2018-03-08 / News

Kitty Bits

Just around the corner from Hartsfield-Jackson

Daylight Saving Time starts on Sunday, March 11. Don’t forget to spring forward Saturday night, setting your clocks one hour ahead.


In response to the question about getting back to W-W from the airport in Atlanta, Doug Abramson had this to say…

“Dispensing with unnecessary early details:

Take Exit 138 off I-20

Take 77 to 44 to Washington

Right on Callow Drive (by the Golden Pantry)

Left on Allison St.

Right on Court Street

Right on West Square.

What could be easier? No redgreen traffic lights. Only three stop signs! (I-20 exit ramp; the left on 77 in Union Point; on 44 just before Wilkes County). Two blinking traffic signals (but you have the yellow side). Google says 113 miles.

Nice scenery. Little traffic. “


Our apologies to Michele Hamlin. We added an extra “l” to her name in last week’s column. We realized our mistake but the issue had already gone to press. Thank you for writing to Kitty Bits. We promise to get your name right next time.


We get our history lesson this week from the Thursday, June 11, 1942 edition of The News-Reporter. This issue, published during World War II, gives such an insight into the community’s life during wartime. The front page “flag” with The News-Reporter’s name, publication date, volume, cost, etc. is flanked with U.S. War Bonds messages, “V for Victory with United States War Bonds and Stamps” and “Remember Bataan. Invest a Dime Out of Every Dollar in U.S. War Bonds.” The front page featured news from Wilkes servicemen, giving updates on the men through the letters written to their Wilkes County loved ones. News from Master Sergeant Joseph R. Dyson, Pvt. John N. Glaze, Lieut. Robert E. Callaway, Technical Sergeant Chase Ward, and Pvt. Marion Willingham are included. Also, “Ben Irvin’s most recent letter was dated May 2nd and came from Australia where he says his squadron is camped in a small evacuated town. No white inhabitants remain but the U.S. airmen see occasional bushmen on the outskirts of their camp. He writes that the mosquitoes are so tremendous that they fly in formation with the planes. The men get hungry for something to read, their few magazines are worn threadbare. He has seen one moving picture since his arrival in Australia, ‘Broadway Melodies of 1938’ and writes that it was grand. His address in one corner of the envelope bore the title of Captain Irvin, of which he modestly made no mention.”


The local Rationing Board announced its plan to make extra sugar rations available to home canners, one pound of sugar to every four quarts of fruit to be processed. Because of sugar rationing and shortages Miss Sheppie Moorhead, Wilkes County Home Demonstration Agent, offered weekly recipes substituting honey for the sugar. Honey Apple Pie and Honey Ice Cream were featured in this issue and they sound really good to us.


And since it was a June issue, summertime visits to the beach were a topic. Jacksonville, Florida beaches were evidently a popular destination for Wilkes County vacationers. The Jacksonville Beach Chamber of Commerce encouraged visitors with the claim, “No need for auto. Enjoy vacation by taking bus or train to Jacksonville, then connecting with fast inter-urban buses to beach. Also local bus service at beaches with 10 cent fare in five-mile area. So many Washington people have asked about local transportation at Jacksonville Beach this summer that the Chamber of Commerce announces new hourly schedules maintained by large motor buses between Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and to the South end of Jacksonville Beach. With new war time in vogue one may be assured of 15 hours daily of sunshine, bathing, fishing, with the usual night frolics in full swing although lights on the outside have been dimmed as a patriotic aid to shipping, creating a new romantic twilight to the lure of this famous beach.” We wonder how long it took to get to Jacksonville by bus or train back then. We looked it up and there’s still a bus route from Washington to Jacksonville. It looks like it’s at 7:50 p.m. every evening and takes almost 17 hours (with one transfer) at a cost anywhere from $52 to $119 one way, depending on the day of the week and the type of ticket. Who knew?


But WWII wasn’t the only war discussed in this issue. We find on the front page a story headlined, “Washington Sets Date Declaring War On Rodents.” The accompanying article gave the details. “The wharf rat has become so destructive in Washington and Wilkes County that Tuesday, June 16 has been set as the date to wage a cooperative war against them. It will be necessary for each individual to make arrangements in advance for his part of the poison or bait that will be used. You may do this at the City Hall in Washington on Thursday afternoon, June 11, all day Friday June 12 and Saturday morning, June 13. H.H. Barnett Vocational Agriculture Teacher of Washington High School, who is sponsoring this campaign, will be at the City Hall on the dates named to help you decide how much and which kind of bait you should use. The cost to each individual is very little.” The article continued with information from A.W. Simpson, M.D. on how wharf rats “not only destroy property, but act as host to the waxhead flea, which, when infected carries the dread Typhus fever germ. We have no medical cure for Typhus fever and those who survive its ravages spend weeks in bed and months disabled.”

Aside from the war emphasis, the overwhelming majority of this issue was coverage of the opening of The Wilkes Theatre. The whole town was in a frenzy of excitement over the new venue, evidenced by page after page of congratulatory advertisements offering best wishes to the owner. Photos on the front page showed both the exterior and interior of the new theatre scheduled to open that night. There was even an inside page with a photo of the projector. “The opening of the new Wilkes Theatre in Washington marks the realization of a dream on the part of Mrs. Willingham Wood, Washington’s foremost woman financier. This dream she has cherished since that day, back in 1923, when she daringly pledged everything she possessed, including her credit and future financial security, to purchase her first motion picture theatre, in Washington, and embark upon a venture absolutely foreign to her. ‘Each time I have bought a theatre since that day,’ Mrs. Wood told me, ‘it was with the idea of building it up, selling it at a profit, and using the proceeds toward creating a beautiful and perfectly equipped theatre in my own home town.’” We have heard of movies serving as an escape during wartime, but reading through these pages gives an insight into just how import it actually was. Jane Newsome, “The Office Cat” would have been ten years old at the time of this opening. We wish she was here to give her memories of it. If you have any memories of the theatre we would love to hear them.

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