July 1st, 2005
First off, we would like to thank H B (Sims) and his family (Doris, Cindy, Linda, and a whole gob of young’uns) for all they did to make our stay at Stone Mountain so wonderful. Not only did they put much time and effort into planning the reunion, they also took off work to ensure that everything turned out just right. Cindy was a joy, just bubbling up everywhere. Her daughter, Amanda (White) was there the first night. Her son, Matthew (White) was there the last night to give us codgers a DVD copy of the documentary he recorded last year in Lynchburg. Excellent job, Matt. Those young people are just spoiling us rotten. I love it! Thank again, Sims.
Let’s see. I am suppose to talk about the four days of the USS RICH Reunion here in the beautiful state of Georgia. It is nice, let me tell you. Those young’uns can really put on a Reunion. Everything was just perfect! There are so many things to grab your attention, maybe it is better to take it one-day-at-a-time.
was all Stone Mountain. (See Fig 1 & 2) You know, that’s a big hunk of
granite, over 800 feet high. Darn thing covers 500 acres. Each morning we
would sit on the front porch getting our day in-order, while we rocked...
and looked at that rock. Beautiful sight. I understand it is about ten
miles deep and spreads out for some five miles around here (underground,
of course). Each morning as we walked out the front door... there would
be this BIG rock with the carving was in direct view. Mind imprinting!
Fig 2 was taken the “foggy” morning we left. The mountain was fogged in.
Cindy (Sims) had it figured. The first day was for exploring the things of ‘Stone Mountain’... that little western town (set in the 1780s, see Fig 3), the train station, the blacksmith shop, an old mill, a pottery kiln, and lots of touristy stuff. You could ride a train around the mountain at the neck-break-speed of five mph... two stops along the way, but you get back to the main station before getting off. There is also a “Tall Tale Theater” to be experienced (in the little village). You know, tall tales… like I talk. The movie is 3-D with bats flying around your head, frogs jumping on your feet, and snakes spitting in your face. Several people went to see “Tall Tales” and told me about it. Like I say, there are so many things to do. You just can’t do them all. Fig 3 was taken by Guy Rich as Frances (Livesay) and George (Fryberger) beat feet for the 3-D movie (to the left). This shows the rustic 1780 town with the mountain in the background. Beautiful!
After a day of gallivanting around the park, it was time to chow-down at Miss Katie’s Sideboard Restaurant. They THROW rolls at you! “Dumplin” was our waitress... such a pretty thing. George (Fryberger) dropped his roll (when she threw at him). George, you must keep your eyes on that roll! In Fig 4 is our happy “Dumplin” crowd. The food was so good (and service too, of course) that we came back on Wednesday... after visiting the Antique Car Museum. That museum had everything in it. It had some cars I had forgotten.
The first night (that’s Monday night) was for the Laser Show. Laser pictures are cleverly choreographed and projected on the face of the mountain by the Six Flags folks. They have taken over the entertainment operations of Stone Mountain. Very well done. The sound system is impressive, bouncing off the mountain and surrounding trees. To keep tension in the air, rain clouds threatened, but it never rained... just a few drops now-and-then. After the Laser Show, when we were back in the Hospitality Room (in the dry); the sky opened up.
The second day (Tuesday) was downtown Atlanta. We were ‘vanned’ to the “Atlanta Cyclorama”, which is a history lesson in itself! Stick with me now: In the second half of the 1800s, “cycloramas” were used to glorify the German victories of the Franco-Prussian War in Europe. Not to be outdone, William Wehner (of Milwaukee) recruited experienced German artisans (ten of them) to create (build, paint, etc.) a representation of the Atlanta Campaign, which happened May 5 to July 20, 1864... and make one they did (1885-1886)! As the name implies, the “Cyclorama” is a rotating platform with people (that’s you) sitting on it, and the platform rotates around while the scenery stays in the same place. The viewer (you again) faces the different areas of battle (as the platform rotates) with the lighting and narration accentuating the many parts. The real surprise was that Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) is a dead Yankees Soldier. This was added after Gable complained (1939) about Rhett Butler not being part of the “Cyclorama”. That’ll teach him! The rest is as expected, the Yankees won; Atlanta fell on September 1, 1864.
After completion in 1886, there came a long, entwined history of bankruptcies, neglect, and decay of the “Atlanta Campaign Cyclorama”... until the City (Atlanta) built a museum for its permanent home in 1921. The museum has more than the Cyclorama, of course... consider: “The Great Locomotive Chase” of April 12, 1862, when a raiding party of Yankee soldiers seized the ‘General’... naaahhh. Not enough time. On to the Margaret Mitchell Museum, which was an add-on to our Atlanta Experience.
Jane Hudson has a soft spot for “Gone with the Wind”. At her suggestion, and with the enthusiastic support of Southern Belles in our midst, we departed the Cyclorama for the Margaret Mitchell Museum(s): one for memorabilia, one for the GWTW film, and the third is Margaret’s actual apartment, which is in the basement the apartment building. Margaret’s living quarters are decorated with period furniture, as she had it. Our guide, Robert Warren, is an interesting little fellow. He has dedicated his life to things “Scarlet”. His knowledge of the “Gone with the Wind” minutia is scary, and impressive. We got Robert’s “short version” of the tour, as the “Spaghetti Warehouse” was closing its doors at 2:00 PM, and our previously scheduled lunch with it. Oh yes, Jane found a music box with Bonnie Blue’s pony (on it). Yet, another treasure for her large “Gone With The Wind” collection. She was so happy, even Roy was smiling.
I could launch into the history of the Spaghetti Warehouse, which was a “real” warehouse... also a skating ring, an apartment house, and various other establishments... before becoming the Spaghetti Warehouse. But, I need a break. This writing requires more memory than I have. Where is Marie, when I need her? She is probably washing those windows again. I keep telling her to let me do it. You know how it is, when women are happy. You just have to leave them alone. Oh yes, we had a grand meal at the “Warehouse”, were vanned back, and sat around the Hospitality Room talking, like grown men are supposed to do… while Cindy, Doris, Linda, and Myrna started putting out the wine-and-cheese. H B (Sims) was trying to help, until I explained that he was interfering with their happiness. He stopped.
The third day was for the memorial service, business meeting, and banquet. In the cool of the morning - on the veranda... with the white tablecloths, “Chief” Holler recalled his memories of that fateful day on June 8, 1944 (see Fig 5). It was a different time, a different place, when many gave the most... and we remembered them with our thanks and appreciation. Frank Doody read the eloquent tribute to those not present. Their table was set; each part of the setting has meaning, symbology. The occasion was somber, the air was sweet, and everyone sensed the true cost of freedom. But, the mountain there stood, a reminder... solid, granite, and forever. Fig 6 was taken as the crew gathered on the veranda. Note the mountain.
Following the Memorial Service, we reflected in the quiet, the cool, the calm. It was a serene time for us old ones. Times like this fill the soul. After a time for calm and quiet, we headed to the Hospitality Room… for the business meeting.
Now, I am just the messenger trying to report the facts. Unfortunately, my hearing aide was not working too good, so some things may be backwards. If that is the case, whatever is “backwards” will be straightened-forward in the next letter. So, keep the faith. Marie says to disregard those last two sentences, because I can read lips... she thinks.
Lets see. Jane Hudson is our new treasurer. Donations should be sent to her at “Roy & Jane Hudson, 204 Lemon Drive, Lynchburg VA 24502" (firstname.lastname@example.org). Thanks Paul Fraizer and Berman Scott for your recent donations. We also wish to thank Ed Black for all the good work he and Dot Cole have done for the crew of the USS RICH DE-695, and we regret that they no longer wish to be associated with the survivors, or to represent them. We do wish you well, Ed (& Dot). While I am thanking people, a word should be said about George (Fryberger) and Guy (Rich). They do so much to keep this organization going. George and Roy Jr (Hudson) just pulled their sneak plaque attack. Yes, it was a surprise... a good one.
Remember, without the stamps purchased with your contribution, USPS will not deliver this letter. That’s kind of uppity of them, but they make the rules. That is, your contributions cover the expense of printing and mailing this Newsletter. Thanks.
Much discussion was given to future meetings of the USS RICH (DE-695) Survivors. Frank (Doody) (with backing of Norm (Jensen)) suggested that we go with the Hart Tour Company for future USS RICH meetings. Hart Tours have successfully handled meetings of the USS BULL and USS BATES in the past. As inviting and cushy as this sounds, several of us have been thinking about the down side. Cost of attending would increase (which “could” keep family members of the crew away), people that now come for only one day (the banquet)... would be discouraged, and four days of being continuously ‘on the go’ would be right much for us old codgers. Somehow, I like the idea of the last two surviving crew members... sitting on the front porch talking... and rocking. “Chief” Holler’s offer for sponsoring the Reunion next year (in Oklahoma) is looking better all the time. Let’s just leave things flexible for the moment. Leaving you with indecision, is something I don’t like to do. On-the-other-hand, we can let you know about plans for next year in a future Newsletter, OK? How could a fair-minded person disagree with that? You are fair minded, aren’t you?
Oh yes, I can tell you about the disposition of the shell and flag. The 1.1 inch honorary shell and honorary American Flag will be donated to the D-Day Memorial Foundation (in Bedford VA) for display in their new Educational Building, once the building is completed. Roy Hudson (or son, Roy Jr) will handle this transaction.
It was decided to enclose a self-addressed post card in this mailing to help clean-up the mailing list. Check the space provided, and drop the card back in the mail. If somehow your card gets lost, just let me know (919-833-0747), and I will put you back on the mailing. We do not want to lose contact with people interested in the RICH.
On to the Banquet. As I say, those Sims young’uns know how to put on a party. Boy, there is a bunch of them (Cindy, Linda, Myrna, James, Davin, Jamie, Amanda, Matthew, Phillip, Kathy, Kaleigh, & Christopher... to name a few). Now, I could not name all those people without some help, regardless of what Marie thinks of my memory. (Thanks for the help, Cindy.) Back to the party. The food was outstanding, and a plenty of it. H B (Sims) couldn’t get George Bush or the Georgia Governor to speak at the Banquet, so he settled for James G. Lowry, a career military man that he has known since childhood. Though the electronic projector failed, Sergeant Major Lowry delivered a meaningful talk. After the banquet there were “hand-made” (Doris Sims) door prizes, and a DVD (of the crew describing their military experience) recorded last year in Lynchburg (Matthew White, son of Cindy). This DVD is a true treasure and one-of-a-kind. Many thanks to Matt for his foresight and recording ability. The recording is an heirloom, believe me.
This has been my maiden
voyage. Have enjoyed having you along. And of course, I couldn’t have done
it without Marie.
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