Ramblin’ Rhodes: It’s time to look again at local World War I history

Country singer Cody Webb will perform for the Shamrocks N Sirens event being held 6-10 p.m. Friday, March 17, at Jackson Square, 326 Georgia Ave., in North Augusta. SPECIAL 



One hundred years ago, Augusta-area citizens were becoming more and more involved with World War I both on the home front and overseas.

That included school children on both sides of the Savannah River helping solicit books for soldiers at Camp Hancock, which was located about where the Daniel Village airport and shopping center is now off Wrightsboro Road.

Lawton B. Evans, superintendent of Richmond County schools, in October of 1917 issued an appeal published in The Augusta Chronicle to support the locally-based soldiers in the development of a library on post.

He specifically asked for fiction, travel, poetry, detective stories, biography and reference books and magazines.

“We are trying to raise 10,000 volumes of such reading material as the soldiers will enjoy,” Evans said in his appeal. “They want interesting and profitable books.

“They will be cared for by the camp library under the direction of the camp librarian. A building has been provided for the library and the soldiers are ready for the books and magazines.

“The public school children are engaged in the campaign of collecting books. Will you help by giving your child as many books from your own library as you can spare to bring to the school with the assurance that every book contributed will be placed in the camp library where it will be of service in relieving the tedium of camp life?”

The “Great War,” which was to end all wars, was relatively brief compared to America’s other military conflicts; lasting about from April of 1917 to November of 1918.

And yet it would have long-lasting effects on millions of lives.

The 100th anniversary commemoration of World War I has many local ties including that of former Augusta resident Woodrow Wilson who served as U.S. president during the war years.

Look for several related exhibits over the next two years including one that the North Augusta Arts &Heritage Center plans to open in June in its balcony gallery. The center is asking local residents to contribute to the exhibit, such as items, pictures, family stories, etc. Please contact Andrea at ajss14892@aol.com.

To start with an overview of the war and commemorative activities, visit worldwar1centennial.org.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY POST 71: The Jesse C. Lynch Memorial American Legion Post 71, which received its charter in 1932, celebrates its 85th birthday with a dinner at 6 p.m. Friday, March 10, at 333 East Spring Grove Ave. in North Augusta. Tickets are $10 for the meal, entertainment and talk and can be reserved by calling (803) 341-9552.

The post began with an initial membership of 16 members of veterans who had served in World War I. Its current building was dedicated on Oct. 15, 2011.

A SHARON JONES AMPHITHEATER? It has come to my attention that leaders of North Augusta’s entertainment and historic circles are floating the idea of naming the proposed amphitheater at Project Jackson for the late rhythm &blues superstar Sharon Jones.

Personally, I cannot think of anything more appropriate since she called North Augusta her home and even mentioned the city in her last single release I’m Still Here before her death from cancer in November.

Jones loved North Augusta and told media representatives and others exactly that during her frequent world tours. Her first public singing debut came as a child in a Christmas play at North Augusta Baptist Church on Jackson Avenue.

The North Augusta Chamber of Commerce in February posthumously honored Jones with its Citizen of the Year award. Two-time Oscar winning director Barbara Kopple told Jones’ story in her widely acclaimed film Miss Sharon Jones!

Jones’ album Give The People What They Want was nominated for a Grammy Award about the same time Jones rode in the North Augusta Christmas Parade. That came one year after Jones and her band, The Dap Kings, rode in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

She is arguably one of the most famous people to come out of this area along with golfers Bobby Jones and Larry Mize, baseball legend Ty Cobb, soul singer James Brown, country and rock singer Brenda Lee, opera singer Jessye Norman and professional wrestler Hulk Hogan.

And hopefully the powers that be will come up with a better name than the recently mentioned “North Augusta Ball Park Village,” which sounds like a small town recreation center. That name has little appeal in public relations efforts to attract national or international media coverage.

Maybe there should be a contest to come up with a better name. That’s how this area got its Central Savannah River Area promotional title.

SHAMROCKS AND CODY WEBB: Country singer Cody Webb, who grew up in Ridge Spring, S.C., and now lives in Nashville, Tenn., will perform for the Shamrocks N Sirens event being held 6-10 p.m. Friday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, at the food trucks stop area of Jackson Square, 326 Georgia Ave., in North Augusta. Admission is $10 with the event benefiting North Augusta FORWARD.

RAMBLIN’ SALUTE TO CAROL: Last week was the final working one for Carol Waggoner-Angleton in her role as special collections librarian at Augusta University’s Reese Library.

Many local historians, genealogists and scholars have benefited from her archival skills over the years.

She plans to pursue doing freelance research work for individuals, civic groups and businesses. You can reach her at amch0916@gmail.com or by calling (706) 564-6133.

Hear the 1917 George M. Cohan song Over There.