Saturday, January 4, 2014
LASS O. MOSELEY
A Master of Many Trades
Lass O. Moseley's vocations numbered in double digits. A master of many trades, Moseley, a former Laurens County man, became one of the most popular men in Atlanta in the mid 20th Century.
At time or another, Moseley was a baseball player, congressional secretary, Army clerk, newspaper writer, radio station manager, Army officer, alderman, public relations officer, hotel manager, executive, tourism official and several other professions. And those were his day jobs. It would be as a manager of four of Atlanta's finest and most famous hotels that Lass O. Moseley would become a legend in Atlanta.
Lass Olen Mosley was born on February 1, 1894 in Johnson County, Georgia. Little is known of the early years of this son of William Moseley and Effie Virginia Page Moseley, "Lasso," as his friends called him for short, spent part of his youth in Wrightsville and later in the southeastern corner of Laurens County in the county line community of Orianna.
Lass Moseley was a pretty fair country pitcher in his youth. On August 5, 1912, Moseley faced fifteen batters from neighboring Rockledge The five-foot, six-inch tall, eighteen-year-old Orland pitcher, weighing in at 158 pounds, struck out fourteen batters without allowing a single ball to be hit into fair territory. Only two walks marred an otherwise perfect game.
At the age of 19, a still young Moseley helped organize a Temperance Union in Orianna to drive out the illegal sellers of whiskey and other demonic alcoholic beverages.
After attending Emory University, where he was inducted in the Pi Kappa Phi Honor Fraternity, Moseley accepted a position as the personal secretary of Congressman William Washington Larsen, Sr. of Dublin, Moseley served in that post until he entered the armed services during World War I.
Moseley, who desired to be a naval pilot in World War I, was assigned instead as Chief Clerk of the Adjutant General Department of the American Expeditionary Force. As an Army Field Clerk in France, Moseley received a citation from AEF Commander General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing for "Conspicuously meritorious and efficient service."
In 1920, Moseley, a renowned expert on the history of the game of baseball, played ball for the Thomson, Georgia entry in "The Million Dollar League," a loosely organized, independent league made up of teams from the Southeast. Superstars like Cy Young and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson made the jump to this league during its heyday. Moseley, an avocational golfer scored a hole in one in 1936.
Before leaving his position with Congressman Larsen, Moseley was elected in 1921 as the Secretary of the Kiwanis Club of Dublin, the city's first fraternal/civic club. He made his home in the capital city of Atlanta, a place more worthy of his immense personal talents.
Moseley, who had worked on the short-lived Dublin Tribune, took a position with the Atlanta Constitution, sometimes appearing as a writer, but primarily as Program Manager of the newspaper's radio station, WGM. WGM followed quickly on the heels of WSB, which was owned by the Atlanta Journal, a competitor of the Constitution in those days.
When Mr. and Mrs. George Pollock of Atlanta were trying to decide the name of their new boy, they chose William Grady Moseley, whose initials spelled the call letters of their favorite radio station. In the process they honored Moseley, who transformed the whole event into a photo opportunity to promote the station.
WGM went out of business within a year. Its owners donated the tower and equipment to Georgia Tech, leading the way for the university to take over broadcasting programs. Today, WGM, the second radio station in Georgia and one of the first in the South, operates under the call letters of WGST.
After moving to Atlanta, Moseley returned to the Armed Forces, joining the 122nd Infantry Regiment of the Georgia National Guard as a Captain. Moseley served in the Guard until the early 1930s. In 1927, Gov. L.G. Hardman named Moseley as an Aide de Camp and Colonel on his personal staff, an honorary position assigned to the closest friends and supporters of Georgia governors in the 20th Century.
Lass Moseley left the Atlanta Constitution in 1927 to accept a position as the Public Relations Officer of the Dinkler Hotel chain in Atlanta. He soon became the manager of the Ansley, one of the South's most popular hotels. Within six years, the popular hostelry manager was chosen by his Georgia colleagues as President of the Georgia Hotel Men's Association. Four years later in1937, the hotel managers of Atlanta selected him to lead their organization.
During his tenure with the twelve story Ansley Hotel, Moseley was elected as an alderman to represent the 6th District on the Atlanta City Council. His supporters urged that he be named as Chief of Police following his short term on the council.
In 1932, the owners of Piedmont Hotel hired Moseley to help manage their "New York" style hotel, which covered an entire city block.
After two years at the Piedmont, Moseley began a decade long tenure as the manager of the Winecoff Hotel. As manager of the Winecoff, Moseley was often called upon to help promote tourism in the city and in the state of Georgia as a whole.
On the fifth anniversary of the beginning of World War II and some two years after Moseley left the Winecoff, the grand building burned, killing 119 people in still the country's most fatal hotel fire.
Moseley left the Winecoff to manage the Henry Grady Hotel, whose Paradise Room was called the "Showplace of the South." The Henry Grady, a top gathering spot for Georgia politicos for decades, was built on the site of a former Georgia governor's mansion. Moseley managed the Grady Hotel until the mid 1950s.
He was often called upon by Georgia governors to serve on committees dealing with tourism in the state, heading one such organization in 1945. In the early 50s he was on a committee to explore the future use of Jekyll Island.
Lass O. Mosley died on February 12, 1962 in Atlanta, which was richer for his forty years of service to the capital city.