"The Old Neighborhood, Ain't what She use to Be!"
"... of the people that inhabited this land of Kids and Cemetery Vistas."
Danville, Virginia

2016

Introduction
Addresses.... People & PlacesBits & PiecesKids' Photos Contact
Comments
Rogues' Gallery
(GWHS Yearbook) +
-LINKS _STORIES INDEX
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20  
_ Lee Street Views
__Bob Plott's Family
.
Linda Sue Traylor Pagel
..Obituary
1939 - 2013
......We Miss you  Linda Sue... 
R. Leonard Scruggs
..Obituary
1930 - 2013
......We"ll Miss you  Leonard...
Robert Wayne "Bobby" Plott
..Obituary
1933 - 2013
......We Miss you Bob... 
Leighton Elmo "Buster" Brown, Jr.
..Obituary
1930 - 2012
We Miss you Buddy...
.
by Glen Allan Williamson  2012 - 2015 © 


Click on most Photos to Enlarge
    Lee Street's Neighbors and Kids: (circa ~1945)
 
681 The Bryants/  Buddy Bryant    *** WELCOME BUDDY ***
716 The Motleys/ (Berryman Ave.)
704 The Browns/ Leighton Elmo "Buster" Brown, Jr., 1930 - 2012 
710 The Clarks/
714 The Scruggs/  Grace Euline / R. Leonard Scruggs 1930 - 2013
720 The Wilkersons/  Vernon Jr. 
721 The Williamsons/ Harry Jr., Frank & Glen     [National Cemetery]
724 The Floyds & The Johnsons/  Anne Floyd
728 The Arrons/ Linwood; The Rays/ Sonny; The Durhams/ Pete, Tom, Dorothy & Charles   (Carson father)
732 The Browns & The Furgursons/  Carl Furgurson, Jr.  (1939 - 1994)
736 The Gravelys & The Cobbs/  Jimmy Gravely; Walter Cobb 
738 The Daniels/ 
744 The Adams & The Traylors/  Diane, Linda Sue, Woody Jr., Billy Hill; Jimmy Randall
756 The Browns & The Plotts/ Robert W. "Bobby" Plott, 1933 - 2013
758 The Thorntons/ J.E.   (Anne Norton, Stokes St.)
761 The Davises/  Charles & Dink       [Green Hill Cemetery]
762 The Jacksons & Berkleys/
764 The Dillards/ 
770 The Woodalls/
774 The Harrises/  Douglas
778 The Dix/
** To see 2009 photos click on the house numbers, but be prepared...
 If I've left anyone out or you find errors, please go to the Contact or Comments sections and let me know.
____________________________Thanks, gaw 
INDEX
Contact
Comments
Lee Street's Three Cemeteries
Green Hill
        National
Freedman's

INDEX
Contact
Comments

Green Hill Cemetery Tour.
INDEX
Contact
Comments
LEE-STREET.com // Introduction

Hey Gang,

I was inspired to create this web site, Lee-Street.com, after reading Pat Furguson's excellent Smithsonian Magazine article on the old neighborhood, along with some of the resulting Comments--especially Linda Sue Traylor Pagel's.

At seventy mumble years, and a couple of strokes, I still have fond memories--and a few less than F... of the people that inhabited this land of Kids and Cemetery Vistas. A place where any kid would think themselves lucky to be living, and most of all, PLAYING!

This is by way of saying, if any of the "OLD GANG" is still out there (spell that, ALIVE), do feel free to ring us up and let's hear from you; or for that matter, anyone else out there who loves their Old Neighborhoods.

Photographs and Stories are in short supply--Hint, Hint...

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Comments
People & Places that made a Difference

R.E. Lee School, on Loyal at S. Ridge Street.
 

G.W. High School, on Holbrook Avenue.
 

J.M. Langston High School, on corner of Holbrook and Gay Streets.
 

Green Street Park The place everyone frequented. Billy Blankenship (Jefferson & Lee) and his buddy use to Bully me there, ruining the park for me for a long time.
 

Miss Louise Semones, wonderful first and second grade Teacher. 
She touched the lives of countless generations. 
   Miss Louise B. Semones (1876 - 1957)

From the August 17, 1957, Register & Bee:
"Funeral services for Miss Louise B. Semones will be conducted Sunday afternoon at 4 o'clock from Main Street Methodist Church.  Burial will be in Mountain View Cemetery. Miss Semones, 80, died last night in Memorial Hospital. She had been ill for several months. 

A teacher in the Danville public schools for 40 years, Miss Semones was a well-known figure in the city's school life, and was both friend and teacher to over 1,000 of Danville men, women and children, who were in her elementary classes. 

A native of Callands, VA, she was Born on September 7, 1876. 

The daughter of the late John S. and Julia Semones. 

A graduate of the class of 1907, she received her A.B. degree from State Normal School, now Longwood College, in Farmville. VA. 

During her years as a teacher, Miss Semones did graduate work at Columbia University and took courses at the University of Virginia, and Madison College. 

Prior to joining the Danville system, she taught for one year at Falls Church, VA, and two years in Pittsylvania County. 

She then began a long career as first and second grade teacher at the old Robert E. Lee School on Loyal Street.

She retired from the school system in 1949. At her retirement, she was an honored guest of the Exchange Club and was presented with an engraved silver pencil and public tribute for her years of service to Danville's school children.

Miss Semones was an active member of Main Street Methodist Church."

I remember in second grade, she handed out books on Phonics, books that she bought and paid for herself. Apparently, back then, there was some question about teaching phonics.  __but not for Her!
 

Slick Warren and his Grocery Store on Dame and Green streets. On the way to school, I could never pass there without stopping and buying a moon pie and a "belly wash." He was the most patient person I ever met, we kids thought of him more like a best friend than a grownup.
 

Officer Norman Boswell, one of Danville's finest, saved a bunch of kids from making life changing mistakes! He and a few other like-minded cops personally intervened with wayward youth--scared them straight, before it was too late; things that today they would surely lose their jobs over.
   Norman Boswell (1910 - 1978)
 

Johnny Westbrook, Naturalist, Musician, and gifted Teacher; known and Beloved by everyone. To me he was the Father I always wanted/needed. He was Danville's Pied Piper! 
  John James "Johnny" Westbrook, Jr. (1901 - 1974)
 

Leighton E. Brown, Sr., was the De facto patriarch of the neighborhood. He seemed to care more than the other adults, including my own father. He was ready with advice, without being preachy. To us kids he was "Unca Layton." He was a Damn Good Man. 
   Leighton Elmo Brown, Sr. (1904 - 1970)
 

Bobby Plott's Grandmother Brown, or "Big Mama," as everyone called her. 
Her kitchen was always steamy-warm, inviting and always filled with wonderful Free Food! Many a Winter's day we stopped by there on our way to some adventure or other. This photo was carried in Bobby's wallet for the last fifty years of his life...
   Mrs. Lucie Taylor Brown (1884 - 1962)
 

Who can forget Mister Underwood, everybody's barber, down on the corner of Jefferson and Pine Street--Five Forks, for over fifty years. 
   Walter Thomas Underwood (1903 - 1996)
 

Joe Smith, the father of close friend and classmate, Doug Smith, ran the Danville Flying Service at the local airport. We all envied Doug's Dad, he was a pilot, and a Damn good one by all accounts.
   The thing I remember most was in his crop spraying business he rigged his car with a platform on the roof for landing, and takeoffs, refueling, and reloading his J3 Cub. Doug's mom often drove the car.
 

Doctor Newman, 770 Main Street, was everybody's Doctor. He "fixed" everything from the sniffles to a broken arm. He was beloved by the parents, and feared like Hell by us kids. To us, the Trip there was worse than the Aliment! He was not the warm and fuzzy Dr. Welby type, he was more like the irascible Dr. Gillespie. But he was Our Doctor.
   Dr. Samuel Newman, M.D. (1891 - 1980)  Link
 
 

---***---

Places known to every Lee Streeter:
 

Green Hill Cemetery
Danville National Cemetery
The Freedman's "Colored" Cemetery
Lee Street Baptist Church
Green Street Park
Five Forks
Danville Military Institute (DMI)
Oak Hill Cemetery
Almagro
Liberty Hill
Jackson Branch
A & D Cliff
Pumpkin Creek
Dan River
Southern Shops
Tippits Crossing
Schoolfield
Luna Lake
Park Springs
gaw___________________
 
INDEX
Contact
Comments

Bits, Pieces, and Memories

Walter Cobb Walter's father was an auto mechanic, and Walter prided himself on knowing "every car out there," and He Did!

---***---

Jimmy Randal lived with his mother in the Adams' basement apartment at 744 Lee Street. Jimmy was in the Army during WWII, he married a Hollywood actress/starlet, either during his service or shortly afterward. Every kid in the neighborhood envying the Hell out of him.

---***---

J.E. Thornton (John Eager Thornton, Jr.) 1928 - 1974. J.E. lived with his Aunt Lillian Thornton at 758 Lee Street, after his father's death in 1942. His mother, Mrs Delia Lewis Thornton, had passed away in 1935. He joined the U.S. Navy at 16 during WWII. He was a likeable guy whose company everyone enjoyed.

One of my memories was when he got his first car--a coup I think. I was about five or six, Buster with several others there when J. E. bragged about exactly how many girls he had "had," he looked down at me and rubbing the top of my head, said "as many as the hairs on your head." I was impressed!

---***---

George "Bugs" Reams served in the Army Air Force during WWII, and was an aerial photographer flying in B-17s, I believe; after the war he lived with the John Browns at 756 Lee Street. His people's home was in Lynchburg, Virginia. 


---***---

Honorary "Lee Streeters," Sonny and Bob Sailor, they were Good Guys who visited the Floyds often.

---***---

Johnny Plott, Bobby's cousin, on an outing with Westbrook, broke Bobby's brand new, really nice knife. Bobby showed me the rounded broken out piece in the blade, he put his finger in the gapping hole, so as to look as if the blade were cutting into his finger--scaring the Hell out of me.

---***---

Both elder Scruggses, dressed in comfortable clothes,  sitting in rocking chairs on their front porch, each dipping snuff and commenting on their world as the Summer's day unfolds. 

---***---

A frequent visitor to the neighborhood was a mulatto woman who would be seen walking fast on Lee Street, muttering to herself. She was not unattractive, we all thought her slightly crazy. She would speak to no one except the elder Scruggses who would call to her and she would stop and there would be a very quick exchange, and off she would go.

I know we had an unflattering name for her, but the years have erased it...

---***---

Charles Davis use to practice playing bugle calls in his back yard. I also liked to play bugle calls in my back yard. The problem was that whatever he played, I also played on top of him. 

Years later I was told that Charles couldn't out play me, even though he was playing a single valve bugle and I was playing a very short calvary bugle. I don't really believe that, it makes a cute story, but I did try to play a calvary bugle years later, and I couldn't make a sound come out of it. Charles was over twelve and I was five.


---***---

At five years of age Glen Williamson (me) was bilingual, English and Profanity. I have often said that after five I learned very few new cuss words, only some of their meanings.

As I've mentioned, else where in here, the older kids use to throw rocks at my dog just to hear me cuss--and I did. Well Hell, if that's all they wanted, they didn't have to throw rocks at my dog, "I'd a Cussed for free!"

---***---

Linwood Arron (728) was a good friend to both my brothers, Harry, Jr., and Frank. I have vague memories of him pushing me on my swing.

---***---

At the National Cemetery there was a 75 foot flag pole that required painting every five to six years. After the war the pole was in need of painting in the worst way. Paint was still in short supply and my Old Man had no laborer who was willing to climb that thing--no way.

J.E. Thornton who was fresh out of the Navy and had lots of practice painting high structures, and needing the money, volunteered. My Old Man seemed perfectly willing to put him in harm's way, I don't know if his Aunt Lillian and girl friend, Anne Norton, knew what he was up to--probably not. 

To reduce the odds of him breaking his neck, the old weathered cotton rope was replaced with a "brand new one."

With J.E. tied in a makeshift boson's chair and a bucket of fresh white paint and a couple of new brushes, he was unceremoniously hoisted up the pole by Buster Brown and Billy Hill

(I think I may vaguely recall this, but I needed Bill Hill to remind me--of it all.)



---***---

Jack Estlow was as much a Lee Street fixture as some who lived there, for the countless trips there helping with almost every burial at the National Cemetery. 

As early as I can remember I heard my father speak about Jack Estlow, in glowing terms, which my father seldom did about anybody. Jack volunteered to play taps at almost every funeral, especially during the war(s).

During the war, most next of kin couldn't be at their loved one's grave side. However, there were veterans of WW I, in the form of the American Legion members, Post 10, and Jack, who was made a honorary member--an unheard of honor. 

Jack, an accomplished musician, was also a member of the local Drum and Bugle Corps where, amoung other things, he helped teach the younger members. 

Since he was unable to serve in the military, for health reasons, he took it upon himself to serve in other ways--and he did, with distinction...


---***---

Billy Hill, Stealth Good Guy. To me, growing up on Lee Street, you either picked on me or you left me the Hell  alone--that was it! But later I was to discover yet a third, a "Stealth" Good Guy, and he may have been the only one.

Billy was one of those guys that was always there for you, but you were unaware of it until you needed him. The kid had no ego--God knows everybody on the Street had one of those! Me Included!

Billy always had a ready smile, and he treated us young kids no different than his peers, which might've caused him some ribbing. Billy was the "Older Brother" that every neighborhood needs...


---***---

Slick Warren’s son, Ronnie Warren, was a frequent visitor to Lee Street. We all liked him, I'm sure Slick being his Dad didn't hurt, but other than being a little spoiled, he was a good guy. I remember one time him riding his horse up Berryman to the corner of Lee, and showing us all his new horse, several may have even ridden, or at least sat on him...


---***---

The only thing I remember about the Daniels, at 738 Lee Street, was Ms. Daniels often had a visitor around my age who wasn't allowed out of the house, and I wasn't allowed in. So we played together through the screen door. I believe his name was David Luther.

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Comments
Two Boys and their Dogs

Glen and Carl Jr
_______________Thanks Pat...
 
From the 1953 GWHS Yearbook
Diane Traylor
          1937 - 2000    Obit
Linda Sue Traylor
1939 - 2013

 
From the 1967 GWHS Yearbook
 

Robert Woodrow  "Woody" Traylor, Jr.

From the 1953 GWHS Yearbook

..........Bobby Plott   Email
1933 - 2013

Jimmy Gravely
   
From the 1953 GWHS Yearbook
Billy Hill
R. Leonard Scruggs
1930 - 2013
 
Carl Furgurson, Jr.
(1939 - 1994)
.
Furgurson Brothers
Pat and Roger
Photo purloined from Smithsonian Magazine
(circa 1944)
In a division of 15,000, there were
7 Silver Star Medals awarded.
Brother Harry, just before 
shipping out to the ETO.
1924 - 2004  Obit
Harry's medals: Silver Star, 
Bronze Star, Purple Heart, etc.
story............

(circa 1947)
Third grader, Glen, was always 
interested in 'trick' photography.

The Knotheads are Still With Us
The City of Danville Public Works Dept., Strikes Again!  ...and Again!
Aa
Bb
Cc
Dd
Ee
Ff
Gg
Hh
Ii
682 Lee Street
Site of the magnificent McFarling home on the corner at 682 Lee Street that 
was demolished by the Geniuses at the City's Public Works Department.

Directly across the street, was 681 Lee Street, the Bryants' 
150 year old Antebellum home, also needlessly demolished.

INDEX
Contact
Comments

Pat Furgurson's fine, January 2011 Smithsonian 
magazine article, "Danville, Virginia: Hallowed Ground."

"I grew up on Lee Street..."

---***---

Pat's Books from Random House, Inc.

INDEX
Contact
Comments

[GWHS Yearbook]
The Danville National Cemetery

 Home for sixteen years, 721 Lee Street
            The Williamson Brothers   (circa ~1939)

 Harry__________Glen______________ Frank
(circa ~1941)
Little Glen (me) and his Mom, he's sporting a busted thumb he caught in the Big iron gate, Ouch!
The bandage, courtesy of Dr. Newman.
(circa ~1943)
My Brother Frank with his dog Poochy, months before his death. He was due to go into the Army Air Force.
Home Sweet Home

721 Lee Street
STORIES INDEX
  1...My Best Friend
  2...September's Flowers
  3...Look Ma, I'm Flying
  4...Westbrook at 100 Yards
......The Grave Diggers
  5...The Littlest Con Artist
  6...Pole Dancing
  7...A Tiny Allen Funt
  8...Kiss and Tell
  9...The Tree House
10...Bullies Abound
......Good Guys Also Abound
11...A Coincidence
12...Buster & The Fallout Shelter
13...The Bitter Fruits (and Vegetables)
14...Railroad Tracks & Treasures
15...Little Nasty Piece of Work
16...The Register and Bee
17...Green Hill Cemetery
18...Watch that First Step
19...My Radio Days
20...My WWII Heroes
Contact
Comments
Stories, One

My Best Friend
There was my dog "Duke, the Dog, Williamson," he was my Best Friend, or as Forrest would say, "He was my only friend."

Duke came to live with us when my brother Frank's dog Poochy was run over by a coal wagon. The owner of the coal company felt bad and gave us a mixed breed stray that hung around the coal yard.

My father was a mean Son of a Bitch, and a Bully, he would strike fear in me just by coming into the same room. Whenever I was angry or hurt--which was often, I had a habit of taking it out on Duke. Duke always forgave me, he never held a grudge, he would always come back for more. God how I Loved him...

Recounting this brings tears after all these years. I have no idea about the hereafter for either humans or pets, but that blessed animal saved my Life, and I thank God for him!

_Johnny Westbrook was loved by both my dogs, Duke and Snoopy, and he loved them. Johnny liked to tell of all the times, when I was in school, he would get off the bus at the corner of Jefferson and Lee, where he would meet up with Duke--and later Snoopy, they would head off for the woods near Almagro and A & D cliff or the Pumpkin creek woods, for a day of collecting. And at the end of the day, how they would part company at the same corner, John going his way--getting on the bus, and Duke going his, "Not a word spoken." 

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Comments
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
 
Stories, Two

September's Flowers
We kids spent more time in the Freedman's cemetery, or as it was known then the, "Colored" cemetery. It was overgrown many times over, which was its allure, places to hide, to build a fort, to play Army--to be a Kid.

It had it's sinister side too, the honeysuckle jungles where the Hobos hung out drinking their canned heat--pushing the red jelly through white bread to filter out the poison, "that was bound to make you go blind,"

One day in early September--my Mom's birthday, I was out picking wild flowers while the James E. Strates Shows train was idling on the adjacent siding, readying to leave town.

One of the performers--an attractive young woman, sitting in a Pullman car yelled to me to "give her the pretty flowers." I yelled back "No, the flowers are for my mother." She offered to buy them, without asking how much, I said, they aren't for sale! She offered me a quarter, which really pissed me off, but I didn't say anything. She persisted saying you can pick another bunch. She was right of course, but by that time I was hot under the collar--I couldn't stand someone who wouldn't take NO for an answer! 

So I flipped her the middle finger, turned and hauled ass--just in case she had a boyfriend nearby. 

__Happy Birthday Mom...
gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
 
Stories, Three

Look Ma, I'm Flying
One Spring day, when I was about six or seven, Jimmy Gravely, my dog Duke, and I headed over to Almagro--or as it was known then, Colored Town. Having been affected by our recent introduction to Johnny Westbrook, his influence was in evidence, we were off to collect something or other--butterflies maybe, who knows.

We started out through the "Colored" cemetery[1], the long path parallel to Cole Street, passed the honeysuckle covered "canned heat jungle." Crossing the railroad tracks, we went along a narrow path up against a fence that surrounded a very large tobacco warehouse, down a gully and across Jackson Branch.

To get across the creek, meant stepping on large exposed rocks, spaced wide apart, perfect for adult's stride. At my size, leaping was the only stride that gave hope of dry shoes--I landed between half the rocks, all it takes is once to end up with a 'shushing' sound the rest of the morning--which I had.

We cleared the creek, and headed up a really steep clay hill, half the time my leather-soled shoes on pine needles and oak leaves, acting more like sled runners. When we reached the top, there was a dirt road that seem to have its beginning there, so we started up the road. 

Maybe after three or four steps, out of nowhere a car came careening around a corner at the far end of the road, stopped, someone got out yelling something--we never knew what, he hauled-off and threw what looked like a sawed-off broomstick handle--or pipe, at us, missing my head by inches--to this day I can still hear that whooshing sound! 

It Scared the absolute HELL out of me! That maybe the most fear I've ever experienced in my entire life--bar none! 

Jimmy must have felt the same way, he yelled for us to "Get the Hell out of here." And we did!

Now here is where the story is doubted by some who knew me then, and my inability to run fast. I was ridiculed far and wide--even into adulthood, it was said, "He couldn't run to Save his Life."

Well, Jimmy and even Duke saw me clear the rocks in Jackson Branch, never missing one, and I did it while in FRONT of Jimmy and even Duke, who by the way, could outrun both of us any day, and twice on Sundays!

Later, I could never get Jimmy to admit the truth of what actually happened. I think he hated admitting running away from the guy in the car in the first place. Or maybe, he just couldn't believe his eyes. Duke was silent on the subject...

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Comments
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
 
Stories, Four

Westbrook at 100 Yards
When I was about nine or ten years old, Bobby Plott and I rode our bikes to the Schoolfield woods. We had our nets and killing bottles with us and were looking for Catocalas (moths that hide on tree bark). 

After about an hour of pushing our bicycles through the woods, I stopped dead in my tracks, sniffed the air and said," I smell Westbrook," to which a voice replied: "Right you are." There standing about 75 yards down the path was John, net in one hand, knapsack in the other, a big Blue Ribbon cigar clinched in his teeth, and a big grin on his face. John had a certain odor, unlike anybody else: a combination of cigar, cyanide from the killing bottles and a musty smell of tannin or leafy smell from the woods.


---***---

The Grave Diggers
One cold winter's day Westbrook's "crud crew" were digging Indian burials on Occoneechee Island, near Clarksville, Virginia, where it was so cold the ground was frozen. Each of us was digging in our own 3 foot deep pit, using trowel and brush, and sometimes a shovel. Because the island was being used as a giant cow pasture where there were nearly dry cow pies everywhere.

Well, after about a half hour of digging, somebody--Johnny we think, tossed a cow chip at one of the nearby pits, and of course, there was retaliation: the shit was flying. Bobby Plott, whose pit opened onto Johnny's pit, ran out of cow droppings and in frustration picked up the largest frozen clod of dirt he could find, and heaved it at Johnny. The big clod dropped into John's lap and broke open--exposing the best preserved skull we ever unearthed on the island.

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
 
Stories, Five

The Littlest Con Artist
When I was about eight or nine, I remember hearing of young Tom Edison's exploits and deciding that I wanted to be an inventor. Of course, not knowing much about anything the likelihood of many early breakthroughs was pretty slim at best.

My brother Harry who was 13 years older and fresh out of the U.S. Army where he had served in the Signal Corps, he had been a tinkerer and had left behind lots of old radios and misc electrical parts.

The adults in the neighborhood knew my brother and were always patting me on top of my head and telling me how smart he was.

One day I had had enough and I set out to make my first invention, mainly to show the 'world' how smart I was!

I took a cigar box and cutting a hole in the top, mounted an old voltmeter in it, and a surplus telescoping antenna out the side of the box. To the meter I wired a flashlight battery.

I told the kids in the neighborhood that I had invented a “water detector.” I would find a gold fish pond in somebody's back yard (almost everyone seem to have one in those days). There I would pull out the antenna and reaching under the cigar box—out of sight, I would jiggle the wires connecting the battery with the meter while passing the extended antenna over the water. Of course the meter would wiggle indicating, what else, but the presence of water.

Not only were the kids impressed, but the adults who saw or heard about it  did everything but raise me on their shoulders. I was declared “Boy Genius” of the neighborhood.

Pretty soon I think most of the kids smelled a rat, but the adults seemed to fall for it, hook line and "Little Stinker."

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Comments
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
 
Stories, Six

Pole Dancing
I was about eight or nine and my brother Harry fresh back from the Army where he had served in the Signal Corps, was now back in his old job at the local telephone office.

Wanting to be just like him, I hung around and asked lots of questions. One of the tricks of the trade that he imparted to me--after lots of pestering,  was how to tap a telephone. The secret was to use a "Capacitor" in-line with headphones, as simple as that. What's a Capacitor? To me, that one secret was the Holy Grail to many great adventures! 

I first tried it on my own phone, I hooked up headphones--with the magic Capacitor in series with one of the headphone wires, lo and behold, it worked! I listened to my father's conversations, and he never knew a thing about it! Talk about a feeling of power.

Pretty quickly I grew tired of that, and I wondered what the neighbors were talking about. So my next trick was to climb a telephone pole and open the silver junction box at the top and, Voilà, everybody's lines were mine!

The telephone poles were designed to prevent that sort of juvenile delinquency, but for those fortunate enough to own climbing spikes--which I didn't. However, I had access to a Government stepladder, courtesy of the National Cemetery. So under the cover of darkness,  with everything short of the kitchen sink, I stole out to the nearest pole and did my thing--confiding in no one.

To my dismay, I kept discovering over and over, the Forty Eight Volts that accompanies every telephone line, was just lurking ready to bite me at any and every false move. 

So, there I am, roped onto the pole, hanging back like I had seen real linemen  do. My first neighbor was one of the Floyd girls, I didn't know which one, but she was gossiping with one of her girl friends--boring!

Not to release any long held secrets from the past, I'll just say for every ten or so calls, one or two was mildly interesting.

Years later, when I actually worked in real telephone office, it was a completely different story. 

But that's another story...

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Stories, Seven

A Tiny Allen Funt
My brother Harry collected all sorts of electronic goodies, before and after the war. Some war surplus, some used semi junk, but all pearls to me!

In his collection was a Public Address system--a real PA. An amplifier, speakers, and several really sensitive microphones, and a wire recorder. All out in the open where I could get my hands on it--his second mistake.

I quickly learned all about PAs, and how if you put the mic near the speaker it could be an art form, or at least something to entertain all the dogs in the neighborhood. Or, if used in excess, the Old Man would, "lock all this Gott Damn stuff away in a closet!"

So the "lesson for the day," if you are secretive about this stuff, the more FUN you can have.

To that end, I would lower a microphone out my second story bedroom window--and Listen. 

One of the first things I heard were the Elder Floyds' talking about how one of the girls was "shamelessly exposing herself, wearing that 'Halter top.'" What the Hell is a Halter Top? Isn't that something a horse wears?

That turned out to be a great revelation, words do have different meanings, just like Miss Semones--my second-grade teacher, said. How about that!

Pretty soon I lost interest in eavesdropping, especially after overhearing, "...how that Little Bastard next door, Blah, Blah, Blah..."

My next adventure was to try and "scare Hell out of the Garbage Men," who were colored convicts serving out their time on the City Farm. These guys were never mean to us, and didn't deserve this kind of treatment. But, Hell, we were little Snot-Noses, what'd you expect?

My partner in crime was Carl Jr., Furgurson--a fellow Snot-Nose. We set up on his property, near his newly built playhouse. Next to his playhouse was the family garbage can, under which we dug a hole and put a cardboard box containing a ten inch loud speaker. We filled in with sand around and on top of the box, and putting back the half filled garbage can, this time on top of a heavy slate slab--and we waited.

Inside the playhouse, crouching down, holding the microphone, we didn't have to wait long, these guys usually move fast, so we knew we had to act fast and be convincing--but just what do we say? We ended up not saying a thing, they moved too fast and we had nothing to say, we hadn't thought it through.

The next day we were better prepared, we had written down what we were going to say. That was when the garbage was picked up nearly every day--except that was when they didn't show up. Anyway, what else did we have to do, it was Summer Time. 

When they showed up we were ready, before they reached the garbage can we both started to call for help--back from the mic, as they got closer we got louder and more frantic. When they opened the lid of the garbage can, we went ape, yelling "bloody murder," those poor guys dropped the lid, backed off and stood there dumbstruck--frozen, seemingly not knowing what to do next or which way to turn. We were ecstatic, having a really difficult time trying NOT to Laugh out loud, while carrying on with the cries for help. Looking back all these years, we did a phenomenal job of holding it all together!

The guys didn't investigate further, they instead turned and left the area--not picking up the garbage.

It was a kind of a disappointment for us, we expected them to at least DIG under the garbage can.

That was a time of naivete more than ignorance, I think given the situation, these guys exercised a kind of native Wisdom...

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Comments
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Stories, Eight

Kiss and Tell
Leighton Elmo Brown, Sr., was a fixture in the neighborhood, we all called him, "Unca Layton," and we liked him a lot. 

His son, Leighton, Jr., or Buster, was about six or seven years older than most of us kids. He was kind of spoiled, he had more and better toys than the rest of us, and he even had a football field in his sideyard. But, all in all, he was a Good guy.

__EXCEPT, he gave me GRIEF of the worst kind! 

He had this one photograph of me and one of the neighborhood's prettiest girls, Diane Traylor, kissing--we were four or five. I had, and have, no idea were the Hell he came up with that particular photograph, I didn't even remember the incident! In my defense I tried claiming that it wasn't me, but for the large bandage on my left thumb from a real clobbering I got from the Cemetery's iron pedestrian gate, gave me away.

Just when I felt like it was safe to go out into the neighborhood, there he'd be with that Damn photograph, razzing my Ass in front of everybody!

If only some older kid, or adult, had suggested to me, that I say,"Ha, She Kissed Me, NOT You! __Naa na na na na Naa..."

That affected my relationship with the opposite sex for many, many years...

Years later I worked for Leighton, Sr., laying tile, he was one of the finest people I've ever known. And to be fair, I worked with Buster during this time, and enjoyed that also, he turned out not to be as big a Jackass as I once thought him!

Later, he married his high school sweetheart, Laura; that was interrupted by his service during the Korean War, afterwards they raised their two great kids on the family farm on the Banister River near Chatham, Virginia.

---***---

On a nice Spring day early 1958, Buster and Laura invited my mother and myself to supper at their farm. Laura turned out to be a very good cook, but Buster still poured on the salt, pepper and catsup, never realizing how much she had improved from when they were first married.

While we were there, I got to see how they were raising their two kids.
Without exaggeration, I may have had the best Short Course on child rearing Ever! 

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Stories, Nine

The Tree House
  (The Burning Bush)
Around 1948 Charles Davis, the son of the Superintendent of the City's Green Hill Cemetery, who lived in the cemetery, built a tree house in the "Colored Cemetery" (Freedman's Cemetery), next door.

It was in one of the few large trees in that cemetery, a ceder tree in questionable health, very near the adjourning corners of both it and the National Cemetery.

The story goes something to the effect that, Charles and Jimmy Gravely were finishing up the tree house, which had an abundance of cardboard as building materials. For light, Charles had a Kerosene Lantern that was running low on fuel, so he sent Jimmy home to fetch some Kerosine. Jimmy found only some motorboat fuel that his father used in his boat--gasoline. He took that and apparently they both thought that "Gasoline, Kerosine, they are all the same."

The lantern put out a brighter light than the kerosine, but only for a minute or two. Whoosh! The gasoline overheated and the lantern went up, and so too did the tree house--Cardboard and All.

They both dived out of the burning tree house, Charles breaking his arm on the way down.

The first I knew about the fire was when we got back from going to the movies, about ten o'clock that night. We drove in the driveway and noticed that the place was covered with water, and smelled of smoke. Looking at the water marks, you could tell where large hoses were dragged. Signs later that confirmed the Danville Fire Department had indeed been there!

That ceder tree had been finished off for sure, if there had been any question of its health, that was settled, although it showed green for the next three or four years before it finally gave up the ghost.

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Comments
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Stories, Ten

Bullies Abound
The block had its bullies. Some of the older kids in the neighborhood, sometimes made my life a living hell. They use to throw rocks at my dog Duke, just to hear me cuss. On top of having to put up with my Old Man's Crap, they only added to my misery. 

Once after one such episode, I picked up a bat and went after Walter Cobb, who was three or four years older, and he left me alone for a while.

My biggest antagonist was Jimmy Gravely--who was four years older. Jimmy like to do things like put rocks inside snow balls. Once he cut my fingers (still have the scars), with a pocket knife through the gate in my own front yard. My father confronted him, he sassed my old man, my father lost it and slapped Jimmy. Jimmy's father called the cops, but later dropped the charges because that day we were burying my brother, Frank...


---***---

Good Guys Also Abound
On the other side of the coin, the block also had its antithesis of bullies.

Bobby Plott was four years older than several of us, but he never acted as though that mattered, and I never saw him treat anyone in a condescending, threatening, or a bullying way--never. 

Bobby got along with everybody, if I had to pick my best friend, I think I, along with most, thought of him in those terms.

Bobby was smart too, being several grades ahead, just being around him I learned a lot, by the time I got to 'that class' I was "well briefed."

Johnny Westbrook also shared our opinion, he thought the world of Bobby.

And, most importantly, he never smacked me upside the head with a rock-filled Snowball!

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Stories, Eleven

A Coincidence
(What are the odds?)
Around July 1959, I was in the USAF at Chanute AFB in Illinois, attending school. Midway through, we were offered a brief respite from the grueling routine by way of the Chaplain's office--a religious retreat at Estes Park Colorado. We were sold on volunteering to go by a dapper young Captain in a immaculate gabardine Summer uniform, not a wrinkle or hair out of place, I would have picked him as a fighter pilot, never a Chaplain! 

His main selling point was that there would be college girls waiting on us, "hand and foot."

I asked him if that wasn't kind of crass for a religious person, he said that he would use anything that would get us out there.

Only about three or four from our squadron went--it was Free, and we got away from three AM wake up calls and eight hour classes and G.I. parties for a week, I have no idea why everybody didn't go.

We flew out on a C-47 wearing parachutes sitting in canvas "jump seats," that was made worse by air sickness--passing around an empty parachute container, each contributing. I had an unlucky accident of sitting by an emergency hatch that swung open in mid flight, and luckily, my parachute stopped me from going out--that got the old heart going! Several unhappy souls stayed back cleaning out the aircraft--Yuck!

Estes Park was beautiful, and cool, cooler than Illinois in mid July! The atmosphere was very relaxed, the promised college girls were in abundance, and everyone--officers and enlisted, were in civvies.

The second day I was approached by a couple, one of whom looked very familiar, it was Grace Euline Scruggs--who lived with her brother Leonard, directly across the street from me at 714 Lee Street. I hadn't seen her in over ten years, although I did know she was a Captain in the Air Force. We both were astonished, to say the least. Talk about a Small World!  _What are the Odds?
 

P.S. While on the subject of, "it's a Small World." 
A year later I was back, TDY at Chanute AFB, attending a refresher course, and who do I run across, none other than, Jimmy Farley (Paxton Avenue), a  close friend I have known since childhood.

Again, what are these Odds? 

gaw____________________


 Other Wild Coincidences: 
         Coincidence #1
         Coincidence #2
 

INDEX
Contact
Comments
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Stories, Twelve

Buster & The Fallout Shelter
In 1961 I took a job that required me to spend the next year and a half on an island in the central Pacific, Kwajalein, Island, in the Marshall, Islands, on a anti ballistic missile project for Western Electric/Bell Labs. 

Back then the world was at the peak of the Cold War, and everyone was expecting the very real possibility of a "Nuclear Exchange," and many were building fallout shelters.

So before I left on my great adventure, I set about building a home fallout shelter, for my Mom. I asked Buster's advice on its construction and he was able to help me avoid the usual mistakes.

As I progressed on my month long project, Buster came by to check on my progress, and made helpful suggestions--as well as, headed off some blunders that were real doozies. As anyone who knows Buster would expect, he started to show up every day after work to help in the construction, from mixing mud, to carrying and laying the specially made 30 lb solid concrete blocks. This went on for a solid month--he never missed a day.

Along with help in building the shelter, Buster was responsible for a lot of the design ideas. He also was generous in giving his spare tools as well as a large "Mud Mixing Box," that helped enormously.

Some thought the idea of a "fallout shelter" a joke, that is until the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. While I was in the middle of the Pacific, at the only location on Earth that had any possibility of defending against Ballistic Missiles, my mother made preparations to take up residence in her shelter about that time. Thought she never had to use it, she told me later that it gave her a feeling of reassurance. 

We both were grateful to the Almighty, and to Buster Brown--in that order.

P.S. I can't tell this story without admitting to my blunder. Near the finish, I brought up something that had been on my mind, I blurted out something to the effect that I "owed him something for his time." As the last syllable left my lips, I realized My Mistake! Buster got this real hurt look on his face--a look I had never seen, ever. I quickly apologized, but the damage was done.

As painful as this is to recount, I realize that I got the Real Measure of the Man, in my crude attempt to assuage My feelings of obligation... 

Like I said about his "Old Man," Buster was a Damn Good Man!

Leighton Elmo "Buster" Brown, Jr., 1930 - 2012.
We Miss you Buddy...

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Stories, Thirteen

The Bitter Fruits (and Vegetables) 
Our main meeting place was on the wall, under the streetlight, where the National and Green Hill cemeteries joined, across from Carl, Jr. Furgurson's house--mentioned in Pat Furgurson's Smithsonian Magazine article.

We use to gather around twilight and decide what to do the rest of the evening--who's fruit was ripe and whether to bring salt for the green apples and/or green tomatoes. We loved both, and would Pig Out until we all had the obligatory belly ache. This from the same kids who, at home, wouldn't touch Veggies with a ten foot fork!

We swore that fruits and vegetables tasted best only if they came from somebody else's backyard. In those days everybody had something tasty growing in their backyards. It was a "right of passage," to sample each and every one as many times as we could without getting caught.

When there wasn't anything available from the backyards, we would resort to the Persimmon trees in the overgrown "Colored" cemetery. They were good, if they were ripe--on the ground, if not, they would turn your mouth inside out--yuck!

Then there were the Monkey Cigars. We never waited til they dried and fallen off the trees on their own. We would "harvest" them green, directly off the tree and put them on somebody's roof to "Cure," and wait. Way before they were ready, we would sample them--talk about getting sick... And we would wait some more; none of us excelled at waiting!

But back to our Midnight Shopping Sprees: Of all the backyard contraband, the White Grapes were unbeatable--bar none!  _Speaking of which:

I remember one night we were between the Wilkerson's backyard and the Scruggses', somebody yelled at us to "get out of my yard," I was on the tip top of the fence and the yelling scared me so bad that I fell and caught my clothes on the way down. 

There I was hanging upside down and panicking. In trying to get loose I fell on my head and it knock me out for a few seconds. I tried to get free, I was still caught and half Cuckoo, just then Leonard Scruggs appears and freed me and carries me a few feet until I wriggled free--thanked him, then ran like Hell!

Years later I was watching, for the first time, "To Kill a Mockingbird," the night scene in Boo Radley's yard when Jem got caught on the fence--Wow, it was Déjà vu, on Steroids!

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Comments
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Stories, Fourteen

Railroad Tracks & Treasures
For us kids, the Southern Railway tracks held the lure of great adventures and abundant treasures.

The long grade South out of Danville help put me to sleep many-a-night. The narrow cuts and intervening hills with forests of pine and oaks changed the "chugging Steam Engine" sounds to a 'mesmerizing' lullaby putting everybody where no elixir--magic or otherwise, could.

The tracks themselves held a fascination, from 'smushing' pennies into flat featureless blobs of brown Copper, to being an endless source of partially burned "Fuzees" that we collected like gold. We looked and looked for unexploded signal "Torpedoes," but mercifully, never found any.

There were two sets of tracks, northbound and southbound, the northbound tracks--approaching the station, were markedly darker, this was a mystery until Leonard Scruggs told us that whenever a passenger train approached the station they flushed all the toilets--Yuck!! From then on, we all walked on the "lighter side."

Occasionally we would walk the tracks for miles, South to Schoolfield, or North to Dan River's railroad bridge, sometimes across to Tippet’s Crossing in North Danville. I remember there was a junk yard under the railroad bridge at the water's edge. There were all sorts of things, including items from the knitting mill, but the real lure, war surplus Helmet Liners, thousand of em--one pile as tall as a house! 

Near the river was the train station and close by was Southern's Shops, a huge building with no doors, tracks going in and out, with giant axels and wheel sets lined up on the tracks. Over open pits were two or three locomotives being serviced--but with nobody ever in sight, nobody. 

There were always wild rumors about dead bodies or severed limbs to fingers and toes, found along the tracks. I never saw any myself--except, one time Bobby Plott told me he had found a finger down by the tracks. 

He presented a small dirty white gift box, opened it, there it was, dirty, greasy and bloody, a finger lying on soiled cotton. I looked at it and gagged--Yuck! Then the finger--Bobby's finger, "wiggled." For a split second it scared Hell out of me--Bobby broke out laughing. I didn't forgive him for a whole half a day ;-). Boy that thing looked like the Genuine article!

With the lingering Depression still a reality, the 'rails' was transportation for everybody, both inside and outside the railcar. The tracks spawned an infinite number of hobo camps and canned heat jungles in and along its length, "way-stations" like the scenes in movies of the thirties...

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Stories, Fifteen

Little Nasty Piece of Work
As a kid, sometimes I could be a "Nasty Piece of Work,"  often bitter and resentful, to the point of looking for a fight or something to get bent out of shape over. 

When adults--relatives or strangers, would rub the top of my head and call me by some "cutesy" name, they might as well've pulled my nose hairs! My first impulse was to let fly a string of cuss words and to kick them in the shins--or higher, but usually I just turned red, and fumed in silence. I had learned that my cussing  sometimes had consequences, either my Old Man would smack the Crap out-a-me, or it would "hurt" my mother.

There was one guy, an insurance salesman named Preston Ozland who use to frequent the neighborhood. Every time he would see me he would rub my head and call me "Nimrod," I hated that! Who or what the Hell was a "Nim Rod?" It didn't help much when I found out that Nimrod was known as "The Mighty Hunter." I was neither Mighty, nor a Hunter! Looking back, I of course should have cut him some slack, but I was just a "snot-nosed kid," that's what snot-nosed kids do.

On the other hand, there was our postman who didn't talk down to me, and he kept his Damn mits out of my hair--he treated me more like an "equal." Him I liked! I wish I could remember his name--it's on the tip of my brain...

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Comments
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Stories, Sixteen

The Register and Bee

Around 1951 or 52, I "bought" a Register and Bee paper route, I believe from Roger Furgurson[1]. I had around 212 customers, on all of the Lee Streets, lower Jefferson, down to Aye, including some on Industrial Ave., up to Isom's store. That was a formative experience, to say the least! 

I worked for "Mutt" Douglas in the Delivery department of the paper, his name says it all. He was a stern man you didn't want to cross. If a customer complained he was on their side, but if he felt the customer was in the wrong, he was on your side. Bottom line, you were inclined not to disappoint him. 

I made surprising amounts of money, and was able to buy my "toys" without parental involvement, the first of which was a Century Graphic press camera, and film, and flash bulbs, and dark room supplies, and the Kitchen Sink--literally! 

Every Saturday morning I collected for the paper, which I hated doing. I learned more about human nature than I cared to know. The people that I thought would pay, didn't, and the people that I thought would be the most likely to try to beat me out of paying, paid without hesitation. And some of these people I had known most of my life--at fifteen I was really disillusioned!

Off of Jefferson between Lee and the RR tracks was Buford Street,  a short dead end road where most people worked for the Danville Knitting Mills, on Lynn Street. They were hard working for the most part, and aged beyond their years. One of them, Mister Lumpkin, a dear man who lived alone in a very modest two room green house. Every Saturday morning when I collected, he was there waiting. He would invite me inside, go to a dish on top of his bureau and get the money--exact change, and pay his bill. 

Beside the dish were photos of his, now grown, children, he often pointed to and would tell me all about them with a father's pride. The stories were always the same, so was the pride. I never met or saw any of his children. 

Since I had over a hundred more customers to collect from, I would often rush off to the next, trying not to be too rude.

When I ended my career as a "paper carrier," one of things I missed was my visits with Mister Lumpkin. Several times afterwards, I stopped by to say Hi, but I always seem to miss him.

It occurred to me much later that I probably was one of the few--if not his only visitor...

gaw____________________

[1] It was either Roger or the guy that bought it from Roger.
INDEX
Contact
Comments
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Stories, Seventeen

Green Hill Cemetery

You enter Green Hill from the main gate--off Lee, and down the paved "main drag" that runs Southeast by South, past impressive mausoleums on both sides, up to and around the Confederate Soldiers Monument situated on a high mound surrounded by cedar trees. Continuing on the other side was an unelevated gazebo like structure, we called the Summer House. From there we watched the passing trains, or pretended it a fortress and fought imaginary foe--the Germans mostly. A few feet away the graves of distant cousins from my fathers family, the Lipscombs and Gravelys. 

The Summer House had a fine gravel floor covered at times with Doodle Bug "holes." We would take a pine needle and stir while chanting, "Doodle Bug, Doodle Bug, come out, come out, wherever you are..." until the the little bug emerged--then we'd move on to the next, leaving him to dig another.

For the most part, we were good "stewards of the land," though we didn't know it at the time. We never vandalized, in fact we tended to clean up the place... Some of that a reflection of good parenting, and some, Johnny Westbrook's insistence on "always leaving the place like you found it--or better."

My brothers and I were all born in cemeteries. I was born in the lodge of the Soldier's Home National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., now called "United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery." When I was eighteen months, my family moved to the National Cemetery on Lee Street.

Growing up in the National Cemetery I had a Huge Yard to play in, but the real action always seem to be in Green Hill or the Colored Cemetery.

Green Hill had a lot of mausoleums, the "Shelton" mausoleum being the largest; these were our "Forts." The Boatright memorial was our favorite place for telling ghost stories--after dark, of course. 

Green Hill also had a couple of "sometime" creeks that had their share of crayfish and tadpoles--never fish.

There came a time the main attractions were the many flowering bushes and their allure to Lee Street's Butterflies. Johnny Westbrook had equipped many of us kids with butterfly nets, killing bottles, pins and blotter material, and most important, the Desire to Collect. 

Jimmy Gravely and I use to go from early morning to sunset picking off anything and everything that moved or looked like it might--and mounting same. 

We each had our own collection of poorly mounted insects which improved considerably, after proper instruction and an infusion of "professional" supplies, straight from New York City's "The Ward Company"--both by way of Westbrook...

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Comments
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Stories, Eighteen

Watch that First Step

I was about seven years old when I first started going on day hikes with Johnny Westbrook. Once, our second grade class was hiking to Pumpkin Creek, and along the way I realized I had to "go to the bathroom"--really Badly! I had to do "Number Two."

I knew that 'Mr. Westbrook' carried toilet paper for just such occasions, so I discretely told him what I needed to do. He gave me a small roll of toilet paper and told me to go up the trail to do my business, and that they would wait there until I finished. So I walked up the trail, out of sight of everyone, and did my business.

When I came back to where everybody was waiting, we all proceeded up the trail in the direction that I had done, you know, my business. To my horror there on the trail was my "business." I had done it right in the middle of the trail, there for all the world to see.  __What in the Hell was I Thinking? I felt about an inch high, and on top of that, I got a rather pointed lecture from Mr. Westbrook about "Not 'Crapping' where everybody else has to Walk!" 

Sixty mumble years later I can still remember every horrifying detail, and the comments from the other kids--especially the girls...  __Yikes!
 

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Comments
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Stories, Nineteen

My Radio Days
(...orange glow of a magical Dial--behind which the whole World lay)

Recently I was listening to some original Glenn Miller, it took me back many many years to my childhood during my WWII days.

Among my most vivid memories--aside from the air raid drills, with the family huddled in a closed small room, shades drawn, with only a dim half painted light bulb, and scrap metal drives where no metal object in the house was safe; is the family RCA with its great Shortwave band.

The soft hypnotic orange glow of its # 47 piløt lamp, illuminated its magical Dial--behind which the whole World lay. That Radio transported anyone listening to the most mysterious ends on the globe.

I would sit there and listen for hours, strange sounds, morse code, radio teletype, the BBC with its trade mark, Big Ben chimes, and "This is London calling." So many foreign tongues, having no idea what was being said, except for the occasional, "Allies," or "Third Reich," or "Herr Hitler..."

But hearing Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller--both on the local station and shortwave--with its fading, static, and the quick volume changes; and, of course, my brothers' record player repeatedly playing their favorite five old 78's, was/is memorable--to this day... 

Back then, that Dial with its single dull orange color; the "Pictures" coming out of that old RCA have yet to be matched from any TV, computer, or home theater...
 

gaw____________________
INDEX
Contact
Comments
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Stories, Twenty

My WWII Heroes

A Memorial Day letter to my brother Harry, a decorated WWII veteran, Sunday 24 May 1998.

 Dear Harry, 

I don't know if you wish someone--particularly a Veteran, "Happy Memorial Day" or not. 

Watching several Memorial Day related things on TV in recent days reminded me of "My" WWII days. 

I remember the scrap metal drives, the air raid drills--turning out all the lights, pulling the shades and sitting in one room with the only illumination coming from a dim yellow light bulb half of which was painted black. 

And the Star hanging in the front window--over the couch, telling the neighbors that My "Big Brother" was Serving his/our Country. 

Needless to say I was proud of my Big Brother Harry! 

Later as the War dragged on and the endless parade of Soldiers being buried on a daily--sometimes twice daily, many with no Next-of-Kin, only Legionaries at graveside. (Thank God for the Legionaries, at least they understood what these young men, and their families had sacrificed). 

It slowly dawned on me--what Mom & Dad already knew, that one day one of these brave young men could be You. It was a realization in a child's way of picturing the world, that My Big Brother, My Hero, was truly in "Harm's Way," and that I might never see him again. My nightly prayers became more than a childish recitation from there on out. 

I remember going to the movies and watching my Heroes like John Wayne and Randolph Scott, single-handedly winning the WAR; sometimes the news reels would show something a little closer to reality, and occasionally there would be shots of, what to me, then as now, was the sadist sight in the world; scenes of a beach-head were some of the guys never even made it to shore, floating in the back water face-up, sometimes partially covered by sand. It was a picture of "Promise that was to never be." 

Then came the thing that every loved-one cringed at the mere thought of, "The Telegram," Boy how that Stung! But at least You were still ALIVE! 

Later we got news that you were awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Silver Star for "Gallantry in Action." Boy was I proud of My Big Brother, he was a Hero! 

In the many years since, I look back at my childhood collection of Heroes: Joe Louis, Babe Ruth, John Wayne, and years later, my Big Brother Harry. 

Most "Heroes" can never live up to that Word, and never wish to. 

Reflecting back over my lifetime, I try to think of who my REAL Heroes were. I realize that My Big Brother Harry, had a Profound Impact on my life! 

To Me You have been a Brother, a "Father," a Role Model, and a Best Friend. 

To God and Country, You are a Decent, Honest and a Caring Son, Husband, Father & Friend. 

Sadly, too often the Real Heroes go unrecognized--even by those closest. 

Harry, this Memorial Day seems a good time to tell You that you are My Hero, and that You have always been--whether I have always known it at the time or not! 

And, that your Medals have nothing to do in making you that Hero, but are confirmation of that fact.

Thanks to You and your Comrades, I never had to Fight a War. And--God Willing, my children will never have to Fight a War--For that, I Thank You All! 

I Love You Big Brother Harry, and God Bless America. 

Your brother, Glen

gaw__
__________________
INDEX
Contact
Comments
Stories   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

 
 


  LINKS
Lee Street's Rogues' Gallery . (GWHS Yearbook) +
Lee Street Views
Smithsonian Magazine
Johnny Westbrook
A Father's Instructions for Life
Find a Grave.com
  The Dead Bell.com  (Green Hill history)
John Estlow.com
Harrumpher.com
history of the education of African Americans.pdf
history of Danville, VA  1728 - 1954
Glen's Junk
.....Glen's Sea Stories
.....Williamson-Labs.
.....City of Danville ~ Public Works take ~ Cripple's Car...
.....

INDEX
Contact
Comments

 

 



 

©  2012 - 2016  webmaster

 
 
Comment Box is loading comments...

 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

</body