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Picturing the Past 114: Soldiers in the streets

Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2011, at 3:38 PM

(Photo)
Soldiers in downtown Shelbyville during World War II maneuvers. (National Archives photo)
Over the years I've heard tales of the massive number of troops who were involved in maneuvers across Bedford County connected with the old Camp Forrest during the early years of World War II.

My elders told me of residents waking up to see their yards covered with sleeping soldiers; of the old railroad depot being used as a site to entertain soldiers; and of many people in western Bedford County being evacuated from their homes for months.

Here's a photo of troops marching from South Main onto Depot Street. For me, it's interesting seeing a location that's so familiar -- in some ways, it's hardly changed -- yet looking so different. Looks like the soldiers were getting the civilian support they deserved.

This photo, from the National Archives, was part of a press release we received for a historical society meeting. It's part of a book "In The Presence Of Soldiers,' written by Woody McMillin, who will be speaking to the Bedford County Historical Society and signing books at their meeting, next Monday at 6:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church. It sounds like a good read for anyone who experienced -- or, like me, just heard the stories -- of those days. Supposedly the book has many more photos like this one.

Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog. Reader contributions are welcome.


Comments
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[Show most recent comments first]

David, do you have a date for this picture? There are several things that are confusing to me about this being a WWII maneuvers photo. First the soldiers are wearing WWI hats. They have WWI helmets on their backpacks, and it appears to me that they are armed with Springfield rifles. Also, they are wearing leggins instead of boots.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jun 14, 2011, at 4:13 PM

leeiii,Maybe they got there drab at Freidmans Army surplus store.Joking aside I'd say they used what they could to train.The cars are from WWII era and the store in in that time frame.The more modern rifles were used in the war.I'd say that dates it well.

-- Posted by mytaxesaremine on Tue, Jun 14, 2011, at 4:30 PM

Check out the cars in the background. That will give a better idea. I have pics that my dad took of tanks on 41A N and have heard stories of bombers making low runs headed to the range in the 18th. Also lots of farms were used for manuvers,and fences were cut and had to be repaired.

-- Posted by Cal t on Tue, Jun 14, 2011, at 4:35 PM

Good eye mytaxesaremine and Cal t. I never even noticed the cars. The helmets that my Uncle found in the 18th were WWII issue. He dug a hole in the ground and partially buried them and used them to water his turkeys.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jun 14, 2011, at 4:57 PM

The popcorn stand is certainly a part of Shelbyville history. Does anyone know how long it has been there?

-- Posted by bomelson on Wed, Jun 15, 2011, at 2:09 PM

Two things I have noticed in this pic. The column of stones at the corner of Piggly Wiggly. Are they the same as the old court house stones, or could they be some of the old stones. The other is my memories of the popcorn stand and the smile we always got from Mr. Pruitt. My favorite place to visit on the square.

-- Posted by Cal t on Wed, Jun 15, 2011, at 2:21 PM

If I remember my history right, the first batches of soldiers enlisting were given WWI helmets; these may have been used in Basic as the new style helmets went to the Marines first. Don't know if they kept them during later training. They did have the new ones when they went overseas.

-- Posted by Tyger on Wed, Jun 15, 2011, at 7:54 PM

Thanks Tyger. Now that I think about it everything was in short supply at the beginning of the war. I can remember some of the older people telling me that when the local National Guard Artillery unit was called up in WWII that they did not have howitzers when they were training at Camp Forest. They used sawhorses and pine trees for training. It seems to me that I also remember mention being made of using sticks for rifles at that same time.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Jun 16, 2011, at 6:22 AM

leeiii,

I believe the hats they are wearing are the wide brim felt hats. Their "steel Pots" are strapped to their back packs.

-- Posted by eyeavol on Thu, Jun 16, 2011, at 7:46 AM

Cal t: I remember running out of the house to watch the B-17 bombers flying almost at house top on the way to bombing practice. The sound was so loud we put fingers in our ears, but it was a very exciting sight and sound. Once the bombers seemed to fly through a bright rainbow. All those sights, faces, places and culture in the picture, have also flown over the rainbow so many years ago.

-- Posted by Grits on Thu, Jun 16, 2011, at 2:41 PM

Bo, I have looked for information on the popcorn stand but I can not locate it right now. I do know that when Mr. Pruitt ran it the time frame would have been mid to late 50s. It seems to me that someone on the blogs said something about the Loudermilks running it about late 40s and early 50s. I am not sure how much further back it would have gone. ilikeoldsongs or steadyeddie might be able to give us a little more information on how long it has been there.

-- Posted by leeiii on Sat, Jun 18, 2011, at 1:15 PM

Things I Remember about WWII:

1. My Dad built an Apartment out of our Attic and Rented it to a Camp Forrest Couple who ate many meals with us...

2. The Army took over my Grandfather's Farm and:

a. Soldiers would come to the Farmhouse and Trade Rationed Sugar for Home-cooked Meals...

b. One Sunday we could not get back to Town because Tanks were Blocking Manire Road...

c. The Storekeeper at ChapelHill,TN would sometimes GIVE Me Rationed Candy...

d. The Troops Dug a Huge Trench and put up a Sign that read " Ye Ole Latrine " which I Kept for Many Years...

3. One of the Tittsworth Boys Stationed at Seward Army Air Base would occasionly Buzz the Court House...

4. On Saturday Nights there were Unreal Long Lines at the Barber Shops ( Soldiers First }

-- Posted by FlaDon on Sun, Jun 19, 2011, at 11:13 AM

I was a student at CHS from 1947 to 1951 and several of us used to walk to town after school and stand and talk to "Loudy" (Howard Loudermilk) at the popcorn stand. We also made a stop at the Milk Bar on the way up town. I also remember earlier years when our family parked the car on the square on Sunday afternoon, ate popcorn from the stand and watched the passing traffic and activities.

-- Posted by luckylu on Sun, Jun 19, 2011, at 3:51 PM

"ilikeoldsongs or steadyeddie might be able to give us a little more information on how long it has been there."

-- Posted by leeiii on Sat, Jun 18, 2011, at 1:15 PM

leeiii,I really don't have a clue as to when the popcorn stand made it's appearance, but wouldn't be surprised to learn that it was already there while I was only being contemplated.

Let's go back to Picturing the Past 102:Back to the Square, a picture submitted by Monte Arnold, and stated to be late 1930's to early 1940's, an assesment that I agree with completely for a number of reasons. One reason being the age of the cars in this photo, seemingly all in the 1920's, 1930's range, just glancing over them. I don't see a single vehicle that I can identify as a 1940's vintage car. A second reason that I would think this might be a late 1930's photo, as opposed to a 1940's picture is the absence of the Bedford Theatre, which opened in 1939. I don't know what time of the year the Bedford Theatre opened in 1939, so it's possible that this could be a Summer 1939 picture and the theatre might have opened in the Fall. Otherwise, I would think that this picture might have been taken even earlier than 1939.

But in any case, unless these old eyes have let me down, the popcorn stand was there in it's usual place, ready for business regardless of the year.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Sun, Jun 19, 2011, at 8:53 PM

ilikeoldsongs, after looking back at 102 I certainly agree with you.

-- Posted by leeiii on Mon, Jun 20, 2011, at 6:33 AM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.