Groups may come and go in Douglas County, but one that has stood the test of time is the Beulah Ruritan Club dating back to when it was chartered in 1960.
As many know, the members of the Beulah Ruritan do a great job sponsoring youth sports out at their park on McKown Road where hundreds of local children have experienced team sports and cheerleading for years.
The Ruritans even provided me a chance to flex my Mama Bear muscles a bit as Dear Son played football for the Beulah Bulldogs for a few seasons when the shoulder pads were actually wider than Dear Son was tall!
Many a coach experienced my “concerns” as Dear Son might not be getting enough playing time, or I felt some of the other players might be a little too rough. During the early 1990s, our little family spent several nights each week and every Saturday playing or practicing football, tee-ball and baseball.
I’m here to tell you their concession stand served up the best corndog on a fall afternoon that I’ve ever had.
One little known chapter in Ruritan history has to do with a visit from Carl Sanders in 1960. At that time, he was a state legislator from Augusta and candidate for lieutenant governor. Later, he would serve as Georgia’s governor from 1963 to 1967.
In the book “The Wit and Wisdom of K.B. Fincher,” a compilation of newspaper columns from the 1980s written by K.B. Fincher, he remembers very distinctly the visit from the future governor to a Ruritan event that was described as a ladies night and new officer installation.
The distinguished Carl Sanders was introduced, but before he began his remarks Fincher explains “an overzealous sergeant-at-arms walked to the podium, grabbed Sander’s tie, and snipped it in two!”
It seems the Beulah Ruritan “had a rule that prohibited members or guests from wearing neckties at their gatherings. However, they often forgot to tell the guests about the rule until it was too late to save the neckwear.”
People dressed more formally in those days — much more formally that today. People dressed up to go out, to speak to a group, for church, and especially if they were going to Atlanta, so Carl Sanders probably looked very spiffy to speak to the Beulah Ruritan group — best tie, and I bet he had a hat, too.
Sanders was reportedly polite about the loss of his tie but had to suffer the indignity of walking through his Atlanta hotel lobby without it, and of course, he ran into some folks who would raise an eyebrow regarding the missing tie. Fincher relates, “Sanders made no effort to explain his lost tie, as he himself was not quite sure what happened.”
Can you imagine what he might have said? I was invited to Douglasville to speak to the Ruritan, but before I could say a word, they cut my dang tie off!
A few years after Sanders served his term as governor, he was invited by K.B. Fincher to speak at a Chamber of Commerce banquet. The invite was accepted, but Fincher states the former governor probably left his best tie at home not wanting it cut in two.
Fincher had always felt a little guilty about the tie snipping episode though he was not personally responsible. Prior to the Chamber banquet Fincher went to one of the area’s finest clothing stores and purchased an elaborate tie that was presented to Gov. Sanders during his introduction along with an overdue apology on behalf of the people of Douglas County.
Later, the governor stated that when Fincher brought up the subject of the snipped tie, he “didn’t know whether to run or hang around and see what might happen.”
The whole thing was meant to be good spirited fun, and I’m sure everyone took it that way including the surprised Carl Sanders.
I’ll be honest here and relate that I’ve not attempted to discover if the Ruritan still has a “no tie” rule, but if they ever ask me to speak, I might just leave my tie at home.
Lisa Cooper writes the amazing stories of Douglas County each Sunday. You can also find her Facebook page for Douglas County history under the name “Every Now and Then,” and visit her website at lisalandcooper.com for even more stories.