2018-05-31 / Kitty Bits

Kitty Bits

Can’t remember seeing a star

We have a magazine cover star here in our county! Young Reese Smith is featured on the Spring 2018 issue of Your Health Today, the magazine for Augusta University Health system. Anyone who meets Reese is blessed by the joyful spirit he possesses, despite being born with multiple birth defects, requiring hospital stays and surgeries that most people couldn’t imagine getting through. But, Reese has been loved and cared for at Children’s Hospital of Georgia since before his birth and now exclaims that the hospital is his “favorite place on Earth.” Reese is a little superhero, inspiring others and spreading his joy everywhere he goes. To read more about Reese go to yourhealth.augustahealth.org and click on “patient stories.” You’ll find the story, “Reese: Defying the Odds” under pediatric triumphs.


This bit is just too good not to share. Steve Blackmon called to say that he clearly remembers his high school graduation, mentioned in the “75 years ago this week” portion of last week’s column. He remembers his senior yearbook, which he has donated to a remembrance collection. But the memory that we really enjoyed is that of his senior trip. He says that the class took a train ride to Crawfordville. Steve said that they had to surround their case of Cokes with planks to be allowed to take them on the train. “Primitive” was the word he used to describe his senior trip, as opposed to the sophisticated cruises and resorts that kids enjoy now. But if we could all turn out as well as Steve we should be wishing for train rides to Crawfordville. The class just enjoyed the time spent together, not all the bells and whistles of a fancy trip. However, we do suspect that they got a train whistle or two out of the ride.


Vivian Walker brought a May 2018 copy of Augusta magazine by the office to show us a write-up of particular interest. A lengthy article features information and photos on a beautiful Summerville home on Walton Way, nearly 100 years old, which was built and designed by Willis Irvin. Irvin was a Washington, Georgia, native who built upscale homes in Georgia and South Carolina from 1910 through the 1940s. The home was recently bought and renovated and the results are extraordinary. The magazine is probably in stores for purchase, and also, a copy of the magazine is available to check out from the Mary Willis Library for those interested in reading more on the home. We are curious to find out more about Willis Irvin, his family, and homes he designed here in our own county. The History of Wilkes County, Georgia by Robert M. Willingham, Jr. gives information about Irvin designing H.A. Clary’s home on East Main in 1920. We will try to find out more.


During a recent trip to Emory Midtown on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, we were having a chat with a research coordinator who was interested in where we live. We were describing Washington-Wilkes and telling him that there were probably more people in that building than in our entire county. The discussion turned to benefits of living in a small town and we mentioned the beauty of the night sky. At that point, the young man who lives in the big city, sighed and said, “I can’t remember the last time I saw a star.” So tonight (if it isn’t raining), go outside, take a deep breath, look upward, and appreciate the beauty we have here that we so often take for granted.


Gil Hearn emailed about the old country club. “You’ve probably already heard from others on this. I noted your comment in the 5/17/18 edition regarding the country club pool opening 85 years ago. Olive Wills told my class several times about the original [location] of the country club at 925 Spring. The clubhouse still exists as a residential home, but the pool was filled in long ago. There was a large hill on Spring Street which was cut away as well. The tall bank in front of my childhood/parents’ home at 902 is evidence of this severe grading. Ms. Wills told us stories about that hill but I don’t remember the specifics.” If anyone knows the stories about that hill we would love to hear them. Olive Wills taught swimming lessons for decades and hundreds (maybe thousands) of Wilkes County children earned Red Cross certifications because of her patience and commitment.


A recent email exchange with a former News-Reporter employee had us laughing. Denise Armour, who now works at the W-W Primary School was providing identification for us of some children in photos that were being published in the paper. After identifying the students she reported that one day she accidentally answered the school phone, “News-Reporter,” out of habit from so many years working here. (Hopefully, we aren’t getting her in any trouble! We don’t think so, since her principal worked here too.) We asked if the caller wanted to renew his/her “prescription,” which is something we hear quite frequently. Since our family purchased the paper back in 1967 there have been countless valuable employees, from full-time office workers and reporters, pressmen, to the teenagers and Soto Assisted Living workers who inserted and addressed the papers. Now things are streamlined and out-sourced, but we reminisce often about our News-Reporter family of workers. Inky handprints on the walls in the back press room, put there by the teenagers, greet us every time we come or go through the back door, reminders of days gone by. We’ve talked about having a reunion here in the old building. But the first thing to do would be to compile a list of anyone who has worked for Wilkes Publishing. So, there’s no time like the present. We’ll start the list and if you worked here or know of someone who did give us a call or email us with name, address, and phone number.


Jerry McAvoy stopped by to look through our old photos the other day and was surprised by how many there are, and even more surprised by how many interesting finds surfaced within a few minutes. He said he will come back when he has a little more time. We hope to get a table and chairs set up to make it more comfortable for folks who want to browse through the boxes of prints. One of the old photos that ran recently has been mailed to the photo’s subject, Rob Pierce, who was actually Jean and Helen Pierce’s son (not grandson as published earlier). We hope to reunite many more.


Mercer Harris photographs the graduates at W-WCHS receiving their diplomas every year. He offers these to the graduates at no cost. Graduates just need to stop by the studio on Spring Street to pick them up.


Debbie Anderson called the office to bring something to our attention. She reported that Lee Campbell has been in charge of setting up the voting machines in Wilkes County for 50 years. That’s quite an accomplishment and an unrecognized job that he has been faithful to perform through all the elections over the years. We never question that the machines will be set up at the precincts. We never give any thought about who sets them up and takes them down. They don’t just magically appear and disappear. We thought you would like to know and we will have more about this in a story soon.


Borrowing from the May 27, 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.

100 years ago this week On account of the pressing need of personal attention to the farms, the June Quarterly Term of City Court is adjourned to the next regular term. New York has passed a law to rid the state of idlers and slackers. We should do no less. Do you believe this one? We’re thinking the law wasn’t very effective. - KB

85 years ago this week

Next to Texas, Georgia is the nation’s largest producer of cotton, and cotton is the chief export from the port of Savannah. Japan buys far more U.S. cotton than any other nation of the world.

The remodeled Strand Theatre will reopen Monday night. Among other features that will be enjoyed by patrons will be the new, improved sound system.

The county relief work made possible by funds from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation is to be started today, when the old buildings back of the courthouse will be torn down in order to make possible a parking place for teams and wagons.

75 years ago this week

Sammie Hinton and Jenelle Poss tied for first honors as class valedictorian this year at Washington High School. Mary Barnet is salutatorian.

The Lions Club under the leadership of Enoch Garrett has pledged support to community leaders who are attempting to develop an airport at Washington. And now we look forward to a runway extension to 5000 feet. KB

50 years ago this week

Vandals entered and defaced the Presbyterian and Episcopal churches sometime last week.

Sam Clary McGill went to Springfield, Ohio, this week where he toured the Springfield Works Assembly Plant of International Harvester. And from that same issue we find this…

25 years ago this week

W-WCHS Band Director Richard Marshall presented Tico Hall with the John Phillip Sousa Award for excellence at the band’s awards night banquet.

Teachers of the Year for the Wilkes County schools were announced. The teachers selected were Virginia Hopkins from W-WMS; Louise Bentley, W-WCHS; Sarah Moody, W-WPS; and Sharon Danner for W-WES.

The Office Cat reported that the first Wilkes County Farmers Market would be held on the W-WPS parking lot on Saturday, May 29, 1993 from 8 a.m. until noon.


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

Return to top