Lord spared us

Published 3:02 pm Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I was born, attended the public schools, graduated from Bainbridge High School, Class of 1946, and lived my first 17 years in Bainbridge, Ga.

To say that Bainbridge has a special and eternal place in my heart would be a major understatement. When asked where I came from, my answer has and always will be …Bainbridge, Ga. I am now 81 years old … that’s a long time ago.

I sent a class picture of my brother’s junior high school class picture to your newspaper, suggesting you might want to publish it and see how many and/or who could identify them. I learned later that Charles Rich had been the one who named them all. Charles was in the picture and had apparently identified them earlier so he would always remember them.

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My brother, James W. “Bobby” Valentine, and his best friend, Lawton “Tuney” Jones, are among the many whose names are inscribed on the Veterans Wall of Honor in Willis Park.

I have lived in Jacksonville, Fla., since 1948. I came here to attend a business school (after a year at NOC, Dahlonega, Ga.) and ended up living my life (so far) here.

I recently read the article regarding “The Dam” and viewed the pictures.

Boy, did that bring back memories!

In the summer of 1945, the entire football team were guests at Lawyer Bell’s hunting lodge. We went there for a week of training. Coach Shealy put us through a pretty strenuous week of training, and it helped all of us to get a head start of football season. One afternoon, as a special treat, we all loaded up on a large stake body truck and were “trucked” to the dam to go swimming. Somehow, about eight or 10 of us climbed up on that suspended platform that is pictured on the right-hand side of the building. I made (in retrospect) the stupid mistake of suggesting that we take a running start, leap over the existing metal railing and dive into the reservoir behind the long dam that held back the waters of Spring Creek.

Well, since I had made the dare, I guess I had to be the first to go. We all did it … then climbed back up and did it again. Not one of us had any idea of how deep the water was, what might be below the surface that could hurt us. I guess we were typical teenagers. The Lord spared us from being hurt, or worse.

Ottie Morris, who ran the only store in the area and where there were also “cottages” that could be rented, came running down to as near as he could get to where we were, yelling to stop and get off of the platform. We all did and he may have saved one or all of us from being hurt. He told us that there was a place near there that allowed the water to go through that would snap a piece of timber like a toothpick if placed across it. We never did that again.

I swam many times down below the dam, at Brinson Bridge and even one time I swam the Flint River, by myself, below the railroad trestle that is near where the park and Boat Basin are located. The Lord spared me.

I survived owning an Indian 74 motorcycle (the largest they made at the time). Also, a group of boys rode our bicycles out this dirt road that I think was called the Old Climax Road. We’d heard about a cave somewhere out there and wanted to see it. Some other boy that lived near there told us about it and “upside down well” and said he could show it to us. We wanted to see it. Well, of course, none of us had ever been in the cave before and we had not made any preparation to explore. He got lost and we spent a very long time, crawling in small places we could hardly squeeze our way through, until finally he found his way and we got out. The Lord spared us again.

There were more and equally dangerous things we did, but I’ve rambled enough and probably way too much to put this anywhere in the paper.

We, the class of 1946, were the last class to graduate before they added the 12th grade. We attended the old grammar school and across the street from it, the old high school, seems like they were on Potter Street, best I can remember.

See what happens when an old mind starts rambling?

Sincerely,Charles R. Valentine