Forgotten Trails: Old envelope gives interesting information

Published 12:10 pm Wednesday, October 15, 2008

By by Lydia Grimes
I received an email a few weeks ago that I thought was rather interesting.
Debbie Banker sent a picture of an envelope to me. She said the envelope was addressed to her grandmother, Lura Bass. Lura Bass attended school in Brewton during the fall of 1915, where she was learning bookkeeping. The envelope had contained a letter from Debbie's grandfather during their courtship. The initials D.I.S. were part of the address on the envelope, but Debbie was unsure as to what it meant.
The only thing I could think of was the initials should have read D.S.I. If this was the case, it would appear that Lura Bass was attending the Downing Shofner Institute. I will plan on doing a series of columns about Downing Shofner.
I have been asked to mention the name of Matilda Gilmore Cooper. She was the wife of Monroe Ellis Cooper. He is buried at Concord Church Cemetery, but is she? If you have any information, get in touch with me.
The reason I am telling you this is to remind you that you may have hidden treasures at your home. They may not mean a whole lot to you now, but just think of what might be hiding in those boxes and trunks in your attic or closet.
Most of you have seen the television show that features family items that are valued and valuable. The history of a place or period of time may not seem important, but it is what makes a community what it is, and that is important.
I was looking through some more of the old bound volumes of The Brewton Standard and several things popped out at me.
The oldest volume we have at The Brewton Standard office is 1937 (well, there are some odds and ends of 1886). I am now going through them to see what I can find to share with you.
I am going to continue with little news items that were in the old issues of the newspaper.
Aug. 7, 1941
There was an embargo on silk declared by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The demand for silk stockings were not being felt in Brewton as there was a plentiful supply.
Aug. 14, 1941
The cotton crop was way down because of the weevils.
Aug. 21, 1941
Mayor Fountain sent collected scrap aluminum to Mobile.
Sept. 11, 1941
Billy English was to take over the management of Watson Hardware when W.L. Kline had to report for duty at Ft. Knox, Ken.
Sept. 25, 1941
Aurora Borealis was seen in the Brewton area, but most people did not know what they were seeing until later when the newspaper informed them.
Oct. 2, 1941
The U.S. Navy launched a campaign for recruits in this area. Zach Henderson, who worked for The Brewton Standard, was made Navy Editor for the paper. Thereafter, there were huge ads in the paper trying to get locals to join the Navy.
There was an announcement asking everyone to turn in their old tags for defense work.
Oct. 16, 1941
The Red Cross planned a membership drive.
Nov. 6
There was a partial blackout of downtown Brewton due to a shortage of water in storage reservoirs.
Dec. 4. 1941
The city council renamed Mill Street to St. Nicholas Street; to do away with St. Irenette and have St. Joseph Avenue be the name of the streets on both sides of the railroad track (as many did not know which side was supposed to be St. Joseph); and the street from Belleville to Douglas to called Jackson Street after the late S.A. Jackson, who was on the city council and also the chairman of the street committee.
Dec. 11
The county and city reacted to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The local banks were told not to let any money to be withdrawn by a any Japanese or any company known to have Japanese interests. Planes were grounded at the airport and only military planes could take off or land.
Dec. 19
Several locals were named to man the warning system. They were Casey Jackson, Claudine Brooks, Jimmie Howell, Clinton Pearson, Maxwell May, King Holt, F. F. Fountain, Flournoy Lovelace, E. G. Findley, E. B. Kirkland, V. D. Raines, W. T. Binion, R. C. Alexander, C. F. Attaway, Bob Owens, and P(hilip) T. May.
Dec. 26
Local chapter of the Red Cross went way over their quota in their collections.
Knowing what happened in history in 1940 and 1941 and then seeing the pages that led up to the things that happened is very interesting. World War II, as far as the United States was concerned, began on Dec. 7, 1941. The surprise for me was to see that all during 1940 and 1941 things were happening in the news that were leading to the future conflict.
For instance, I found where war bonds were back in vogue, the Red Cross was making preparations and young men were signing up for the draft. Maybe at the time, most people did not realize where we were headed, in hindsight, the signs were there.
Well, enough of my soap box opinions. I understand that everyone does not value history and genealogy as I do and that's okay.
Remember if you've got an interesting story you'd like to share, you can give me a call at 867-4876 or drop me a line by email at
Until then, happy hunting.

Email newsletter signup