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Looking Back — By Barnie O’Quinn

Many of my travels across the South I go through small towns. One thing i have learned to look forward to is their old (deserted) 1929 era water tanks. Those tanks are approaching 90 to 100 years old. Some cities (Folkston) have theirs on the city’s historic tour, well kept in appearance. Generally, they “tell” where the center of town was years ago, all being within 100 yards of the railroad tracks, or former tracks.
The historic one in Westminster, S.C. is well kept, with an apple painted on it – for their apple festival. Chauncey’s (pop. 342) by the tracks, is rusty. Ones in McRae, Helena (each) are well kept. The one in Helena is near the old hotel, two railroad crossing (yes I know the two cities have merged, but this was a different era). Even Hartwell has kept their historic tank. Many cities have them.
Sometimes when I travel through Surrency, McRae, I drive by their old school buildings. You know McRae has the old historic South Georgia College building, one block off US 341, US 23. Barbara Cook, husband Travis, as well as others have spent a lot of time, money, keeping it restored.
Many things we take for granted each day, others travel to see – such as the 200 plus year old Sidney Lanier oak in Brunswick.
We have old courthouses that have been restored – one nearby is Montgomery County, built in 1907. Thanks to then Commissioner Harold Mobley – it was restored – not remodeled, even though they were “threatened” by two Superior Court Judges, who said they would not hold court there again.
Harold and the Commissioner simply sent a letter to the judges, telling them to tell the ladies of the Historical Society that. Problem solved!!
Things/stuff we take for granted, people from foreign countries have never seen – such was the case Tuesday afternoon, May 4, 1965, when Telfair High’s (Class of ’61) graduate James Brown drove his 1959 Dodge to the Savannah airport to pick up the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones (now deceased) and his girlfriend, along with fraternity brothers picking up the other Stones. The Stones wanted to eat at 5 p.m., where two young girls in the restaurant recognized the Stones. Next stop, the Stones wanted a bottle of scotch. The next stop would be under a big live oak, with Spanish moss. While Brown went in, the Stones got out, pulling down the moss wrapping it around their necks. They had never seen it before. A couple of hours later, the Rolling stones would take the stage at Georgia Southern’s Hanner Gymnasium. The rest is history.
So, what happens to Hazlehurst historic 1929 era elevated water tank? It was taken down about 1971 when Dr. Dan Elrod was mayor, during the water/sewer expansion. It was located behind the City Hall that was erected about 1956, now old City Hall.
In the 40s, the City Council had agreed to pay Jim McEachin $300 to paint it. Months went by – no painting. The mayor asked the City Marshall to bring Jim before the City Council to find out why he had not painted the tank. Jim’s answer was simple – he told them, you haven’t taken it down yet!!
QUESTION: Another Hazlehurst landmark has been “taken down” – the cable tv tower off of what is now Hulett/Wooten Road. When was it erected?
ANSWER: I’m not sure. I think we had cable (five channels only) the first night the Beatles appeared on the (CBS) Ed Sullivan Show – Feb. 9, 1964. It has stood for about 55 years. The Hazlehurst City Council, if my memory is correct first awarded a cable franchise about 1962. Buddy Spann represented Ward II at the time. The company (GTE?) were slow erecting, developing the system. There were two CBS stations, two NBC stations, Georgia Public Broadcasting, for $4.95, all over the air, no satellites. An ABC station would not be added until after Monday Night Football began Sept. 21, 1970. WJCL began operations July 18, 1970.

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