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Photographer's rear-end shot upset editor

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When I first started to work with Morgan Fitz, he was located in 402 (behind the elevator) in the then-Herald Building, later to be known as the News Building.

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Robert Symms (from left), Hugh Penny, Morgan Fitz and Vernon Gould took photographs for The Chronicle during the 1950s. The paper created its own photo department in 1962.  Special
Special
Robert Symms (from left), Hugh Penny, Morgan Fitz and Vernon Gould took photographs for The Chronicle during the 1950s. The paper created its own photo department in 1962.

In January 1951, Vernon Gould joined our firm, after working with Robert Wilkinson for a number of years. He brought the contract for photographing for The Chronicle with him, which we did until spring of 1962.

In 1954 we moved our operations to the third floor, renting five rooms just opposite the elevator. We occupied those rooms until the end of our contract and our move to 1552 Walton Way.

After The Chronicle bought the Herald , we photographed for both newspapers until 1962. Our contract called for us to be available for assignments 24/7, and we charged per photograph, leaving us to also work as independent commercial, wedding and portrait photographers.

Those were exciting times. Dwight Eisenhower was elected president and came to Augusta via a commercial plane the day after the election. Of course, we were there to meet the plane, and that is when Louis Harris, then the managing editor, introduced me to James Haggerty, Eisenhower's press secretary.

Eisenhower came to Augusta many times during his years in office, and, of course, the White House press corps always was with him, using the junior ballroom at the Bon Air Hotel as a working location. It was at the Bon Air that I passed Jim Haggerty in the hall and he called me by name. That impressed me. I was a 20-year-old kid, and he remembered my name!

When John Foster Dulles flew to Augusta, Louis Harris sent me to Bush Field to get a photo. Usually, when people of that importance came, they would stop briefly after deplaning and turn before entering the limousine.

I was in the mix of the White House press guys with my 4x5 Crown Graphic camera, having to ration my exposures because it took time after making an exposure to put the slide back in the film holder, turn it around for the film on the other side, pull the slide, cock the shutter and be ready to make the one exposure before doing it all over again and retrieving another holder from my coat pocket for another exposure, going through the same routine again.

Well, when Dulles deplaned, he headed straight for the limousine, not turning around but going right into the car. I knew that Louis would give me "what for" if I did not come back with a photograph, so I made an exposure of that huge man in a heavy overcoat getting into the car. The photograph was of his back, not his side or front. The door shut, and off he went, leaving me and the rest of the photographers with only one photograph.

I don't know what the others got, but Louis was not pleased with my photo of John Foster Dulles' rear end, asking me why that was all I was able to get.

However, he had it framed, and it was on his office wall for many years. We did have a good laugh.

Not only did we have the excitement of the president and all that came with his visits, but there was much going on here in Augusta at that time.

The old courthouse on Greene Street was replaced with the present one. There was a very large yard in front of the old building, so they built the present builiding in that front yard, with business as usual in the old building until the new one was completed and the offices occupied.

There was a certain charm in that old courthouse, with the squeaky, sloping, wooden hallways leading to courtrooms and offices.

I found working with Esther Young, a Chronicle reporter, very interesting, especially when we worked on the Lois Jaynes murder case, with the police arresting Lovey Ivey for the crime.

When Esther and I went to the Jaynes home to interview the grandmother, Mayor W.D. Jennings came in and, with tears streaming down his cheeks, assured the grandmother that the Augusta Police Department would do all it could to bring the murderer to justice.

He turned and left, and when he was in the front yard, he immediately started cracking jokes with the policemen on duty there. He could turn it on and off.

Johnny Battle, the city editor, was a tough but lovable veteran of the newspaper and a champion of the firemen and policemen. He could bark, but his bark was worse than his bite.

Back in those early days, 1951 and later, David Playford was a copy boy for The Chronicle. We had known each other at Richmond Academy. He left and went to Orangeburg, S.C., to work for the paper there and on a visit back to Augusta asked me to come there to photograph for the newspaper.

I was too much of an Augusta lad and I was happy working with Morgan, so I declined the offer. A few years later, he returned to The Chronicle and then the Herald, and the rest is history.


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