Tuesday, March 17, 2015

ANNE M. EVERLY


The First Lady of the St. Patrick’s Festival


On this 50th Saint Patrick’s Day of Dublin, Georgia’s 50th Saint Patrick’s Festival it is only fitting and proper that we take time to salute the First Lady of the Saint Patrick’s Festival. Although she was deservedly recognized by the Order of the Blarney Stone in 1978, this four-decade-long festival volunteer was never recognized as the Woman of the Year nor as the Senior Citizen of the Year.  As you will see, Anne Everly was the epitome of the old maxim, “Behind any great man, there is a great woman.”  

Anne Middlebrooks Everly’s immeasurable contributions to the Saint Patrick’s Festival began as a matter of coincidence.  Everly had just moved back home to Dublin to raise three small children.  Early in her career at radio station WMLT, a conversation about a Saint Patrick’s Festival began around the coffee table at the station.   

“Right from the beginning, she wanted to be a part of it,” said son Richy Everly.  “Mom was drawn to the idea, desperately wanting to be a part of community endeavors in her hometown.  She was even elected the historian of the festival before it started,” Everly recalled.

In explaining how the festival began, Anne Everly wrote, “The festival was born of a casual conversation in the coffee room of WMLT radio station.  The town’s name - Dublin - was a natural for a Saint Patrick’s festival.  The staff of WMLT set out to structure a festival that would bring fun to everyone, young and old - store up happy childhood memories - and give an identity to our town and county.”

WMLT approached Herschel Lovett, Bill Lovett and W.H. Champion of The Dublin Courier Herald to combine their media resources to found and fund a festival until the community itself could take over.

“The first two years of the festival stayed under the wings of its founders and all expenses incurred were paid by the founders.  Any monies made by clubs and groups sponsoring events stayed in the clubs’ and groups’ treasuries. The first festival’s twenty events were scheduled in the official ‘Calendar of Events,’ wrote Anne Everly.

The festival gave the hardworking single mother an outlet for social activities, including her favorite pastime, bridge. 

Daughter Kay Everly Braddy recalled, “For as long as I can remember, St. Patrick's Day and all of its festivities were a part of her life. She truly loved Dublin and wanted to give back to her community.”

Described as a determined woman, Kay stated that her mother, as one of the founding members of the St. Pat’s committee, was determined to do everything she could to make it the best it could be.

“The festival was her baby.  We used to tease her about all of the St. Patrick’s stuff she kept under her bed. Every March, she would drag it out and start working on it,” Richy fondly recalled.  

Everly asserted, “Based on what she did and what I witnessed, Mom dug into it and was all into what she did.”

In speaking of his mother, who served as a judge in many of the early parades and pageants,” Richly concluded by saying, “She loved all aspects of the festival and would be so proud to see how it has evolved over the last 50 years.”

Not one to claim the credit for herself, Anne wrote in her own history of the festival, “It would not be possible to mention all of the names of the many people who  have contributed to the success of the Dublin/Laurens Saint Patrick’s Festival over the past 32 years.  But there is one name we can’t leave out - Richard “Dick” Killebrew, Dick was WMLT’s news director and Morning Wake Up Man.”  

“Because of Dick, and the many others who have worked to support the Festival, we are still merry making and wearing the green,” she proclaimed.

Anne once wrote, “There is no other event in Laurens County that is as large and as far reaching in community involvement nor is there any other event that has been promoted with such success in a spirit of unity.”
In recalling her service to the festival, Kay Braddy said of her mom, “Many long hours were spent for many, many years as a member of the Order of the Blarney Stone to being in charge of the professional parade floats to serving as the historian. She enjoyed every minute she devoted to the festival and was determined to help make it better and better year after year. I'm sure one of her proudest moments was when Richy was crowned Little Mr. Dublin.” 

For four decades Anne Everly saved every scrap of paper related to the festival.  She was the Historian of the St. Patrick’s Festival from the very first day.  Those treasures were preserved by the Everly family, who donated them to the Laurens County Historical Society. 
Everly’s collection contains several large boxes of clippings, programs, photos, tickets and all sorts of ephemera of all that is Irish about Dublin.  The cataloging of the Anne M. Everly Saint Patrick’s Festival Collection has begun and any and all volunteers who wish to continue Ann’s project are asked to contact the Laurens County Historical Society at (478) 272-9242 or visit the museum at 702 Bellevue Avenue in Dublin.

In 1987, Anne Everly compiled a comprehensive history of the festival during its first thirty-two years.  It is published in the second volume of the History of Laurens County, Georgia.   

And on this Saint Patrick’s Day, daughter Kay can close her eyes and see her mom, who died in 2007,  as “she proudly dons her green blazer as she walks the pearly streets of heaven and shares stories of her hometown, Dublin.”

So on this day when everyone is Irish, it is my turn to salute my fellow historian.  Anne, along with Joann DiFazio,  was one of the first of the women who took little or no credit for the enduring success of the festival.  She was the first of the women who worked tirelessly behind the scenes while the founding fathers were lauded with plaques and awards.  She was Anne M. Everly, “the First Lady of the Dublin Saint Patrick’s Festival.” 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

CAROLYN JAMES



The Top Secretary of the Army

Carolyn James, of Adrian, Georgia, wasn't the first woman to join the Women's Army Corps during World War II, nor was she the first Georgian out of the some 150,000 women who volunteered to help the war effort in uniform.  But it was this patriotic granddaughter of the founder of Adrian, who made U.S. Military history twice in her 20-year career.

Carolyn Hauser James, a daughter of Thomas Jefferson James II and Inez E. Hauser, was born in Adrian, Georgia on January 21, 1910.  Her grandfather, Thomas J. "Capt. T.J." James, founded the town of Adrian in the 1890s as a base for his railroad, the Wadley & Mt. Vernon, and his massive farming interests.  Not long after her grandfather's death, the James family fell on hard times.  During the years before the Great Depression, Miss James and her family moved to the Miami-Dade County area, where Carolyn took a job as a stenographer in a law office and later in a hotel.
As a divorced mother of a son James Richard Owen, 14, Carolyn decided it was time for her to join the war effort officially.  So at the age of 35, Carolyn enlisted in the Women's Army Corps on March 23, 1945 in Miami.  In the late 1940s, Carolyn worked at Oliver General Hospital in Augusta, Georgia.
The Women's Army Corps provided valuable service to the Army in times of war and peace.  General Douglas MacArthur proclaimed that the WACs "are my best soldiers."  The general added, "They work harder, complain less, and were better disciplined than men." Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "their contributions in efficiency, skill, spirit, and determination are immeasurable."

As the country returned to war in 1950 in Korea, Carolyn and other stenographers saw an increased work load.  Carolyn was assigned to Tokyo, where she was given the task of devising a system to organize and file correspondence related to the truce meetings which were held in hopes of ending the war quickly.

In her position as administrative assistant to the G-1, Carolyn received the Brown Star Medal for meritorious service to the Far East Command headquarters.  The citation for the medal read in part," for devising an ingenious system of processing and filing high priority correspondence and expedient cross-indexing providing a chronological history relevant to the cease-fire armistice negotiations in Korea."

In the week before Christmas, 1952, James' meritorious achievements led her assignment by General James A. Van Fleet to his 8th Army headquarters in Korea.   Master Sergeant James, the first ever master sergeant in the United States  Women's Army Corps, was joined by Corporal Louise M. Farrell, of Billings, Montana as the first two members of the WACs to be permanently assigned to duty in Korea.

Carolyn James once told her family friends  that while in Korea, she was scheduled to receive the Bronze Star from General of the Army Douglas MacArthur.  She related that she wore her best uniform to headquarters.  Just as she was to enter the building, however, a bird left its droppings all over her uniform, leaving her with a dilemma - see the General in that state, or go back and change and risk being late.  She chose the former, which is perhaps why I never saw a photo of the ceremony, although her uniform blouse shows she wore the medal.

Carolyn, in a January 1953 letter to her cousins, Anne Laura Hauser and Melville Schmidt ,  wrote, "I was transferred to Korea on 18 December, after the Far East Command had made a thorough search for a WAC to fill the position of personal secretary to General Van Fleet, and finally decided I had the desired qualifications - although my tour was about up.  However, when they approached me, I volunteered to extend for six months.  Since there are no other WACs in Korea, Eighth Army recommended that I bring another for company, so I chose a girl who had court reporting experience.  We had the honor of being the first two WACs to ever be permanently assigned to Korea's combat area." 

"Of course, everything considered,  Public Information Office and the other publicity media decided it was good material for WAC recruiting purposes, so for one week prior to our departure, we were constantly being photographed - motion and still; televised, and radio interviewed   Then we were flown over in a special mission B-17, " James continued.

"We were cordially received by all in headquarters here.  They have really done everything to make us comfortable and happy.  We're billeted in a senior officers' billets , which had a portion of the second floor allotted to female personnel - Red Cross workers, the Chief Nurse of the Eighth Army, and us.  We eat our meals here in headquarters in a little spot right outside the kitchen of the Army Commander's mess," the revered sergeant said. 

Sergeant James stated, "My duty hours are quite long -- from 0800 to 2100 and sometimes 2200 (9:00 and 10:00) at night.  However, movements are so restricted and the working conditions are so pleasant, it isn't too bad.  We have a little Korean house girl who takes care of our clothes, which gives us added freedom from outside chores."

With fond remembrances, the Adrian native recorded, "I have certainly enjoyed my short tenure as General Van Fleet's secretary, for he is without doubt one of the finest men I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  He is a superior field commander, American and humanitarian, and is respected and admired by everyone - Koreans included." 

In summarizing her war experience, Sergeant James stated, "The devastation and misery in this country as the result of this war is indeed heart-rending, but there is much evidence that our government and its people are doing everything possible to alleviate much of the suffering.  Aside from the many government-sponsored welfare organizations, every military unit (including the front-line units) has its own welfare program in the form of aid to orphanages, hospitals, etc.  It certainly increases one's pride in his country and its people to see such a genuine display of generosity toward those less fortunate." 

Carolyn's time in Korea was short as an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953, although a 1963 Colorado Springs Gazette article stated that M. Sgt. James has gone to Korea six months before hostilities began in 1950. 

James was assigned as Chief Clerk of the General Staff office at  ARADCOM Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado in the summer of 1956.  In her seventh and last year at ARADCOM, James served as Administrative Officer of the Training Branch, G-3.

With the passage of The Military Pay Bill of 1958, Congress added pay grades of E-8 and E-9. With the new law in effect.  Carolyn H. James became the first in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) promoted to grade E-8, making her the first WAC promoted to master sergeant (or first sergeant).  It was during her tenure in Colorado Springs when Master Sgt. James was promoted to Sergeant Major (E-9) making her the first woman in the history of the United States Army to hold that esteemed enlisted man's rank.  

In 1963, Sergeant Major James was awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a second Army Commendation Medal.  She was assigned to the Women's Army Corps School at Fort McClellan, Alabama.  A second Oak Leaf Cluster was awarded to before her April 1965 retirement ceremony.   

Carolyn James lived for nearly two and one half decades in Colorado Springs following her retiriement after twenty years of service to the Army.   Sergeant Major James died on May 8, 1991 in local hospice.  

And thus the story of the determined and patriotic lady from Adrian, Georgia, who grew up to serve the country as the top secretary in the Army. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

MATTIE HESTER


MATTIE GET YOUR GUN
The Story of Mattie Hester

Mattie Hester was a combination of Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane and a pony express rider. A headstrong woman in a male dominated world, Hester could hold her own with the strongest of brutes. This is a tale of one remarkable woman and her brief moments of fame. Martha "Mattie" Hester was born about the year 1868. Her parents, John and Mary Hester, lived in the southeastern part of Laurens County on the east side of the river in what is still known as Smith's District.

Mattie grew up in an era when mail delivery was intermittent and slow. Condor was established as a post office in 1878. Two years later, an office was established further south along the River Road at Tweed. Most of the mail coming into Laurens County first came into Dublin for distribution to other places throughout the county. It was about 1890 when Mattie was given the job of carrying the mail from Dublin to Condor where she began her route. From Condor, she traveled south three days a week along the Old River Road to Lothair in what was then Montgomery, but which now lies in Treutlen County.

Female mail carriers were rare. The forty-five-mile route was often isolated. Any miscreant looking to steal cash or a valuable document could easily rob a carrier along the road. But Mattie would not be deterred. She hitched a Texas broncho to her small road cart to allow her to outrun any thieves. Her horse, faster than a hemidemisemiquaver in a John Phillip Sousa march, never failed Mattie.

She always got the mail to its destination on time or well ahead of its scheduled arrival. If she was accosted, Mattie was as fearless as anyone. To insure her safety, she carried a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver in her side pocket. Mattie was considered a crack shot, and no one who knew her would ever contemplate trying to take any mail or in anyway impede her delivery schedule. Lacking no doubt about her ability to defend herself against any highwayman or tramp in her path, Mattie Hester held little respect for members of her own sex who feared to venture out into public without an escort.

A prime example of Mattie's determination occurred during a winter rainy spell. After nearly a week of constant rainfall in the summer of 1890, the creeks and streams along the mail route had swollen beyond their banks. Messer's (Mercer's) Creek, which serves as the boundary line between Laurens and Montgomery (now Treutlen) counties had become a raging torrent. The long bridge, usually dependable for most crossings, was in danger of being swept away at any moment. Its abutments were already gone. Upon her arrival at the bridge, Mattie surveyed the perilous situation. Recognizing the danger ahead, but acknowledging the necessity of the mail being delivered, Mattie decided to plunge ahead. "If there is any possible chance to cross, I intended to cross, even if I have to swim," said Mattie. Mattie whipped the hind of her trusty bronco and plunged into the turbulence. Her horse found itself tangled in a patch of vines in five feet of water. Instinctively Mattie cut the helpless horse from its harness. Battling shoulder deep raging currents Mattie persevered, all the time dragging the cart until she could reach the bridge which by then was cover with water itself, but still standing. She managed to make it across and did her pony. After a moment or two of rest, Mattie hitched the drenched horse to the wagon and resumed her journey, albeit she excusably took nearly an hour to travel the remaining seven miles to Lothair.

Mattie's duties at home and the pittance of a salary she received from the Postal Service led to her resignation as a postal carrier. One might think that this fiercely independent, pistol packing and hard charging woman might have a manly image. To the contrary, Mattie was described a reporter for the Atlanta Constitution as "a beauty of a real southern type, wavy black hair, deep blue eyes, beautiful figure and complexion with the whitest teeth imaginable." "Her jaunty air and pretty face never failed to attract the attention of strangers, as she rattled swiftly by in her cart, never looking to the right or to the left, but attending strictly to business," the reporter continued. I

n addition to her admirable qualities of dedication to her work and striking beauty, Mattie was considered to be an astute businesswoman. Following her father's death at a relatively young age in 1890, Mattie took over the management of the family farm. Mattie took part in all phases of the farming operation, from cultivation to planting and from harvesting to marketing to the highest bidder, the latter of which were among her greatest talents. Always looking for a way to improve the income from her home place, Mattie ventured into the woods behind her house and saw money in the trees. She cut some of the trees and personally assembled them into a raft. In the process she had to wade throughout the swamp, sometimes with water up to her waist. Mattie's brother took over at that point and piloted the timber raft down the treacherous waters of the Oconee and Altamaha rivers to the port city of Darien, where the logs were sold at a handsome profit. The venture became so lucrative that Mattie saved a few of the trees and invested some of the income into constructing a split rail fence around the Hester farm. By the best count available, Mattie cut about five thousand rails during her first five years of managing the farm. Mattie spent her spare time teaching young people how to shoot. She also a talent for penmanship and drawing.

Mattie's marksmanship came in handy when someone needed defending. On an early December evening in 18906, a Mr. Palmer was giving a dance party in his home in the Martha community near Tweed. Mattie's entrepreneurial abilities included the sale of spiritous liquors. It was said she sold her stock freely among the male party goers, many of whom found themselves under the influence of Mattie's liquor. As more and more whiskey was consumed, tempers began to flare. Mattie found herself engaged in a heated argument with Henry McLendon. Maggie drew her pistol and shot her antagonist. Mattie's brother rose to her defense, but was brutally beaten about the face with a pair of brass knuckles. Alfred Shell, a steam mill owner, was also shot and seriously wounded.

Mattie seemed to disappear after that. Was she forced to leave the community? If so, where did she go? Did this beautiful and fiercely independent woman ever marry? Maybe one day we will know. 

IRIS FAIRCLOTH BLITCH



A Pioneering Politician



History was made in Georgia 60 years ago this week.  The State of Georgia could claim that two women had served the state in the United States Congress.  Moreover, Gov. Thomas Hardwick, a one time resident of Dublin, had appointed Rebecca Latimer Felton to a seat to fill out the remaining term of the late Senator Thomas E. Watson  in the United States Senate in 1921 as a show of support for the rights of women to vote.



Florence Gibbs was elected in the fall of 1940 to fill out the term of her late husband, Congressman W. Ben Gibbs.   Helen Douglas Mankin won a special election in 1946, with strong support from African American voters, who voted en mass for the first time.



But it was on January 3, 1955 when Iris Faircloth Blitch, took her seat in the Congress as the first woman from Georgia to serve in Congress after being elected in a regular election.    This political activist from the railroad village of Normantown in northern Toombs County had already made her mark in Georgia politics.



Born in the southeastern region of East Central Georgia  on April 25, 1912, as the second youngest of the eight children of James Louis Faircloth and Marietta Rigdell Faircloth, Iris was forced to live with her older sisters when she became an orphan at the age of nine.  Her father's family were natives of Emanuel County.



Blitch graduated from a high school in Hagerstown, Maryland before returning to Georgia to attend classes at the University of Georgia.  She left school to marry Brooks Blitch, a pharmacist from Homerville, Georgia.



With a passion to educate herself, she immersed herself into reading about history and current events and taught herself to become a newspaper writer.    Blitch found her niche in politics and joined the Democratic party, the only viable party in Georgia at the time.



Blitch suffered a narrow defeat in her first political campaign in 1940, losing by slightly more than 25 votes for a seat in the State House of Representatives.  She won her first election in 1946, capturing a seat in the Georgia Senate.  Senator Blitch switched to the other chamber of the Georgia legislature when she was elected to the Georgia House in 1948.  After failing to win reelection in 1950, the attractive, brunette legislator returned to the Georgia Senate in 1952.





Iris Blitch's being a woman led to her being named as a National Committeewoman  from Georgia from 1948 to 1956 to the Democratic National Committee. Blitch also served in a similar state capacity from 1946 to 1956.



In the off-year election of 1954 during Dwight Eisenhower's first term as president, Blitch decided to do the unthinkable - to run for Congress in the Deep South, where women were systematically excluded from nomination by the Democratic party politics.  And she won,  defeating the incumbent, William M. Wheeler.



As the first female in the history of Georgia to win a regular scheduled election for a seat in Congress, Blitch,  entered office on January 3, 1955 and served for ten years, representing the 8th Congressional District, which encompassed counties from Southeast Georgia.  While in the Congress, she served on the Public Works Committee and the National Resources Advisory Council.



Because of her debilitating arthritis, Representative Blitch retired in 1964  and moved to Saint Simons, Georgia, repeatedly turning down repeated requests to run again primarily because of her husband's illness.



A congressional web site writer wrote, "Representative Iris Blitch of Georgia embodied a peculiar mixture of progressive feminism and southern conservatism during her long political career, which included four terms in the U.S. House. As a Georgia state legislator she pushed women's rights concerns. In the U.S. House, while displaying considerable legislative ability, she hewed to more traditional lines, advocating on behalf of agricultural interests in her rural district while denouncing federal efforts to enforce civil rights in the South. Over the span of her career, Blitch earned a reputation as a quick tongued legislator who enjoyed the give and take of debate."



+



Iris Blitch on "What's My Line?





Majority Leader Carl Albert of Oklahoma remarked, "I have never known anyone more persistent in her devotion to duty. I have seen her sit here on the floor attending to every item of duty when she was ill and in pain. She is a real soldier."



Iris Blitch shocked her colleagues in 1964, when she changed her party alliance and joined the Republican party.  Of the party's 1964 Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, Blitch remarked, "In my political lifetime only one leader has come forward to give the American people a choice between a more centralized state and the complete dignity of the individual."



Originally a supporter of segregation as were nearly all members of her party in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, Iris Blitch became more tolerant of the rights of African Americans in supporting Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, who became the first Georgia governor to do so in the 1970s.





In 1988, Iris Blitch, who once remarked that she always had politics in her blood,  moved to be closer to her daughter, in San Diego, California, where  Iris  died on August 19, 1993.  She is buried in Pinelawn Cemetery, Homerville, Georgia.



As much as things have changed in national and state politics in the sixty years after Iris Blitch took her seat in the United States House of Representatives, the more things have stayed pretty much the same.  Georgia, with her fourteen seats in the House and two seats in the Senate,  is without a female representative.   Since Congresswoman Blitch left office fifty years ago, only Cynthia McGivney and Denise Majid have been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.  The total number of women who have served Georgia in the House of Representatives and the Senate is six, second in the Deep South only to Florida (no longer considered the Deep South by many) which boasts of 11 women.  So the question remains, when will another Iris Blitch step forward and change the face of politics in Georgia?


Thursday, May 15, 2014

THE BLOOMER GIRLS



Baseball’s Barnstorming Belles

A century ago,  baseball teams with women players were somewhat of a novelty.  The all-women teams, with the exception of one or two essential male players, made a nearly modest living traveling throughout the country, playing in big cities and little towns against all  male teams, usually a squad formed from local boys and young men.  Such was the case with the Indianapolis Star Bloomer Girls, who traveled through Georgia in the spring of 1914, stopped in Dublin for a contest against our local team.

“Bloomer Girls” teams were formed in different parts of the country from New England to the Mid West.  The teams were not all women. Many hired a male player, “a topper”  to pitch or catch.  Among three of the most famous toppers, some of whom wore wavy wigs, were Hall of Fame infielder Rogers Hornsby, who would return to Dublin with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1933,  Smoky Joe Wood a star pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in the years before World War I and another Hall of Fame pitcher, Grover Cleveland Alexander. 

Named for Adelaide  Bloomer, a woman’s rights activist, the Bloomer Girls began in the 1890s and lasted for more than four decades when women’s professional baseball teams disbanded in the mid 1930s.  The Girls, who originally wore loose-fitting bloomer pants  before switching to more traditional baseball pants, helped to introduce night baseball games in the early 1900s.  Used to playing at night, the blinding glare of the arc lights often gave the Bloomer Girls a decided advantage to their daylight playing competitors. 

After spending the winter training in Cuba, the Bloomer Girls, managed by Frank Schmalz - the brother of former Cincinnati Reds owner George Schmalz,  began a grueling schedule in February 1914, playing first in New Orleans and then playing on most days across the Deep South.  

Eastman was the first stop on the Georgia schedule for the Bloomer Girls, who billed themselves as the “Lady Champions of the World,”  on April 20, 1914.   One thousand or more baseball fans and curious spectators witnessed the Eastman Boys jump out to an early 5-0 lead at the end of three innings.  The Bloomer Girls committed eight errors in the game, but managed to pull within two runs with a three-run six inning. Eastman’s catcher Wright had a big day with three hits, while Eastman starting pitcher, Henry Skelton, held the Girls in check for most of the game. 

The Star Bloomer Girls traveled from Eastman to Dublin by train for a game  on the afternoon of April 21, 1914.  Under fair, warming skies the teams took the field, most likely at the 12th District Fairgrounds at the corner of Telfair and Troup Streets.  There may have been as many as 1500 fans on hand to see the game.

Although no specific accounts of the game have survived, the Dublin boys scored single runs in the first and third innings before plating four to take a commanding 6- 0lead in the bottom of the 5th inning.  With outstanding fielding, the Dublin boys held the Girls to a single run in the top of the 8th, taking an easy 7-1 victory with the pitching of Whetor.  Margaret “Peg” Cunningham,  the left-handed, nineteen-year-old,  star pitcher for the Girls,  started for the Bloomers until she was relieved by Loyd, who pitched well in relief.  The Dublin boys boasted that they had the second greatest victory by a Georgia team against the Bloomers, only a single run behind the boys from LaGrange. 


Margaret "Peg" Cunningham and Minnie Fay Phelan, Feb. 1914

Among the girls playing in Dublin that day were: Selma Wanbaum, an eight-year veteran at first base,  “Happy” Murphy, the team comedian and second baseman with six year’s experience, and third baseman Elizabeth “Lizzie” Fargo.  Playing left field was “Carrie Nation,” aka Mae Arbaugh, who reportedly played in 6,486 professional baseball games (and at least 4600 as reported by Baseball Magazine in 1931.)  If true, Arbaugh would have surpassed Pete Rose for the most games played by a professional baseball player. 

Marie  Dierl took center field and Watsworth, right field. Minnie Fay Phelan, sister of Chicago Cub infielder, Art Phelan, and the Girls’ right handed pitcher, once pitched a 3-2, 14-inning complete game against the men of Syracuse.  Jack Reilly, a semi-pro player, was the sole male member of the team and usually played the key stone position at shortstop.  

Margaret Cunningham was regarded as the best female pitcher of her day.  Seems that Margaret learned how to pitch under the mentorship of Ed Walsh, a Hall of Fame pitcher, who played with the Chicago White Sox for most of his career and who still holds the all time record lowest (1.82) career ERA.  One of Cunningham’s greatest pitching victories came in 1913 when she defeated Louisville, Kentucky’s male team 2-1 in an 11-inning complete game victory.  
The next stop on the swing through Central Georgia came on the 22nd of April in a game between the Star Bloomers and Hawkinsville. 

On the 24th, the Girls traveled to Macon to play an All Star team made up of members of the Central City League.  Margaret “Peg O’ My Heart” Cunningham started the game in front of more than a thousand men and their wives.

At the end of three innings, Cunningham, obviously exhausted from pitching too many innings on too many days, cried out, “Oh, my!  I am tired.  Take me out!”   With their star pitcher on the bench, things weren’t looking up for the Bloomers, who were playing their fourth straight day of baseball, all on the road and far, far from their homes.  

With three men playing against the powerful Macon team, the Bloomer Girls’ Mr. John came into pitch, holding the Macon nine scoreless for the rest of the game.  The Girls fought back scoring  one in the 6th inning and two runs in each of the next two stanzas to squeak by the Macon men, 5-4.

The next day, the girls traveled to Atlanta to face the Atlanta Federals, a semi-pro team, whom they upset in front of a stunned crowd.  

The Bloomer Girls continued their swing through Georgia in May playing teams from Columbus, Talbotton, LaGrange and the Bibb Mills team from Macon.  Bloomer boosters claim that the Bibb Mills team had to import players to keep the girls from sweeping the two-game series from Macon men. 

By the time the Star Girls made it to Montgomery, Alabama, they had won five games  in a row. Managers of the men’s capital city’s team scoured the countryside for men with semi-pro experience to prevent further embarrassment to the ego of the men of the “Yellowhammer State.”   The Montgomery team assembled a team which they deemed to have “the best amateur infield in the state.”    The bought and paid for  team won, but the Bloomer Girls kept right on playing throughout the summer and throughout the nation, playing as many as two hundred games a year.

Those who saw the “Star Bloomer Girls” went away believing that baseball’s  barnstorming belles in dark uniforms with a big star on the front were not just novelties, but an aggregation of good baseball players who could hold their own with the best men that any city or town could send out to beat them.





Wednesday, April 2, 2014

JANE NEW DORSEY


The Sentimental Gentleman's Lady

This is the novelistic account of the life of Jane New Dorsey of Dublin, Georgia, who grew up to realize her dream of being a successful singer and dancer.  Never in her wildest, youthful dreams could she ever conceive of being married to one of the most famous men in America and  one of the greatest big band leaders in the history of music.  Her eight and one-half year marriage to the band leader, Tommy Dorsey, was both passionate and tempestuous to say the least. 

Jane Carl New was born to Dublin attorney Stephen Parker New and his wife, Ruth Hightower New, on October 23, 1923.   Jane attended elementary school a few blocks from her home.   The New family, including brothers Stephen Jr. and William Hightower New, left their home at 515 Tucker Street in Dublin and moved to Washington, D.C., when the elder New was appointed an attorney for the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1936.

Jane, who lived at 410 Cedar Street in northwestern  Washington,  studied dancing at the Phil Hayden Studios in Washington, D.C. and  drama at the Abilene School of Theater in New York after her graduation from Roosevelt High School in Washington, D.C.  During years of World War II, New became a speciality dancer and understudy to the lead female singer  in a revival of the Ziegfeld Follies, starring Milton Berle, Illona Massey and Arthur Treacher.

Jane, beautiful dancer and a fine singer with a natural singing voice,  became a regular dancer in the famous Copacabana Club in New York City.  

New's first, and albeit short,  marriage to Bob Mizzy didn't work out well.  Mizzy had been married to another dancer of a sorts, the burlesque stripper, Gypsy Rose Lee.  

Miss New, somewhat short at five-feet, four-inches tall,  found new fame as a chorus line dancer in the Colonial Inn in Miami. 

One night, while dining at the Casino Gardens, Tommy Dorsey's club near Los Angeles,  Jane noticed  Dorsey coming over to her table where she was dining with friends.  Jane noticed that the tent card on her table contained a misspelling of Dorsey's last name.

Jane began to poke fun at and flirt with Dorsey, who offered her a job managing the room where he was performing.  In his book "Livin' In a Great Big Way," Peter J. Levinson wrote, "The bandleader-proprietor was intrigued by New's sassy personality. Dorsey and New left togther in his car.  The great Dorsey was not used to a woman talking back to him, much less a woman he had just met."

Jane and Tommy, whose 137 hits on the Billboard Charts exceeded those of both Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman, began dating four to six weeks later.  

During the winter of 1948, Dorsey proposed his hand in marriage to Jane by handing her a five-carat diamond ring.  Jane accepted and immediately set out for Miami to resign her position at the Colonial Inn, but not before stopping in at her parents' home to tell them the wonderful news.

Fred Dickensen, in a 1948 article for The Oregonian, wrote, "She was lovely, and she was lonely.  Furthermore, she was hungry.  Jane New slammed the door of the empty icebox in the Florida home of her absent hosts and then went to the telephone.  When the musician, Tommy Dorsey, was a from a few miles away in Miami, Jane said, 'All right, Tommy, you win.  If you feed me, I'll marry you.'"

Jane and Tommy were married in the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta on March 27, 1948. Her parents and Dorsey's mother witnessed the unpretentious civil ceremony. The couple honeymooned on his yacht, "The Sentimentalist."   Although it was his third marriage, Dorsey, known as the Sentimental Gentlemen because of his big hits, I'm Getting Sentimental Over You and Sentimental Gentleman From Georgia, told Jane and their families, "This is it. This is the real thing."

Jane did manage to land one movie role, although minor, in the jam session of the 1954 movie, A Star is Born, starring Judy Garland and James Mason. 

Jane and Tommy had two children, Catherine and Stephen. 

The on again, off again, marriage began to fall completely apart in the summer of 1956.  After  bitter preliminary court proceedings, the court ordered that both of the Dorseys could live in their palatial home in Greenwhich, Connecticut, but in separate and  locked bedrooms.

On November 26, 1956, Tommy Dorsey, at the age of 51, died all alone, behind his locked bed room door.  The coroner ruled that the Sentimental Gentleman died from choking on his evening dinner.  

Dorsey's death came only two days before the Dorseys were scheduled appear in court toward a divorce. 

With the dissonance gone in her life, Jane Dorsey turned her life around.  Not as wealthy as her lifestyle would dictate, Jane successfully took her fight to secure the rights to her husband's musical arrangements.  As the owner and manager of the Tommy  Dorsey Orchestra, she oversaw the operation of band which performed hundreds of times each year, including a visit to Dublin a decade or so ago. 
"There was one main love in her life, and that was my father.  And, she never completely got over is death. " said son Stephen Dorsey after Jane's death on August 28,  2003. 

Jane was buried beside her beloved, embattled husband in  Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.  At the base of her slab are engraved the words, "Tommy Called Her His E Flat."


SELINA BURCH STANFORD

Warrior For the Dignity of Women

Long before the Women's Rights movement began in the 1960s and escalated in the 1970s, one Dublin woman was out there in the streets, inside board rooms and in the work place fighting for the rights of her fellow women workers, the right to be treated equal, the right to fair pay and the right of decent working conditions.   This is the story of a local young girl who took on the male establishment and accomplished her goals, winning a few important battles on the way.

Selina Burch Stanford was born in Laurens County, Georgia on September 24, 1927.  She was a daughter of Roger Burch and Jane Smith and grew up in the Burch District of Laurens County.  Selina attended Laurens County and Dublin schools.   At the age of seventeen, Selina went to work for Southern Bell Telephone Company as an operator.  Along with many of her fellow workers, Selina joined the Southern Federation of Telephone Workers.

Miss Burch's first true experience with labor relations came in 1947 when she and her fellow union members endured a strike which lasted nearly seven weeks.   That same year, telephone workers across the nation began the process of consolidating and forming a more powerful and unified single union organization under the banner of the Congress of Industrial Organizations.   Following the labor action, Selina was transferred to Charleston, South Carolina.  After five years she was elected Secretary of Local 3407 of the Communication Workers of America.   A year later in 1953, Selina was elected as the recording secretary of the Charleston CIO.

At the age of 27 in 1954, Selina Burch became the first woman to be elected president of her local union and any union in South Carolina.  She said, "I guess the rebel in me really began to come out somewhere between 1952 and 1954 when I discovered that I was doing all the work and a male was getting all the credit."    In 1955 she was chosen to serve on the staff of the Communication Workers of America as a representative and organizer. The satisfactory resolution of a violent strike that year by 50,000 employees led to her election to a leadership position on the district level when she became director of the North Louisiana division of the union.  

It was in the Creole State where Selina's interest in politics began to surface.  She spent tireless hours to build the state Democratic party.   She joined the campaign for Congressman Hale Boggs who served as majority leader of the United States House of Representatives and was a leader in establishing the Interstate Highway System and was also a member of the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

In 1964, Selina was reassigned again.  This time, she came home, or close to it.  Miss Burch, still yet unmarried, enjoyed Christmas visits to her old home in Dublin.  Her brother J.B. Burch was a popular service station owner in downtown Dublin.   She was especially close to a close-knit group of aunts known to some as "The Burch Sisters."  These ladies, Ilah, Celestia and Emily, all school teachers, were also unmarried and lived together in their large two-story home on South Calhoun Street.  

Seen as a tough and demanding woman on the outside, away from her formidable duties as a labor union secretary and an advocate for the rights of women to work outside the home, Selina was described as a soft-spoken women who loved to bake.  She was described as a natty dresser and a woman who exuded intelligence and dignity  as she spoke.  Her  stepdaughter Margaret Pavey said of her cooking, "Her lemon pound cakes were legendary, and so was her generosity in giving them away."

The 1960s were a decade when women for the first time began to find their way into  the top echelons of governmental, religious and private organizations throughout the country.  Selina Burch was no exception.  With great honor, Selina held the position as Secretary of the 450,000 member Communication Workers of America union.  In 1969, she was  invited to Singapore, where she taught Asian telephone workers on different facets of the telephone industry.  

Burch saw her role in the union and in life as a protector of the dignity of women. She told a reporter from the Malay Mall, "In the past, a woman's only intention was to marry and settle down.  But now she is competing with man in every field - from engineering to electronics, and as she competes with man in his preserved fields, she must form unions or actively participate in the trade unions that will protect her rights and dignity as a human being."   Selina disavowed any special privileges on account of her being a woman.  "I will make sure I am not discriminated against because of my sex. Merit should be the only criterion - not sex," she said.

During the 1970s she allied herself with Atlanta mayors Maynard Jackson and Andrew Jackson, organizing phone banks of callers in their successful mayoral campaigns. In 1974, Selina was appointed director of Georgia-Florida District.   In 1976, she worked tirelessly for a fellow Georgian, Jimmy Carter, in his campaign for president.  It was during that same year that Selina accepted an appointment by  Governor George Busbee as the first female member of the Georgia Board of Offender Rehabilitation.  As a member of the board, Miss Burch began to see the disparity of vocational rehabilitation between male and female inmates.    With the aid of a friend, she instituted a program of instructing women on the skills of being a telephone operator.  Always a faithful member of the Democratic Party, Miss Burch served as a delegate to two National Democratic Party Conventions.

In 1978, Selina Burch was again transferred, this time to Washington, D.C., where she served as an administrative assistant to Glen Watts, President of the Communication Workers of America.  In 1980, she once again returned to Atlanta, where she served as an assistant to the vice-president of that organization.

In 1981, at the age of 53 , Selina finally began to settle down.  She married Morgan Callaway Stanford, a labor lawyer.  Ten years later in 1991, she finally settled down and retired from the Union after 44 years of service.  Selina Burch Stanford died on October 19, 2002.

Joseph Yablosnki, a Washington labor lawyer, eulogized Selina Burch by saying, "She was a pioneer in the women's labor movement.  She showed that women in the CWA were not only entitled to a place at the bargaining table, but could serve the union's members at the highest level of the union itself.  She could be as hard as nails when she had to be, but she was the sweetest friend and best client I ever had."    Former regional union director described Selina Stanford as "a tireless worker, dedicated to the CWA membership and a person with a brilliant mind."