It’s fun and rewarding to get local residents and visitors to take interest and pride in our rich history, and I also end up learning a lot of new things.
As a member of the exhibits committee of the North Augusta Arts and Heritage Center, I recently took part in bringing about an exhibit on North Augusta’s entertainment and broadcast history.
It is on display at the nonprofit center, located on the first floor of the Municipal Building, 100 Georgia Ave., from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. first Saturdays through Sept. 20.
Here are some cool things related to that exhibit:
• North Augusta resident Van Haywood lent the center a guitar with which he taught his three children how to play including his son, Dave, a member of the Lady Antebellum trio. He also lent the center a gold record album award of Lady A’s that Dave gave his father. Van Haywood himself sang and played guitar and banjo in a 1970s Augusta trio called Smith & Jones that started as a duo with Jim Davidson and later added David Morris.
• The metal building at 646 East Buena Vista Ave., now used as an outreach ministry of Fairview Presbyterian Church, in the 1970s was a recording studio used by Larry Jon Wilson, Steve Morse (The Dregs/Deep Purple), Swanee Quintet, Ali-Ollie Woodson (lead vocalist of The Temptations) and others. James Brown recorded Get On The Good Foot in that studio on May 9, 1972.
• The Estate Jewelry building, 506 Georgia Ave., was formerly the Marrh Theatre where youngster Brenda Lee performed with Pee Wee Devore and The Atomic Rangers. It later became Carolina Theater where North Augusta Community Theater put on productions.
• WJBF, the Augusta area’s first television station, went on the air in 1953 in a renovated house at 1305 Georgia Ave., which later became WBBQ radio station. The basement walls of the station were painted by John Radeck for his “Bwana John” children’s show. The station burned in 1956 and moved to Reynolds Street in Augusta.
• Jim Nabors (later TV’s Gomer Pyle) and Flo Carter sang together daily live on WJBF while Brenda Lee (who would later sell more than 100 million records) sang live next door on WRDW-TV.
• The Barnum & Bailey Circus, which billed itself as the “Greatest Show on Earth,” set up its tents and animal cages in North Augusta in 1903.
• Elinor Gignilliat Trimmier and Wade Woodward Jr., the parents of Oscar-winning actress Joanne Woodward, met at the North Augusta home of Elinor’s aunt and uncle on West Avenue. Wade Woodward Jr., a former North Augusta resident, was then a cadet at Clemson University and captain of the Clemson football team. His father, Dr. Wade Woodward Sr., was a physician who had served on the North Augusta school board. Joanne Woodward won an Oscar for playing an Edgefield, S.C., woman in The Three Faces of Eve.
• William Farnum, who was the highest-paid actor in movies in the 1920s at $10,000 a week, was in North Augusta filming a movie in 1915.
• The first librarian of North Augusta’s Nancy Carson Library was Pauline Benson, whose father, Berry Benson, was the model for the statue atop the Confederate Monument in the 700 block of Broad Street in Augusta. The second librarian was Ruth Randall, daughter of James Ryder Randall, an editor of The Chronicle who wrote the state song of Maryland (Maryland, My Maryland) and whose statue is in front of Sacred Heart Cultural Center.
• Bowman Milligan, longtime manager of lightweight world champion boxer Beau Jack (Sidney Walker), was a longtime resident of North Augusta. He also was the first employee in 1932 of the Augusta National Clubhouse as a steward and locker room manager. Augusta National co-founder Clifford Roberts left Milligan $5,000 in his will. Roberts died in 1977.
SOUTHERN SOUL & SONG TICKETS: Tickets for the 2013-2014 season of the Morris Museum of Art’s Budweiser True Music Southern Soul & Song series go on sale Tuesday, July 30, and are available at the Imperial Theatre box office, 745 Broad St., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, by calling (706) 722-8341, or through imperialtheatre.com. The series tickets offer all five shows for the price of four.
The season lineup is:
• Sept. 13, Mountain Heart with guest Lera Lynn;
• Oct. 18, The Grascals with guest Audie Blaylock and Redline;
• Nov. 15, Blue Highway and Sierra Hull;
• Jan. 17, Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott; and
• Feb. 14, Rodney Crowell and Ray Wylie Hubbard. All shows are on Fridays and begin at 7:30 p.m. at Imperial Theatre.
BILL ANDERSON’S ATLANTA SESSIONS: Grand Ole Opry legend Bill Anderson in the early 1980s recorded 16 songs for Atlanta producer Bill Lowery, who had formed Southern Tracks Records.
Anderson, at that time, was without a recording label after being on Decca/MCA Records for 23 years.
The first single release on that label, Southern Fried, became a Top 40 hit single on the country music charts.
Lowery died in 2004, and Anderson was able to obtain the rights to his Atlanta recordings. They are now being offered digitally re-mastered and on CD for the first time. They also have been packaged with two DVD videos.
Go to billanderson.com and click on the “Store” link to order the CD/DVD combo.