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Memories outside the halls of AHS, etc.  Places that will stay with us forever ...

*** 05/1920/2010 - Harry Helton (1952):

 

Graves Springs

 

            In the last Albany Times you wrote about Graves Springs (Football Camp).  What memories did that bring back!  I would like to share a few with you.

 

            First of all I want to start with when I was in the army going through basic training running up and down the red clay hills of Fort Rucker, Alabama.  Some people stated that the training was really rough.  I always stated, “This is a piece of cake compared to Football Camp at Graves Springs.”  We ran in the sand and sand spurs out in the hot sun for two hours every morning and every afternoon.  Not only did we run, we had head on tackle along with all kinds of exercise.  When we finished all of that we would run about 10 times around the field. 

 

            One day after the morning practice, we had lunch and wanted to get a little rest.  The team manager, I think it was Craig Hawk, called over a freshman and asked him to help him.  Craig stated that he forgot the “Line of Scrimmage” and would he (the freshman) go up on the field and bring it back.  Craig went on to say, “Whatever you do, do not let the coach know that I left the “Line of Scrimmage” on the field.” 

 

            In about 10 minutes the freshman came back and went to Craig and said, “I could not find it.”  “What?  If you don’t find it we are in a bunch of trouble!”  About that time Coach Sperry walked in and asked what kind of trouble were they in.  Craig confessed that he left the “Line of Scrimmage” up on the practice field.  Boy! Coach Sperry yelled out, “You did WHAT?”  Then he turned to the freshman and said, get up there and bring that “Line of Scrimmage” back down here.  The coach continued with, “Oh, while you are up there on the field, bring back that bottle of ingenuity.  I put it down by the big pine tree.  (Can you imagine a clearing about the size of two football fields cut out of a pine thicket, and to say, “I left it by THE Pine Tree.”)  We had a lot of fun with that one experience.

 

            Now, hang on to your hats.  You remember Jimmy Young, better known as “Bo Monkey”.  Let’s get the setting right first.  The barracks (if you are so polite to call it that) were we slept had an artesian well outside.  It flowed all the time, day and night.  When we went to bed at night, it was splashing and made a little bit of noise.  Here we are all tucked away in our beds, and the only thing that you could hear was some light snoring and the artesian well.  Then, out of the silence came, “Myers Pate, Myers Pate”, it was Bo Monkey.  After a few more calls we heard in a sleepy tone, “Year Bo?”  “Myers Pate go outside and cut off the water in the well.  It is making too much noise and I can’t sleep.”  “Bo I can’t turn off that water.”  “Myers Pate, did you hear what I said?  I can’t sleep with all that noise.”  Myers debated the issue for a while, then we heard another voice in a deep base tone, “Myers Pate did you hear what Bo asked you to do?  Now get up and go do it.  I want to get some sleep!”  That was Bud George.  Everyone was about to die laughing, but were afraid to laugh out loud.  That went on for about 20 to 30 minutes.  Myers did get up and go out to the well, and came back and stated that he tried but it would not cut off.

 

Scouts

 

            Memories, memories.  Let me tell you another story about Grave Srings.  That was the location where all boy scouts would go for their 14 mile hike.  The scouts would meet at the Wigwam which was on the corner of Tift Park.  From there they would hike to Grave Springs.  One Saturday morning Warner Houston and I met to do our 14 mile hike.  We were going to go out there on Saturday and come back Sunday.  We did not have a back pack like the kids use today.  I had my brother-in-law’s Sea Bag and Warner had his dad’s duffle bag.  The only thing that we did not have in the two bags was the “Kitchen Sink”.  We started out about 9:00AM and we walked and we walked.  About noon we had traveled to the other side of the bridge at the American Legion next to the lake. There we had lunch, a can of sardines.  I can still remember how good they tasted. 

 

            We continued on with our hike.  We noticed a cloud coming up and we knew that we needed to find some shelter.  There was a country church where we found refuge.  Now, during that storm, Warner’s father came looking for us. Both parents were a little concerned that their sons were out in a bad storm.  Mr. Houston could not find us and went back home. 

 

            As the sun was setting in the west, the two weary and tired scouts finally got to Grave Springs.  The barracks was locked but the dinning hall was open.  We went in and made us a bunk on the tables.  We had food to cook, but all of the wood was wet from the rain and we could not cook anything.  We ate the food that did not need to be cooked and went to sleep on the tables.  By the way, the artesian well was still splashing.  The rain and the well put us to sleep.

 

            About 7:00 AM Sunday morning, we were awakened by my father as he was building a fire in the stove that we were unsuccessful.  As we opened our eyes he smiled and asked if we wanted any breakfast.  The first words that came out of Warner’s mouth were, “When are you going back to Albany?”  We packed our gear and loaded up in the car and away we went back to a good hot bath, some good food and SLEEP!

 

            I did the 14 miles later with Hambone and his troop.  I did go on to become an Eagle Scout.  What memories you bring back with all of the stories that you print in the Albany Times.

 

Mill Daddy

 

            If you have the time I would like to make a few remarks on “Mill Daddy” by Bill Light.  I am going to get the book and read it.  But, what I have to tell is that my mother was the nurse at the mill.  She went to work there when they had an epidemic of some illness.  Nearly every family in the mill village was affected.  After everything settled down, she stayed on as the “Company Nurse”.  Her duty was to take care of any sickness or injury.  Everyday the office would give her a list of people who did not show up for work, and she went to the home to check on them.

 

            There were a number of men who would stay out of work and gather out in the woods nearby. They always had a bottle with them. They would sit around and pass the bottle.  My mother found out where this hide out was, and she just walked right in the middle of these men and told them to get up and get to work.  She wore a white nurse’s uniform.  When she would walk into the circle, there was some man who would say, “Little lady, what are you doing out here?”  If you ever met my mother she was a ball of fire.  She stood about 5’ 2”, and she would not take any bluff from anyone.

She would go over and take the bottle away from the man that had it and begin to pour it out.  Then tell the men to get up and get to work.  That ring soon came to a close because the word got out that the “Little Lady” in the white dress would find them.

 

            One more story!

 

            “Good-Bye, My Lady” the movie that was made in Albany up on the Flint River on the Grave Springs Road also had Phil Harris in it.  All of the stars stayed in the New Albany Hotel.  Across the street next to city hall and fire station was a pool hall that my father managed.  My father was late coming home during the time that the stars were in Albany.  Phil Harris would come over and play pool and drink beer until late in the night.  This went on for days.  If they were working late, he would send word to my dad not to close up; he would be there when he got off the set.  The cash register really giggled while Phil was in town.  He could put the beer down and play a mean game of pool.  My dad lined up the competition, and many men came by to watch.