Monday, August 31, 2009


Salt Lake Bees: Evans named to PCL team

Salt Lake outfielder Terry Evans was named to the 2009 All-PCL Team, which is selected by the league's managers and media representatives.

Evans, 27, is hitting .286 with six triples, 25 home runs and 86 RBI for Salt Lake, with a team-leading 32 doubles and 26 stolen bases. Evans was named to the 2009 PCL All-Star team for the second time and participated in the 2009 Triple-A Home Run Derby.

The Dublin, Ga., native made his major league debut with the Angels on June 17, 2007, hitting a home run in his first at-bat. He has appeared in a total of eight games for the Halos. Evans joined the Angels organization from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Jeff Weaver on July 5, 2006.

SALT LAKE CITY (August 31, 2009) - The Pacific Coast League announced today that Bees outfielder Terry Evans has been named to the 2009 All-PCL Team. The All-PCL team is annually chosen by the league's managers and media representatives in recognition of outstanding achievement on the field.

Evans, 27, has appeared in 128 games for the Bees in 2009, hitting .286 with six triples, 25 home runs and 86 RBI. He also leads the Bees with 32 doubles and 26 stolen bases. He is currently tied for the fourth-most home runs in the PCL this season. Evans was named to the PCL All-Star team in 2009 for the second time in his career following his selection in 2007. He also participated in the 2009 Triple-A Home Run Derby.

The Dublin, Ga. native made his major league debut with the Angels on June 17, 2007, hitting a home run in his first at-bat. He has appeared in a total of eight games for the Halos. Evans joined the Angels organization from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Jeff Weaver on July 5, 2006.

Sunday, August 30, 2009



Soldier of Misfortune

James Walker was born in Georgia circa 1801 to 1804. Walker was reportedly the illegitimate son of Dr. Isham Fannin. The young boy probably lived with his mother's father, George Walker. George Walker moved to what was then Wilkinson County about the year 1806. On December 10, 1807 his lands became a portion of western Laurens County. In December of 1808 the lands were once again shifted to another county. Now in Pulaski County, George Walker was appointed by the Georgia Legislature as a commissioner of the public buildings of that county. George Walker's sons built a three and one half mile stretch of the Federal Stage and Post Road which became known as Longstreet. James Walker grew up in the area along the Twiggs-Bleckley county line, living on a plantation south of Marion, in Twiggs County.

In 1819, George Walker secured an appointment for his grandson to the military academy at West Point. The young man entered West Point under the name of James Walker Fannin. Fannin was described as a " gallant, handsome, and sensitive lad, not especially devoted to his books." After a fight with a fellow cadet, Fannin resigned from the academy in November of 1821. Fannin returned to Georgia and married Minerva Fort. In 1834, Fannin removed to Velasco, Texas on the Brazos River. He organized a military company which he called "The Brazos Volunteers." Fannin participated in the first skirmish of the war in October of 1835 and distinguished himself at the Battle of Concepcion four weeks later. Fannin was made an Inspector General in the Army of the Republic of Texas and was later promoted to Commander in Chief. After the fall of the Alamo, Col. Fannin was given orders to destroy the Mexican fort at Goliad and fall back to Victoria. Fannin and his men delayed their mission to help a group of women and children escape from the Mexican army. Fannin and his 350 men moved toward Goliad where they met 1200 Mexican troops under the command of Gen. Urrea.

In two days of fighting, Fannin was wounded and lost seventy men. Fannin surrendered his forces to Gen. Urrea on the condition that they be paroled and allowed to return home. On March 27, 1836 Fannin and his men, except four surgeons and four assistants, were executed by the Mexican army. The deaths of the men at the Alamo and at Goliad so enraged the Texans that they completely destroyed the Mexican army under Gen. Santa Anna, who personally ordered the massacre at Goliad. When a new county was formed in Georgia in 1854 from Union and Gilmer Counties, it was named Fannin, in honor of Col. James Walker Fannin. Several counties can claim James Walker Fannin as a citizen, and certainly Laurens County can at least claim him for one year from December of 1807 to December of 1808. The decision of whether Col. Fannin was a hero or a coward is left to the doubters of his courage in a situation that many men never face.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Cafeteria owner who served Christmas breakfast to needy in Birmingham, Alabama dies
John H. Holcomb involved his kids

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

News staff writer

John H. Holcomb Jr., for many years the owner of Birmingham's Britlings Cafeteria, has died.
Mr. Holcomb was 94, family members said, and is survived by five adult children.

The cafeteria business was in the family blood. Mr. Holcomb inherited Britlings from his father, who owned the Birmingham-area locations of the chain that had its roots in the South. The cafeterias were part of a family business empire that included a Howard Johnson's motel on U.S. 78, and restaurants and motor inns in other parts of the state.

Britlings was well known in Birmingham for the annual Christmas breakfast it offered for those in need. Mr. Holcomb's father started the tradition during the Great Depression at the Third Avenue North location, and it continued until 1978, when Mr. Holcomb retired.

John Hudson Holcomb Jr. was born on April 14, 1915, in Dublin, Ga. His parents moved to Birmingham to operate a Studebaker automobile dealership. Mr. Holcomb graduated from Phillips High School and Georgia Tech. He worked in the chemicals industry out of the state until 1948, when his father summoned him back to Birmingham to help with the family business.
His five children, upon reaching 12 years of age, remember reporting for duty every Christmas morning at 6:30 a.m. to help prepare the annual breakfast. Over the years, the event attracted volunteers from outside the family who were inspired by its example.

"A great many people gave their time over the years to work with us on Christmas morning," said Mary Scott, one of Mr. Holcomb's four daughters.

Mr. Holcomb's son, also named John Holcomb, went into banking, rising to chief executive of Birmingham-based Alabama National BanCorp., which sold in 2008 to North Carolina-based RBC Banks.

"He was a wonderful businessman and a wonderful role model," John Holcomb said of his father.

Copyright, The Birmingham News

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


@Walton Media Services

The Wiregrass Poet

Ernest Camp was born in Swainsboro, Georgia in the early years of the 1880s. As a 12 year old, Ernest entered a Swainsboro printing office. At 16 years of age he began publishing "The Swainsboro News". Soon he began to work for the rival paper, "The Forest Blade." Camp began writing poetry at an early age. His works were published in Swainsboro and Adrian newspapers. Camp moved to Dublin in 1903 where he assumed the duties as editor of "The Dublin Times". Ernest Camp was a prolific poet, composing at least one poem every day, the compilation of which he called "Learned in Laurens". Ernest was soon given the name of "The Wiregrass Poet." He left Dublin for a short stint with "The Brunswick Journal." On January 1, 1906 Camp settled down in Monroe, Georgia taking the position of editor of "The Walton Tribune." He was only twenty five years old and made only $50.00 a month.

After one year Ernest Camp, bought all of the "Tribune's" stock and became the sole owner of the paper. Camp served two terms as president of the Georgia Press Association from 1925 to 1927. He was always interested in politics, especially those of the Democratic party of Georgia. He never held a political office. In 1912 he attended the Democratic national convention which nominated Woodrow Wilson. He returned to the convention twenty years later as one of the delegates who nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1928 and again in 1936, he served as an elector to the Electoral College. Camp was actively involved in Georgian Oscar Underwood's candidacy for President in 1924.

Ernest Camp and Irene Natalie Sanders were married in Dublin in 1905. Mrs. Camp's father, James Barnes Sanders, was a well respected attorney, mayor, and school teacher in Dublin. Her mother, Alice Ramsay, was a daughter of Col. Whiteford S. Ramsay, the most beloved man in Dublin during the latter half of the 19th century. Col. Ramsay served as minister of the First Baptist Church for over two decades and in 1876 founded the current day Laurens County and Dublin City school systems. Irene Camp died in 1932.

Ernest Camp was also known as the "October Poet." He was born and died in that month. His three published works from the presses in Monroe were: "Autumn Odes" (1923), "Autumn Anthems" (1938), and "Sojourns in Song." (1940). Camp died on October 22, 1957. Walter S. Robison eulogized Camp by saying "Ernest could hear voices. He read sermons in stones, books in the running brooks. I only wish I could read his description of the beauties of Heaven! In the glowing words of Sidney Lanier, 'His song was but a living aloud, his work a singing with his hand.' " In 1962, Ernest Camp was posthumously inducted into the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame. He joined fellow Laurens Countian Hal M. Stanley and preceded Ernest Rogers and Madge Hilbun Methvin into the prestigious group of Georgia newspaper writers, editors, and executives.

One of Camp's favorites subjects was love or the loss of love. He entitled this poem:


Goodbye Miss Mary Johnson,
My love for you has fled.
You pinched me in the stummick
and you cracked me on the head.
You throwed me down the stair steps.
You kicked me out the door.
And now I think I've reason
For feeling mighty sore!
Goodbye, Miss Mary Johnson,
I loved you very strong,
And though my heart is breaking
I'll have to move along.
You called me Simple Simon
And you called me ugly Dan,
With a shotgun at your elbow
And a broomstick in your hand!
Camp seemed to have an attraction to goings on in the Buckhorn Community. This is one his more humorous looks at farm life in the Buckhorn community.

'Taters in the 'tater patch (Rilly, go
to scratchin')
Breeches holy all around (Mary, go to
Fences down an' cattle out (Johnny, go
to nailin')
Young'uns cryin' "grub is out" (Sally,
go a frailin)
Cotton waitin' in the fiel' (Sammy go
to pickin)
Syrup drippin' from the keg (Roger go
a lickin)
Prices off an' money short (Henry, cuss,
I'm saying)
Clouds aire dark - a storm is on (Jenny,
go a to prayin')

Sunday, August 9, 2009


A True Survivor

Tommy Birdsong was a true survivor. Being a prisoner of war, especially on the Pacific islands during World War II, was not like "Hogan’s Heroes" nor the over hyped, over staged, and immensely popular "Survival" shows on television today. It was worse than Andersonville, worse than Elmira, and worse than Alcatraz. Birdsong and thousands of Americans were humiliated, brutalized, and tortured beyond any standard of human decency. Birdsong survived. Most didn’t.

Tommy Birdsong, a native of Gordon, Georgia, was a young golf pro in Jacksonville, Florida. This best years of his life were ahead of him. Birdsong was one of the first men drafted in the National Guard in 1940. After training in Texas, he was sent to San Francisco and thence to the Philippines in July 1941.

Just three days before the invasion at Pearl Harbor, Birdsong and his artillery unit were transferred to Corregidor, an island in the Philippines. The Japanese attacked on December 7th with two hundred thousand men against seventeen thousand Americans and some sixty thousand Philippine soldiers in the Corregidor defense lines. In a television interview on "Dublin Today," Birdsong said, " It always like to say this, they say it was a surprise, but it wasn’t a surprise to us. Because McArthur was the commanding general there at the time. He moved us into the field with live ammunition three days before they bombed us - so they knew about it. We were ready. We thought we were ready, of course."

The Americans were overrun by two thousand Japanese who were in the initial amphibious assault. The invaders also landed in North Luzon, up from Bataan. Japanese fighters attacked Corregidor and the surrounding islands. Birdsong's anti-aircraft battery shot down seventeen planes before it was transferred to Bataan, a more easily defendable peninsula on the flank of Corregidor. Day after day, night after night, the Japanese pounded the American fortifications on Bataan. The well fortified Americans turned back a major attack in February of 1942.

Thirty minutes after noon on April 9, 1942, General Edward King surrendered his American forces on Bataan. Birdsong and thousands of his fellow soldiers were force marched to Bataan in what became known as the Bataan Death March. On the second day, Birdsong and many others "hit the bush" and escaped by swimming back to Corregidor. Birdsong described the events: "We were captured, surrendered. My unit stayed together on the march, the so infamous "Death March." I didn’t know at the time, we had about nine thousand American soldiers and about forty thousand Philippine soldiers. On the second day of the march, we kept my unit together- there were one hundred and fourteen of us in my unit - out of the two hundred or so. We had fought for the last three months. Everybody turned infantry. Civilians, Americans, all came from Manilla to Bataan. They retreated there. It had Marines, sailors, everybody in my platoon, fighting like infantry. It was pretty rough, "The Death March." It guess you have read about it.

On the 2nd day, we hit the bush. We had planned it - passed the word up. We were going to try and escape. We were going through the jungle on a narrow trail. When we all hit the bush, we all made to Mariveles. We were on top of Mariveles Mountain. We made it down to across from Corregidor. They were coming from Corregidor to pick up all they could in boats. Some of them swam across, it was about a mile across there. I fortunately got a boat and made it across. We lost two men in the escape, only two men out of one hundred and fourteen, which was fortunate."

The fighting on Corregidor lasted about a month. The Americans were completely surrounded. The American Navy, still reeling from the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, was unable to launch a rescue mission. Japanese ships and planes constantly bombarded the well fortified American positions. Then came the invasion. Birdsong recalled, " They just overwhelmed us. There were thousands and thousands of Japanese. We were captured again on Corregidor. We stayed there a month. The night they invaded us on Corregidor - it was surrounded by water and ships. I had a BAR (a Browning Automatic Rifle). It fired it until it froze up. There were many Japanese attacking us. Then we were taken. General Wainwright finally surrendered the Philippine command. I was there when we surrendered. I was about thirty feet away from him when he surrendered to the Japanese. We were rounded up and organized into units of five hundred and were taken to Manilla for the so called "Humiliation March." They had "lost face." It had taken a month to take us on Corregidor. They paraded us in the "Humiliation March." We were sent on up to Cabanatawon. It guess you read about that in the papers - about the infamous Cabanatawon Prison Camp," where hundreds of men were dying of malaria and malnutrition. The prisoner's diet consisted of three things: rice, rice, and more rice."

Japanese soldiers paraded the American prisoners in the streets, kicking anyone who couldn’t or wouldn’t keep up the pace. "They were barbaric. There is no way to describe how they were at that time. This country has never had the full story. There have been books written about it. No one believes it. We called it "humiliation." They lost face because we had held out so long on Corregidor for a whole month. They had the entire army and an air force. We had no air force, of course, no navy, but we were there with our guns. We were pretty well fortified with our big guns. We held out for a month. They lost so much face. They wanted to get even with us," Birdsong said.

Birdsong was kept in Cabanatawon Prison until November of 1942. The Japanese crammed Birdsong and another five hundred or so Americans into ships, if you can call them ships, bound for Japan and Korea. Tommy was sent to Japan. They called them "Hell Ships." Birdsong was put down in the hold of a freighter - nothing to eat, except something every now and then, just to keep them alive. On the way to Japan just off the coast of Taiwan, an American submarine attacked Birdsong’s ship, oblivious to the fact that it was packed with Americans. Americans commanders assumed it was a fleet of Japanese freighters. Three ships were sunk. One of them had Americans in it. Two of them were freighters. "They didn’t sink my ship of course," Birdsong said.

The prisoners had very little possessions, sometimes only the clothes on their back, which eventually were worn into shreds and threads. Many only had their hope and their faith. " I wanted to live. It’s hard to kill a man when he doesn’t want to die. If a man has hope, he can live. Fortunately during the second year I was in there, I got a job in the kitchen cooking rice. I had that job nearly a year. I normally weighed about one hundred seventy five to one hundred and eighty pounds. I was a tall man. When I got of prison camp, I weighed ninety pounds - that’s how much I had to eat," Birdsong remembered.

Birdsong and his group, or what was left of them, arrived in Osaka, Japan. The temperature was below freezing, 23 degrees - weather not exactly fit for frayed khaki short sleeve shirts on the shoeless Americans. Two Hundred and twenty five of the five hundred men died in the first year. Those who were able, were forced to dig coal in deep mines. Birdsong was down to ninety pounds having lost half of his body weight. By 1945, only a single dozen of the original 500 men were left.

The survivors kept praying, hoping for their freedom, before they died of malnutrition. The bombing raids until July, 1945 rained havoc all around their position, but never struck their compound. Birdsong's best friend was killed by a guard. Birdsong remembered, " We were eventually sent to Nagasaki - that’s where they dropped the atomic bomb. I was down in the coal mine. I watched out the windows just before they dropped the atomic bomb. You’ve heard of the sky being black with airplanes, well, there were airplanes everywhere. They dropped bombs all around the prison camp. I mean they tore up the place. But not one bomb fell in our camp or in our compound. That’s how accurate they were. They knew where we were. We were working down in the mine. I was down in the coal mine when they dropped the bomb. I was right outside of Nagasaki. We thought it was an earthquake, because rocks and everything else fell. We came out the next morning. They brought us out. We had to wear our masks and everything over our faces. You can still see where my hands are burned. That’s from the radiation. You’ve read about the atomic bomb and what it did. It’s hard to describe it. The whole big city - it was just wiped out - nothing standing. I was a few miles outside of Nagasaki when the dropped the bomb. Our camp was in Nagasaki, so we were sent through the streets. Everything was just leveled. Fortunately, right after that, they surrendered. They kept us in the camp. We didn’t have to go back to the coal mines. That was the second atomic bomb they dropped. Hiroshima was the first. This was the second."

"There was no way to describe the relief we felt. At first, we couldn’t believe it. We thought that they would fight until the last man, because they did that in Japan. They told us this. We saw evidence of this in the Philippines. They attacked us there and they kept coming toward us until the last man in the platoon. We mowed them down. They were yelling "Banzai!" and such as that. They were religious fanatics. They thought that if they died in battle that they would immediately go to heaven. We thought that we never expected to get out. It didn’t think I would, unless there was some sort of armistice or some sort of negotiations. That was the only thing to hope for. We never thought the Japanese would surrender. Of course they did, and I came back."

It took another week after the second atomic bomb was dropped for American B-29 bomber pilots to begin flights to drop food to the prisoners into the camps. Birdsong and the other lucky ones were caught in a strange place with no idea of how there were get home. American bombers tore up Nagasaki and most of the rest of Japan in eight months of bombing missions. Decades after the war, Birdsong met McGrath Keen, Sr. in Dublin. The two men related their experiences during the final days of the war. After a few minutes, Birdsong and Keen concluded that Keen, flying the "Lucky Lady," was one of the pilots who dropped boxes of food and clothing to into Birdsong’s camp. A few days later, the paratroopers jumped into the camp areas. They secured the area, commandeered a train and took Birdsong and the rest of the men in Nagasaki before boarding on an aircraft carrier.

Tommy cried. He was crippled at the time. A Japanese guard hit him in the back of the neck with the butt of his rifle and broke his neck. There was no doctor available. An old army corpsman fashioned a brace by wrapping a rope around Tommy’s neck Tommy spine healed, but it grew back crooked. He was beginning to get partially paralyzed on the right side. After the liberation, Tommy stayed. McArthur took the survivors back to the Philippines.

Birdsong’s family received a notice that he was missing in action. Everyone thought he was dead, except his mother. "She never gave up. Without my faith I could not have made it through. We had church and prayer meetings - not like our churches, but we would get together and pray. That helped me a lot. Oh Lord, that helped me through, " Birdsong tearfully remembered.
Tommy Birdsong won the Bronze Star for heroism. In fact, his entire unit won the Bronze Star, the fourth highest award that you can get in service. The unit award came from the gallantry in the fighting in the Philippines by a special Congressional citation.. Tommy was wounded twice and received the Purple Heart with an oak leaf cluster. Congressman J. Roy Rowland, Jr. of Dublin helped Birdsong get a Prisoner of War Medal. Tommy Birdsong downplayed his hero status, " The heroes are left back there. The heroes are back on Bataan and on Corregidor. The ones who came back were fortunate and with the help of the good Lord, that’s the only reason they did."

Birdsong survived, but barely. He was severely beaten about his neck with a rifle. Three of his vertebra were shattered and permanently fused together. From that day on, he couldn't hold his head up straight. But he did hold his head high the day he came out of the depths of Hell and every other day after that. He was returning to the freedom which so many millions of young men and women had fought so valiantly to defend. Tommy Birdsong came to Dublin in the 1960s as the golf pro at the Dublin Country Club. The Birdsongs moved back to Dublin in the 1980s. Birdsong passed away a couple of years ago.