After victory, back to living
The year was 1946, and it was a good time to still be living. So many millions had perished at the hands of the Axis Powers, but that was behind us, and I can still feel the pride in this nation as soldiers, sailors and marines walked up and down the streets straight and alert, making me want to mimic those men, and feel nearly six feet tall myself, which would have been a feat in self for a six year old.
I remember flags being everywhere and there were smiles and laughter, and I can clearly recall my daddy coming home in his OD coat with that little “ruptured duck” insignia sewed over his pocket indicating he was honorably discharged.
Life got back in gear, and we prepared to stop using war ration books. (I still have one half full of unused stamps). Folks many of us remember began to do what Americans do, and that is move forward. I’ve done some research on some of those individuals who got us going full steam, and the balance of this column will mention just a few of those heroes.
Fred and Erskine Braswell opened up a paint and hardware store between C.L. Simmons and Traeger’s Bakery. A VFW post was started in Linden with Willie Gray Little as the commander. The Ferromine Company in Dayton advertised their medicine to cure you from being mean and grouchy from loss of sleep because your kidneys don’t work right, and hats were on sale at Nathan M. Levy’s for 98 cents.
Gaineswood was sold from Clarence Kirven to Dr. J.D. McLeod, they built an ice plant down close to the L&N RR in Linden, and SSS Tonic was advertised to do away with gas.
There were big newspaper ads showing Coach Frank Thomas from Alabama drinking Lime Cola, and the ad featured the 1945 schedule of Bama’s undefeated year, including the 34-14 win over USC in the Rose Bowl.
The Veteran groups lobbied for the county to vote for putting liquor back on the store shelves, but the “dries” won 1416-1052.
Not to be outdone the veterans organized the Black belt baseball league with York, Livingston, Demopolis, Thomaston, Linden and Butler. A few of the notable players from Demopolis were John Caldwell, Sammie Nettles, Presh Vaughan, Stewart Reynolds and John Spight. Linden had the likes of Luke Lewis, Robert Lewis, Jack Whitcomb, O.B. Whitcomb, Leroy Thompson and Mack Pritchett. Linden won the league championship.
There were some pretty fair football players still in high school with DHS Tigers being Tom Compton, T.M. Culpepper, Dick Maxey, A.G. Westbrook, Elmer Pruitt, Billy Traeger and Sport Mercer. That bunch whupped The Linden Devils 19-0, and did some going to get by Devils such as Bill Pope, Melvin Nichols, B.S. Phillips, Bob Holston, David Cobb and Doc Quinney.
Way on down yonder in Sweetwater the high school Bulldogs suited up Allen and Louis Ramsey and Cecil Luker, while the Thomaston Tigers had two tough ones in Rudolph Parker and Hub Maroney.
There was a column in The Democrat Reporter called “Devilish Diggins”, and the first one that year reported that Jean Wynne was sitting in study hall surrounded by five of her ardent admirers, and Bill Drinkard was rotating around from one girl to another giving them a thrill. Billy Rhodes was just staring straight ahead was the report; while Jeff Jeffrey was drawing pictures acting like he was busy.
You could buy a plaid mackinaw coat at Bedsoles for $3.50, and there were two more businesses set up in Demopolis. Trotman Electric started, and Thomas, Sam and Henry Clay Graves bought out the interest of Henry Koch in Demopolis Wholesale Grocery, which was the beginning of the long running Graves Company.
Yissir! 1946 was the best of years, and they kept on being good ‘uns on up through the 50s as far as my memories of”the good ol’ times.” Now thing about it is that folks kept on memory banking, and still are, and the fact is that all of us store up some new recollections every day of whatever year in which we find ourselves surrounded by the folks who trigger those times in our lives, whether 1946 or 2014.
There was peace in 1946, and that is one thing we can all put our hearts and minds to as we pray for love and brotherhood in our time. Amen.
— Tom Boggs is a columnist for the Demopolis Times and a native of Marengo County. His column,“Days Gone Bye,” appears weekly.