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Jesup, Georgia 31545

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Undeterred, James didnt have to trek 700 miles. Instead, he walked to Harris Grocery Store and made a purchase, a big buy a stalk of bananas. One by one, he peeled the fruit and ate it. With each chomp, the ouncesand eventual pounds put him over the minimum weight requirement. When he stepped on the recruiters scales this time, he was soon singing, Youre in the Navy now. And thats where he stayed for 20 years, earning the highest noncommissioned rank. Uncle James could have retired, young, but he didnt. His last day with the Navy was on a Friday. The following Monday, he started his new career with ITT Rayonier. After another 20 years, he retired as the mammoth pulp mills maintenance planner. But did he slow down? Not hardly. Uncle James and his wife, Ouida, made laps around Georgia, serving as the states Worthy Grand Patron of the Eastern Star. As a volunteer, he labored as if he were getting paid the most money hed ever made. And when he wasnt behind the wheel of his Buick, he was working out of the back of his pea-green GMC pickup, hauling supplies to his backyard botanical wonderland. The last five years have been an economic nightmare for millions. If Uncle James were alive today, in the steel-mill heat of this Great Recession, what advice would he have for us? Dont give up. Keep on pedaling.

Uncle James would have some advice for us today

The Great Depression of the 1930s was for some people like fires effect on steelthey melted or galvanized. The lives of these DINK five children NeSMITH could have Chairman melted, but the hard times galvanized them. When their mother died young, they banded together to survive. The second oldest, a daughter, did what their father couldnt or wouldnt do wrap arms around them and create a sense of family. The ages of the siblings ranged from toddler to old enough to leave home, as the oldest daughter did. The next in line, Sue, became both mother and father, using her telephone operators pay to provide. The youngest wasnt old enough to work, but his two big brothers did, pooling their resources to keep everyone fed and sheltered. Around 1935, James, the first son, had an idea. He knew education could open more doors of opportunity for him and his brother, who was three years younger. They had no money, so thats why Martha Berrys school seemed like the answer to their prayers. There, you could live, work and pay for your schooling, but dirt roads, 350 miles of them, separated Jesup and Rome.

My Opinion

Undaunted, James whispered his plan to his brother and struck out for Northwest Georgia. For days, he pedaled his bicycle, sleeping and eating where he could. By the time he arrived, Sue had called the admissions office. She instructed: Send him home. James pedaled 700 miles for nothing, you would think. No, it was for something. The experience continued to galvanize him with determination to climb out of poverty. Not once in their lives did I hear Uncle James or my dad grumble, If only we could have gone to Martha Berrys school. Just imagine. The next ticket to a better life for James was the Navy, but that wasnt an easy road either. Family legend is that when he tried to enlist, he failed one part of the testhe was too light. He fell short a few pounds.

Uncle James NeSmith Circa World War II

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