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26 May 2010

In Momentary Dread of Being Torn to Pieces By the Dog

This is part eight of the 1919 interview of then 71-year-old Bridges Smith (1848-1930) entitled "BRIDGES SMITH, AFTER FIFTY YEARS OF NEWSPAPER WORK, INTERVIEWED FOR FIRST TIME BY GIRL REPORTER." Upon his death, Mr. Smith was laid to rest in Rose Hill Cemetery...

Locked Up for Half a Day
The oddest experience that this old-time reporter ever had was being locked up in jail for a half a day, though he admitted that he had had a good many other odd ones in his time.

"Probably being in jail for half a day and yet out of it was the queerest thing that ever happened to me," he declared. "It was when the six condemned riot prisoners from Eastman were confined in the old jail for safe keeping. One Sunday, just after dinner, I visited the jail as was my custom and went upstairs to talk to the prisoners, and while so engaged the sheriff of Dodge county came to the jail to see about taking them to Eastman. Bill Foster was the jailer, and forgetting about my being upstairs he took the Dodge sheriff out for a walk over town."

"Bill had one of the most ferocious bulldogs you ever saw, and when he went out that way the dog took his position in the jail doorway and no prisoner would dare to escape through that door. When I was ready to leave I started down the stairway to find that awful bulldog on guard. I stopped about three steps down, for I heard the dog's warning growl. By degrees I eased myself to a sitting position, and there I sat, afraid to call Bill, and, in fact, afraid to make the slightest move."

"Now and then the dog would look upward and give a low growl. I could hear the people passing along the street, but couldn't see them for the high fence around the jail. I knew there was no one about the jail yard and that I had to stay a prisoner there until Bill returned. Night was coming on, and there I was, unable to make my rounds for news. When darkness came the jailer's wife happened to come around and at first sight of her I called out gently to take the dog away. This she did, considering my predicament the best sort of a joke. But it was far from a joke to me. It was one of the most horrible afternoons of my life, being in momentary dread of being torn to pieces by the dog."

...Next up -- Author of Opera and Songs.

17 May 2010

Seized Every Opportunity to Write the Human Things of Life

This is part seven of the 1919 interview of then 71-year-old Bridges Smith (1848-1930) entitled "BRIDGES SMITH, AFTER FIFTY YEARS OF NEWSPAPER WORK, INTERVIEWED FOR FIRST TIME BY GIRL REPORTER." Upon his death, Mr. Smith was laid to rest in Rose Hill Cemetery...

Recalls Great Human Interest Story
Of the experiences of the long-ago there are two that etched themselves on his brain never to be forgotten. One is the story of a train wreck on the Southern, which produced a human interest story, so dear to a reporter's heart.

"I heard there was a very serious wreck on the Southern and rushed down to the old Southern station to find out about it," he said, again leaning forward in his chair and tapping on the desk. "The baggage master, whom I knew well, told me it was pretty bad and that the wrecking train, ambulances and doctors had already gone. I waited around some time and the train came in, bringing the casualties. I don't remember whether there were any killed or not, but I do remember that two little negro boys had both of there legs cut off at the trunks of their bodies.

"The little darkies had been wrapped up in blankets and brought to Macon for medical attention. When they were first taken off the train they were laid on the platform of the station until they could be taken to the hospital. Unconscious of their casualty, neither knowing that their legs had been cut off, the two laying out there under the stars began to sing, "In the Sweet Bye and Bye," and other melodies loved by the negro race. When they finished singing they talked, one saying that his toe itched and the other declaring that his leg hurt.

"I stood there listening to them talking and singing realizing that I had a great human interest story," the Judge said. "I have always seized every opportunity to write the human things of life, and that is why I believe I have succeeded in my writings as well as I have. I write in my column the little human things that most people overlook."

...Next up -- Bridges Smith was Locked Up for Half a Day.

15 May 2010

Walked His Feet Off on the Streets

This is part six of the 1919 interview of then 71-year-old Bridges Smith (1848-1930) entitled "BRIDGES SMITH, AFTER FIFTY YEARS OF NEWSPAPER WORK, INTERVIEWED FOR FIRST TIME BY GIRL REPORTER." Upon his death, Mr. Smith was laid to rest in Rose Hill Cemetery...

Conditions Change in Interim
"One night in 1907 I turned the city over into the hands of Judge Miller before a large number of citizens who had gathered to see him installed as mayor," the mayor-reporter said. "After the installation services were over I walked down to The Telegraph and took the same seat I had left nineteen years before when I went into politics. When I left the paper I was the only reporter and there was no city editor. When I returned that night there were five young fellows acting as reporters and a city editor. Nineteen years before the type had been set up by hand and when I returned it was set up by machinery."

"Instead of reporters handing in the copy in long hand they were writing it on typewriters. I realized at once that if I was going to keep up with those young fellows I must learn to write on the typewriter. Mr. Pendleton, who was then at the head of the paper, bought me a machine and soon I was grinding out copy with the best of them. Ever since I have done practically all of my writing on the typewriter," he said, waving his hand towards his machine by his desk where some copy for "Just 'Twixt Us" lays half completed.

Frank Mangum was one of those five young reporters he had to compete with on his return to the paper. He has never lost track, he said, of Mangum, but the other four have passed entirely out of his life.

Bridges Smith did not remain a reporter for long, but soon became city editor of the paper, which position he held for a number of years. It is not of these later years that he loves to talk though. He enjoys recalling most those days when he nearly "walked his feet off on the streets" and wrote practically every thing that went in the paper.

...Next Up -- Bridges Smith Recalls Great Human Interest Story.

13 May 2010

Emptied One Tankard of Beer After Another

This is part five of the 1919 interview of then 71-year-old Bridges Smith (1848-1930) entitled "BRIDGES SMITH, AFTER FIFTY YEARS OF NEWSPAPER WORK, INTERVIEWED FOR FIRST TIME BY GIRL REPORTER." Upon his death, Mr. Smith was laid to rest in Rose Hill Cemetery...

Got Malaria at Wet Hanging
Bridges Smith was away from his beat twenty-six days during that first decade. He never took a Sunday, a Thanksgiving, a Christmas, a Fourth of July, or any other holiday off in those years. Of the twenty-six days he was absent, sixteen of them were because of illness and the other ten he accounted for.

In explaining the cause of his illness the Judge said, "One day I went to Eastman to a hanging of six rioters. It was a big story, for as you know six men are not often hung at one time. The rioters had been held in the Bibb County jail for safekeeping until the day of the hanging, when they were carried to Eastman guarded by the Volunteers. It poured down rain and as I had on a cap the rain ran down my back in streams. Coming home on the train I couldn't write a line because the Volunteers were on board and there was considerable excitement. When I reached the office, H. C. Hanson, who was then business manager of the paper, told me to sit down and write my story that he would feed me.

"The story had to be written in long hand, as typewriters were not used then. As I wrote I emptied one tankard of beer after another, Mr. Hanson filling it up as fast as I could drain it. There is no telling how many tankards I drank before I finished that night. The next day I woke up sick. The water falling down my back all day gave me malaria and I had to go to Indian Springs for two weeks."

"The other ten days I missed," he began and stopped for several minutes before continuing. "Oh, well, just between us I got married and went to Florida on my honeymoon," he bashfully asserted.

In December, 1788 [should be 1888?], Mr. Smith was elected clerk. Later he ran for mayor and was elected. He served as Mayor until 1907, when he retired, Judge A. L. Miller taking over the reins of the city's government.

...Next Up -- Conditions Change in Interim.
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