful life ended on June 4, 1965.  Long time friend, Herman Wiggs, commented, “The twinkle in his eye symbolized inspiration for everyone who knew him. In a day when our race still is in need of advertisement as human beings, Mr. Dudley, in my book, was about the finest public relations man Dublin has ever had. He was kind, clean cut and gracious.”

An anonymous friend wrote in an opinion letter to the Courier Herald, “He was a great man and a  misunderstood one in many instances. He loved people, all people, regardless of race. He always had a conversation for anyone he met and was known by all as being talkative. He helped so many people, at one time he was on as much as $445,000 worth of notes for other people. There are so many ways he helped people. Your paper wouldn't hold it all.”

Dudley was buried in the family plot on the summit of the hill along the main drive of the cemetery which he and his father established in the Scottsville neighborhood of Northeast Dublin next to his parents and beside his beloved Mayme, who was most likely I suspect,  the real tie that bound the Dudley family and our community.  

In summing up “Hub” Dudleys life, let’s look to his own words when he commented on the outstanding work of Dublin native and Ford Motor Company inventor, Claude Harvard. Dudley proclaimed, “Genius knows no color or creed.  And, the world loves a contributor to civilization”   And therein lines the reason why this great man was so loved by nearly all of the people he ever helped along his highway to heaven.

Home of H.H. & Mayme Dudley 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016


The Rise and Fall of a Middle Georgia Golfer

Bert Greene was a pretty fair golfer in his day.  At the age of eight, he was beating some of the duffers at the Dublin Country Club.  Forty years ago Greene was in his prime as one the leading collegiate golfers of the Southeastern Conference. Ten years later his PGA career vanished as a result of a freak career ending injury.

Charles “Bert” Greene was born in Gray, Georgia on February 11, 1944.    He took up golf at the age of four.  In 1950, Bert’s father, Herb Greene, was hired to be the club pro at the Dublin Country Club.  Growing up around golf and being the son of a pretty good golfer, Bert was destined to excel on the links.  In his days in Dublin the elementary school student outscored several grown men when he finished atop the 2nd flight.   The Greenes left Dublin for Jacksonville, Florida for a short time before returning to the Middle Georgia area where Herb worked on golf courses in Eastman, Douglas and Cochran.  Bert’s sister Barbara also followed in their father’s footsteps and played for a time on the LPGA tour.

In 1961, Bert, playing for Dodge County High School,  won the Georgia AA state championship by nine strokes with a two straight sub-par round total of 136. Later that summer, he captured the Georgia Jaycee’s Jr. Championship.  The following year, the Dodge County golfer won the 17-18 year old bracket of the Future Masters of Golf with a three round score of 210.  Greene was awarded a full scholarship to play for the University of Tennessee golf team in 1963. That same year Bert was the Tennessee Amateur Golf champion.  In 1964, Bert won the individual championship in the Southeastern Conference and garnered All American honors that year as well as his junior season in 1965.     Bert played as an amateur in his first U.S. Open in June 1965, but failed to make the cut.

Greene’s first appearance in the Master’s Golf Tournament in Augusta came as an amateur thirty-nine years ago this week in 1966.  He qualified for the tournament by finishing in the top eight of the previous year’s national amateur tournament.  In his first practice round,  he posted a 71 with birdies on 13, 14 and 16 with a 20 foot eagle birdie put on the 15th hole.  Bert missed the cut after decent opening rounds of 80 and 77.  In the fall of 1966, Bert decided to turn pro.  He attended a tour school but needed a sponsor to pay the bills of entrance fees, travel expenses and lodging.  Two men in the beverage business signed on to sponsor the up and coming golfer.    Greene started out strong in the opening round of 1967 Los Angeles open.  He was among the third round leaders of the ‘67 Tuscon Open but fell back to a distant and even par behind Arnold Palmer, the tournament winner. But after a disappointing rookie year when he brought home only $1,702.57 in winnings, Bert was left without a sponsor.

Buck White, a former golf pro, saw a lot of potential in the tall, slim and blonde fellow Tennessee golfer.  He convinced an eclectic group of investors to sponsor Bert for the 1968 seasons.  The group included a Florida housewife, a lawyer, dean of a Quaker school in Garden City, N.Y., a toy merchandiser and a mysterious man with a funny sounding name.  In March 1968, Greene once again soared to the top of the 3rd round leader board.  Following an outstanding start, Greene was in 8th place, seven strokes off the lead, six ahead of Jack Nicklaus and nine strokes ahead of Lee Trevino.   In The Dural Open, just as he had done a year earlier in Tuscon, Greene fell off the leader board following a poor fourth round.   A highlight of the year 1968 came in Minnesota when Bert, listed as playing out of Union Point, Ga., scored a hole in one in the Minnesota Golf Classic.

Bert’s fortunes turned for the better in 1969.    After participating in the U.S. Open, Bert finished 11th in the Kaiser Open ahead of golfing legends Hale Irwin and Sam Snead.  He was an early leader in the American Golf Classic and the Buick Open.  His best tournament of the year came in the Western Open, the world’s richest tournament.  After blistering rounds in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, Greene drew within one stroke of the leader in the final round.  Going for the green in two, his ball found the trap.  Still in contention, he missed a putt, which cost him $20,000.00 and his first tour victory.    Bert had a great outing when he finished 4th in the Greater Hartford Open on Labor Day weekend.  He finished the year 23rd on the money list with $56,878.00 in winnings.

Bert returned to Augusta National in 1970 on an ominous note.  During the practice round, one errant shot landed in an empty lunch box.    He finished 12th in the tournament with a highly respectable even par four round total of 288.  Two weeks later, Bert finished 5th in the Tallahassee Open. He continued to play well during the spring, finishing 3rd in the Houston Championship and 13th in the Atlantic Golf Classic.   In one of his first professional victories, Bert captured the Brazilian Open title in June.  Fighting bursitis throughout the summer, the lanky power golfer was the first round leader of the Green Island tournament before falling to an 8th place final finish.

Greene got off to a good early start when he placed atop the leader board in the 1971 Glen Campbell Open.  A second victory on foreign soil came in the Lagostas in Bogota, Columbia in February.    For the second straight year, he finished 12th in the Masters.  Among his better tournaments that year were the Atlanta Golf Classic and the Kemper and Colonial Opens where he was  among the early leaders.  His best finish came in the Western Open when he placed 6th.  

The year 1972 proved to be a turning point for Bert.  He only managed to finish 32nd in the Masters, though he finished ahead of Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino.  His best finish came with  top ten finishes in the Houston and Greater Milwaukee Opens and a sixth place finish in the Colonial. His career nearly came to an end in the fall  when during a round of golf, Bert became frustrated with a bad shot, slammed his club into his golf bag, and caused a pistol inside his bag to discharge.  The bullet struck Greene in the foot nearly ending his golf career.

Six years of traveling all over the country playing hundreds of rounds of golf finally paid off for Bert Greene in 1973.  Bert finished 5th in the Byron Nelson Tournament in April and the BC Open. In September, he finished 12th in the Heritage Golf Classic.  But in was in Raleigh, North Carolina when finally Bert won his first PGA Tournament.   After four rounds of regulation play, Bert was in first place in the L&M Open with a score of 68-73-67-70 (278) when on the last hole, Miller Barber sunk a 40 foot putt to force a playoff.  On the 5th playoff hole, Bert sunk a twenty-foot twenty-thousand dollar putt to cinch his first tour victory. Back at home in Dexter, Georgia, where his father was the golf pro at Green Acres Country Club,  his parents Bert and Kathryn were ecstatic.    Just before the tournament, Bert spent a few days for rest and relaxation.   “For the first time in his pro career, the pressure is off,” his father said.

But things didn’t get better for Bert.  A wrist injury signaled the end of his once promising career.  He finished last in the first round of ‘74 Masters and missed the cut.  Two weeks later he rebounded  with a 21st place finish in the Tournament of Champions.  His one highlight came when he shot a 67 and was one stroke off the lead of the World Golf Open at Pinehurst in September.    In that same tournament a year later, he finished 53rd and took home only $476.00 in prize money.    It was one of his last tournaments as a touring professional.

After leaving the tour, Bert Greene became a Mississippi state trooper.  For nearly two decades Bert Greene almost abandoned the game which brought him fame and enjoyment, playing an average of only three rounds a year.    He was the first PGA tour victor ever to regain his amateur status.  At the age of fifty, Bert attempted to join the Senior Tour.  He missed the cut and decided to permanently
retire to enjoy the things he loved the most, his family and fishing.  When asked if he had any regrets, he told a reporter, “ I have no regrets.  I knock on wood because I have two great kids and a grand boy, Jacob.”


Friday, January 29, 2016


Shaper of Music

You may have never heard of Elisha James King or his brother,  Elisha Lafayette King.  The King brothers, along with their cohort, Benjamin Franklin White, were among the most prolific  composers of "shaped note hymns" which they  compiled into the legendary hymnal, "The Sacred Harp."   Many musicologists proclaim that Sacred Harp music is the oldest form of purely American music.

Click to hear modern day Sacred Harp singing. 

Shaped notes were designed to make it easier for church congregations and untrained singers to readily understand pitch, scales and key signatures.  Instead of the more common dark ovals, shaped notes are squares, triangles, ovals and diamonds,  filled or not filled with black ink.  The practice of using shapes began in the early years of the 19th Century in New England and spread to the South.

Elijah James King was born in 1821 in Wilkinson County, Georgia to John King and his bride, Elizabeth Dubose.  The Kings moved to Talbott County in western Georgia in 1828.

In 1840, one Benjamin White moved to the adjoining Harris County, where he would later serve as the Mayor of Hamilton, Georgia, the Clerk of the Inferior Court of Harris County, and a major of the local militia.

King joined with Benjamin Franklin White, left  of Union County, South Carolina, to compile the "Sacred Harp" in 1844 when King was more than half the age of White when the widely popular hymnal of shaped notes was first printed in book form.  It has been said that it was White who mentored King.

King, who farmed and taught singing and music for a living, collaborated with White on nearly two dozen songs as a composer or arranger.

Sadly at the zenith of his life and musical career Elijah King died on August 21, 1844 at the age of twenty-three.  His father and a niece died a few days later.  More deaths in the King family made the year 1844 one of triumph and despair.

Music historian David Steel describes King as having a distinctive musical style and three of his songs, "Bound for Canaan," "Sweet Canaan," and "Fulfilment" as "classics." Steel theorized that King was the "money man" of the duo.

Stepping right in after the death of Elijah King, was Elias Lafayette King, his  supposed younger brother and  eight years his junior.  The younger King  strived to replace his brother in the publishing of Sacred Harp music.  He contributed approximately a half dozen songs to the 1850 revised edition, including:  "The Bower of Care," "The Frozen Heart," "Dull Care," "Reverential Anthem," and "The Dying Christian."

The teaching of singing syllables in order to teach the young singer has generally been credited to Guido d'Arezzo, who used a six syllable system.  English teachers reduced the number to four, fa, sol la and mi.

Sacred Harp music is performed a cappella by singers sitting in a square with the treble, alto, tenor and bass singers on each side with the center of the group being a hollow square.  Often the group does not have a director. Instead numerous directors stand in the middle of the square.

There are three basic type songs, regular traditional hymns with traditional four bar phrases, fugues, and anthems.

"The Sacred Harp," with more than five hundred songs written in four parts, was used by the vast majority of old line church choirs and singing school teachers in Georgia and the Deep South.

There is little documentation of the practice of singing shape notes in Laurens County. Primarily used in the Primitive Baptist and Nazarene churches, the practice enjoyed a revival in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Sacred Harp music is more common along the Georgia-Alabama border and northward into the mountain states of the Southeast.

Most people, primarily children, learned shaped notes from teachers of singing schools. The most famous of the Laurens County singing school teachers was long time  and legendary Blackshear ferryman, Rawls Watson.

Singing schools were held in every little church and school throughout the county for the first six decades of the 20th Century.    One of the last occurred at the East Dublin Baptist Church in 1963.  The classes lasted sometimes for hours, sometimes for days and sometimes all week long.  In 1954 and 1955 , C.C. Gay conducted  10-night singing schools at the Telfair Street Church of God.

Once the singing school sessions were completed, "singing conventions" featured choirs from around the county and around the East Central Georgia area.  One of the largest was the convention at Idylwild, a former W&T Railroad resort of the Ohoopee River, south west of Wrightsville.  Managed by Grady Sumner, the event attracted thousands of people  and lasted until the 1960s.

Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church

The singing of shape notes in praising the Lord God is a Southern Christian tradition which has almost  faded into obscurity like many other old, grand traditions.   Today, Sacred Harp music is experiencing a comeback with younger people around the country, even those whose religious beliefs are not as deep as the original singers of shape note music.

The memory of shape note music still resonates in the mind of the Rev. Don Hicks, the minister of the First Church of the Nazarene Church in Dublin.  Hicks, also the musical leader of his church, fondly remembers his attraction to Sacred Harp singing, primarily in the days of his youth he spent at singing conventions at Sand Mountain, Alabama. "It was a good learning tool to teach me how to sing," Hicks added.

And now you know, that a musical tradition which has lasted for more than a century, has its roots in a little boy born in Wilkinson County, Georgia nearly 200 years ago.

For more information see:

Saturday, January 23, 2016



As the United States got deeper into World War II, the need for long term care military hospitals rose.   Congressman Carl Vinson of Milledgeville used his influence as Chairman of the House Committee on Naval Affairs to establish a naval hospital in Dublin.  Over the next twenty years, Congressman Vinson nearly succeeded in establishing the United States Air Force Academy and an Air Force base in Laurens County.  The plans for the hospital, which would serve as a long term care
facility, were formulated in 1942.  Early in 1943, the prospects of the hospital seemed dim. But Vinson persevered, and the project was approved in the late spring.

The primary need in order to establish a navy hospital in Dublin was the transportation of patients in and out of the city.  The Laurens County Board of Commissioners purchased 640 acres of land three miles northwest of Dublin for the construction of an airport.  The land was purchased at a cost of nearly double the amount originally budgeted.  The commissioners resorted to issuing warrants to pay
the cost after a bond issue and bank loans failed to materialize.  The federal government took over the construction and completed the project in 1943.  Among the first military uses of the airport was the delivery of mail to the few hundred soldiers who where stationed at the prisoner of war camp in Dublin.

The City of Dublin took immediate steps to aid in the construction of the hospital.  The city attempted to issue bonds for the construction of water and sewer lines to the hospital.  The Citizens and Southern Bank took over the financing after the failure of the bond issue.  The federal government stepped in and provided the remaining funds to extend the lines to the hospital.  A four lane road was built running from McCall's Point at the end of Bellevue Avenue to the hospital site.

 Real estate developer and theater owner R.E. Martin donated land for the road.  Years later the city lined the road with oak trees.  The road, originally known as the Old Macon Road, now bears the name of Veteran's Boulevard in honor of all the patients at the hospital.

Construction of the hospital began in July of 1943.  Lt. Commander Louis S. Dozier came to Dublin to inspect the site and begin the initial preparations.  Before the construction could begin, a rail spur line was laid from the Macon, Dublin and Savannah Railroad to the site.  An elevated steel water tank was the first structure to be completed.  Even as the work was proceeding, the government was still in the process of acquiring the land.

The government chose a 231 acre farm site on the western edge of Dublin. The farm, known as the "Capt. Rice Place" or "Brookwood," was owned by W.P. Roche.  E.T. Barnes asked the court to allow him to harvest the crops growing on the land.  Judge A.B. Lovett agreed, but allowed the government to immediately go into possession of the land where the water tank was constructed.  The government was allowed to take full possession of the property by September 13, 1943.  Mr. Roche's
home was spared, but part of his orchard was taken under a condemnation process through which Mr. Roche was paid the market value of $112.00 per acre.

In September, the engineers began laying out the streets on the hospital grounds.  The streets were named for medical department personnel killed in action during the war.  Gendreau Circle was named for Capt. Elphege A.M. Gendreau of San Francisco, who was killed in combat in the South Pacific.  Blackwood Drive was named in memory of James D. Blackwood of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, senior medical officer of the "U.S.S. Vincennes."  Johnson Drive and Alexander Drive were named in memory of Cmdr. Samuel E. Johnson of Clinton, Alabama and Lt. Cmdr. Hugh R. Alexander, of Belleville, Pennsylvania and the U.S.S. Arizona, who were killed at Pearl Harbor.  Crowley Avenue was named after Lt. Cmdr. Edward Crowley of San Francisco after he was killed in the Solomon Islands.  Neff Place was named in honor of Lt. Cmdr. James Neff, Senior Medical Officer of the cruiser "U.S.S. Juneau."  Trojakowski Avenue and Morrow Place were named in honor of W.C. Trojakowski of Schenectady, N.Y. and Lt. Junior Grade Edna O. Morrow (left -- above) of Pasadena, Calf. who were killed in airplane crashes.  The last street, Evans Avenue, was named in honor of Lt. Cmdr. Edward E. Evans of San Francisco who was killed in the Solomon Islands in December of 1942.

Construction Workers eatery near site of present day McDonalds.
R.A. Bowen & Co. of Macon began the grading and clearing of the land in mid September.  One of the first obstacles to be cleared was the Capt. Rice home known as "Brookwood."  It was built in 1903 by Joseph D. Smith.  Smith sold the home to farmer, naval stores operator and businessman Capt. W.B. Rice.  Rice developed the land into one of the finest farms in Laurens County.  In a matter of hours, the site of many of the grandest and finest social gatherings in Dublin was gone forever.

The first bids let for buildings were for eight patient wards.  The wards were built of masonry and were two stories in height.  The contract was awarded to Beers Construction Company of Atlanta for 1.16 million dollars.  The initial plans called for a 500 bed, 5 million dollar hospital. After the end of the war, the hospital would be turned over to the Veteran's Administration which planned to add another thousand beds running the total cost to ten million dollars. After the wards were constructed, a central hospital and administration building would be constructed in the center of the complex. Nurse's quarters, bachelor officer's quarters, WAVES barracks, corpsmen's barracks, mess attendant's barracks, a gatehouse, greenhouses, a fire station and garage, an incinerator and storage buildings rounded out the remainder of the hospital area.

  The buildings were designed in the colonial style to blend with the colonial homes along Bellevue Avenue.  The wartime shortage of material necessitated the use of clay, wood, and cement products from the local area.  A crew of five naval civil engineers and twenty civil service engineers, inspectors, accountants and clerks began work under the supervision of Lt. Cmdr. Dozier. Dublin's civic and church organizations worked together to accommodate the hospital staff during the construction phase.  A corps of 125 architects and engineers worked out of an Atlanta office building designing the project under the supervision of Lt. R.R. Grant. President Roosevelt gave final approval of a Federal Works Agency grant in December of 1943 to extend water and sewer lines and install the necessary equipment at the pumping station.

As the completion date neared, Dublin tried to cope with its growing pains. Ingram Construction Company moved its operations to Dublin and constructed twenty brick homes for hospital personnel. Captain A.L. Bryan estimated that as many as a thousand people would be attached to the hospital. He estimated that as many as two hundred families would move into the Dublin area.  Commander
Ellington of Charleston estimated that one hundred forty new houses would be needed to house the new families.  By May of 1944, the city of Dublin was forced to institute rent ceilings to prevent gouging by landlords.

Despite some instances of rent gouging, the construction personnel were well treated by the community.  When the Dublin Theatre reopened in the summer of 1944, special Sunday movies were shown to the military personnel.  During the late summer of 1944, the navy men played Army-Navy baseball games against the army guards from the local German prisoner of war camp.  The sailors also played basketball games against alumni teams from local high schools.

Finally on January 22, 1945, the hospital was ready for full operation.  Five hundred beds were in place with room for an additional three hundred and fifty more for emergency purposes. The original complex was built with four and one half million bricks which,  if laid end to end, would extend all the way to Washington, D.C.  There were sixty cubic yards of concrete, seventeen hundred tons of steel, eighty miles of interior piping, five elevators, five thousand windows, twenty one hundred doors, eleven acres of flooring, four acres of acoustical ceiling tiles, twenty miles of underground piping and six thousand cubic yards of earth work.

Commander Louis Dozier, a native of Macon, Georgia,  was commended by the Bureau of Yards and Docks for his work in supervising the construction of the hospital.  He was promoted and was assigned overseas.  Commander Dozier was ably assisted by project managers Lt. Carl B. Babcock and Carleton B. Johnson.  The project was supervised at the highest levels by Rear Admiral Jules James of the Sixth Naval District and was operated by the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

The dedication of the hospital was scheduled for the early afternoon.  A light and cold rain kept many away.  Nearly every politician and business leader in Georgia was invited to attend. Military leaders in the hospital's chain of command were invited to speak.  Gov. Ellis Arnall and Congressman Carl Vinson were slated to speak, but were detained and did not attend.  Postmaster M.J. Guyton spoke on behalf of his brother-in-law, Congressman Vinson, before a somewhat disappointed crowd. The first patients were scheduled to be brought in during the ceremonies but were delayed by a few hours by the bad weather.  The hospital was not quite finished when it opened.  The commander's office was temporarily located in the front guard house and later in the surgical wing of the hospital.

The initial cadre of officers at the hospital was headed by Capt. A.L. Bryan. Capt. Bryan (left) was a veteran of naval operations in the Pacific serving with valor in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands.  Commander A.J. Delaney served as the first Executive Officer.  Commander B.E. Goodrich, Chief of Medicine; Commander W.S. Littlejohn, Chief of Neuropsychiatry; Commander D.D. Martin, Clinical Director; Lt. Commander E.B. Brick, Chief of the Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat Section; Lt. Commander V.B. Buhler, Chief of Laboratory Services, and Lt. Commander P.V. Dilts rounded out the executive staff of the hospital.  The Red Cross provided a staff of nearly two dozen women to serve the hospital.  The early heads of the Red Cross workers were Helen Cassidy, Merle Foeckler, and Margaret Weatherall.

The hospital, then a part of the armed forces hospital system, took on the  role of aiding the war on the home front.  This mission included entertainment and education of the patients.  On April 7, 1945, Eddie Rickenbacker visited the hospital. Rickenbacker was the top American ace of World War I. After the war, he got into the automobile business.  Rickenbacker owned the Indianapolis Speedway for 12 years.  In 1938, he was named President of Eastern Airlines and served in that position until he was named Chairman of the Board in 1959.  Rickenbacker's mission was to cheer up those sailors who were facing long recuperation from their injuries.

On the last day of April 1945, Helen Keller made a visit to the hospital.  Helen Keller had lost her senses of sight and hearing.  She could not speak.  Upon the recommendation of Alexander Graham Bell, she went to a special school for the blind.  Anne Sullivan taught Miss Keller to listen to others talk by placing her hand on their faces.  She eventually learned to read, write, talk and type and graduated with honors from Radcliff College.  In her later years, Helen Keller authored many successful books.  Her visit to the hospital was part of her tour of military hospitals across the country.  It was hoped that those disabled veterans would be inspired by Miss Keller's overcoming of her disabilities.

Over the years that followed, touring bands and companies performed at the hospital for the sailors in the afternoons and at public dances at night.  Among those were forties band leaders Les Brown, Vaughn Monroe, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Skinny Ennis, Glen Gray, Tommy Tucker, Jan Garber and Ted Weems.

The hospital continued to expand.  A research laboratory was built in late 1945 to study the effects of rheumatic fever.  Captain J.B. Logue succeeded Capt. A.L. Bryan as commander of the hospital. The last naval commander was Capt. Lea B. Sartin.  Capt. Sartin (left) was taken as a prisoner of war while serving at a Manilla hospital and endured three years in the Japanese prison camps, first as the prison doctor at Bilbub prison in the Philippines.   Capt. Sartin served as Executive Officer of the Naval Hospital in New Orleans before coming to Dublin.  The peak of hospital patient load came in came in June 1946, when there were 1200 Navy and 100 VA patients served by 75 Staff Officers, 80 Nurses, 300 corpsmen, and 78 WAVES. Nearly three years after the end of the war the hospital was decommissioned as a naval hospital.  The ceremonial transfer was broadcast  from the studios of radio station WMLT on the evening of June 30, 1948. Dr. David Quinn was named as Administrator of the new Veteran's hospital.  On September 15, 1948, the hospital was dedicated by Senator Walter F. George and Congressman Carl Vinson.

Felix Bobbitt, (left) a Laurens County native and a paraplegic veteran, was the first patient admitted to the Veteran’s Hospital.   Within a year, hospital beds were increased two and one half times to accommodate 500 patients,  though the actual number of occupied beds only averaged around 350.  For those patients who were able to enjoy the outdoors and primarily for the staff, workers and their families, the hospital grounds featured indoor and outdoor basketball courts, six tennis courts, a swimming pool, a small golf course and bowling alleys.

In 1956, an Intermediate Service Center was established under the direction of Dr. Albert Bush.    At the end of its first decade as a VA Hospital, twenty physicians, three dentists and nearly six hundred employees were providing services for more than 450 patients.  Two hundred more patients were waiting to get in the hospital.   By the end of the 1950s a domiciliary with 450 members was established bringing the total patient load of 950, all served by 650 employees.

A 56-bed nursing home unit was established in 1965.  The unit expanded by 30 more beds in 1975.   In 1971, six-acre Lake Leisure was constructed along Bud’s Branch, the only creek in Dublin which flows in a northerly direction.

My most personal fond memory of the hospital came at Christmas.  In a day when church and state were separate but not mutually exclusive, Mamma and Daddy would drive us by the front of the hospital to gaze upon the tens of thousands of beautiful Christmas lights and wondrous displays of holiday celebrations.

Today the Carl Vinson Veteran’s  Administration Medical Center, named for the man totally responsible for its existence, has a 339 operating-bed facility which is staffed by approximately 750 employees.  The men and women of the VA Hospital provide acute and extended care services, ranging from pulmonary, optometry, surgery, podiatry, urology, cardiology, mental health, women’s health and general primary care.  With a budget in excess of sixty million dollars, the hospital, which turns sixty years old this month, continues to be a vital part of our local economy.
                     THE REST OF THE STORY
      Doctors, Patients and Visitors at the V.A. Hospital

Over the last six decades, hundreds of thousands of our country’s heroes have received medical care in the VA Hospital.    More than ten thousand physicians, nurses, sailors, waves, technicians, secretaries, and health care workers have walked the long halls, worked tirelessly to serve those who had served them and frequently held back their tears in the presence of those who suffer terribly from the wounds of war of the ravages of time.  It is to these wonderful Americans and the unnumerable legion of volunteers who have given of themselves that I dedicate these columns.

Franklin Gowdy was born to Dr. F.M. Gowdy and Margaret K. Gowdy on June 2, 1903 in Union Pier, Michigan.  He grew up in St. Joseph, Michigan.  Gowdy attended St. Joseph’s High School, where he was vice president of the Crescent Society in his junior year.  While at St. Joseph’s, Franklin performed in school plays and choral programs.

Franklin played tackle for the University of Chicago Maroons in the early 1920s.  In 1924, he was elected captain of the football team.  Gowdy was generally regarded by national experts as one of the best tackles in the county and rated by his coach, the legendary Amos Alonzo Stagg as “one of the best tackles ever developed at the University of Chicago.” Gowdy was chosen to the All Big Ten team and the All American team and led his team to a 3-0-3 record and its last Big Ten Championship.  He was honored by Coach Stagg in 1925, when he was asked to coach the Chicago line.  His younger brother Vic followed in his footsteps, first at Chicago and then as captain of the Oberlin College team.

Dr. Franklin Gowdy graduated from Rush Medical School in Chicago.   He began the  practice of  medicine in 1937 in Evanston, Illinois, where he met and married his wife, Dorothy Faye Brockway.  Dr. Gowdy enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve shortly after Pearl Harbor.  Gowdy, then nearly forty years of age, expected to serve in the Naval Reserve at the Great Lakes Naval Base.  He was transferred to the Marines and sent to Guadalcanal attached to First Division United States Marine Corps.  The First Marine Division participated in the invasion of the islands of New Britain and Pellilu. By the end of his tour in the South Pacific, Dr. Gowdy rose to the rank of Lt. Commander in the Navy.   His brother Howard served as an officer in the Army Air Corps.

In his last year in the service in the Navy, Dr. Gowdy was assigned to the United States Naval Hospital in Dublin, Georgia.  In January 1946, Dr. Gowdy resumed his practice of medicine in Winnetka, Illinois.  He and his family resided in nearby Glencoe.  Dr. Gowdy practiced medicine in the Chicago area and taught internal medicine at Northwestern University until his death on July 15, 1973.

In 1952, Dr. M. Ferdinand Nunez served as chief of laboratory services at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Dublin.  Dr. Nunez was a direct descendant of Dr. Samuel Nunez.  The original Dr. Nunez came to the infant colony of Georgia in July, 1733 as the physician and apothecary for the Colony.  Dr. Nunez delivered Phillip Minas, the first male child to be born in the colony.

Officials at the Dublin VA Hospital were honored when the national commander of American Veterans agreed to pay a visit to the hospital on January 12, 1961.  The commander, a Canadian born paratroop sergeant in World War II, was the guest of honor at a luncheon held in the dining room and the featured speaker in the auditorium, which was filled with patients, staff, and personnel.  The commander told the veterans "It's not what you have lost, but what you have left. Disability does not mean inability."  He urged the veterans to pass on to the civilians what they had learned in the military.  The Commander spoke from experience for he lost both arms during the war.  He tried, without his hands, making a movie. He played the role of Homer Parrish, one of several veterans returning home after the war.  Evidently he did a pretty good job.  He was awarded two awards for his performance in the film.  His name was Harold Russell.  The classic movie  from 1946 was "The Best Years of Our Lives."  The movie won the Oscar for best picture. Frederich March won the Oscar for best actor.  The director and writer also won the Oscar that year.  Russell, one of the most famous American heroes of World War II, won the Oscar for best supporting actor and another special Oscar "for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans." In his first and only movie, Sgt. Russell was the only actor ever to be awarded two Oscars for one role.  Russell went into the public relations field after the war.  He died in 1993.

In the days and months before Fidel Castro took control of the Cuban government, Cubans by the thousands fled to Florida and parts of the southeast. Several families came to Dublin and, in particular, to the Veteran's Hospital.  Three of Cuba's top physicians wound up in Dublin. They were unanimous in their view that the Cuban refugees should leave Miami and come to small American towns like Dublin, which were a more true example of American life and the strength of our country. Dr. Rogello J. Barata was a former professor of surgery at the University of Havana Medical University until 1961.  Dr. Barata served as general and thoracic surgeon at the V.A. hospital.  His former student, Dr. Luis G. Valdes, was Chief of Surgery in one of Havana's largest hospitals after completing his post graduate  work at Harvard University.  The third and most prominent physician was Dr. Delio S. Garcia, former professor of Pathology at the University of Havana.  Dr. Garcia had
been the former director of the Cuban National Bureau of Identification.  Between 1944 and 1948, Cuba was experiencing a wave of gang killings when nearly 150 prominent people were killed.  Dr. Garcia was able to identify five of the killers through scientific tests.  The first murderer he identified was a young Cuban rebel by the name of Fidel Castro.  The Cuban families assimilated into the community; Dr. Valdes’ mother-in-law taught Spanish at Dublin High School.

At the Veteran's Hospital, patients came and patients went.  There was something unusual about this particular patient.  He was a veteran of the United States Army having fought in Korea.  After the war, he married Frances Googe of Hazelhurst, where he made his home.  He did nothing to create the excitement.  The unusual amount of attention paid to this patient, Vincent Cadette, came not from his
actions, but because of his ancestry.  His ancestor was among the most famous men of the late 19th century.  Vincent was an American Indian like his great grandfather, Sitting Bull.

One of Dublin's oldest residents in 1968 was Louis Greenhaus, who was 101 years old.  Greenhaus, a Russian-born naturalized citizen, was a resident of the V.A. Hospital.  Naturalized as a United States citizen in 1892, Greenhaus (left) served as a sergeant in the Spanish-American War and World War I. Between the wars, Greenhaus was a member of John Phillip Sousa's band and played under the direction of America’s foremost band leaders. Greenhaus credited his daily cigar as the most important factor in his longevity.
In the early decades of the V.A. Hospital, the wards were filled with veterans of the Spanish American War and World War I.   William C. Owen was Georgia’s oldest surviving veteran of the Spanish American War.  He turned 100 years old on September 4, 1978.  Lemuel J. Rogers, who died at the VA Hospital on June 25, 1963,  served under Col. Teddy Roosevelt and retired as a master sergeant in 1926.

Roland Wilbur Charles, Jr. died at the VA Medical Center on July 18, 1997. Charles, a former sailor in the 1950s, worked at NASA and was responsible for the worldwide installation of S-Band radio systems for Earth to space communications during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.   A former national vice president of the Children of the American Revolution, Charles was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Roland Ellis, Jr., formerly of Macon, died in the VA Medical Center on May 22, 1995.  Ellis worked as a journalist for the Paris Tribune before joining the New Yorker magazine, where he once wrote the popular column “Talk of the Town.”

These are a few of the thousands of stories of the people of the VA Hospital. Their complete stories would fill volumes.  I encourage you to record your stories of the hospital for posterity so that the generations to come will know just what a special place the V.A.  Hospital is.

Friday, January 22, 2016


Twice Heroes

During this year, our nation will commemorate the 75th anniversary of our country’s involvement in World War II.  So, to start it off, let me tell you about eleven men.  You know their names and their faces.  Although most of you grew up with them, you don’t know the full stories of their lives.

After high school, David joined the Army Air Corps.  He wanted to fly.  During WW 2, this second lieutenant flew 44 missions as a bombardier aboard a B-25 bomber.  David, flying a mission as a navigator, and his crew were shot down and were forced to ditch their plane into the sea.  David broke both ankles.  His co-pilot was killed.  Awarded a handful of medals for his service in the war, David, as a first lieutenant in the Air Force Reserve, went to school to begin his life long career.

Jimmy joined the Royal Canadian Artillery as a field artillery lieutenant and was transferred to England to train for the eventual invasion of Normandy.  Jimmy and his company landed on Normandy.  He immediately took control of his unit, firing at snipers above.  After establishing a safe position during the first night, Jimmy was accidentally hit by six rounds of friendly fire.  Four rounds hit him in one of his legs. A finger wound led to an amputation.  The sixth round struck him in the chest.  His life was spared when the bullet hit a silver cigarette case, a gift from his brother,  in shirt pocket.  When he returned to duty, Jimmy joined artillery and later began to fly planes.  One observer once remarked that Jimmy was “the craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Force." Keep this last thought in your mind.

Jackson, who had lived in Conyers and Decatur, Georgia, spent his teenage days playing football and baseball while working in a drug store and a movie theater.  While working in a movie theater on weekends, Jackson developed a life-long fondness for making movies.    When the war came, Jackson joined the Army Air Corps and filmed airplanes.  Keep this thought in your mind too. For many years after the war, Jackson and Jimmy would serve aboard the same ship.

Lyon, whose voice made him a natural for radio announcing, gave up his radio career and chemical engineering studies temporarily to serve as a flight officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force. It was Lyon’s unenviable task to deliver the horrible news of the results of the fighting.  Called “The Voice of Doom,” Lyon was called upon to read the names of the local boys killed in the war over the airwaves.

Leonard underwent training to become a Navy V-12 pilot, but was forced out of flight school when doctors discovered that he was color blind.  Leonard learned how to operate a radio and fire the rear guns from aboard a ship.  He was assigned to the Pacific as a trainer in a torpedo squadron.  As a radio operator and turret gunner aboard an Avenger torpedo gft`bomber, Leonard was transferred to the USS Bunker Hill, just before the opening salvos of the Battle of Okinawa.  Just before leaving on a mission, the pilot became ill and the flight was delayed while another crew of replacements took their places. A few days later, a large number of sailors aboard the ship were killed in a kamikaze attack.  

Larry, who always saw humor in most situations, served as a gunner’s mate during the U.S.  Navy’s bombardment of Normandy on D-Day.  During the action off Utah Beach, Larry was awarded commendations for his bravery.

William joined the Naval Air Corps in 1943 and underwent training as a V-12 officer.  As an ensign assigned to the USS Pennsylvania, William served as a communications officer to transmit messages from ship to ship and ship to shore as well as intercepting enemy messages and decoyed encrypted ones   On his off duty time, William was an undefeated service boxer.  When the war ended, William was aboard a ship bound for Japan.

Billy, not to be confused with William above, was a star basketball player and fraternity boy when the war broke out. He joined the Navy to train as a fighter pilot, but never managed to be assigned to overseas and combat duty

Alex enlisted as a seaman in the Royal British Navy.  After receiving an officer’s commission, Alex commanded a landing craft during the Allied invasion of Italy. Afterwards, he ferried munitions and supplies to Yugoslav partisans in the Eastern Mediterranean.

As you will remember, Jimmy and Jackson served aboard the same ship.  The ship I speak of is the U.S.S. Enterprise, not the aircraft carrier, but the fictional star ship. You see, the Canadian lieutenant whose life was saved by a silver cigarette lighter and the Georgia boy who filmed flying aircraft were none other than James “Jimmy” Doohan and Forrest Jackson DeKelley, Mr. Montgomery Scott and Dr. Leonard McCoy, who took a long trek to the stars where no man had ever gone before.

Lyon went into space as well.  You may remember him as Commander Adama of the Battlestar Galactica.  You will remember him, the “Voice of Doom,”  as Himan Lyman Greene, or Lorne Greene in his iconic role as Ben Cartwright, patriarch of the Ponderosa on the long running western Bonanza.

And, don’t forget about Alex.  Alex, or more correctly Alec, lived in a galaxy, far, far away.   The British naval officer, who starred in a space movie some 38 years ago, was Sir Alec Guiness, or to you Star Wars fans, Obiwan Kenobi.

Remember David, the young navigator and bombardier who flew more than 44 missions  aboard a bomber in the South Pacific?  You will remember him better as Roy Hinkley.  Still don’t know who I am talking about?  Perhaps, you will remember him not by his tv character’s name, but by his title, “The Professor.”  For you see, Russell David Johnson, the brilliant professor of Gilligan’s Island, could never use his real life skills to find a way for the castaways to get off the island, at least during the series original run. Oh by the way, his skipper, Jonas Grumby, who was portrayed by Alan Hale, Jr., joined, what else, the Coast Guard in World War II.  He was joined in the Coast Guard by Lloyd Bridges, who gained fame portraying Coast Guard reservist, Mike Nelson, in Sea Hunt.

Not long after Leonard left the service as a gunner on a torpedo bomber, he got into acting too.  For more than fifty years, he was a ladies’ man and a man’s man, but in real life he married a South Georgia girl. Yet another iconic star on this list, Paul Leonard Newman is considered a giant among actors.

Larry, a D-Day gunner, was never an actor although he was on television as much as any baseball player ever was.  Larry, or should I say, Lawrence “Yogi” Berra, died last year as one of baseball’s most beloved players.

To round out these eleven heroes, I turn to Billy and William.  Billy, the frat boy and and basketball star, would go on to find his niche as a game show host.  You may remember Billy as the host of Truth or Consequences or several of his other games shows.  But, I do guarantee that you will remember, Robert “Bob” William Barker, the host of The Price is Right.

And, here’s to William, or should I say, “Johnny!” This radio operator, turned boxer, turned comic, turned late night host was John William Carson, the king of late night television.

These men were heroes twice, both in war and in the postwar careers on screen and off.

So, when we welcome home veterans from today’s wars, let us look to what they can accomplish in the years to come.  Put away the barriers and lend them a hand. You never
know what may happen.