David Melson

Picturing the Past 23: Wartime

Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2009, at 11:48 AM
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  • David, Another great picture, and thanks for opening up another vein of memories. As best as a small boy could remember, I still have some very real memories of those days when maneuvers were taking place all over Bedford County. For years after the maneuvers took place I was warned to look out for unexploded ordinance (bombs I was told) expecially at my Grandmother's house which was near the 18th Civil District. We lived just above Kingston Mill at that time and I can remember going down to the river where some of the troops were bivouacked and selling candy bars with my neighbor who was several years older than myself to the soldier boys. We had either Butterfinger or Baby Ruth for sale.

    It is interesting to note that Camp Forrest in Tullahoma was erected for the training of these same soldiers and was named for General Nathan Bedford Forrest with whom my Great Grandfather fought during the Civil War in a unit called Forrest's Escort. It is also interesting to note that the Shelbyville Army National Guard (Artillery) was called up at that time. They trained at Camp Forrest, and served in Germany during the war.

    As for the question about Coy Adams' foundry. It is possible that either ilikeoldsongs or Wilderness 68 would be able to give you the answer to that.

    I am very much looking forward to seeing the additional photos.

    My Father came back alive from that war after serving on the U.S.S. Arkansas and fighting at Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Guam, Ulithi, and other ports of call. My Father-in-law did not come back. He gave his life for his country in New Guinea between the Islands of Wadke and Liki on a LCM with an Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment (EB & SR).

    -- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Aug 25, 2009, at 12:18 PM
  • David, Even before we had electricity in the rural areas we had telephones. Those utility poles look very much like they could be telephone poles to me.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Aug 25, 2009, at 12:39 PM
  • We lived in Raus during the war. I saw many battles during the day and night. Some were faught in our front yard. I collected empty brass from blank ammo during this time. A lot of excitement for a eight year old boy.

    -- Posted by jim8377 on Tue, Aug 25, 2009, at 2:13 PM
  • This is simply awesome David. The younger generations need to know what a high price was paid for this country, regardless of whichever direction it is going.

    -- Posted by driedleaves on Tue, Aug 25, 2009, at 3:00 PM
  • David, I have not yet been able to determine the date that the stove foundry burned. Maybe Wilderness68 can help with that. A few years ago, maybe 3 or 4, I stopped by Scott Shapard's real estate office to see if he could verify my memory of the location of this factory, and his assesment of the location was in agreement with mine. I don't recall, however, if we discussed the date of the fire, and if we did I have forgotten any conclusions that might have been reached.

    This situation once again illustrates the inattention of the young, and the unreliability of word of mouth for keeping history alive.

    At one time I was personally acquainted with at least 6 people who were working at that plant when it burned, including both my wife's parents. And yet it seems on the surface that the information has been lost, and to a certain degree I feel a personal responsibility for that loss.

    Of course there is a good chance that one could spend a few hours staring at perhaps hundreds of pages of old newspapers on microfilm at the library, and come up with the date . I'm very thankful for those papers and the documentation of our history they provide, we would indeed be very poor without them.

    But in this day of pushing a button, or clicking a mouse for almost instant information, don't we owe it to future generations to modernize our information systems, to remove some of the plodding obstacles that hinder access to the past?

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Aug 25, 2009, at 5:04 PM
  • All this information about the maneuvers on Bedford County soil is extremely interesting because they were eye-witnesses to "history". Several years back a friend gave me a detailed writeup about Gen. George Patton's time here and training he was involved in down around the Skull Camp Bridge on the Old Tullahoma Hwy. The details are too fuzzy to rely on memory, so I'll try to find it. Also, I've been trying to find some good quality photos of the maneuvers here in the county and would like to make electronic scans. Any help would be appreciated.

    -- Posted by marnold1118 on Wed, Aug 26, 2009, at 8:01 AM
  • David, the T-G reprinted (page 12c, 10/25/2000 issue) a rather lengthy article "Patton's Invasion of Middle Tennessee Remembered" which my Mom wrote (1943-ish) while the maneuvers were ongoing. While it was mostly related to the Bell Buckle perspective, the details she described were certainly mirrored by similar goings-on across Bedford County and middle Tennessee.

    -- Posted by dkd57 on Wed, Aug 26, 2009, at 10:30 AM
  • marnold1118, The article you mentioned about General Patton being around the Skull Camp Bridge rings a bell with me. I know that I have seen it and read it before. I have been searching this morning to see if I could find it. I did not, but I found this: On page 28 of the "Bedford County, Tennessee Family History Book" published by Turner Publishing Company in Paducah, Kentucky and with Dick Poplin, Editor for the Bedford County Historical Society there is an article titled "Patton Was Here", and then on page 32 there is an article with the title "Patton At Flat Creek".

    -- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Aug 26, 2009, at 11:45 AM
  • As usual, another great and thought provoking photo of Bedford County's past. My grandfather as well as my father told me of these troop manuevers through the area. My grandmother told me that more than a few of these young soldiers were far from home and always appreciated an opportunity to experince Bedford County hospitality in the form of a good meal and honest conversation with those who supported their war efforts. Now was there also a POW camp in the Tullahoma area for housing German prisoners?

    -- Posted by Tim Lokey on Thu, Aug 27, 2009, at 2:07 AM
  • There was a rock crusher in Raus that the German prisoners worked at. It was next to Raus school so we saw the germans up close. I remember talking to the American Soldier guards.

    -- Posted by jim8377 on Thu, Aug 27, 2009, at 6:38 AM
  • Now was there also a POW camp in the Tullahoma area for housing German prisoners?

    -- Posted by Tattoos & Scars on Thu, Aug 27, 2009, at 2:07 AM

    Yes, check out the address below for a brief summation of Camp Forrest.


    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Thu, Aug 27, 2009, at 9:58 AM
  • ilikeoldsongs, Thanks for the link to Camp Forrest. That is a gold mine of info and photos. It also confirms that not only were German prisoners held there but also Japanese.

    Through the years I have spent many days and nights training on that very ground where Camp Forrest once stood.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Aug 27, 2009, at 10:40 AM
  • leeiii, I believe prisoners at Camp Forrest were German and Italian....Davd, I remember leaving my Grandparents Farm in Cedar Grove and having to return because a similar Tank was across Manire Rd...The fences on their farm were torn down during "The Maneuvers" and replaced when they left...I retreived a sign which read "Ye Olde Latrine" from beside their ditch....My Grandmother traded "Home-Cooked Meals" for sugar with the "Soldier Boys"...We boarded a GI couple at our home in Shelbyville and I remember a Skating Rink was in a Tent on Depot St. Near the later Philpot Print Shop where GI's had fun..

    -- Posted by FlaDon on Thu, Aug 27, 2009, at 8:07 PM
  • FlaDon, Thanks for the information. Try taking a look at the site ilikeoldsongs mentioned. You will like it. I started looking at it this morning as soon as I found out about it, and I have spent the biggest part of the day going down every trail that opened up.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Aug 27, 2009, at 8:16 PM
  • As a side note to the Camp Forrest link above, there is a reference on the site to Camp Blanding, Fla., which is located roughly 50 miles south of Jacksonville, near Stark, Fla. While that is not likely of any particular interest to the patrons of these blogs, it bears a great deal of significance to me personally.

    My dad was a carpenter, and we, along with an uncle and his family, and a couple of my dad's carpenter friends, moved from Columbia Tn., sometime in 1940 to Jacksonville Fla., to work on the Camp Blanding project. No housing was available any closer than Jacksonville, so they all had to commute about 50 miles each way.

    I have three or four distinct memories of that time in my life, which I have confirmed in times past with my parents to be accurate. These are the first memories, somewhere between the age of two and a half and three and a half, that I can recall, and so they mean a lot to me, personally.

    Another thing that I find interesting about the Camp Blanding site, located here: www.campblanding-museum.org is the fact that the museum itself is a refurbished original ww2 barracks building. Makes me wonder if perhaps my dad might have worked on that very building. But then, with more than 10,000 buildings going up, what are the odds? Hope I haven't bored anyone too much with this walk down memory lane.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Fri, Aug 28, 2009, at 2:28 PM
  • ilikeoldsongs, After your family returned from Camp Blanding did your Father continue to work as a carpenter in the Shelbyville area? There is a distinct possibility that I may have worked with him on some jobs as I was an Electrician and Plumber from 1960 through 1976.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Fri, Aug 28, 2009, at 2:40 PM
  • leeiii, when we moved back to Shelbyville to stay, in June, 1950, My Dad worked for Cecil Melton for quite some time, don't remember exactly how long. After that he worked for A.C. "Pat" Melson for several years, during which time Pat was working almost exclusively in the Tullahoma area, in particular the Oak Park area. I believe all this would have been before 1960, but there is a possibility that the Pat Melson segment could have extended into the early 1960's. I would think that if you worked on any of J.T. Jones houses that would have been your best opportunity to have worked with my Dad, as he worked for J.T. for several years before he retired in 1973.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Fri, Aug 28, 2009, at 3:18 PM
  • ilikeoldsongs, I thought so. J.T. had a man named Jim, one named Lee, and another man was foreman whose name escapes me at the moment, and then there was his son Travis. That would have been the most likely place I would have worked with him.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Fri, Aug 28, 2009, at 4:18 PM
  • What a memory you have leeiii,Lee was the man, the one true hero in my life, the one I try to pattern my own life after.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Fri, Aug 28, 2009, at 5:22 PM
  • ilikeoldsongs, I do not know if your Dad is still living or not, but he was a good man that I thought a lot of. He was as good a finish carpenter as you could find anywhere. I was raised on Whitthorne Street. In later years your Dad lived just about a block away from my Mom and Dad. If I am not mistaken he lived in the rock veneer house that Frank Smotherman was raised in. Jim Harrell was a good man as well.

    By the way, do you remember what the foreman's name was? It will probably come to me about 2 o'clock tomorrow morning.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Fri, Aug 28, 2009, at 5:39 PM
  • leeiii, my Dad passed away in 1984, after battling cancer for four years. To illustrate the type person he was, when Dr. Derryberry began apologizing for having to report that Dad's biopsy had come back positive for cancer, Dad told him "Don't worry about it doc, it might as well be me as someone else, I'm no better than the next person to have it". And that was no smoke, just my Dad being himself.

    You're right about the house they lived in on Evans St., they were there for several years. I think that house was owned by Donnie Thompson's mother.

    About the foreman's name,I want to say Travis Petty, but I'm wondering if I'm confusing him with Glenn Petty, a mechanic.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Fri, Aug 28, 2009, at 6:41 PM
  • ilikeoldsongs, I am not sure but neither one of those names seems to fit.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Fri, Aug 28, 2009, at 7:25 PM
  • ilikeoldsongs, Ever since your last comment I have been rolling the name Glenn around in my mind trying to come up with the foreman's name. I finally gave up this morning and called J.T.'s daughter (Frieda) and asked her what his name was. It was Bill Arnold. I would have had a hard time remembering that one but now I know that was right.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Sat, Aug 29, 2009, at 9:13 AM
  • leeiii, when I saw the name it came back, but I'm afraid it was gone before then.

    That was a good crew that J.T. had, my Dad really liked everyone, and he thought the world of J.T.'s kids.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Sat, Aug 29, 2009, at 9:57 AM
  • Does anyone recall Shelbyville being bombed by little paper sacks filled with (flour?) dropped by low-flying B-25s practicing bombing runs at low altitude? A person told me this a few years ago and said he remembers the white blotches. He said his sister had been hit by one as she walked across the square and stopped to look up at the aircraft.

    -- Posted by bomelson on Sat, Aug 29, 2009, at 2:51 PM
  • Bo, Sorry but I do not remember that. I do remember being recruited to be a plane spotter for the Civil Defense. That was sometime between the end of WWII and the Korean War.

    However, I do remember the sky writer planes that wrote Pepsi Cola in the sky.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Sat, Aug 29, 2009, at 4:03 PM
  • Bo, those flour bags could have blown over from the Bombing Range in the 18th District (a.k.a. The "Bloody 18th" )...Does anyone remember when one of Tittsworth Brothers would Buzz the Courthouse??? I believe he was stationed at Smyrna and it was SOP to Buzz your home town...

    -- Posted by FlaDon on Sat, Aug 29, 2009, at 6:02 PM
  • A sweet little rumor

    Did anyone here, hear the rumor back during WW2 maneuvers, that when the soldiers pulled out in the next few days they could not carry food supplies, such as sugar and coffee to thier next assignment, and would bury those items in the cemetery? The figure that I remember was 1500 pounds of sugar had to be disposed of, and they were not allowed to give it to civilians(understandable,if true).

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Mon, Aug 31, 2009, at 7:38 PM
  • No, that is a new one on me.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Mon, Aug 31, 2009, at 8:37 PM
  • I would like for anyone to share information about

    L.L. Edwards. He was my wife's grandfather and all

    I ever talked to him about was the 1940's and how he

    had to stay on his toes for sugar to make candy.He also sold Peanuts in small boxes-like old snuff boxes. He would put a penny or more in a cellophane

    package in the box.I remember buying them in the early'50s here in Oklahoma. The last home that I am

    aware of that he lived in-in town- was on Cannon Street or Blvd. If anyone would provide what information that you can, it would certainly be appreciated. He passed away in 1974 and his wife Agnes passed away in 1997 in Eldorado, Arkansas.

    Thanks- you have some of the finest folks and the

    greenest grass I have ever seen. lostinoklahoma

    -- Posted by lostinoklahoma on Sat, Dec 25, 2010, at 2:29 AM
  • lostinoklahoma, about the only thing I remember about L.L. Edwards had to do with peanuts. I can remember when he had his business on East Depot Street. It was on the Southeast corner of Depot and Myers Streets across the corner from what was Day Brothers grocery in the 50s. He traded with us at the service station and we always called him "peanut man". As I remember the peanut boxes, they were rectangular/square in shape, and they were a grayish cardboard color with (red I think) printing. They were called 1c, 5c, 10c or maybe it was penny, nickel, dime peanuts. Occasionaly a nickel would be found in one of the boxes, but mostly it was a penny. The peanuts were salted and still had the red-like skin on them. Mr. Edwards was well liked in the community to the best of my knowledge.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Sat, Dec 25, 2010, at 8:02 AM
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