Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

  • Friday, January 3, 2014

A great man born in 1914, Johnnie B. Johnson, shown here in 1938 with Hold Tight, his favorite hunting dog.

So, we’re beginning the year 2014. One hundred years ago, the people of Georgetown were both hopeful and wary of what 1914 would bring.

Although the United States didn’t declare war until 1917, World War I began in Europe in 1914. Just as today, there was always “war and rumors of war”.

We’re in the midst of a debate about raising the minimum wage. In 1914, Ford Motor Company raised their wages from $2.40 per day for a 9-hour shift, to $5 per day for an 8-hour shift. Maybe there’s hope for us yet.

One of the greatest baseball players of all time, Joe DiMaggio, was born in 1914. The title of this column comes from the 1968 Simon & Garfunkel hit, “Mrs. Robinson.”

“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio / Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.” He really hadn’t gone anywhere, as he didn’t die until 2000. He was just a very private guy, never seeking celebrity or fame. Maybe our professional athletes could try this in 2014.

Here at home, the Georgetown Times reported some interesting events during 1914.

In July, “two young white men” were caught pilfering watermelons from a patch near town. The owner of the patch watched as they began stuffing watermelons into a crocus bag.

Did he summon the police? No, he went inside, got his shotgun and fired at the two of them. The paper reported that “the melon raiders carried away with them loads of small shot in the broad parts of their anatomies. No arrest has been made.”

Another criminal act was reported in March of 1914 when a bigamist tried to escape the long arm of the law. Was he as innocent as he claimed to be?

Jack L. Brown, a white journeyman barber, was arrested at his place of employment on Front Street by Chief of Police L.L. Bolick. Chief Bolick had received a telegram that Brown was wanted in Cordele, Georgia on a charge of bigamy.

Brown had recently arrived in Georgetown from Savannah and had used his real name in acquiring employment. The paper reported, “So far from being a bigamist he said that he had not even one wife and wasn’t particular about wanting one.”

Nevertheless, Brown was taken to jail to be held overnight until he could be returned to Georgia.

The next morning, Brown asked to return to the barber shop to retrieve his barbering tools. He was accompanied by Chief Bolick. Brown stepped into the back room, escaped through the back door and ran towards Prince Street. He was apprehended before he even made it the one block.

Poor Mr. Brown! I wonder how his trial turned out.

Another item reported in March, 1914, was the shocking news that the latest fad, “stockingless shoes”, had reached Charleston. Even though the extreme form – sandals – had not been spotted, “an elegantly gowned woman” was seen in Charleston wearing a pair of “richly ornamental low shoes, but no hosiery.”

I wonder what they would think of flip-flops?

Also in 1914, plans were announced to begin work on a new hotel and two new church buildings, Georgetown Baptist Church and Bethesda Baptist Church.

Last but not least, 1914 brought electric street lights to the Front Street business district for the first time. From King to Screven streets, ninety lights were activated on Jan. 14 as the onlookers clapped and cheered.

To the GCDL and the Georgetown Times . . . thanks for the memories.

I may be reached at (843) 446-4777 or email at djsummey@gmail.com.

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