Ramblin' Rhodes: Speaking of history, there's plenty to find around here

The third-floor Georgia Room of the Richmond County Public Library, 823 Telfair St., now has an exhibit pertaining to the great American West and several Western movie stars.


It was put together by Clyde Lester, Leroy Brown and William Harper.

Tentatively, the library plans to have Western Day in May with speakers, films, etc., so the exhibit is expected to be on display through May.

Harper is a nationally recognized authority on Straight Arrow, the radio series about a Comanche Indian, raised by white settlers, who owns the Broken Bow cattle ranch.

His research into the show resulted in the 2007 book Straight Arrow: A Complete Radio Log and Definitive Resource for Straight Arrow Media, 1949-1956.

The Georgia Room is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 1-5 p.m. Saturday. Call (706) 821-2600 or see ecgrl.org.


RECEPTION IN THOMSON: Don’t forget about the free reception being held at the McDuffie Museum, 121 Main St., beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 20. It’s a chance for the museum to thank the North Augusta Arts & Heritage Center for loaning its exhibit about North Augusta’s entertainment and broadcast history. Two of the guests expected to attend, Flo Carter and Carey Murdock, have loaned items for the exhibit.


THANK YOU FOR TURNING OUT: It was great to see several of the people profiled in my new Arcadia Publishing book, Legendary Locals of Augusta, turn out for my debut signing on March 9 at the Augusta Museum of History. I signed 29 copies in the two hours I was at the museum.

Copies are being stocked in local stores, including Walgreen’s and Costco this week.

One of my favorite people, local author Margurite Flint Fogleman, who isn’t in my book, was among the guests. I have so much admiration for her. In the 1980s, she went around Richmond County and photographed every historic marker and monument and copied their wording down by hand.

Her photographs and research were published in 1986 by the Richmond County Historical Society in a book titled Historical Markers and Monuments of Richmond County.

Before the Internet came along, Fogleman’s book was one of my most used reference works in writing about local history. I still love reading it.


BILL KIRBY’S TALK: Speaking of local history, The Chronicle’s popular columnist Bill Kirby gave a fascinating talk on March 5 at the Augusta Museum of History about what Augusta was like in 1864.

He mentioned about how some people like to change history and told how just one complaint from an Augusta woman led to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources removing a historic marker from the 700 block of Broad Street.

The woman was upset about a quote from British author William Makepeace Thackeray during his 1856 talk in the Masonic Hall that once stood on the site.

The truth is the marker might be gone but you can easily find its wording on various Web sites. More people around the world probably have seen that marker online than those who have read it over the years in person on Broad Street.

For the record, here is what that marker said:

“William Makepeace Thackeray: In the Masonic Hall on this site, the British author lectured (Feb. 11-12, 1856), as guest of The Young Men’s Library Assn. He wrote home: “Nice quaint old town Augusta, rambling great street 2 miles long, doctors and shopkeepers the society of the place, the latter far more independent and gentlemanlike than our folks, much pleasanter to be with than the daring go ahead northern people. Slavery no where repulsive, the black faces invariably happy and plump, the white ones eager and hard. I brought away 60 Guineas for 2 hours talking, a snug little purse from snug little Augusta.” 121-8 GEORGIA HISTORICAL COMMISSION 1954”

Of course, slavery was repulsive and the black faces were rarely happy in those days. But you can’t change history and what a foreign guy said in the early 1800s simply by removing a historic marker.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICAN LEGION: The American Legion was formed 95 years ago this month in 1919 at a gathering of America’s Expeditionary Force members in Paris. Two months later, its official name The American Legion was adopted at a meeting in St. Louis, Mo.

I’m proud to be a member of the Jesse C. Lynch Memorial American Legion Post 71 in North Augusta, which does a lot of great things for veterans and active-duty military on both sides of the Savannah River.

My post celebrated the 95th birthday of The American Legion and the 82nd birthday of Post 71 with some great music by Darlene Champagne and Johnny Fenlayson and a remarkably personal and fascinating talk by U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, who represents this area of South Carolina in Congress.

He talked about his family roots going back to Beech Island, S.C., in the mid-1800s and about his sons serving in the military and about his own service going back to being in ROTC.

John Lentz, post adjutant, was announced as being selected as Post 71 Legionnaire of the Year.

Concluding the wonderful evening, Champagne and Fenlayson led the room into singing God Bless the U.S.A., including these great words composed by Lee Greenwood: “And I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me. And I’ll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today. ’Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land. God Bless the U.S.A.!”

When they got to those words, you can bet that entire audience of World War II, Vietnam, Korea and Gulf War veterans gladly stood up next to their spouses, companions and friends.