Surprise blackout drill looms; newspaper adds 'Action Line'

Sumter Item Archivist
Posted 10/1/17

75 YEARS AGO - 1943

April 24 - 30

From 1,504 acres of sweet potatoes in 1929 census figures show Sumter County to have 1,922 acres in 1939 to rank 46th in the nation, according to County Agent J.M. Eleazer. "This increase in potatoes has been …

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Surprise blackout drill looms; newspaper adds 'Action Line'


75 YEARS AGO - 1943

April 24 - 30

From 1,504 acres of sweet potatoes in 1929 census figures show Sumter County to have 1,922 acres in 1939 to rank 46th in the nation, according to County Agent J.M. Eleazer. "This increase in potatoes has been principally for home use, as we do not yet ship out a great many of the close to two hundred thousand bushels that we produce," according to Eleazer.

• Warrant officer Alvin C. Neal, having successfully completed his three-months course at the Air Forces officer candidate school at Miami Beach, Florida, has received his commission as second lieutenant in the Air Forces of the Army of the United States. His duties will be to direct vital administrative and supply operations of the rapidly expanding Army Air Forces ground forces, thus relieving trained pilots for full time flying duty. He has been reassigned to Bainbridge, Ga., where he was appointed an officer-candidate, and his wife, the former Miss Miriam DuCom of Sumter, will join him there in about two weeks.

• Sumterites were reminded to be on alert for the surprise blackout which will come sometime in the near future. The air raid sirens and the fire bell will be used to signal the start of the mock raid and all clear will be given over the radio and by the steam whistle at the Williams Furniture Company plant.

• Captain Joseph Nesbitt Berry of Union, former assistant coach at Sumter High School, has been promoted to major. Berry starred in football at Clemson College where he was all-state quarterback for two seasons.

• The General Construction Company of Columbia, headed by R.E. Fulmer, was awarded the contract for the construction of the bus station at the Claremont hotel in Sumter and work was to be begun on it shortly. W. E. Pratt, manager of Sumter Hotels, Inc., which was financing the project, said that as soon as all the materials necessary for construction could be assembled, actual construction of the building would be started.

• Second Lieut. William A. Gumuka, an instructor, and Aviation Cadet Stanley W. Fish were killed when their basic training plane fell near Shaw Field. The flyers were on a routine flight when they crashed a half-mile from Rembert auxiliary field at 9:30 p.m. The board of officers was named to investigate.

• Lt. LeRoy Bowman of Tuskegee, Alabama, who was spending leave with his family, was the honored guest at the special ladies' night entertainment for servicemen at the Colored Community Recreation center. A varied program of interest was presented by Sgt. Vaughn and singers from Shaw Field, and some civilian guest artists also appeared to make the entertainment an enormous success. Both civilians and service men turned out to welcome Lt. Bowman.

• Dr. Carl B. Epps was recent guest speaker before the Florence County Medical association. He spoke on the general subject of Medical Economics, with special reference to the agitation before the South Carolina legislature for more doctors, especially for the rural districts.

• One of the popular features in the past years of Sumter's recreational program has been the outdoor class in Memorial Park, conducted for children of the early primary classes. In charge of the class was Mrs. Frances D. Roche, and she will be in charge again this summer. It is planned to start the class on June 14 and to run it for 10 weeks. A program for the Negro children of the early primary classes will also be arranged.

50 YEARS AGO - 1967

Dec. 24 - 30

A letter addressed to Rikki Travey, one of the many young people who filled Christmas "ditty bags" for the men in Vietnam, was delivered to the Sumter Red Cross office from the GI who received the bag Rikki filled. The serviceman, Sgt. Grady Suggs, who gave his military address as Btry. B, 29th Arty (SLT), c-o HHB, 4th Inf. Div., Arty, APO San Francisco, sent the letter to the Red Cross office as Rikki had not included his address. Sgt. Suggs, from Conway, SC, stated in his note that the gift put a warm spot in his heart and that he was grateful for the gift.

• The nursing aides completed a six-week period of intensive training instruction at Tuomey Hospital where the nursing aid course sponsored by Sumter TEC was held. The coordinator of the program for TEC, Neal Compton, Dean of Instruction, said that the completion of the course represented "a continuing effort of Technical Education to upgrade the occupational skills of our Sumter area citizens."

• Q.C. Lee of Alcolu was given special recognition for producing a corn yield of 144 bushels per acre. This is more than triple the South Carolina state average corn yield for the past seven years. Altogether, Lee harvested 864 bushels of No. 2 corn from a measured six acres for his 144-bushel average.

• The Sumter Daily Item will begin, shortly after the first of the year, one of the most popular front-page features now carried by many of the nation's newspapers. Commonly known as the "Action Line" column, it contains questions from readers on practically any subject, plus answers to these questions compiled by the editorial staff of the newspaper. For once, the reader will have a chance to cut red tape and avoid confusion or misunderstanding about a pertinent issue or problem that's worrying him.

• A fine scoring performance by Jimmy Trembley and some sticky defensive work by Dwayne Windham and Ricky Shivers sparked Sumter's Gamecocks to a 73-40 rout of defending champion Hillcrest in a semi-final clash of the Sumter Holiday Invitational Tournament at the Edmunds gym. The victory, which avenged a 69-48 defeat at the hands of the Wildcats in last year's title game, propelled the Birds into the championship tilt against unbeaten and top-seeded Cardinal Newman, which then beat the Gamecocks 81-58.

25 YEARS AGO - 1992

Sept. 24 - 30

Sumter's two public school districts are paying tribute to former superintendents through foundations and scholarships. District officials said the funds will provide educational opportunities for students. Sumter School District 17 has established the Derthick Education Foundation to provide grants to programs and individuals in the district. Sumter School District 2 officials have established the Joseph D. Lefft Memorial Scholarship Fund in honor of Lefft, who was superintendent when he died in a car accident.

• Hillcrest High School improved its record to 4-1 and opened the Region IV-4A season with a 31-13 football victory over Richland Northeast in Columbia. Brian Jenkins ran 25 times for 225 yards to lead the Wildcats. Quarterback Deandre James completed three of nine passes for 72 yards and three touchdowns.

• Malcolm Burns rushed 23 times for 164 yards and three touchdowns to lead Sumter High to a 24-7 win over Fairfield Central at the Fairfield stadium. Burns carried 17 times for 119 yards and two scores in the first half. Sophomore Chad Hoshour drew the starting assignment at quarterback for Sumter High and got off to a slow beginning. Jermaine Benjamin quarterbacked the second half of the game.

• If George Donnelly has his way, Sumter will play host to a major bodybuilding contest in the near future. And, if any of the contestants need a chiropractic adjustment, Donnelly will be glad to lend a helping hand. The 6-4, 250-pound North Carolina native recently took over the Willis Chiro Med chiropractic practice on North Main Street in Sumter. Before becoming a chiropractor, Donnelly competed regularly in bodybuilding contests throughout the United States.

• Sumter High School students Douglas Polen and Robert Schloss have been named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Polen is a member of numerous organizations including the Marching Band, Academic Quiz Team, National Honor Society, Beta Club, Key Club, "Signature" magazine staff, Student Government, Junior Academy of Science and the Boy Scouts of America. Schloss serves as the sergeant-at-arms for the Student Government and the Key Club, is the treasurer of the Beta Club and is a member of the "Signature" magazine staff, the National Honor Society and the "Paragon" staff.

• Robert Smith has all the ingredients of a football player. He's big, strong and can play just about any position he wants to on the football field. But the 6-3, 212-pound linebacker knows he must first concentrate on his work in the classroom if he plans to attend one of the major universities recruiting him. "I just wasn't doing my work last year," the Sumter High senior said. "I wasn't really worried about the classroom as much then. Then I realized what I had to do in school in order to play this year."

• Eddie Talley resigned as both the head football and boys' basketball coach at Laurence Manning. Talley coached the Swampcats in their 31-14 victory at Colleton Prep. LMA won the SCISAA 3A state titles in both football and basketball under Talley.

• Morris College's School of Religion presents Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker to the Sumter community with its annual opening convocation services. Walker, senior pastor of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ, has been called "Harlem Renaissance Man" by Jesse Jackson, because of his multiple gifts and varied careers.

• Quilts on display at the Sumter County Fair used to be almost exclusively small-scale efforts by local church groups or women's clubs. The groups would display pieces from their members' families or from the frames of their weekly quilting bee. But many new quilt enthusiasts have come on board, and the quilts are of every imaginable color and geometric and floral pattern.

• Hillcrest High School's Brian Jenkins and Furman High School's Lance Dinkins have been named Players of the Week by the Sumter Touchdown Club. The players of the week are chosen by The Item sports staff from nominations submitted by high school coaches in Sumter, Clarendon and Lee counties.

•  The futures of the University of South Carolina at Sumter and Central Carolina Technical College may soon be in the hands of a task force that could recommend combining the two schools. The state Commission on Higher Education will meet to discuss the operation of 21 two-year colleges in South Carolina, including the two Sumter schools.

• If volunteer firefighters didn't volunteer, who would? Some 320 men and women make sure that question won't have to be asked. They compose the county's volunteer firefighting force, sacrificing time, energy and money to protect their neighbors and themselves from the ravages of fire. Fifteen volunteer fire stations dot the county, each with about two dozen volunteers who answer calls at any hour of the day.

Reach Sumter Item Archivist Sammy Way at or (803) 774-1294.