ASHS Column for 07 27 2006
"What goes up must come down" Mantra for Society
Margaret Collier

    Weep and gnash your teeth, those of
you who missed the July meeting of
The Alger-Sullivan Historical Society!
Larry Walker, accompanied by his
trusty CD player and two contrasting
CDs, presented a program of folk
music from the depression era. The
first version was an unaccompanied
song about "Railroad Bill" who was
a "mean man." Then it went into a
version of "Lazarus" a chain gang
song. This song was used in the
movie, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
    The first rendition was without
accompaniment, but the movie
version was enhanced with various
sounds. I was reminded of the
sounds of the "Gandy Dancers" and
their performance at Atmore's
Williams Station event some
years ago. The songs were to help
the men do their work efficiently
by keeping a rhythm going - particularly on the railroad track work.
We did appreciate this distinctive program and thank Mr. Walker profusely for bringing it to us. (Don't tell anybody, but I think that he gave Jerry Fischer a copy, so if you can chase him down you may be able to listen to it.) And, speaking of Jerry Fischer, his name was lauded at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Century Library on Wednesday. He was recognized for keeping the project on track and for his donations, so we offer our own thanks to him for his efforts on behalf of this important project.
    The ceremony made me think that even though it was a current event it is history in the making. One day we'll look back in time to savor this new development as a step forward in making Century a more forward-looking community by providing the means for its citizens to improve themselves through access to good books and research materials.
And speaking of good books, we now have available, for twelve dollars, John Appleyard's latest edition and update of "Lumbering in Northwest Florida and Alabama." Sometimes in our pursuit of all kinds of interesting bits of history we tend to lose sight of the main reason for our (especially Century) history. The lumber business is what brought The Alger-Sullivan Lumber Company and its mill town into being, so we think that it would be a good idea to refresh memories by reading this book as well as our own publications.
    One of the thoughts that comes to mind in dealing with the changes that took place during the heyday of the lumbering business in this area is that nothing stays the same. The business develops, expands, reaches great heights and then descends. "What goes up must come down."
Putting all of one's eggs in one basket without allowing for changing times and circumstances can spell ruin. By depending solely on the lumber mill, even with certain changes, didn't help Century, but the story isn't over yet. Maybe by forcing change, something better is on the way.
    Our August meeting will have a very special program presented by the Florida Humanities Council entitled, "Henry Plant Live! The Legacy of Florida's Pioneer Empire Builder." Kelly Reynolds, an actor, will portray the railroad tycoon who helped transform 19th-century Florida from wilderness to winter paradise. Reynolds' living-history portrayal is accompanied by a slide show of vintage photographs. Images of wood-burning locomotives, steam boats, resort hotels, and small-town festivities help set the scene, painting a colorful picture of the era when Plant helped bring tourism to Florida.
    This meeting on Tuesday, August 15 at 6:00 P.M. is a special opportunity to learn more about the history of our great state of Florida in a most informative and entertaining format. We do urge everyone to attend. The event is free of charge, but your donations would be appreciated in helping with the expenses.
    While not absolutely necessary it would be helpful if you would contact Jerry Simmons, Jerry Fischer, or myself to let us know how many of you plan to attend. If we anticipate an especially large crowd we may move to a larger venue in order to accommodate everyone in a comfortable manner. Actually, that would be great to have such a wonderful response to this opportunity. Well, with one thing and another, I seem to have taken up the allotted space without bringing the next exciting chapter of the Winding River Road. Do not despair. It will return in my next column.
    Oops! One more item. Our eternal gratitude to Rev. Stallworth's directing our roof problem to the Samaritan's Purse. The group re-roofed The Leach House at no charge to us, so our members want to chip in for a donation to this work that has saved our exhibits from loss due to a leaky roof. Fortunately for us, the weather was dry until after the work was completed. In the light of the recent afternoon storm, that roof was truly a godsend.
    Thanks to all who made it happen!

Larry Walker, left, and President Jerry Fischer, right, share some humor at the July meeting.

For a sample of the music, click HERE

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This page last modified on Saturday, September 02, 2006