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May 16

1996 Olympic Torch Comes to Thomaston

Posted on May 16, 2019 at 4:34 PM by Jamesan Stuckey

Do you remember when the Olympic Torch passed through Thomaston?

On July 12, 1996, Thomaston was honored as one of the cities to host a torch relay event. When the ceremony started around 10:00 p.m. on that Friday night, thousands took part in lining the relay path. It was indeed a monumental event.

Thomaston’s then mayor, Dr. Ed Cliburn spoke to crowd on the significance of that night stating, “You go home tonight and find a page off of a calendar and draw a circle around July 12, and keep it for the rest of your lives. This will never happen to us again.”

1960 Olympic Gold Medalist, Martha Pennyman, encouraged the mass by saying, “I remember when I was very young, I dreamed of going to the Olympics and winning a gold medal, so I worked hard to do that. You, too, can work hard to achieve the best you can… Remember that a quitter never wins and a winner never quits.” She ended her words with stating, “May I leave this with you. May we always remember the power and glory of this moment and the light it brought into our lives.”

(Thomaston Times, July 15, 1996)

According to another article from the Thomaston Times, July 10, 1996, the relay order was stated as the following:

• First, Dr. Jim Elsey is scheduled to take the first leg, which will begin on Highway 36 in the vicinity of Goshen Rd. 
• Next Patty Hendricks of Woodland, Ga will carry the torch from Peachbelt Rd. to 112 South Green St. 
• The next two slots were unassigned by the time of the newspaper’s publishing.
• John Fulghum, a 14-year-old from Pike County, will then take the torch from Cherokee Rd. to Upson Ave. 
• Myrl Mallory (pictured) is described as next in the relay through her route is not described. 
• Then Colonel Frank Black, a retiree with the U.S. Air Force was then to carry it Forest Avenue, turn on West Gordon Street, and carry the torch to the stage which stood on the south side of the courthouse. 
• Mrs. Martha Hudson Pennyman was to then carry the torch offstage and hand it to an unidentified runner.
• Patricia Williams was said to be the next recipient
• Next up was Judy Covert who was to carry it to the DOT Maintenance Drive. 
• Other runners identified were married couple, George and Thelma Reddick. George actually gave up his part of his leg of the relay so Thelma could participate with him.

What are your memories of this event?

See photos for citation.

Thomaston Times, July 15, 1996

Myrl Mallory Carries the 1996 Olympic Torch. July 12, 1996, Historical Photographs Collection, TUA

Mar 29

Lyon's Finer Foods, Now Country Cupboard

Posted on March 29, 2019 at 4:14 PM by Jamesan Stuckey

The next time you go into the Country Cupboard to feed your reuben craving, (I know it’s a necessity for me!) try to imagine a little over 70 years ago when the place first opened as Lyon Finer Foods. In an article from the Thomaston Times, June 7, 1946, the second store from Alvin L. Lyon had its grand opening, in the same location as today’s Country Cupboard as well as The Gathering Grounds.

“Thomaston’s newest food store, Lyon’s Finer Foods, opens today in a brand-new building designed expressly for this store and it is fully equipped with all types of store equipment and new store fixtures which were built in the store to specifications…. One of the newest features in the store was the establishment of a bakery, where all bakery work is conducted in view of the customer. It will specialize in all types of breads and delicate pastries.” (Thomaston Times, 6/7/1946)

Within our holdings we carry a video titled, “Our Home Town” (1947) which shows many Thomaston businesses of the day, including a tour of the new Lyon’s Finer Foods. Indeed, the first thing you would see upon entering was the impressive bakery counter. See snapshot from video below.

Still from "Our Home Town" (1947), inside Lyon's Finer Foods (bakery counter)

The other location for Lyon’s Grocery Store opened years earlier, and was on the south side of the courthouse square in the present-day Hair & Beauty Studio, next to West Central Georgia Bank.

(Lyon's Finer Foods, Lateral File: History, Thomaston-Upson Archives) See photos for citation.


Pat Woodson assisting customer, Lyon's Finer Foods: Historical Photographs Collection, TUA

Still from "Our Home Town" (1947) of the exterior of Lyon's Finer Foods

Mar 15

Upson Influential Women: Thelma Thompson Slayden

Posted on March 15, 2019 at 4:47 PM by Jamesan Stuckey

In celebration of Women’s History Month, here’s a sketch about one of Upson’s most influential people.

Thelma Thompson Slayden (1907-1977) was a former teacher at R.E. Lee Institute and author of five novels. Though not originally from Thomaston, the Alabama native made a home here for quite a few years. After eight years at R.E. Lee, Thelma quit so she could marry Lee’s ROTC instructor, Sergeant Walter Slayden, in 1934. Immediately following the success of her second novel, she was solicited by Upson’s School Superintendent which led her to become principal of two Upson Grammar Schools. (The Atlanta Journal Magazine, June 8, 1941)

Her first book, “Give Us This Night” was published November 15, 1939 around the same time other Upson authors, Evelyn Hannah and LeGrand Henderson, received national recognition in their own right. It depicted life in a mill town in the Cherokee Valley of Northern Georgia, and also publicized the humanitarian work of the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. Shortly after the success of “Give Us This Night,” Slayden produced her second work, “Doctor Red” in 1941 (which quickly became a best seller), followed by “Bright Ramparts” in 1943.

Life drastically changed for the couple when Walter, now Captain Slayden was stationed in Marburg, Germany during WWII. She tells of the experience, “Once upon a time, before the Big War, I lived with my husband and typewriter in our house in Thomaston, Georgia, where my main problem was the weaving of intricate plots for my fictitious heroes and heroines. Then one thing led to another and I followed the same husband and brought the same typewriter to Marburg, Germany, where the facts of my new life as Frau Slayden sound more fantastic than any of my fiction.” (The Atlanta Journal Magazine, October 6, 1946) A caption from the referenced article (shown) states the Slaydens’ castle was confiscated in the de-Nazification of Germany, as the previous owner was classed a major offender.

In 1952, Thelma released her fourth and most ground-breaking novel, “Make Haste, My Beloved.” As research for her work, she spent time in the National Leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana. There she saw mistreatment over the stigma of those suffering from Hansen’s Disease. Moved by what she witnessed, Slayden made it her mission to help veterans who have contacted leprosy while in service. She made their plight known to Florida ex-senator Claude Pepper and convinced him to introduce the National Leprosy Act to the 81st Congress. Thanks to her efforts, servicemen began to receive the proper care and attention so needed.

Back here in Thomaston, Thelma was recognized by the Woodmen of the World in a special ceremony dedicated just to her. (See image) (Program for Dedication to Mrs. Thelma Thompson Slayden, 1952, Carolyn Andrews Black Collection, TUA)

In the course of her life, Thelma Thompson Slayden was President of the Atlanta Writer’s Club, Georgia State President of National League of Pen Women, was voted Who’s Who in the South & Southwest, and Who’s Who of American Women. Talk about a woman worth mentioning…

(Slayden, Thelma Thompson, Lateral Files: Genealogy, Thomaston-Upson Archives)