Friday, September 14, 2012



Dreams do come true. This Jeff Davis knows. When he was five years old, Jeff climbed the steps of a castle. His father helped him through the "rolling doors." His eyes beheld a dream. And, one day, he told himself and his daddy, that the old Post Office on Madison Street was going to be his very own building.

And, today, on the 100th anniversary of the building's opening as the Dublin Post Office, Jeff Davis's dream has come true. To celebrate the occasion, he has invited his friends to commemorate the beginning of the second century of a true Dublin landmark.

"I remember the steps. And, when I got to the top, it was the biggest building that I had ever seen. I didn't know what to do at the door. My dad came and got me. And, I came in the lobby and thought it was a castle. Even at five, the building floored me," Jeff recalled.

It was on August 2, 1912, when Dublin's grand new post office opened for the first time. Situated on East Madison Street in the heart of the agra-industrial district of the Emerald City, the post office was the one of the city's focal points for businessmen and residents.

Too small even from the beginning to accommodate a post office in a burgeoning city, the capacity of the building was furthered reduced by the need for a Federal court room, a move necessary to accommodate the rapidly growing number of moonshine cases in the district. Accordingly, the Federal government constructed a courtroom above the main workroom of the post office in the late 1920s. Within five years, plans were underway to build a new Federal building on the courthouse square, leaving the Madison Street Post Office to be occupied by sundry offices of county and state government in 1937.

In the early 1970s, Laurens County sold the building to Joe Rutland, who operated a pawn and antique store in the building for three decades. Over the next few years, the building housed a restaurant and a bar, before becoming the home of Will and Jennifer Carter.

"You have to give all the credit to Will Carter and his wife, Jennifer, because they lived here and this building was their home. They loved it and they were good caretakers of the building," Davis proclaimed as he praised the Carters, who knew all the original details and never harmed anything which was original to the building.

After watching the activities in the building for several years and appreciating the rebirth of the downtown area, Davis contacted Carter about purchasing the empty structure. The Carters agreed to sell what was once their dream as well. The Carters even attended Rutland's estate sale, where they spotted and retrieved the building's original blue prints, which now hang in the lobby of the post office building, professionally framed underneath special light resistant glass.

Davis, the current Dublin Rotary Club President, was looking for a new location for his growing data storage business, Alterra Networks, a full service information technology solutions provider.

"From a business and a technology standpoint, Dublin is well located for a data center," said Davis, whose new quarters has a 4500 square foot basement. The Dublin native approached the project with the goal to make the main floor and the second floor like it was on Day One in 1912, adapting them to house his offices and getting a data center in the basement for free. To add icing on the cake, the building is located along the city's fiber optic network line.

"When I bought the building, it took me about four or five times in there to realize that about 85 percent of the building was still here," remarked Davis, who personally flyspecked every nook and cranny of the sturdy structure finding hidden clues to its past. Sometimes the clues came to him in the form of stories of bygone days and visitors to the building. He discovered secret windows in the top of the work room, where the postmaster and inspectors could spy on employees, looking for sticking fingers while they were sorting mail and taking money orders.

There are large fixtures intact as well as small ones. In Davis's personal, second-story corner office, there is an original light switch. There's even a triangular sink in the corner right next to a century old towel holder. From his vantage point, Davis can look out the window gazing toward what was once the heart and soul of the industrial and agricultural center of Laurens County.

He can even tell you where the post office bought their sweeping compound, toilet paper, coal and light bulbs from. He knows this because he contacted the National Archives and received more than 1500 pages of records, which document in exact details all of the activities which went on during the construction and operation of the building during its early years.

With most of the original plans in hand, Davis set out on a passionate mission to restore, replicate, or replace as much of the original building and its fixtures as he could. He doesn't see it as one shot deal, but a long term process.

"Everything that is not here can be put back with one hundred percent certainty," Jeff maintains.

One of the first things Davis noticed was that the original lobby clock was missing. After examining his mounds of documentation, he determined that it was a Seth Thomas Model 21, 14- inch gallery clock, the only one they made that year. Davis went on eBay, quickly found one, and bought it at a price less than a modern day clock would cost. Although the original clock had to been wound by hand, Davis adapted the replacement clock to run off long lasting batteries.

Obviously missing were the original post office boxes, which were removed when the county took over the building in the 1930s. Davis had seen an original one in the Dublin- Laurens County Museum and set out to research the kinds of boxes which were originally installed. It was back to eBay, where he purchased similar boxes by the hundreds, which he then had polished and reinstalled exactly where they were a century ago.

There is one thing that Jeff Davis doesn't plan to immediately restore. There is a row of windows for different types of services which the postal service provided. In front of the main stamp window, there is a bare spot, where the feet of hundreds of thousands of customers completely eroded away the marble floor.

One day he was outside and noticed several dozen people posing for a picture on the front steps. The group assembled there to remember the day many decades ago when the patriarch and matriarch of the family met for the first time. Their descendants gather there periodically to remember the seminal event which led to their becoming a family.

"I don't know anybody who hasn't walked through that revolving door whose breath is not taken away," said Davis about the building's most striking feature.

In 1937, when the county moved in, the building was only a quarter century old and lots of changes had already been made.

"The biggest sin which was committed against the building was the by the Federal government, putting in that temporary courtroom, cutting that room in half. Just to undo that and get the light flowing again and getting the windows uncovered, that is the thing that I am most proud of," said Davis.

"The public has not seen the building like this for 80 years. No one alive, other than the workers, has seen the building in 80 years without the temporary courtroom," said Davis, whose workers had to strip away three coats of paint on each side of the lobby windows to remove the impudent impediments to the building's original grandeur. .

"This building is all about light, natural light. There are very few light fixtures in the building," Davis commented as he pointed to the fact that he and his employees work until early in the evening without turning on a single light.

"I want it to be downtown's formal living room. I want it to be a gathering place," says Davis, who believes that the building is just warming up.

"This building was built when this country was very rich and architecture was an honored discipline. There was a real good quote from the Secretary of the Treasury at the time, 'We can use these post offices in small towns to inspire the citizens. We can put the most architecturally beautiful building in a community and hope that we can inspire the other citizens to build to that level,'" says Davis, who believes that the building was built to make a statement and still can.

"There will never be another one like this building. Even though I am the caretaker of it now, this building belongs to everybody. When you put yourself in that context, you can't really say that you own this building," Davis believes.

"My inspiration comes from thinking about the day when the folks we read about in the history books who built houses on Bellevue came through those doors. They did business down here. And, then there were people who were just regular folks and did business here at the post office," Jeff remarked.

Davis can even imagine the building being here after another 100 years or even a thousand years from now. He foresees, "There will be a day when school children will come here and be informed that once we sent paper to each other and we had to build these buildings to receive and route these paper communications."

"It's a special building. It holds a special place in people's hearts," Jeff Davis believes.

In particular, the building always reminds Jeff Davis of that unforgettable autumn day when his late father stopped in to pick up some shot gun shells to go on a dove hunt out a James Rawls' farm. It was that day, the very first day, when Jeff began to imagine his dream.


"Faith of His Fathers"

4696 Sundays and counting.

The first day in the 90-year life of Thomas M. "Jack" Key came on a Sunday, July 2, 1922 when "Brother Jack" Key was born to Morris Denton Key and Bertha Flanders Key.

"The most powerful influence of my life was my home, my mother and daddy," Key declares. His roots run deep into the communities around Adrian, Georgia. Among his ancestors he counts the Keys, Flanders, Sumners, Hightowers, Beasleys, Drakes and Smiths, all of whom have lived in the area for nearly two centuries.

"My mother had seven years of education. She taught school for a couple of years in a little school close to Poplar Springs Church," spoke Jack of his dear mother.

"Daddy had four years of education between plowings. He read a lot - history and Christian books - and could have gone to college. Many said he was the best man in Adrian," Key said of his father, who had never been any further away from home than Statesboro, that is until he went "over there" in World War I.

There was a strong emphasis on honesty in the Key family. "Don't lie for any reason" was the mantra of Morris Key and his brothers.

Morris Key operated Key's Café right smack dab on a corner in the middle of Adrian for nearly thirty years. Key, famous for his hamburgers, also served a plate lunch - a pork chop or a piece of fried chicken, served with two to three vegetables for a quarter or thirty-five cents.

"We sold ice cream, dipped ice cream (two dips for a nickel) and cold iced down drinks (we called them 'belly washers,)" remarked Key, who fondly recollected the day when Snickers bars were three for ten cents.

Jack Key's journey toward the ministry started out in a Boy Scout troop.

"We didn't have much leadership and we called it 'ABC,' Adrian Boy's Club," Jack Key recalled. Morris Key assumed the direction of and became the guiding force behind the group, which he took to grand old places like Mason's Bridge for camp outs.

The boy's club eventually became an evangelistic club. His brother, Billy Key, "Mutt" Moye, and some of the Gillis and Frazier boys would get up and testify about their faith. Although he never knew him, Jack's grandfather, Francis Key, was a licensed preacher. His Key and Flanders forefathers were known far and wide as being ministers of the Methodist faith. Jack, it seemed, was destined to preach and most importantly, teach the Gospel.

One of the most influential men in the young life of Jack Key was Prince Evans, a black man who worked for Tom Fountain. The Key family was not known as crusaders for equality among the races, but they possessed a deep and abiding love for many of the black families in Adrian. You can still see a tear in the corner of Jack's eye when he thinks of those grand old days, of Prince Evans, Levi Washington, Henry Jenkins, and the old black families like the Fords, whom he came to know and to love.

"That was a special place to us. Some of our first preaching was when we would go down there and especially on Christmas," reflected Jack of the days when he and the boys were 12 and 13 years old and preaching sermons. Professor "Fess" Stephens called the trio of Jack, Billy and "Mutt," 'The Three Young Divines."

First licensed to preach at the age of seventeen in mid summer 1939, Jack vividly remembers the day that the District Conference was held in the auditorium of Adrian school. When he was nominated and accepted into the ministry, Brother Jim "Shouting Jim" Smith, shouted down the halls. Morris Key acknowledged his son's honor with silent pride. Bertha Flanders Key, as the Flanders are known to do, let out a wild and loud "whoopee!"

One day Jack and "Mutt" Moye went down to a Baptist church in Covena. After sweeping out the goat pills in the unlit building, the teenagers held a revival.

"We baptized them in the Ohoopee River, which was close by. We didn't know we were something of a sensation. We thought they were coming to hear the Gospel and not to hear us," Key remembered.

In his younger days, Jack would go down into the woods to study. He didn't take his Barclay's Commentaries with him. Instead he turned inward as he looked outward and upward for guidance and inspiration in formulating his messages.

Then came World War II. Both Jack and Billy felt guilty about not serving in the Armed Forces. Key believed "Uncle Jack" Avery sheltered them from military duty. There were times when people around town and even in Dublin yelled "draft dodger!" Jack went on to college at Young Harris for two years and then more years at Asbury College. Billy, too, went on to college.

"I tried to go into the Navy as a chaplain, "Mutt" Moye did," Key expounded. But the man in charge of the board told Jack that he didn't want him wasting his time, that he was still in the seminary and he wasn't qualified for the service.

In the end, maybe God was just saving both Jack and Billy for greater things to come.

"I was playing first base in a college softball game when I let a warm-up throw get by me. It rolled to the fence, right to her feet. As I picked up the ball, I looked into the bluest eyes I'd ever seen," reminisced Jack of the day he first met the dearest sweetheart of his life. A year and a half later on December 12, 1947, Jack, the President of his senior class, and Ruthanne Shockley, the beautiful blue-eyed orphan from Greentown, Indiana, were married. This year they will celebrate their 65th anniversary.

"She has listened to the same sermons over and over, taught Sunday School, sung in the choir, held offices in the United Methodist Women, prepared countless meals for covered dish suppers, been a volunteer for all kinds of community service, been a wife, homemaker, seamstress, and a piano player," wrote Key of the greatest friend and supporter in his success as Methodist minister.

Jack Key's first regular assignment to a church came in 1947, when he was assigned to Piney Mount Church in Washington County. First ordained a deacon and on probation for two years, Jack was prohibited from serving communion or performing baptisms.

"I broke the rules a time or two, but I believe Christ would have wanted it that way," Key chuckled.

In five years, Jack Key served four circuit churches with 600 total members. The revivals then were both spiritual and social. People from all over Washington County, including Baptists, would come and fill the churches.

The Keys transferred to Hillcrest Church in Macon, when it was built. In his five years there, the membership grew from 150 members to 500. Jack Key left Macon for the first time to serve in Nashville, Georgia and then to Cordele, Georgia until his assignment at Porterfield Methodist in Albany, once the largest church in the South Georgia Conference.

Jack Key became a highly sought after minister, going to Vineville Methodist in Macon and Wynnton Methodist in Columbus, before coming to First Methodist in Dublin and closer to home. Jack Key officially retired from the annual conference twenty-five years ago, but his ministry has never waned.

If you ask, he will tell you that at the top of his highlights of his career is the trip that he and Ruthanne took to China in 1988. The Keys were there teaching English to the Chinese and sharing the Gospel when the incident at Tiananmen Square forced them to leave. There were trips to Mongolia and South America as well. He will also tell you that he is proud of obtaining a Doctor of Divinity Degree, though he has never sought out a higher office in the church hierarchy. In fact, he avoided it, leaving such duties to his brother Billy instead.

Jack quickly realized that it is also the little things that make his ministry rewarding. Key points to his experiences with Alcoholics Anonymous while he was in Albany.

"In Albany, I was thrown in with them, but I liked their openness," declared Key, whose experiences with these men helped him in his own ministry and taught him that we should all be kind and compassionate toward people who have problems instead of vilifying them.

"Brother Jack" will readily concede that he is no one special, but he is grateful that he has been given certain precious gifts, the gifts of caring and wisdom. At somewhere around 1300 funerals and up (only the late Rev. Claude Vines (2000+) has more,) Jack Key has officiated at more funerals than any other minister in our area.

"I have seen some very awful things, suicides and early cancer," acknowledged Key, who doesn't seek out preaching at funerals.

"I see myself as belonging to something bigger than the church and that is to just be a friend," commented Key on his role as minister. Key confesses that he was not always clerical, but always tries to be caring.

After completing a long term at Evergreen United Methodist Church last month, Key agrees that he is now retired, if only officially and as of right now. As one of the longest serving ministers in the history of the South Georgia Conference at 73 years and counting, Key isn't slowing down yet. He is filling in at Dudley Methodist and looks forward to teaching Sunday School to the Progressive Class at 1st Methodist, Dublin.

"If folks want me, I can be fulfilled by teaching and speaking to groups," Key says.

It is a difficult choice, but when asked what is favorite Bible verse is, he points to the 92nd Psalm which says in part, "The righteous will flourish like palm trees and they will bear fruit in their old age and remain fresh and green."

He can't tell you a favorite hymn. There are too many. The old ones, the Charles Wesley songs, are among his favorites. There are nights when he closes his eyes and harks back to the days of his youth when he would spend the night with his grandmother, Elizabeth Sumner Key, who would sing songs about how beautiful Heaven must be "In the Sweet By and By." He also thinks of the classic, eternal words of John Newton's "Amazing Grace."

"In this part of the country, people do pray for you all over and you are amazed that some things do happen as a result of those prayers," says Key who is continually amazed by God's grace and the power of prayer.

As for miracles Key asserts, "You don't park your brains when you become a Christian, but there are things we can't explain and some are unbelievable." Jack Key has seen his share of miraculous things, but he doesn't depend on them, but neither will he deny that miracles do happen.

To Jack Key, there are basic principles we all should adhere to.

He says, "Keep up your daily devotions and witness to your faith by using words and without using words. Use words and be kind. Look for those opportunities and take little or no credit for it."

"The miracle is that God became a man and the word became flesh - the human Jesus, the Jesus of the four Gospels. I don't know how you could have a higher aim than to be a human Jesus," Brother Jack proclaimed of what has become the most paramount and appealing goal in his and our lives.

In his sermon, "Words To Live By," "Brother Jack" speaks of four simple words; attitude, gratitude, fortitude and rectitude. If you haven't heard it, ask him about them. If you have, consider them.

"It is an incredible blessing for Mrs. Ruthanne and 'Brother Jack' to get old together, most people don't get old together," says Key of his wife. He doesn't forget his gratitude for his three children, 13 grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.

"It has been a great journey and it has been a wonderful life," Key gratefully acknowledged.

Now a nonagenarian, Jack Key keeps on going. Driven by his enduring faith and aided by his devoted wife, exercise and moderate eating habits - he will occasionally order a sausage biscuit at McDonalds,- Jack believes it is a mistake not to have things to do.

One of Jack's fellow McDonald's Breakfast Club members expressed it best, "Jack Key is everybody's preacher." Key is a regular speaker at community events and at churches of all denominations.

"Mamma was a dyed in the wool Methodist, but all Daddy wanted for us was to be a good Christian," Jack will let you know.

In his book "Down This Road, A Long Ways Together," Jack Key recounts many of the important events, people and places in his long journey which began on that Sunday, nine decades ago.

When Jack Key's name is inscribed in the "Lamb's Book of Life," it will be noted that it was the faith of his fathers and his love of both friend and foe, which led him on to preach love with kindly words and that he lived a virtuous life.

It is His amazing grace that has brought Jack Key safe thus far, and His grace that will take him home. Today at ninety and with more than 10,000 sermons behind him, Jack Key has no less days to sing God's praise than in that hour when he first believed.



Show Me the Money!

Willie Bomar was dying. She got the cancer. She wanted her $65.78, and she wanted it, "now!"

Willie Melmoth Bomar was born in 1894 to Dr. Elisha Pinckney "Pink" Bomar and his wife, Ella Tallulah Lane. Dr. Pinckney removed himself and his family to Tattnall County before the turn of the 20th Century. Dr. Pinckney was active in his community, serving a term on the school board and once placing himself as a candidate for the Georgia Senate.

Willie and her older sister Ethel grew up in a somewhat happy home. All of that ended in 1918, when their father found himself embroiled in a difficulty in Lyons with A.S. Mosely and his sons, G.G. Mosely and Howell Mosley.

The elder Mosely fired his shotgun twice and his pistol three times at the 52-year-old physician, who turned and walked away from his aggressors. Just as the doctor was walking away, dozens of bystanders witnessed the Mosely boys firing shots directly into a lung of Dr. Bomar, resulting in his swift death. The murder case against the Moselys was transferred to Jefferson County Superior Court in Louisville, Georgia, where it resulted in a hung jury.

Life for the Bomar women had to go on. Ethel taught music and Willie, a graduate of Georgia Normal and Industrial School, taught domestic service in the local school in Lyons.

Eventually, Willie wanted to do more with her life. So she moved to New York, where she obtained her doctorate in Philosophy from the prestigious Columbia University.

In 1931, Dr. Bomar published her first book, An Introduction to Homemaking and It's Relation on the Community. A second book, The Education of Homemakers for the Community was also published in 1931. In all, Willie Bomar authored four books, including a 1937 book, which she entitled I Went to Church in New York.

It was just near the end of World War II when Willie Bomar began to notice something different about her body. Then came the devastating news. It was cancer and it was in her throat and her chest. Two surgeries followed and so did regular visits to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

It was in the autumn of 1948 when Dr. Bomar was asked by Wheeler County to teach on an emergency basis

The issue first arose at the end of the first term in 1949. The retirement board allowed Bomar to keep her contributions to the retirement fund. Then after a secret meeting, one which Bomar was not allowed to appear, the board reversed its position and took her $65.38 away.

Dr. Bomar kept her 10:30, Memorial Day appointment with J.L. Yaden, director of the retirement system of Georgia. Yaden maintained that since the $65.78 had already been deducted from her check, any refund was out of the question unless she resigned her position with the Wheeler County school system. That would mean that she would lose the excessively pitiful, but normal monthly salary of $198.00, which included a $33.00 supplement for teaching home economics. Remember, this was a teacher who held two masters degrees (in science and arts) as well as a doctorate degree in philosophy.

"I'll take mine now," Dr. Bomar, her voice weakened from the paralyzing effects of her throat cancer, told Yaden. She reiterated that the state deducted her portion of her retirement benefits out of her "puny" salary without consulting her. And, to make things worse she would have to wait to die to collect it.

"It's a preposterous thing they are trying to do to me. They want me to wait until I'm dead with old age to collect it. Well, I've got cancer. I need the money for treatment. And, cancer won't wait," cried Willie.

It was Bomar's position that since she had been hired by the Wheeler County school board as an emergency teacher, she was exempt from paying any retirement contributions.

Yaden called Superintendent T.C. Fulford, who reluctantly agreed to terminate the contract of the esteemed professor. That's when Willie Bomar had to make snap decisions.

"I am resigning under protest, but that is all I can do," she lamented.

Delayed and denied at every turn, Dr. Bomar decided that only a drastic tactic would work. The vibrant home economics teacher vowed to stay in Yaden's fourth-floor office until she achieved her modest demand or die right there in the office from the cancer which she knew was rapidly killing her.

Yaden walked out, leaving the dark-haired, matronly school teacher, dressed in her best blue dress sitting there in anger and disbelief, as she shouted, "I protest! I protest!"

A comfortable sofa in the ladies lounge would be her home until Yaden and his board surrendered or she died on the spot, whichever came first.

Not all people defended Willie Bomar's stance. The editor of the Dallas Morning News called her demand for benefits "shameful under the guise of liberalism and social progress."

Others, were more than sympathetic. Custodian C.C. Lord, himself laboring at the lower end of the pay scale, brought Ms. Bomar hot cups of coffee and sandwiches during the night. Encouraging newspaper reporters furnished Coca Cola and Hershey bars to aid the embattled teacher in her fight for right.

After 53 hours of waiting and most likely a call to or from Governor Herman Talmadge, a native of adjoining Telfair County and a politician who championed the cause of the common man, Yaden approached Dr. Bomar and informed her that the board had agreed to her demand.

A swarm of newspaper reporters and photographers barged their way into Yaden's office. With cameras flashing, Bomar triumphantly smiled as Yaden signed her highly coveted check.

"I won! I got my money! It was worth it," Bomar exclaimed.

"I won," said Yaden, who felt that negative feedback from unfavorable nation wide coverage of the impasse was not worth maintaining the state's rigid and unpopular stance.

Straining to get her words out, Willie Bomar was still thinking about teaching again, probably outside of the state somewhere. Writing or editing was also a possibility. Willie bought a train ticket and headed for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota

"I want to pay instead of saying I am too poor. I've been teaching school in Georgia," Dr. Bomar proclaimed.

Upon her arrival at the Mayo, Willie offered herself as an experimental patient at the University of Illinois for betatron cancer treatment. She told the press, "the situation appears to be out of control."

In the end, Willie Bomar was right. She died in 1950. Willie never wanted to accept charity and wanted to pay her own debts. Her perseverance paid off when the mighty State of Georgia backed down and showed the money to this little ol' school teacher from Glenwood, Georgia.


The Great Gastronome

Ebb Floyd wasn't exactly a big, fat man. Few people in his day were fat. But ol' Ebb could eat. There was no one around who could eat more and eat faster than this ravenous tenant farmer from the heart of Georgia. This short, stout, and merry gastronome had a sweet tooth for his favorite foods sweet potato custard pies and sugar cane.

It was just before Thanksgiving back in 1888 when Ebb Floyd found himself at a log-r0lling contest. After the competition was over, the participants set down for a tasty supper. To finish off the grand meal, fifteen custard pies were set out. Everyone knew that the sweet potato desserts were among Floyd's favorites. So, one man dared Floyd to eat half of them.

The pie afficionado accepted the challenge, vowing to swallow at least ten of the orange pies. Floyd encircled himself with ten succulent sweet potato pie plates and commenced to move in a clockwise direction. One down, then two, then three, four and five. Ebb kept on stuffing them down. Six down, seven, eight gone, nine and then ten pies gulped. The crowd roared!

The last five were put in front of him. Three were devoured in short order. That's when the agony began. The last two eventually found their way to the bottom of the big eater's belly. Ebb Floyd received no award that evening, other than winning the bet and winning it big, not to mention stuffing his belly full of his favorite food.

A few weeks later, Ebb accepted another good opportunity to stuff himself. Not to be outdone, Ebb set his sights on a Thanksgiving feast. After downing a stomach- stuffing dinner of Thanksgiving turkey, dressing and the traditional fixings, Floyd ventured over to a neighbor's house for a cane eating contest. Ebb knew that he was not going to be able to move at all after the end of the gorging, so he planned on finding a soft spot and collapsing onto it.

Word of Ebb's ravenous eating skills brought out a large audience to see just how much sugar cane, the master feaster Ebb Floyd, could eat at one sitting. As a less than satisfying appetizer, the gobbling glutton consumed fourteen stalks of sugar cane. Then for supper, Ebb nearly got his fill consuming an old fashioned Thanksgiving supper, complete with possums saturated with thick gravy and complimented with dozens of sugary yams.

To make things interesting, the host announced a cane-eating contest and invited all comers to sit down and chew as many stalks as they could. To make things more interesting, a school teacher spoke up and suggested that the contest be one of speed more than endurance. And, to make it more interesting, the teacher proffered a wager that Ebb Floyd could not chew three stalks in under ten minutes. Ebb, a ceaseless gourmand, readily accepted the bet.

The teacher, attempting to hedge his bet a little, picked up three nice-sized stalks, laid them out in front of Ebb, pulled out his watch, and announced it was time to begin. Ebb took only five minutes to chew, chomp and gnaw two stalks into mush. Already feeling the pains of his previous meals that day, Ebb picked up his pace. The third and final stalk succumbed in a mere two minutes.

Then, that's where the fun began. Gamblers conceived of more and more interesting wagers to test Ebb Floyd's inherent ability to eat well more than the average man. With the debate as to Floyd's ability to rapidly chew sugar cane settled, an observer offered to wager, two to one, that the exceptional eater could not swallow a quart of sugar cane juice without taking a breath. Ebb grabbed the jug and chugged it's contents down in less than sixty seconds. To prove his point and double his winnings, Ebb guzzled an extra pint of the nearly pure sugar liquid just for good measure.

Still there were those who believed ol' Ebb could drink still more. A smaller sugar cane mill was brought in. Twenty stalks were run through the hand cranked mill, generating three more gallons of juice. He guzzled it all down. To top off the day of frequent feasts, Ebb Floyd vowed that he would take the twenty smashed stalks and eat all of them before retiring to bed. Another wild roar went up in the room. Vowing not to even show an effects of his daily dessert, Ebb sat down next to his last few morsels of the day. Howling doubters couldn't leave without satisfying their belief that no one man could eat that much in a single day.

Ebb opened his mouth and began to chew. One stalk of cane after another was slowly and methodically stripped of it sheath and leaves. The pile of remnants began to grow as the pile of the remaining stalks diminished at the average rate of one every three and one half minutes. Finally, the astonishing eating exhibition was over.

Ebb Floyd was hailed as the hero of Twiggs, much in the same category of generals, governors, and politicians who have hailed from the nucleus of the Peach State. Those who once doubted Floyd's superior eating ability sent out the word far and wide, that Ebb Floyd could out eat any man in the country, no matter what the food may be.

After his few fleeting moments of fame, Ebb Floyd never appeared in the headlines of newspapers around the country as he did in those days of that November when he was one of the world's greatest gastronomes.



He was big and tall - as strong as man could come. He could knock down any tackler, blast a baseball way out of the park and stuff a basketball into the net. Joshua Crittenden Cody had already proved himself as a three-sport athlete. It was time to prove himself as a coach. But, before taking the reigns as head coach of Mercer University’s football team, Josh Cody put his baseball uniform on one more time to lead the Dublin Irishers to a successful, albeit short, season in the summer of 1920.

Joshua Crittenden Cody was born on June 11, 1892 in the Nashville suburb of Franklin, Tennessee. At the age of twenty-two, Cody, a son of self employed house painter James Cody and his wife Elizabeth, enrolled in nearby Vanderbilt University and joined the football team. You see, although he was a grown man, Josh Cody was a very big man, as tall as 6'4" and weighing 220 pounds or more, characteristics that would have made him a giant in his day.

Cody, playing tackle on both sides of the line of scrimmage, made his mark early when in his second game, drop-kicked a 45-yard field goal against the always powerful Michigan Wolverines. Later that year, the towering tackle dropped back into the backfield and threw a 12-yard touchdown pass against Virginia.

The Vanderbilt Commodores reversed their fortunes in 1915, going 9-1. Cody, a big part of the team’s turnaround with his powerful blocking and quick tackling, earned his first selection to the All American team. Cody and the boys from Vandy (7-1-1) posted another fine season in 1916. Once again, Cody was named to the All American team.

The coming of World War I took Josh Cody away from football to serve his country as an infantry lieutenant. Lt. Cody took off his Army uniform and put his football uniform back on for one final season in 1919. The Commodores lost only a single game. Cody topped off his collegiate career with his third selection to the All American team. He was one of the first and the very few persons ever to be named first team All American three times.

Josh Cody wasn’t just a superlative football player. His letterman’s jacket was covered with a lucky thirteen letters in football, basketball, baseball and track in his four seasons at Vandy.

“When I think of Josh in his college days, I get a mental picture of this great big fellow playing catcher in the spring and between innings running out beyond the outfield to throw the shot or the discus in his baseball uniform. He was unbelievably skillful and nimble for a big man in basketball, and in football where he’s a legend, said sports writer Fred Russell about Cody.

Mercer University hired the multi-sport star to coach their athletic teams beginning with football in the autumn of 1920. But before beginning his duties in Macon, the owners of the Dublin Irishers semi-pro baseball team hired Cody, along with then current Vanderbilt baseballers catcher Mims Tyner and third baseman Woodruff, to play on the team.

Cody did quite of bit of managing from behind the plate, catching the Irishers’ first game and garnering two of the team’s four hits in a losing effort against Millen. After going an outstanding 16-7 in five weeks of baseball, the Irishers surprisingly disbanded due to lack of financial support and attendance.

After several lackluster seasons at Mercer, Coach Cody was easily lured back to Vanderbilt as head basketball and assistant football coach under his mentor and former coach, the legendary Dan McGugin, on the gridiron. During his tenure at Vandy, the gridiron Commodores were just mediocre at best. Cody’s hardwood five (20-4) won the Southern Conference championship.

Clemson University was the next stop on Cody’s climb to the top of his game. In four seasons with the Tigers, Cody’s footballers never lost more than three games in a season, beating South Carolina four straight times and in the process, making Coach Cody the only Clemson coach with more than two seasons who never lost to their hated intrastate rival.

Josh Cody desperately wanted to return to Vanderbilt as the head football coach. He did return in 1931, but when another coach was chosen to lead the team, Cody looked elsewhere. His Florida Gators suffered through four losing seasons. Once again Cody was on the move.

The Tennessean wound up at Temple University in Philadelphia as line coach under Ray Morrison, the former Vandy alumni who had taken the head job at Vandy away from him in 1934. The highlight of his basketball coaching career (1942-1952) came in 1944, when Temple made it to the Elite 8 of the NCAA tournament. A football assistant, Cody became the university’s athletic director in 1952.

The unforseen resignation of the school’s football coach in 1955 gave Joshua Cody one final chance to coach football. His team lost every game.

Joshua Cody, known as “Big Man” to his friends and fans, was known far and wide as a champion eater. Fred Russell once said, “When he was at Clemson he had a contest with Herman Stegman, the coach at Georgia. Josh weighed about 260 then. He out stripped Stegman by 11 chickens. He wasn’t satisfied just to win. He just went on to a decisive victory.” Said Cody on the eating contest, “I got two chickens ahead of him early and just coasted.”

A teammate of Cody in 1919, Atlanta Constitution publisher Ralph McGill said about Cody, “He was a great big fellow and one of the most seriously dedicated fellows I’ve ever met. He was a farm boy and he didn’t have any polish but he was very honest and sincere. He didn’t have scholarship——we had none in those days——but he had a real job. He literally cleaned the gymnasium every day, cleaned up the locker rooms and the showers, and tended to the coal furnace after practice.”

Nearly two months after his death on June 17, 1969, Joshua Cody, along with Wilbur Henry, was selected as the tackles (both ways) on the All Time 1869-1918 Early Era All American NCAA Football team.

Cody was posthumously enshrined into the National College Hall of Fame in 1970 and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. He remains Vanderbilt’s only three-time (1915, 1916, 1919) All-American football player.

On a personal note, Coach Cody was my grandfather Howard Irving Scott’s football and basketball coach at Mercer University in the 1920-1 seasons. It will also be noted that a decade later, another quite legendary coach, Wally Butts of the University of Georgia, played for Dublin’s semi-pro team, only to see his season cut short when he injured his leg in the second game of the season.

But it was in those bright, warm, twenty-three summer days, the days of Joshua Cody, when Dublin’s baseball team was led by one of college football’s greatest linemen.


There is scarcely anyone around who hasn't heard the story of the RMS Titanic, which struck a North Atlantic iceberg a century ago today. Although many don't know the exact number of those who died that fateful April Sunday evening, the story has been told and retold in countless movies, books and television shows. What you might not know is that four of her passengers had ties to Central Georgia.

Linnie Futrelle never got over the news she received in her home in Adrian, Georgia, that her son Jacques was one of the 1517 souls who perished early in the morning of April 15, 1912. Futrelle and his wife May were cruising across the Atlantic Ocean aboard the unsinkable queen of the White Star Line. His mortal remains lie on the ocean floor among the layers of rock, silt, and the deteriorating hull of the world's most famous luxury liner, the H.M.S. Titanic.

His grieving mother, seeking closure to the death of her son, caused a marker to be erected to commemorate his tragic and noble death. You may have driven by the marker many times and never noticed it. This is the story of a man whose cenotaph stands in the cemetery of Poplar Springs Methodist Church, just east of Scott, Georgia. The marker reads, "Jacques, son of W.H.H. & Linnie Futrelle, Apr. 9, 1875, Lost on Titanic, Apr. 15. 1912, Who in the supreme test, proved himself. Nearly fifteen weeks later on July 28, 1912, Linnie Futrelle passed away into Heaven to rejoin her son.

Jacques Heath Futrelle, a native of Pike County, Georgia, grew up to appreciate literature. Jacques worked first as a printer's devil and then as Business Manager of the Atlanta Journal. He oversaw the establishment of the first sports department of the Journal. After his return to Atlanta, Jacques took the hand of the love of his life, the beautiful Lillie May Peel, in marriage on July 17, 1895. The Futrelles moved to New York, where Jacques became the telegraph editor of the New York Herald.

Futrelle left journalism to manage a theater in Richmond, Virginia. He began to write, direct, and act in plays for a couple of years before returning to Boston to work for the icon of newspaper publishers, William Randolph Hearst. What Jacques enjoyed most was writing - in particular, mysteries. His most famous work, "The Thinking Machine," was first published as a serial in "The Boston American." Futrelle is most remembered for his character of Professor S.F.X. Van Dusen, who was "The Thinking Machine." Professor Van Dusen's most well read case was "The Problem of Cell 13." Jacques wrote more than a dozen novels and even more magazine articles for leading magazines of the day, including The Saturday Evening Post.

In January 1912, the Futrelles traveled to Europe to promote Jacques' novels and to give him a change of scenery to write even more magazine articles. After, their vacation was cut short, the Futrelles gathered with friends to celebrate Jacques' 37th birthday before setting sail for the return trip to America the next day. Futrelle (LEFT)  never made it to bed that night, but was on time to board the world's greatest luxury liner on her maiden voyage. The H.M.S. Titanic was the pride of the White Star Line. She was considered to be unsinkable, the best passenger ship in the history of the World. He had just finished his last work, "My Lady's Garter."

As the ship steamed toward home, all was well. After a lavish dinner, the wealthy men aboard milled around talking about the issues of the day, the upcoming presidential election, the troubles in Europe, and so forth. Suddenly and without a solitary hint of a warning, the unthinkable happened. The ship struck an iceberg, which tore into her hull. Passengers felt a jolt, but were oblivious to their impending fate. Jacques and May were in their state room when they felt a slight concussion. Jacques had been complaining of a headache. May was reading a book. Presuming it to be a "baby iceberg," Jacques reassured May, "Oh, I guess it's nothing." May wasn't as positive. She ordered Jacques to go out to ascertain the true extent of what was happening. Within a few minutes, Jacques returned to inform her of the situation, which he believed to be of little consequence. A few minutes later, stewards knocked on the door with the grave news, the unsinkable ship was sinking. The couple got fully dressed and put on their ship supplied life jackets.

Jacques escorted May (LEFT)  to the lifeboat section, pleading for her to get aboard. She refused. Jacques coaxed her into the boat with the assurance that he would come along later in another boat, ignorant of the fact that there would not be enough lifeboats aboard to handle all of the passengers and crew. At the moment her lifeboat was about to be lowered into the water, May jumped out to find Jacques. May found Jacques down below the deck. He was standing with a group of gentlemen, who appeared unconcerned with their destiny. May and Jacques embraced for the final time. Jacques escorted May back to the life boats. He told her to think of the children. He convinced May that once the ship went underwater, that he could survive by clinging to the side of a life boat. May hesitated. The boat was about to leave the deck. Jacques screamed out, "For God's sake, go! It's your last chance, go!" May still lingered in anguish on the edge of the boat. An officer pushed her into the boat and to safety.


A Champion of Journalism, A Leader of Men

Hal Stanley was born with newsprint on his hands, serving people in his heart, and printer's ink flowing through his veins. From a little boy to a fully grown man, Stanley lived and breathed the business of publishing newspapers. After reaching the pinnacle of his success as the leader of the Georgia Press Association, Stanley channeled his efforts into helping his fellow man on a larger scale. It was a mission he pursued all of his adult life. And, he did it with incorruptible dignity, unparalleled compassion, and unselfish conviction.

Harris McCall Stanley was born on June 6, 1866. His father, Captain Rollin A. Stanley, served as a Captain of the local militia company during the Civil War. Stanley descended from Thomas McCall, Georgia's first surveyor general and a highly acclaimed master winemaker of his day. As a young boy, Stanley received the best possible education in a time when even the wealthiest of families in the area could scarcely afford for their children to attend higher educational institutions.

As a young man, Hal Stanley showed a keen interest in the newspaper business. As a printer's devil with the Dublin Gazette, Stanley started out as the lowest of the low, mixing inks and handing type to the printer. As a menial grunt, Hal Stanley was in good company with some of the most famous writers of his day, printer's devils like Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and Joel Chandler Harris. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were printer's devils too.

In fact, being in the newspaper business ran in the Stanley family. The elder Stanley brother, Ira L. Stanley began his newspaper career with the Dublin Gazette. He was one of the founders of the Dallas Evening Herald and other newspapers in Texas. Vivian Stanley started out in the newspaper business before becoming the postmaster of Dublin and finally serving several terms on the Georgia Prison Commission. Frank R. Stanley, the fourth of the Stanley brothers to work in the newspaper business, was the printer of the Gainesville News.

In the winter of 1890, Hal Stanley assumed the role as editor of the Dublin Gazette, Laurens County's first weekly newspaper. Hal Stanley was then about to marry Ethel Stubbs, daughter of Col. John M. Stubbs, who originally founded the Gazette in 1876. Hal was only twenty-three years old. Seven years later, Hal Stanley and brother Vivian joined to establish the Dublin Courier. In 1899, the Courier merged with the Dublin Dispatch to form the Courier Dispatch. In 1913, the Dublin Courier Dispatch merged with the Laurens County Herald to become the Dublin Courier-Herald, the first daily newspaper in Laurens County.

Stanley involved himself in the workings of the Georgia Press Association. He served as President of the organization from 1907 to 1909, after which he began a thirty-year reign as the association's executive secretary. For the last five years of his life, Stanley was honored with the title of Secretary Emeritus.

But Hal Stanley wasn't just a newspaper man. He was a public servant, philanthropist and military leader. Upon the organization of the Dublin Light Infantry in the early 1890s, Stanley was elected to a leadership role as lieutenant along the side of his brother-in-law, the popular five-term mayor of Dublin, Captain Lucien Q. Stubbs. In 1894, Gov. W.Y. Atkinson appointed Stanley to his personal staff. When Stanley moved from Dublin to Eastman, he joined the Eastman Guards, serving as the unit's captain. Before returning to Dublin, Stanley moved once again, that time to Savannah, where he served in the military departments of the port city.

Stanley, ingrained with the core belief that education was of upmost importance served on the Dublin City School Board for seven years, three of which were as its President. He was an initial member of the Carnegie Library Board and was influential in the effort to secure complete funding from industrial magnate and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.

As was the usual course of the day for erudite gentlemen, Stanley was active in many fraternal organizations. His fraternity of choice was the Knights of Phythias, in which he served in nearly every capacity including Grand Prelate and Grand Chancellor of Georgia (1914-1915). Stanley also proudly proclaimed membership in the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and the Improved Order of Red Men.

Perhaps Harris McCall Stanley's most important contribution of a lasting legacy to the State of Georgia was his election as Georgia's first Commissioner of Commerce and Labor. Stanley was elected in a special election on January 10, 1912 by a wide margin. It was the first time that a native of Laurens County was elected to serve in a state wide office. That honor has gone to two other men, Agricultural Commissioner Thomas Linder and Vivian L. Stanley, Hal Stanley's younger brother, who was appointed to fill out an unexpired term on the Prison Commission in 1928 and was reelected by a popular vote in 1934. From 1934 to 1937, when Hal Stanley completed his twenty four-year term in office, the Stanley brothers were the only brothers in the history of Georgia to serve in statewide elected offices at the same time. Mr. Stanley served in several positions in state and federal government, including the positions of fertilizer and oil inspector. In World War I, Stanley aided the war effort by serving as the head of the Georgia Division, United States Employment Service for the ceremonial salary of one dollar per year.

Hal Stanley took his role as the state's first Commissioner of Commerce and Labor seriously, very seriously. Stanley sought to rid the state of unconscionable child labor practices, except on the farms. Commissioner Stanley rationalized, "Labor on the farm, even by children of tender years, cannot be of harm. Work on the farm in general is not objectionable and is conducive to health and strength."

One of the biggest "hot button" issues of the year 1914 was the issue of censorship of movies. Stanley joined the movement to remove sex from the silent movies of his day. "Motion pictures have gone from bad to worse. They are becoming more coarse and more vulgar every year," Stanley proclaimed as he commented on the growing nausea among many movie goers.

Hal Stanley used his position as a platform to promote compulsory education laws and the establishment of vocational schools on the state level after Congressman Dudley Hughes, of Twiggs County, and Georgia's U.S. Senator Hoke Smith pushed a national bill through Congress in 1917.

After his retirement from public office, Hal Stanley served as Chairman as the Industrial Board of Georgia. In his lifetime, Harris McCall Stanley received many honors. In 1931, he joined Henry Grady, Clark Howell, and W.T. Anderson as inaugural members of the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame, preceding Ernest Camp, Ernest Rogers, and Madge Hilbun Methvin as Laurens County's members of the elite group of newspaper journalists.

Harris McCall Stanley died on April 25, 1944 in his last hometown of Decatur, Georgia. Stanley's contributions to his native Laurens County and to his native Georgia were beyond outstanding. Stanley seemed to keep politics out of his focus, and focused instead on what was best for the citizens of our state.


The War Years

On this day in 1764 in the British colony of North Carolina was born a general. Although he was widely heralded as an Indian fighter and brigade commander of the War of 1812, General David Blackshear of Laurens County rarely led his men into battle. Blackshear had seen war all too closely, watching his oldest brother James being killed by Tories during the American Revolution. This is the story of General David Blackshear, the soldier, planter, surveyor, and public servant during the years of the War of 1812.

Known to many as "The Second American Revolution," the War of 1812 began with a declaration of war by President James Madison on June 18, 1812 following a ten-year series of skirmishes at frontier outposts, impressment of sailors on the seas, and blockades of shipping. It was on the 4th of July in 1812, some three dozen years after America first declared its independence from the King of England that soldiers of the Georgia militia rendezvoused in Dublin to launch an attack on British fortifications in Florida, which would not become part of the United States until six years later.

During its regular session, the Georgia legislature on December 9, 1812, appointed David Blackshear to command the 2nd Brigade of the 5th Division of the state's militia. Dr. William Lee commanded the first division.

Blackshear's first known call to duty came in early August 1813, when Georgia governor David Mitchell wrote the general to move his brigade to the frontier and adopt measures to afford some security for the fearing inhabitants. Gen. Blackshear ordered Lt. Col. Ezekiel Wimberly to immediately man three forts: Twiggs, Telfair, and Jackson along the line of the frontier, then the Ocmulgee River. Blackshear ordered Col. Allen Tooke of Pulaski County and Major Cawthorn of Telfair to immediately do the same.

The General set out on a patrol to inspect the forts and reported back to the Governor, "I found the inhabitants in a high state of alarm - an immense number of whom had left and fled to the interior." Blackshear immediately began preparations to lay out an additional ten forts along the frontier, each manned by one subaltern, a sergeant, a corporal and fifteen privates and each approximately ten miles equidistant.

My mid-September, Gen. Blackshear reported that all threats of an eminent invasion had subsided, at least for the present. By mid-November, tensions along the Ocmulgee once again began to rise. Major General David Adams ordered Blackshear to send some of his best men to join a force of 157 men and to go out to the frontier to make improvements to existing fortifications and erect new ones and to report his activities to Major James Patton at Fort Hawkins.

On January 4, 1814, the newly elected Georgia governor Peter Early, a former judge of Laurens County Superior Court, replaced the ailing General John Floyd with his old friend, David Blackshear to command the army from Georgia in the lower Flint River region. Blackshear reported that a great number of his men were sick and that he needed substantial reinforcements to aid his 700-man force in guarding his forts and supplies, not to mention the effort to drive away the hostile Indians, all the Negroes, and the British forces at the mouth of Flint River.

Two years after the war began, Gov. Early reappointed Gen. Blackshear to command a brigade of first class militia along with Gen. Floyd. (LEFT)  Blackshear responded, "Sir, I am at all times ready promptly to accept that or any other appointment you may think proper to confer on me in which it is in my power to serve my country."

Just as was the case in previous Septembers, tensions along the Georgia frontier began to explode. Blackshear ordered several units to move out from Hartford, opposite present day Hawkinsville. Adjutant General Daniel Newnan informed Blackshear that 2500 men would be needed to support General Andrew Jackson, then in the vicinity of Mobile. Several units from Blackshear's command were detached for that purpose.

Ten days before Christmas, Blackshear and his brigade received orders to move from their encampment at Camp Hope, two miles north of Fort Hawkins on the Milledgeville Road in present day Macon, to Hartford and then to open a road to the Flint River, where he was ordered to erect fortifications. No one in Georgia even realized that the war with Great Britain officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve while Blackshear and his men were camping on the banks of the Ocmulgee.

Blackshear's men spent Christmas at Camp Blakely, two miles from present day Hawkinsville before moving west toward his objective on the Flint River. Blackshear reported that he arrived on January 6 "without forage and not many rations on hand." Blackshear continued his march, oblivious to the fact that two days later, General Andrew Jackson's command defeated the British at the war ending Battle of New Orleans.

With no instant communications informing him that hostilities had officially ended, Blackshear marched his men, many of whom were sick, south and west from their Flint River base. On January 14, Blackshear received orders to return to Fort Hawkins. Within a week, Blackshear was back at Fort Hawkins, where he begged Farrish Carter, of Baldwin County, to furnish him with 30,000 badly needed rations. Blackshear implored, "Our country is invaded; and I hope in God you will use every exertion in your power to facilitate the movement of the troops to check the insurrection and depredation that will ensue should we delay for want of provisions."

Once resupplied, at least in part, Blackshear began cutting a road down the northeastern line of the Ocmulgee and Altamaha. His destination was Fort Barrington on the Altamaha in McIntosh County. Along his line of march, Blackshear's men cut the legendary "Blackshear Road."

Reports of British activity around St. Mary's were coming in from many sources. One of those sources was J. Sawyer, possibly Jonathan Sawyer the founding father of Dublin, who reported that the British were landing on Cumberland Island. Sawyer wrote Blackshear concerning British atrocities and their movement toward Darien.

By February 4, 1815, Blackshear reported that he was some 132 miles from Hartford or just a few miles from Fort Barrington. Upon his arrival in Darien, David Blackshear reported, "We have been in a constant state of alarm, and the principal inhabitants, remonstrating against my leaving this station."

Just as he was making plans to move toward the enemy, General Floyd wrote to Blackshear, "The official accounts of a peace having been concluded between our country and Great Britain appear to have filled the hearts of the populace here (Savannah) with joy." And, just like that it was over. After formally winding up their affairs, Blackshear's men were discharged and went back their homes in East Central Georgia.

Thus ended the middle and most widely heralded chapter in the epic life of General David Blackshear - soldier, statesman and citizen. Blackshear returned to his Springfield home in Laurens County, where he spent the last twenty two years of his life serving the people of Laurens County and Georgia.



When he was 12, Quincy Trouppe used to hang out on Compton and Market Streets in St. Louis. He dreamed about the lucky days when he would race down the street and snatch up a ball flying out of Stars Park, where the St. Louis Stars of the old Negro leagues played. He redeemed those balls for tickets into the stadium to see his heroes play. It was his dream that one day he would be on that very diamond and other diamonds like it around the country. More than twenty years would elapse before black men would be allowed to play Major League Baseball. And, Quincy Trouppe was one of the first.

It was in the fading twilight of his illustrious baseball career that this Dublin man rose to the top of the game as the first African American catcher in the American League. But, all too soon, his life long dream turned into a disheartening nightmare when he was rejected by the game he loved so much.

Quincy Trouppe was born on December 25, 1912 in Dublin, Georgia. His family moved to St. Louis, Missouri before he reached the age of ten. At the age of 18, Quincy Trouppe realized his dream and began his professional baseball career with the St. Louis Stars in 1931. Over the next twenty seasons, Trouppe starred with the Homestead Grays, Kansas City Monarchs, and the Cleveland Buckeyes as well as a host of other teams in his eight seasons in the Mexican League.

Trouppe starred for the West team in five all-star games, four as a catcher from 1945 through 48. He managed the Buckeyes to Negro American League titles in 1945 and 1947 and one World Championship in 1945. After the 1936 season, Trouppe took off a year from baseball to box, having won a major heavyweight tournament title in 1936.

It was in October 1951 after returning from Mexico when Quincey got a call, one which would change his life forever, or so he thought. A bellboy in a hotel lobby in Caracas, Venezuela called Trouppe to the phone. On the other end of the line was Hank Greenberg, a former Detroit Tiger home run champion and a future member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Greenberg, a member of the front office of the Cleveland Indians, invited Quincy, who had another outstanding season in the Winter Leagues, to attend training camp with the Indians in the spring of 1952, sixty years ago this month.

"I was out of words," Quincy recalled in his autobiography, Twenty Years Too Soon. Greenberg offered Trouppe a minor league contract in Indianapolis But with the surprise proposal came an opportunity to make the big league team. It was the chance that Quincy Trouppe had been waiting for twenty years.

Excited to be in the big leagues, Quincy considered that he was in his best shape in many years. "No one who has ever broken into organized ball could have felt better than I did when I inked my name to that new Cleveland Indians contract," Trouppe wrote a quarter of a century later.

During spring training, Trouppe caught every third game and outhit the other two catchers, two to one. "I caught Early Wynn," a Hall of Fame pitcher, "for seventeen straight scoreless innings," he recalled. Trouppe also caught Hall of Famers, Bob Lemon and Bob Feller. Feller was considered as one of the greatest right-handed pitchers in baseball history.

In 1952, during the sunset of his career, Feller was beginning to struggle. Trouppe suggested to Indian fast baller that he develop a good change up and mix up his pitches. "I suggested this to Bob, and he pitched a shut out," said Trouppe, who never forgot the next day when Feller came up to him before the next game and said, "Quincy, you called a very good game yesterday. You used excellent judgment on the hitters, and you also knew how to use my most effective pitch. Keep up the good work."

It was on the last day of April 1952 at Shibe Park, home of the Philadelphia Athletics, when Quincy, wearing number 16 on the back of his gray flannel road uniform, played in his first game. At the age of 39 years, four months and five days, Quincey Trouppe became one of the oldest rookies in the history of baseball, a mark surpassed only by a scant few other older former Negro League stars.

Three days later at Griffith Stadium on a cool mid-spring Saturday in Washington, D.C., Quincy was catching when Indian manager Al Lopez, also a member of the Hall of Fame, called to the bullpen and signaled for Sam "Toothpick" Jones, Quincy's old Cleveland Buckeye teammate to come in to pitch in relief. Jones came into the game with one out trying to hold the Senators to a 5-4 lead.  (Left-Trouppe-Jones)

Whether anyone among the 10,257 paid fans in the crowd noticed it or not, with Jones' first pitch to Senator's outfielder, Sam Mele, Quincy Trouppe and Sam Jones became the first black battery in American League history. The historic event seemingly went unnoticed in the sports pages across the country. Several years earlier, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe, of the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League, became the first black battery in Major League history.

The American League record book was amended when the Indians tied an American League record when they used twenty-three players in a nine-inning game. After the game, Mele, who would pilot the Minnesota Twins to the 1965 American League Championship, was traded to the Chicago White Sox.

Trouppe was used sparingly, catching behind veteran Birdie Tebbetts, some six weeks older than Quincy and the decade younger catcher, Jim Hegan.

May 10, 1952 was a bittersweet day for Quincy Trouppe. For the first time in his major league career, Quincy Trouppe was a starting catcher in the major leagues. To make the game sweeter, Trouppe was playing against the Browns from his home in St. Louis. Early Wynn was pitching for the Indians, Tommy Byrne, a former Yankee star pitcher, for the visiting Browns.

Quincy came up to bat in the bottom of the third inning. He stroked his first Major League hit, a solid single to left, and scored his first major league run on Bobby Avila's single. It would be his last major league hit and his last major league run. It would be his last game in the major leagues.

In his ten-game stint with the Indians, Quincy, who got few opportunities to hit, posted a dismal .100 batting average, well below his .280 plus career average. Behind the plate, Quincy was as effective as ever, handling 25 chances without a single error and leaving the game of with a perfect major league fielding percentage.

While Quincy was working out the next day, he got a message to report to Greenberg in Manager Lopez's office. The news wasn't good. He was being demoted down to the farm team in Indianapolis. "This hit with such a force that I was speechless for a few minutes," Trouppe remembered. The veteran catcher spoke up in his defense that he felt he was being mistreated. Greenberg merely responded that the Indians felt that with him, they had no record to go on.

Quincy Trouppe became even more upset. During his 21 seasons in professional baseball, Trouppe had proven that he was one of the best catchers in Negro League history. He possessed a proven record of working with younger players and the game's greatest players as well.

Trouppe had caught some of the greatest pitchers in the game, including the legendary Satchel Paige and Dizzy Dean. He was once a roommate of Hall of Famer, Monte Irvin. Quincy played with and against many of the greatest players in the Negro League and baseball, period. His National League counterpart, Roy Campanella, had recommended him to the Indians.

Quincy Trouppe finished his career in Indianapolis before returning to St. Louis for a new life with his new wife, Myralin. Before the beginning of the 1953 season, the St. Louis Cardinals hired Quincy as a scout. Trouppe scoured the country for the best and most promising players.

Very quickly, he identified two outstanding young hitters and fielders. He began talking to the youngsters about signing with his team. Both were amenable and agreed to sign. But, when Trouppe presented his recommendations to the Cards' management, he was told not to offer the young men any contracts. The two men signed with other teams, one with Pittsburgh and the other with the Cubs. They were Roberto Clemente and Ernie Banks, two of the game's all time greatest players.

So you see this former Dublin man, who many regard as one of the best catchers in the history of the Negro Leagues, was denied the chance he so richly deserved. Nor was he ever praised by his team for his best two scouting recommendations, ones which were systematically rejected by his supervisors.

Despite the broken dreams and the missed opportunities, it was in the old days, his days, during the Golden Age of Baseball, when Quincey Trouppe, of Dublin, Georgia, was a shining star in a heaven of baseball greats.


Pioneers On A Submarine

When Leonard and Albert Rozar spent the days of their youth working on their father's farm in the Burgamy District of northwestern Laurens County, they never dreamed that they would spend decades serving as stewards and mess attendants aboard submarines and in other positions in the United States Navy.

The Rozars grew up in a time when the number of black sailors serving aboard sailing ships was systematically restricted and when the number of black submariners was even more limited. All of that began to change in the years leading up to the beginning of World War II.

It was in those days before modern, nuclear powered submarines patrolled the waters of the oceans of the world when these two Laurens County brothers, "Big Rozar" and "Little Rozar" became pioneers of sorts. The Rozars set the standard for longevity of a duo of brothers with each serving for three decades in the United States Navy.

In his definitive work, Black Submariners in the United States Navy, 1940-1975, Glynn A. Knoblock interviewed scores of African-American sailors who served aboard submarines. Two of those sailors whom Knoblock interviewed were Leonard and Albert Rozar, of Laurens County, Georgia.

Leonard Cicero Rozar, (LEFT) the second son of Monroe Griffin Rozar and Mattie Rozar, was born on the second day of July 1917. After the fall crop of 1939 was harvested and the winds of war began to howl out of Europe, Leonard Rozar traveled to Macon in the week after Thanksgiving to enlist in the Navy of the United States. Rozar was quoted as saying "No army for me. I'd heard devious things about them."

Rozar reported for duty at Norfolk. After undergoing the usual military training exercises, Leonard was assigned to duty as Mess Attendant, Third Class. Black sailors had historically been relegated to menial duty as cooks, stewards, and laundrymen for the crew and officers aboard submarines. Nearly all of the other submarine crewmen were white. Ironically by serving in close quarters with other stewards and white crewmen, these cooks and servants developed closer bonds with their crew mates.

Rozar left for duty in Pearl Harbor on the day after Easter in 1940. His first assignment was aboard the U.S.S. Plunger and later the U.S.S. Pollack, on which he served for the remainder of the year. Rozar joined, as a Mess Attendant 1st Class, the crew of the newly commissioned, U.S.S. Tuna, on the second day of 1941. A year later, the Tuna set out for Pearl Harbor, a month after the Japanese attack on the island base. Rozar's boat set out to patrol the waters of the East China Sea until it was assigned to the waters around New Guinea later in the year, 1942.

"I was a qualified sound man aboard (the Tuna), and my battle station was in the forward battery. I was on the standby sound gear, and also in the control room, ready to pull the demolition plug if needed," Rozar recalled.

Just days before Christmas, Leonard transferred to the U.S.S. Saury, on which he would serve until the last day of 1944. During his two years aboard the Saury, the sub saw little action except bad weather and broken equipment. Rozar recalled that he enjoyed being aboard the Saury. It was years later when he discovered that fellow Steward's Mate 1st Class, William Henry Cosby, was the father of actor Bill Cosby.

Rozar was promoted to Steward First Class and transferred to the U.S.S. Sailfish, which basically sat out the rest of the war in the Pacific, working instead as a training boat off the Atlantic coast of the United States.

Over the remainder of his 30-year career, Leonard Rozar served aboard the Sailfish, the Flying Fish, and the Chopper, before moving to New London, Connecticut in 1962. Rozar ended his career by serving as a Chief in Athens, Georgia, not far from home, and finally with a 20-month tour aboard the Cruiser Little Rock, an assignment which he did not care to have. In 1969, after three decades in the United States Navy, Leonard Rozar retired as a Senior Chief Petty Officer, the second highest enlisted grade in the Navy.

Leonard Cicero Rozar died on March 31, 2008 in San Diego, California.

Albert Rozar, (LEFT) the third son of Monroe Griffin and Mattie Rozar, was born in 1919. A highly gifted athlete in high school, Albert followed in his brother's footsteps when he joined the Navy on August 14, 1941. After attending boot camp at Norfolk and machine gun school at Mare Island, Albert Rozar reported for duty at Pearl Harbor. On December 11, 1941, as a late addition to the crew of the U.S.S. Gudgeon, Albert Rozar rode aboard the boat in the first war patrol of a U.S. submarine in World War II.

A transfer to the Pargo gave Albert Rozar more opportunities to come out of the galley for duty as telephone operator in the forward battery and when on the deck, the opportunity to man the 40mm guns. On his first patrol aboard the Pargo in the late fall of 1943, Rozar's boat was a part of only the second wolfpack operation by U.S. submarines. He remained aboard the Pargo, which sunk six ships, until the fall of 1944.

After leaving the Pargo, Albert Rozar was assigned to the staff of Commodore Charles "Weary" Wilkins on Midway. When the war was over, Albert was transferred to New London, Connecticut. In 1946, Albert reported for duty aboard the U.S.S. Segundo. Another year meant another assignment. In 1947, Rozar served aboard the U.S.S. Greenfish, which was one of the first submarines to receive personnel via helicopter from an aircraft carrier.

During the 1950s, Albert served aboard the Cobbler, the Shark, and the Orion. He equaled his brother's tenure in 1971, retiring as a Senior Chief Petty Officer.

The careers of Leonard and Albert Rozar spanned five different decades, three wars, and totaled sixty years of service in the United States Navy. They saw the roles of African-American sailors aboard submarines go from mess attendants and stewards aboard untested, relatively primitive submarines to respected positions as Senior Chief Petty officers and commissioned officers in the modern nuclear navy.