1930s-1940s Memories of Chatsworth, Edward Turner Warmack.
I was born May 11, 1928, in the house still standing at 605 Fort Street, now the old Chatsworth-Spring Place Road designated as State Highway 52A. The delivery doctor was Dr. Bradford of Spring Place, assisted by mid-wife Mammy Walker. This team delivered my sister Edress Cole Warmack (now Mrs. Martin J. Burke) in 1923.
In 1929, electricity was brought to Chatsworth. My father, Ed Warmack, produced power for our house and business, using a Delco. The Delco was a gas-powered engine connected to a generator, using a V-Belt. These two pieces of equipment produced electricity and were mounted on a four-foot concrete block about 15 inches in height. The concrete slab is one of the steps for our home place.
Mother and Father, the late Billie Martin Cole and Edgar Warmack, built the house in 1920 for $1,700 cash. In 1922, Dad erected a building about 50-feet from the house on our vacant lot; the building was used to repair autos and to sell auto parts and accessories, gasoline and oil. In 1925 this building housed the Chevrolet dealership and one car was put on display (I have a photo of that car display).
For fifty-two years, Dad was in business at this location. During World War II, he was unable to get adequate parts and accessories for autos and gradually phased out auto repair to do small motor service, such as for lawn mowers.
He taught many teenagers how to repair their bicycles. His inventory of parts for lawn mowers was recognized throughout North Georgia. Many customers lived in Dalton, Ellijay, Calhoun, etc.
About 1933, covered wagons loaded with cabbage and apples came by Dad's garage on their way to Dalton and Chattanooga. At times the wagons were pulled by oxen. The wagons usually traveled in groups of two to three. It was a three-day trip from Ellijay to Dalton and return. The road across Fort Mountain was tough terrain for wagons.
1934-35: The brick, two-story Chatsworth Grammar School was located on the same ground as the present school. One Sunday evening in 1934 the building caught fire and burned completely. I recall standing with Dad on today's Fort Street in front of the Lee Cox home waiting on the fire truck from Dalton. Dad's assignment was to direct the fire truck up the hill to the fire.
I started to school in the fall of 1935 in the grammar school temporarily housed in the old County Home building, still standing east of Chatsworth on Ellijay Road. My teacher was Evelyn Swann; her husband was J. Roy McGinty, who published THE CHATSWORTH TIMES, the local newspaper.
The elementary school was rebuilt on the old site in 1935-36. I entered second grade in the fall of 1936 in the new building. My teacher was Miss Edna Jo Butler; in third grade, Miss Rainey Goswick; fourth grade, Miss Kathlene West; fifth grade Miss Juanita Swanson; sixth grade Miss Lucy Cox, and seventh grade, Principal Archer Morgan.
My father was elected as Trustee for the new school in 1938, together with Lewis P. Huff (Manager of the Talc Mill); Jim Bradley (father of C. W., John F. "Cotton," and daughter Emolyees Bradley Young).
In addition to electing teachers, the trustees' primary duties were maintenance of the new school. Prior schools had been heated with coal-burning stoves. The new school heat was provided by a coal-fired boiler which produced steam. The steam was piped to each class room by galvanized pipes and heat emitted through metal radiators. A continuing problem occurred when steam blew out around the rusting galvanized pipe joints. These leaks needed immediate repair. Daddy's mechanical ability and tool inventory allowed him to get the pipes back in order. I recall many nights holding a flashlight in the crawl space while Daddy repaired the leaky pipes. Due to the dedication of these early trustees, the school was comfortable and in good repair for the children.
An early attraction for a seven-year-old was seeing the main road paved with concrete through Chatsworth. Both sides of the road were lined with people watching Georgia Governor Eugene (Gene) Talmadge's promise to build the road come to life.
The first movies in town were shown in the new Chatsworth Grammar School building. The Trustees produced maintenance income for the school through an agreement with a traveling movie company to show pictures either Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights.
The projector and screen were carried in an enclosed truck. The movie truck would sometimes travel from Chatsworth to the Cohutta and Varnell and Ringgold areas. Tickets were 35 cents for adults and fifteen cents for children. To advertise the movie, Daddy mounted an out-door public-address system on a car, and drove to Eton, Crandall, Spring Place and Ramhurst to announce the up-coming movie. The show promoter was the announcer. (I always went along for the ride.)
A permanent movie house was located in the building next to H. P. Kitchen's Drug Store corner. I don't recall a name for the theatre. Seating accommodated about fifty people. Almost all movies had cowboy-Indian themes ("Westerns"). Tickets were fifteen cents for children under 12, popcorn, candy and Cokes were a nickel each. The house was a sell-out on week ends. This location closed when construction began on the main highway. Floyd Wilbanks' Furniture Store moved into the old theatre location. Fort Theatre moved to the newly-paved main highway through town.
Chatsworth hit big-time when Fort Theatre opened; the first movie was "Drums Along the Mohawk," starring Fred McMurray. Oliver Dickson managed the theatre and sold tickets from the box office. Junior Ledford operated the projector (the film broke several times during the movie, requiring intermissions for repair -- sometimes long intermissions -- before the movie began again). A later popcorn concession was run by Cecil Bradley. Friends of Cecil's got a bag filled to spilling over. A typical Saturday afternoon during the 1942-1950 era found the majority of town high-school boys and girls waiting around for the late-night show to begin. On the main street, Fincher's Drug Store, the Pool Parlor, a restaurant and the Court House lawn provided main-street gathering spots.
(While hanging around or in planned visits, teenagers often read the up-front magazines at Fincher's Drug Store and put them back on the stands. No sales were made. Dr. Fincher often asked these cheaters to move on. An occasional boy would engage one of the clerks in conversation at the glass case near the front door. Inside the case were cigars -- some of which were swiped with no one the wiser, if the clerk were distracted by a customer.)
A few boys already had dates for the movie. Others were looking.... Most had very little money to spend, few had cars, alcohol was not an infrequent problem, recreational drugs didn't exist. These were innocent, fun days for the late-night group.
Some of the girls around were: Joann Anderson; Peggy Anderson; Maurine Bearden; Billie Butler; Grace Bridges; Dee Ette Calhoun; Martha Sue and Margaret Cate; Aloe Ernest; Betty Jo Graves; Betty Gregory; Chloe Rene Huff; Sarah Ann Kelly; Virginia Owens, Joan Peeples; Polly and Betty Robinson; Peggy and Jeannine Rymer; Edith Self, Hazel Terry. Boys included Steve Anderson; Cecil Bradley; Robert Bradley; Glenn Davis; Bobby Gudger; Tom Hemphill; Roland Gregory; Ray Greeson; Billy Gulledge; Robert Huff; Amos Ladd Keith; Ben Messer; Marvin Ray McCune; Jonathan Oscher; Johnny and Herbert Parrott; Billy (Bunt) Patterson; Clinton Queen; Fred Robinson; Ray Sinor; Henry Sellers; Calvin, Malvin, and Buell Townsend; Robert Vining; Clifford Walls; Julian Westfield and Barney Wright.
Chatsworth had one of the largest snows on record in January 1938 or '39. Snow was 16 inches everywhere with drifts as high as two feet. Zeke (R. L.) Hufstetler was living with my family, working with Daddy in the garage. Dad, a mechanic, always had one or more old cars around. Zeke was able to start a 1930 Ford coupe; he wrapped the tires with chains twisted through the spokes. Zeke was King of the Road as he had the only car able to navigate the deep snow. Zeke next built a large wooden sled and tied it to the old coupe. Town boys climbed on. Some of those boys besides me were Robert Huff; Raymond Groves; Phil Bradley; Bug (Robert) Dickie; Jackie Waters; and Clyde Richards.
Springfield's Barber Shop on Market Street included Mr. Springfield, Ott Graves, and Bob White. The charge may have been more than Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits, but individual shaving mugs and brushes for patrons sat on shelves. Men came in for both on a regular basis.
Teenagers soon learned Police Chief Roy Parrot and his partner Claude Patterson, who walked their town beats, were our best friends. Chief Parrot usually worked the day shift alone until Claude Patterson came on duty around 3 o'clock in the afternoon. They allowed us to ride bicycles or roller skate on the sidewalks and play football on the court-house lawn beside the jail, with Claude Patterson sometimes refereeing the games.
Chief Parrot had an assignment to drive the fire truck when the fire siren went off. When the alarm sounded, all teenagers around would run to the fire house to help if needed to push the fire truck to the fire. The truck carried two stand-by fire extinguishers, plus 1500 feet of hose. The battery was usually dead, and the truck was pushed out of the fire house. (During Roy Parrott's police service, a desperado attempted to rob Robert Chambers' Cohutta Bank on Market Street. A shoot-out occurred, with Roy Parrott's being hit in the eye by the robber's bullet. Officer Parrott lost his eye. As told to me, the event was like a western-movie shoot out -- with men running and shooting, peeking around corners of buildings. Exciting stuff.)
Teenage boys in the late 1930s and early to mid-1940s included Billy (Bunt) Patterson; his brother Sam; brothers Herbert and Johnny Parrot; Marvin Ray McCune; Fred Robinson; Phil Bradley; Robert (Bug) Dickie; Robert Huff; Cecil Bradley; Leonard Davis; Jackie Waters; Johnny (Jonathan) Oscher; Clifford Walls; Robert Vining; Henry Sellers; Steve Anderson; Jack McCamy; Ray Sinor; Ferris Ballew and Julian Westfield. (Julian Westfield, Ferris Ballew, Steve Anderson and Amos Ladd Keith practiced guitar together and played occasionally for popular square dances in town at the American Legion Hall.)
Baseball was the major sport in Chatsworth during the 1920s-1940s. I recall three locations where the community gathered on Saturday and Sunday during summer and early fall week ends for games. One field had a seating area. The earliest field I remember was in a large pasture owned by the older Mr. Tom Moreland (father of J. L.) , located between present day Pine and Fort streets. The two lovely white, two-story clapboard houses built later by the Meyers' family are located where the pasture outfield was.
A few of the players were Claude Patterson; attorney Will Robinson who lived in Spring Place; Oliver Dixon, later manager of the Fort Theatre; Dee Terry, who owned the pool parlor; Clint Bryant of Beaverdale and the Wheat brothers also of Beaverdale. Porter Hufstetler would sometimes umpire.
The ball field was moved later to a new location across the railroad track near the talc mill. That area today has two large sediment ponds. Some players were George Duncan and C. W. Bradley, pitchers; "Cotton" Bradley, catcher; Clint Bryant, Wheat brothers, Smith Hall McIntire, and Jeff Cantrell.
Baseball went "big time" during the 1940s when Mr. Jack Cole, Sr., owner of The Pines Motel, built a new park enclosed with 10-foot wooden fence with bleachers. It was located in the area west of the present Chatsworth Grammar School.
A league was organized by C. W. Bradley with several age groups playing in the new park. The Senior League players were Fred Robinson, Robert (Bug) Dickie; Charles Adams; Marvin Adams; Mickey Long; several Ross boys; Bunt and Sam Patterson, brothers; Jack Cole, Jr., and Henry Winkler.
The younger group was organized again by C. W. Bradley. This group played every Saturday with Ellijay, Cisco, Eton, Varnell, Pleasant Grove and Spring Place, each location fielding a team. The Chatsworth team was named The Chatsworth Socks. Pitchers were Ray Sinor, Cecil Bradley, Steve Anderson; the catcher was Malcolm (Snake) Adams. First basemen were Turner Warmack and Jack Adams. Second base was played by Robert Huff and Clifford Walls. Roland Gregory was short top. Third baseman was Tom Hemphill. The outfield included Terry Jones, Bobby Gudger, Jack Adams, Jonathan (Jonny) Oscher and Toopy Vick. The team was coached by Cecil Vick and managed by Leonard Davis.
Another popular attraction was the annual fall carnival that set up in the baseball field (then Tom Moreland's pasture). The carnival employed and brought along a well-trained boxer. This boxer challenged anyone game or edging for a fight to a one-round bout. It cost extra money to see your friend or neighbor take on the so-called semi-professional.
Kimball Whitener (Dorothy (Dot) and Jennings' brother), a healthy, well-developed fellow would box anyone. Kinzel Quarles also fought the carnival semi-pro.
The pitch-penny board was a favorite (to get a very cheap prize hitting a mark)---"Only a penny, step right up and try your luck!" The trade-mark Ferris wheel, Merry-Go-Round, shooting gallery, swings, and cotton-candy machine set the stage. Every man and boy HAD to try to prove his strength by coming down in a mighty arc with a big mallet, hitting a flat platform that knocked a block inside the metal pole as high as possible, ringing the bell at the top. There were other strength-measurement markers before the bell.
Carnivals later moved to the Chatsworth City Park west of the railroad depot and south of the tall Chatsworth Water Tower reservoir.
In 1934, Chatsworth received its first railroad box cars loaded with four new Chevrolet sedans. This event drew a large crowd to watch the cars unloaded, which took all day. The four automobiles were paid for in advance. After each auto was rolled onto the wooden railroad dock, the battery cables were reconnected and gasoline put in the tanks. These first four cars were owned by Mr. Holmes of Eton, Standard Oil distributor for Murray County; Mr. Shelton, the Murray County Tax Commissioner; Mr. Charles, for whom Charles Road is named; and my father Ed Warmack, who owned the Chevrolet dealership in Murray County during the early 1920s.
In 1938, Ed Warmack built a home clay-tennis court for use by the young people of Chatsworth. This may have been the first and only tennis court in the county. During summer months, the court was the meeting place for teenagers and adults to take turns playing. Week ends were reserved for school children. Adults could play almost any day. After the third season, neighbor Mr. Otto Oscher donated lights for night play.
Some older teenagers who played were Raymond Groves, Edress Warmack, Mary Clara Butler, Miriam Bradley, Claudelle Cox, Clyde Richards, Junior Wilbanks, Vernon (Piggy) Hix, Harold Springfield and Ralph Kelly.
Others were Jon Oscher, Cecil Bradley, Billy Patterson, Fred Robinson, Robert Huff, Ray Sinor, Clifford Walls, and Turner Warmack. Occasionally a younger girl or two were given a chance to play -- Joann Anderson, Beverly Gordon, Virginia Owens, to name a few. Players chipped in to buy a case of Coca-Colas and Turner Warmack drove his dad's truck to town for it.
Businesses over a span of time were Cochran and Tatum Hardware and Merchandise; S. J. Rogers Hardware; Quarles and Westfield's Department Store; Clarence H. Greeson Grocery; H. P. Kitchen Drug Store; Jim Anderson's post World War II Fort Cafe on the main street; the Parrott family Blue Goose Cafe north of Chatsworth; Springfield & White Barber Shop (the barber shop owned by the father of Ruth Springfield, Nell Calhoun and other Springfield children); Ben Leonard's Dry Cleaners; Oscher's General Merchandise; Mr. Hampton's Shoe Repair Shop; Luke Cox's Service Station; George Reed's Hardware and Sporting Goods; Tom Moreland's Livery Stable; Ed Warmack's Lawn Mower and Bicycle Repair; Tom Gregory's Ford Dealership; Dee Terry's Pool Hall, Sally's Dime Store (ne'e Sally Groves, Mrs. Jeff Wilbanks); the bus station, Cochran's Service Station, and Goswick's Store in the county (and others I've forgotten).
F. Richard Kendrick was Clerk of the Superior Court; Mike and Ben Wilbanks served as sheriffs, and J. W. Dooley was Ordinary for many years.
These names will live forever in the minds of those who were born and reared in Chatsworth, Murray County, Georgia, during the period up to the 1950s.
Submitted by: Edward Turner Warmack. 4388 Woodland Brook Drive, S. E., Atlanta, Georgia 30339-4809; Tuesday, March 20, 2007
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