Thursday, December 29, 2011

Let's Go to the Big Star

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I hope newspapers survive.

Not just the group of journalists, editors and photographers (and ad sales people) who gather and report the news in an official capacity, but the actual presented via ink on paper. For me personally, that hope is not so that I can find out whats going on in my community and around the world because I get that from my ipad or by going online.

To be honest, I have not actually read a newspaper, other than at my mother's house, in many years. It makes my hands feel dirty and the size is weird. Think about how strange it is that newspapers are so tall and wide. You have to spread them out on the floor and lay on top of them or hold them up with your arms straight out. It's just awkward to me.

The main reason I hope actual newspapers survive is so people can continue to clip out articles and put them in envelopes and boxes and place them in attics so that long after they have passed away the articles can serve as a resource for those researching family histories.

I don't think people print out and save online articles like they do actual newspaper clippings.

I went through a box belonging to my late grandmother, Virginia Lovelace, and pulled out a few of the articles she had clipped and saved. All these articles are from The Brownsville States Graphic.

The one at the top is from when she won $500 in the "Let's Go To The Races" promotion at the Big Star in Brownsville. She won because her horse came in first but she would be the first to tell you it wasn't gambling because "no purchase was necessary." Plus, she was a Southern Baptist and gambling was right up there with drinking in the list of things you definitely don't do. I can remember her mother, Mama Allie, not liking the fact that we played Monopoly because we used dice. I guess it was hard to explain why a bunch of kids sitting around throwing dice and passing money back and forth in my grandmother's living room was not gambling. Just to be sure we could keep playing, we hid the whiskey.  

I do wonder how this whole racing concept was pulled off though. I looked online a little and it seems the races were all filmed on 16 mm and then copies of the race were sent to the affiliate stations and tickets were distributed to participating grocery stores to give to customers. According to one person, more winning tickets were sent to stores where business was down to help drive customers.

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Uncle Hobert Lovelace
was my grandfather, Guy Lovelace's brother. I never knew that he and Aunt Carolyn went to London. They ran Hobert Lovelace and Sons Store in Brownsville and must have won the trip through a contest with one of their suppliers.

As a kid, they always seemed to me to be a little more sophisticated than the rest of us. They had a piano and fancy oil paintings and furniture that seemed more English than what I was used to. Now I know it was probably because they had been to London.

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Today, my mother, Shirley Lovelace Williams, is a citizen. In 1946, she was a "Citizen of Tomorrow." She is the third one over in the middle. From what I have read, similar to "Lets Go to the Races" this was another brilliant way to part people from their money in a time and place where there wasn't much of it. In an article in the February 28, 1963 "Arthur Graphic Clarion" the writer states that 61 local families took their children to be photographed for the series and 120 children would appear in the newspaper.

"Herb Farny, the photographer, has been taking children's pictures for newspaper series since 1931. He covers about 40 states every year and maintains a residence in Florida. He works with Woltz Studios of Des Moines, Iowa, in international company. Farny, who is a semi-professional magician, was sorry he didn't have more time to perform tricks for the children."
I wonder what percentage of the parents purchased the package of photos they must have been selling. I also can't help wonder why they didn't just call Farny a professional magician rather than "semi-professional." What does it take to go pro in the photographing magician field?

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In 1977 my father, Bob Williams, who had worked in various lay positions in many different churches, felt led to become an actual minister. He and my mother sold everything they had, loaded the few things they kept, including my sister and I, in a U haul and headed for Texas where he attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Looking back, it must have been a really big deal for my extended family because, until then, very few on either side had moved further than Memphis or Jackson. 

His mother, Elizabeth Castellaw Williams' was proud he was a minister but hated to see him leave the area. She was such an interesting character I could write a whole book just on her. I have here her copy of "Nicholas Cobb Descendants", a book written by Joe H. Cobb that includes a lot of history of Haywood County. It's a great resource and my grandmother has made several corrections and additions regarding our family throughout the book. In the back she has written:
"On March 1992 the 22nd day Bobby Williams preached a sermon for the spring revival Sunday morning and Sunday night. I did not attend but my prayers were with him. Went to Providence (church) as I felt my place was up there. I pray to God he is being led by his Lord."
So I guess you could say she was proud but worried. And by writing it in the Cobb book, she was making sure he was part of Haywood County least in this copy.

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My mother's first cousin, Phil Lovelace, was one of the two sons of Uncle Hobert and Aunt Carolyn above who were headed to London. Phil and his wife Sandra and their son Shey went to Texas about the same time as my family, also to attend seminary, so we spent a lot of time together.

I have heard my father say he didn't think he could have made it without Phil and they remain close friends today. Eventually, both returned home and pastor churches in Haywood County.

Visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

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