Cooper: Looking back at Thanksgiving in Douglas County in 1923

This image is from the Thanksgiving edition of the Douglas County Sentinel in 1923. Historian Lisa Cooper writes that Douglas County in 1923 can be summed up in four words -- faith, farming, family and friends.

1923 was the year transcontinental airmail service began, and folks in New York City would be the first to watch a movie they could not only see, but they could hear, too! In 1923, Warren G. Harding was the first U.S. President to visit Alaska, but by August that year, he would be dead, and Calvin Coolidge would step into the Oval Office.

1923 was the year a sign advertising a subdivision called "Hollywoodland" was dedicated in the hills above Los Angeles. Over the next 26 years the sign would lose its last four letters and become the iconic "Hollywood" sign beckoning folks to the home of the movie industry.

1923 was also the year Harry Houdini was suspending himself 40 feet above crowds while he worked to free himself from a strait jacket, and someone named Hitler was already spewing his hate across Germany.

In the state of Georgia a young man who had just left college in 1922 for the more exciting life of a barnstorming pilot conducted his first solo in May 1923 at Souther Field in Americus. Within a few years the young man's name, Charles Lindbergh, would become a household name. One of Georgia's favorite sons, golfer Bobby Jones, would win his first major golf tournament, the U.S. Open, in 1923.

Douglas County in 1923 can be summed up in four words -- faith, farming, family and friends -- and this can be readily seen when you turn to the "Douglas County Sentinel" during the Thanksgiving season.

Leading up to the holiday, business owners had Thanksgiving specials including J.L. Selman & Sons, located where the Irish Bred Pub is today, who advertised a full supply of Kodak films as well as a huge wheel of cheese in their window. If you could guess how much the cheese wheel weighed, you would receive five pounds free. You could pick up fresh bread each day at W.C. Abercrombie & Co., and if you wanted Thanksgiving dinner prepared for you, the Holloway Café offered up a nice dinner with all the fixings including scalloped oysters and Japanese Fruitcake.

Both the Methodist and Baptist churches generally took up several columns of the front and second pages of the paper. In November 1923 folks in Douglasville were sad that the four year stint of Reverend W.H. Clark was coming to a close at the First Methodist Church, which was then located at the corner of Price Avenue and Church Street. Back in those days the church conference only allowed four years before a pastor was rotated to another church.

The article regarding Clark's departure mentioned how hard the last four years had been for the financial health of the church, and it would be sad Rev. Clark would not be able to see the $30,000 renovation of the building completed. Beginning in 1921 the church gradually replaced the previous structure that dated to 1889 with a brick building containing Sunday school rooms, a basement with assembly room, kitchen and small auditorium. Folks were happy the new church home was taking shape, but sad Rev. Clark would be leaving.

Right before Thanksgiving Douglasville folks were excited to have a couple of visitors in their midst even if it was just one day. Judge John Candler and "the Coca-Cola King," Asa G. Candler were in Douglasville to see friends and acquaintances, and there were many since both Candlers had grown up right down the road in Villa Rica.

However, there was a gloom that settled over the Thanksgiving holiday as Mrs. W.H. Poole -- Mary Amanda (McLarty) Strickland -- passed the Sunday before the holiday. She was 78 years old and one of Douglasville's pioneer settlers. Her parents were Samuel Wilson McLarty and Mary "Polly" (Polk) McLarty. Mrs. Poole's husband and a couple of her sons were popular physicians in Douglasville.

Mrs. Poole's funeral was held in her grand home on West Strickland Street which in recent years was home to an event center called Le Jardin Blanc and predates the existence of Douglas County. Mrs. Poole was laid to rest by her husband in Douglasville's City Cemetery with her six grandsons serving as pall bearers.

Another death occurred in town the day after Thanksgiving. A woman from Opelika, Alabama had been visiting her sister, Mrs. L.A. White, who lived in the Lois Mill Village. It seems the poor woman was a bit demented and ranted and raved how the Ku Klux was after her. She begged Sheriff Baggett to take her to jail to keep her safe, and he did. Arrangements were underway to send her the state hospital at Milledgeville after the holiday, but tragically, the woman hung herself and was found when the jailer delivered her breakfast.

There was still some talk of the automobile smash up east of town when a man from Atlanta ran all over T.L. Pittman's new Buick the day before Thanksgiving. How in the world was the town council going to get those Atlanta folks to slow down as they came through Douglasville?

There was some good news, too. Basketball season had opened the week before at Douglas County High School. The new gym floor had been used with resounding success as the Douglas County boys beat the team from Dallas.

Through November 8th, Douglas County cotton farmers had ginned 1,686 bales of cotton for 1923 compared to just 900 at the same point the year before. There were rumors some of the county's farmers might try growing peanuts in the coming year.

Yes, 1923 seemed to be a time when faith, farming, family, and friends were the main concerns involving the news. Today, of course, farming and more folksy stories have been replaced with news stories involving big business, budget shortfalls, politicians wanting Douglasville to become an international city, crime, and transportation measures involving huge expenditures many citizens don't want.

Even so, I think we still can find some things to be thankful for here in the 2017 version of Douglas County's Thanksgiving.

Have a blessed Turkey Week!

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