Yesteryear by Sammy Way: Admirers flock to see old azalea bush; nation's 1st draft begins in generation


75 YEARS AGO - 1945

March 30 - April 5

- Cpl. Robert T. Davis, son of Mr. and Mrs. R. T. Davis, was recently awarded the Bronze Star for heroic achievement in action. He was serving with the Fifth Army in the 178th Field Artillery battalion. He is a scout corporal. The award citation stated that Davis moved stacks of powder from the immediate vicinity of a fire that had been started by enemy shelling within an ammunition dump and extinguished the fire. He then assisted, under continued shelling, in moving the ammunition dump from its untenable position.

- Members of the Sumter Lions Club journey to the Shaw Field hospital where they met Major Champion Capt. Dorsey, Capt. Bowman and Lt. Starkey. The Lions were shown the modern equipment of the hospital and particularly the facilities for dealing with the convalescing soldiers, such as the miniature golf course, broadcasting station, voice recording machine, miniature chapel and movie theater, rug weaving, drafting and blueprint reading, clay modeling, physiotherapy, lounge and day rooms, musical equipment.

- Miss Mary Catherine Wells was promoted from ensign, U. S. Navy Nurse Corps, to lieutenant, junior grade. The promotion was effective March 1. She was a graduate of Tuomey Hospital, class of 1942. Upon finishing nurses' training, she did private duty nursing one year prior to joining the Navy in November 1943.

- Edmund, Clarence and James Gordon Gulledge, sons of Mr. and Mrs. E. T. Gulledge of Wedgefield, are serving their country on widely varying fronts. Lt. Edmund Gulledge Jr. is serving with the 342nd Infantry in France and graduated from Edmunds High School and finished his junior year at The Citadel, class of 1943. Flight officer Clarence J. Gulledge is serving with the 97th Bombing Squadron in Italy. He is a graduate of Edmunds High and was a sophomore at Clemson College, where he volunteered for the air corps. James Gordon Gulledge joined the Navy. He is an apprentice seamen and is in boot camp.

- The senior choir of Mt. Pisgah A.M.E. Church will present "The Message From the Cross" on Sunday evening. Miss Eunice Wilson, organist, and Jasper Slatter, director, have been making great preparation for this program, and the public is invited to worship Sunday evening.

- The giant azalea bush in the yard of the Hurst Funeral Home on Main Street was attracting its annual stream of admirers. The flame-colored azalea has been blooming in the spring for many seasons, for the plant is 90 years old, George Hurst Sr. noted, recalling that the locally famous shrub was purchased and transplanted from the courthouse grounds many years ago when it belonged to the Solomons home, then located where the courthouse now stands.

- J. Jeff Williams, well-known automobile and tire man, will become general manager of the B & H Service Stations Inc., effective April 1, it was announced today. Mr. Williams will become part owner of the business and will be in charge of the two stations, both of which have recapping departments. Mr. Williams was previously with the Dunlap Tire Co., having been with that firm for six years.

- American carrier planes sank or damaged 46 Japanese ships and 87 airplanes, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz announced as warships continued heavily bombarding Okinawa in the center of the Ryukyu chain, which Tokyo said was threatened by imminent invasion. Nimitz announced that 18 ships were definitely sunk, 13 probably sunk and 15 damaged in strikes ranging over much of the 700-mile-long Ryukyu Island chain and Kyushi Island, southernmost of the home islands of Japan. Kyushi and Honshu were also hit by substantial formations of Superfortresses flying out of the Marianas Islands.

- At exactly one minute before midnight this evening, Shaw Field officially became a Combat Crew Training School of the First Fighter Command of the First Air Force and receives the designation of the 139th Base Unit. Shaw's new mission will be the training of pilots for P-47 Thunderbolts, called the world's sturdiest fighter plane. The course here will be what is known as the basic phase of transition training. Classes will be composed of newly commissioned pilots from the AAF Training Command's advanced schools. While at Shaw they will receive two months of transition training in the Thunderbolts. Plans call for a two-class system, with a class graduating and another arriving each month. The first class of approximately 75 pilots was due to arrive April 10.

- Gus Pringle, Louis Bryan and Sonny Thorne were the winners of the YMCA free throw contest. Great interest was shown in the finals in each division. Gus Pringle in the midget division edged out Hugh Humphries with 22 out of 50 trials, or one more than young Humphries. In the junior division, Louis Bryan, with a score of 38 out of 50, was the high scorer of the whole contest. Ed Garris with 35 out of 50 was second in the junior division. In the young men's division, Sonny Thorne won, with 32 out of 50, followed with a four-way tie for second, with 31 out of 50 by Corky Lynn, Bobby Bessinger, Harry Stokes and Ernest Stroman.

50 YEARS AGO - 1969

Nov. 30 - Dec. 6

- Less than two weeks away is the Holiday House Tour sponsored annually by the Council of Garden Clubs of Sumter. This year marks the 19th such event; the tour has become the traditional herald of the opening of the Christmas season. Four homes will be opened to the public, and in addition, tea will be served to the tour guests at the Alice Boyle Garden Center on Liberty Street.

- Mrs. John S. Wilson presented a portrait of her late husband to Wilson Hall board of trustees chairman George James. The portrait of Wilson, who was instrumental in the founding of the institution, will be displayed in the school. "Without the early interest of people like John W. Wilson, it is likely that our school on Wise Drive would not be here." James also dedicated the school in the name of John Wilson during brief ceremonies at Mrs. Wilson's home.

- Men from 19 to 26 years old born on Sept. 14 who have last names starting with the letter J will be the first ones drafted next month under the nation's first Selective Service lottery in a generation. In less than an hour and a half, all 365 days of the year plus Leap Year's Feb. 29 were drawn at random from a big glass laboratory jar at Selective Service headquarters. The order in which they emerged determines the order in which men with matching birthdays will be called for the draft next year - or those now deferred or exempt - in any future year when they become "1-A."

- Carving open a football game and saying one thing or another was the reason for success is rather difficult to do. Doing so usually ends up in placing too much credit in one department. Edmunds' success over Gaffney can be attributed to a number of factors. For one thing, it was a concerted team effort.

- R.M. Moore and B.F. Myers hosted the Horatio Grange recently. Following supper, an installation service was held, with W.C. Boykin, past master, presiding for Sam Shirer. Among the officers installed by Mrs. S. G. Lenoir, secretary, were S.W. Shirer, William LeNoir, Beverly LeNoir, S. F. Smith, Marilyn Nunnery, Miss Annie Keels, Mrs. B. F. Myers, Mrs. LeNoir, D.I. McLeod, Mrs. Myron Lovering, Mrs. W. C. Boykin, Mrs. T. M. Moore, Mrs. C. S. James, Mrs. S. W. Shirer, Mrs. F. P. Alston, Manning Moore and Mrs. S. F. Smith.

- The 1969 annual Policeman's Christmas Ball will be held at the S. L. C. Shrine Club on U.S. 15 South. Providing music for the dance will be the Knights of Note orchestra of Shaw Air Force Base. Formal dress is optional.

- A Clemson Extension agronomist says one of the things a farmer can always count on is having a good crop of weeds. Cotton crops can fail, soybeans be hit hard by insects, the corn just not make it, but the weeds will keep coming. This little frustration for the man on the land was underscored by Dr. C. N. Nolan at the Florence session on pesticides. "We have plenty of weeds. We always do," he said. "As a matter of fact, I have never known a weed crop failure."

- Many long weeks of back-breaking labor which went into the preparation of Sumter Little Theatre's production of "Inherit the Wind" will culminate when the opening night curtain is drawn tonight. The careful attention to detail which has been stressed in producing the courtroom drama has resulted in a play which should captivate the audience in its realism and go on record as one of the theater's most ambitious undertakings.

- Bobby Richardson gave an inspirational and challenging address to members attending the American Legion Post 15 Annual Christmas Meeting and Ladies Night at the Legion Home. Richardson told members that "it is very late in our nation." He talked about the increasing rate of crime and the riots. He asked members, "What mark are you leaving on the young people you come in contact with?"

- Shaw's NCO Wives Club nominee for the title of TAC Military Wife of the Year is not only married to a sergeant - she's the daughter of a sergeant as well. Mrs. Harold H. Stiner - Barbara to her friends and family - is the wife of a staff sergeant, non-commissioned officer in charge of the base military suggestion program. Her father, SMSgt. James R. King, recently retired after 30 years of active military duty.

- North Vietnamese troops attacked a district town in the Mekong Delta, but 300 militiamen, police, civilians and government pacification workers repelled them and claimed 150 of the attackers killed. Field reports said 29 of the defenders were killed, 15 of them civilians, and an additional 50 persons were wounded, 30 of them civilians.

- A long and tedious battle for minor league baseball in Sumter finally ended as an announcement was made of a team for next summer. The Cleveland Indians' Class A franchise will be moved from Monroe, North Carolina, to Sumter for next season. It is a championship team to boot. The Class A Indians won the second half of the Western Carolinas league and then whipped Greenwood in the playoff for the overall championship.

25 YEARS AGO - 1994

Sept. 1-7

- A total of 11 candidates have filed for open school board seats in Sumter School District 2 and 17 - several seeking to fill the seats of two Sumter 17 trustees who've decided not to run again. Six candidates filed for three of seven seats open on Sumter 17's board. In Sumter 2, five candidates filed for four of seven trustee seats open. The remaining seats in both districts will be open in 1996.

- Odell H. Thompson, a deputy auditor for Sumter County, says that for her to do a good job, she has to depend a lot on her "family." Her "family," as she calls it, is her fellow Sumter County employees. Thompson says that in order to better serve the public, she has to listen to those employees almost as if they were her family. Thompson took Total Quality Management training, a course that Thompson and about 60 other county employees have gone through since the county officially adopted the program in 1992.

- You won't often hear Curtis Threatt speak with equanimity of a 28-12 defeat. But Hillcrest High School's head football coach saw enough good things in the Wildcats' loss to Hartsville in its season opener to take the edge off defeat. Hillcrest outgained the Red Foxes 194 yards to 149 and totaled nine first downs to the Red Foxes' four. "I was pleased that the mistakes we made were correctable errors," Threat said.

- Death: It's not just for breakfast anymore. Sumter Little Theatre proves the Grim Reaper's a great source of comedy in "Dearly Departed," this season's first production. David Botrell and Jessie Jones' play depicts a Bible Belt family forced to deal with the unexpected death of family patriarch Bud Turpin, who departs for another realm from the breakfast table one fine morning.

- Students and faculty at Sumter's University of South Carolina enjoyed a convocation ceremony complete with a bagpiper and a harpist to mark the semester that began Monday. The ceremony included a debate on the value of a liberal arts education vs. the practicality of a professional or technical education.

With earthmovers and bulldozers already hard at work, Textilease Corp. broke ground recently for a laundry that may eventually add 70 jobs to its Sumter operation. During the gold-painted shovel ceremony, held Aug. 18 at the company's plant in the Sumter County Industrial complex off U.S. 15, Textilease executives and county and city representatives teased each other about the long-awaited plant.

- The world moves so swiftly these days that a child can fall behind before he even starts first grade. In Sumter County, roughly one in three children is not prepared to read at grade level when he begins school. The Reading Recovery Program is one avenue to assist students to catch up with their peers.

- Football coaches often preach about the importance of playing good defense; Sumter High School coach Tom Lewis does, and it paid off against Aiken. The Gamecocks got touchdowns from both the offense and the defense en route to a 12-0 shutout win over the Hornets at Sumter Memorial Stadium. "I can't say enough about the way our defense played," Lewis said. "I really applaud them. We had a good defensive plan, as you can see."

- Among the hundreds of cardboard boxes filled with millions of needles and vacuum-sealed test tubes ready to be shipped all over the world, Gary Blakeman stands ready to face the future. "The medical business has been experiencing tremendous growth outside of the U.S.," Blakeman said. "We currently sell about 55 percent of our products inside the U.S. and the rest elsewhere. But as new markets emerge, such as China and Russia, we have to be ready to meet the demands of those markets."

- Sumter's Lathan Oil Co., which has passed through the hands of three generations of Lathans, just celebrated its 50th anniversary. General Manager Claude F. "Woody" Lathan III thinks the company's long success is because of the way the family has dealt with its customers. "When someone calls, I know who they are, what their first name is and usually what kids they have," said Lathan, who's 35. "Whether they buy 50 gallons of kerosene in a year of 1,500 gallons of fuel oil, we treat them nice because the only reason we're here is because of our customers."

- The Sumter Gallery of Art will open its 1994-95 exhibition season with the Sumter Artists Guild Annual Juried Exhibit. Sponsored by Harvin Choice Meats, the mixed-media show will remain in the gallery through Oct. 2. A reception, hosted by the Pilot Club of Sumter, will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. The public is invited.

- Sumter officials are considering improvements to the countywide 911 response line that will allow dispatchers to identify where the calls are coming from. Sumter Police Chief Harold Johnson said that even if a call is disconnected or a caller is unable to communicate because of an illness, an address from where the call is telephoning will appear on a computer screen in front of a dispatcher. Johnson also said the new system would be able to flash pertinent information about the individual or business.

- Sumter School District 2 trustees chose final names for the district's two new high schools: Lakewood High School, which will be built in the southern part of the county, and Crestwood High School,, to be built in the north. Trustees, in a preliminary vote in May, approved the Lakewood High name, but chose instead the name Brewington High School for the southern high school. The names then went out to the public for feedback. Apparently, the public wanted something different for the northern school.