Dated Feb. 16, 1941:
“G. P. DeArman of DeArmanville and several others around B. H. Hudson’s store were talking about the old Georgia Pacific Railroad that was built where the Southern Railroad now runs.
“G.P. said that his grandfather owned the land through the right-of-way.
“One man remarked, ‘Well, I suppose that G.P. stands for Georgia Pacific and that you were named for the railroad which passed through your grandfather’s land.’”
His name is William F. “Bill” Scott and today is his birthday... number 100.
But back then Bill was something of a double-threat at The Anniston Star, assistant circulation manager and columnist.
So ... meet the long-ago writer of:
Along Country Lanes ...
Bill is a bit hard of hearing, but the memory is still on the plus side, he has a dog by the name of “Peanut” that spends a lot of time in his lap, and once he figured journalism was not the path to fortune, he hooked on with Liberty National Insurance.
“Got a diploma in there on the wall, 37 years I was with them. I must have liked it. Back then I sold a lot of burial policies — every house wanted a burial policy — and $500 ordinary policies.
“You had to be sure you kept your car up so you could get around on your debit. I had a Packard back then.”
If you don’t remember the Packard, it was a pricey automobile and I ventured the thought that he was making pretty good money with Liberty National.
“That was right after the war, right after I got out of the Navy. I had it built up to where I was making $200 a week.”
Then there are other memories:
“I started out as a paper boy at The Star. I was sitting on the porch when Wayne Shields — he was the circulation manager — came and got me. Said he had a paper route with 60 customers.
“When Arthur Phillips became the circulation manager, he made me assistant manager. He had been writing ‘Along Country Lanes’ so I started writing that, too. We’d write about country people, anything exciting that happened.”
Then there was:
“Assistants have to work harder than the manager does. He’d come in and tell you what to do and you couldn’t tell him what to do. I had to work Saturday nights and Sunday mornings to see that all the routes were delivered.”
That he became a salesman may have been in the genes.
“My daddy sold sewing machines. Everybody had to sew back then, make their own clothes. Our back yard was full of old sewing machines.
“That was daddy’s last job in Anniston, Singer Sewing Machine man. Those were in the horse-and-buggy days and you had to keep good horses.”
Bill was pretty good at selling himself to the ladies, too. That is in the story of his courtship and marriage to Letha Mae McKay in 1941.
“I was down at Eastaboga and I saw her waiting on a bus. I got acquainted with her and we went on a double date, I picked her out from this other girl. About a week later we got married, stayed married until she died.”
The marriage was in a 67-year run when Letha left in 2008.
Thing is, had Scott not been a salesman, it is entirely possible he might have made a buck or two as an artist. Hanging around the walls of his living room are a number of his paintings. Sort of in the Grandma Moses mold — which I understand — and they look really good.
Two other things about William “Bill” Scott.
One is his love of the church. While he can no longer attend, he was an early member of Central Presbyterian. He now belongs to First Presbyterian.
“Central Presbyterian was at 18th and Gurnee. When they ran out of elders, they made me an elder. I was 37 when I went in that church, I was the one who signed the papers to sell the property.”
Secondly, he is a big Alabama football fan.
“Sure, I love Alabama. That’s where Billy (his only child) got his degree. His Momma saved her money to send him there.”
With that, let me leave you with one more report from out on the rural route back in ’41:
“Mrs. S.M. Cobb, DeArmanville Route 1, told us about a nice string of fish that Mr. Cobb brought back from a trip on Choccolocco Creek. In the party was Sam Morgan, Graves Murray and Harry Ballard beside Mr. Cobb.
“The total catch netted over 50 fish and each one had a nice string to carry home. Mrs. Cobb said that they enjoyed the fish very much.”
So ... Mr. William F. “Bill” Scott, happy birthday this morning ...
George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org