2018-12-06 / Kitty Bits

Kitty Bits

Personal finds bring back memories

They say to write about what you know. Right now we are up to our eyeballs in cleaning out this old building, so that’s what we know. And we apologize if our finds become boring writing material.


The two Wildcat yearbooks were “hot tickets.” The morning after last week’s paper was published a reader claimed the 1964 issue, and within a few hours someone else stopped by to ask about it. Skeet Willingham borrowed the 1970 volume to scan some of the sports photos. He said it was an exceptional year in athletics. He has returned it and we are holding it for Coach Williams’ family which has already expressed interest. We’re so happy when our finds are rescued and placed in good homes.


Another yearbook that we found in our building cleanup is a 1960 Cheiftain of West Georgia College. We can’t explain why it lived here for 58 years. Scanning through the pages, which give hometown information on each class member, we could not see a student from Washington. But, oddly enough, a name popped out with an unusual spelling, a student from Union Point. A contact we have for the annual Union Junction Jamboree and 5k ad that runs each year shares the same unusual spelling of her first name. So a call was made, and we verified that she attended West Georgia in 1960. She’s checking to see if she has a copy. If not, we have promised it to her. If she does have one of her own, we will put this one up for grabs. But the whole point of this is…what a small world!


Another interesting connection was made through the discovery of a 1939 Pictorial Review, a yearbook of the National Guard of the State of Georgia. Inside, on the third page, is a photo of Brigadier General John E. Stoddard. The name rang a bell. We remembered that a Colonel Stoddard was a previous owner of The News-Reporter. Smythe Newsome used to joke that Stoddard’s ghost was upstairs in this circa 1920 building marching around anytime we heard an unexplainable noise, a common occurrence in old properties (though the newspaper wasn’t housed in this building during Stoddard’s ownership). And so we referred to our copy of “An Historical and Editorial Study of The Washington (Ga.) News-Reporter,” Newsome’s master’s thesis, to investigate. It turns out that John E. Stoddard bought The News-Reporter in 1929. The “gentleman from Nebraska” had served in the U.S. Navy during World War I, in both Europe and the orient. The purchase of the newspaper was a move to bring his wife, from nearby Elberton, back to the South. He was instrumental in establishing the National Guard battery in Washington with himself in command. By 1937 he was serving as Adjutant General of Georgia. Various editors and writers kept the newspaper business functioning in his absence. In 1940 he returned to take command and changed the Washington unit from a battery to regimental headquarters, preparing for war with the rank of Colonel. We’ll have more about Colonel Stoddard sometime soon.


Along with the interesting historical books, Tiger football film reels, old photographs, kitchen sinks, Linotype, and Ludlow type that we’ve found in our cleanup, there are more personal finds that bring back memories for us. When our children were young they spent countless hours here as their parents and grandparents worked to meet the weekly deadlines. Then as teenagers they worked on newspaper inserting, addressing, and delivery each week. Our youngest daughter, Molly, spent a lot of her childhood playing upstairs after school (and never reported a sighting of Colonel Stoddard) with Lindley Hall (now Callaway), because her mother, Pam Hall, worked for the newspaper back then. We found a box that Molly had written on saying, “Lindley – Open the box, from Molly.” It was a gift for Lindley to open when next they played together. They must have grown up (as little girls tend to do) before Lindley received it, because it remained unopened. “We peeked inside and found a crudely-wrapped package labeled, “Dear Lindley, 30 sheets of colorful paper, 3 kinds, ten each. Love, Molly” Lindley is now a teacher at W-WES and if she would like her paper we have it here at the office. But we don’t guarantee how colorful it will be after almost 25 years!


Borrowing from the December 2, 1993 issue of The News-Reporter and “This week in local history” compiled by Irvin Cheney Jr. we find some interesting bits. The “years ago” have been updated and are in comparison to 2018.


Mr. W.J. Weston, managing editor of the Reporter, died Sunday after a long period of declining health.

Red Cross membership in Wilkes County is nearly 1,200. A drive is underway to increase membership by 10 per cent.


Approximately $2,500 worth of damage was done Tuesday morning when fire destroyed the feed and hay barn and two silos at the Barnett Dairy on the Lexington Road.

Dr. A.W. Simpson has been elected president of the Washington Kiwanis Club. O.C. Callaway is vice-president, Dr. C.L. Smith is secretary, and I.W. Jones is treasurer.


The county health office is now open and ready to give all immunizations, such as smallpox, diphtheria, and typhoid vaccines. Immunizations are free to anybody. The office also will conduct regular instructional meetings with Wilkes county’s 27 certified midwives, to assure that their skills are kept up to date. 27 certified midwives in Wilkes County 75 years ago? That’s quite interesting! KB

A “Service Men’s Room” has been prepared by the Woman’s Club, with help from the Lions Club. This room will be staffed by volunteers each day. Servicemen passing through Washington or at home on leave will be heartily welcomed by the hostess committee.


The Tigers crunched Oglethorpe County 51-0 Friday night to advance to the semi-finals. Last rites were held Monday at Resthaven Cemetery for William Wynne Jr., 91. Mr. Wynne had been a resident of Wilkes County for 85 years. And from that same issue we find this… 25 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK

P. Smythe Newsome wrote in his column, Of All Things, “Tuesday is Pearl Harbor Day, a day described by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as ‘a day that will live in infamy.’

“I was a lad of 13, but I remember well that Sunday when the sneaky Japs all but destroyed the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet. Most people can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing at the time of cataclysmic events like Pearl Harbor.

“I had gone out to McGill Field, a sod landing strip about where the Wilkes County Stockyard is now, to fly model airplanes. Even then, I thought it a bit odd that I was sitting alone in a pickup truck, glued to the radio to pick up the latest news, and wondering what it all meant.

Maybe I was hoping to grow up soon enough to get my hands on a P-40 and fly with Pappy Chennault and shoot down Zeros.” If you have a memory of that day, please recount it for us. KB


A couple visiting Callaway Plantation last weekend said they came because they saw “that nice young man (John Singleton III) on television talking about Christmas at Callaway.” Recently John related this story:So this was fun today. Earlier this week we got a phone call at the Chamber of Commerce from a gentleman in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was wanting to get a group of his friends together and fly their three planes to our airport and walk across the street to tour Callaway Plantation. Naturally I asked him how he heard about Washington. He said that 20+ years ago he flew down, walked across the street, and had a great tour at Callaway. He said a young college student gave him a tour and taught him things that he had never heard about. And to this day he still tells people about it. When I asked the details of what he learned I figured out that it was actually me when I was the curator at Callaway. It felt good to know I made that impression on him… And the fact that he thought even though I was in my late 30s at that time that I was in college. LOL. So today I had the pleasure of driving to the airport in Washington and picking up his group and touring them around the town. Stephanie Macchia gave them a tour of the Washington Museum in downtown and Susannah Johnson gave them the tour of Callaway Plantation. Thank you, ladies.” What a wonderful advocate for our community we have in John! And he’s been at it for years! We are thankful for him. KB


The City of Washington and the Iris Garden Club will sponsor the Christmas decorating contest in the city limits of Washington on Monday, December 20, beginning at 6 p.m.


More than 100 vocalists and instrumentalists are participating in Christmas Party!, the Washington Little Theater Co.’s Christmas program which for many signals the start of the holiday season. An especially colorful note of the program will be a “Those Were the Days” trio, composed of Hillary Lindsey, Matt McGee, and Debbie McLeod, who will sing and dance through rousing Christmas songs done in a 1940s style. Roy Holton, music director, also will serve as the host for the party. Bolton Lunceford is director.


Please email kittybits@news-reporter.com with your contributions to the column. Or you can call 706- 678-2636 or stop by the office.


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