Bernice Dots #22

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Bernice Historical Society

Bernice Dots #22

By Cathy Buckley

By April of 1942 the town of Bernice had organized for civilian defense thanks to the leadership of G.E. Lindsey, the parish chairman.  Assisting Lindsey were Mayor George Grafton, Mark Price, Don Lomax and John Beasley.  The entire town seemed to be included in the plan of organization.

Commanders were Mayor Grafton, Dr. M.W. Lawrence, Jr., Van Salley, M.A. Price, G.E. Lindsey and W.H. Harris.

There were messengers consisting of Bill Aden, Claiborne McGee, Jack Baldwin, and Curtis Salley.

Carol Mitcham and Mark Price, Jr. were drivers.  Don Lomax was listed as fire chief with several auxiliary members as well.  Jim Hollis was police chief with an array of “field chiefs” that included John Caldwell, Jr., Harry Colvin, Brooks Dendy and C.J. Heard.

Drs. Lawrence, Tanner and Colvin made up the medical staff with Doris Gaston as chief of First Aid.   J.H. Knowles was in charge of utilities and Keldron Thaxton was named as Warden Chief.

All schools in Bernice participated in the collection of scrap iron and old tires to contribute to the war effort. By October over 100,000 pounds of scrap had been collected in Bernice and moved out daily over the rail system.  Bernice Implement Company brought in 18,000 pounds and Monzingo Lumber Company contributed 16,000 pounds to the war effort.   G.M. Colvin was the local chairman of the scrap collection and used his truck to haul in pieces that donors had no way to get into town.

Salley Grocer Company employees purchased Defense Bonds for Victory and the Shreveport Times printed out a list of all the employees by category of employment.

Changes in the town officials occurred in 1942 with election of Don Lomax as mayor.  Lomax soon thereafter resigned to enter the Navy and would be replaced by Lee Odom who was appointed by the Governor.  Prentis Glover became the new night marshal when O.F. Welch moved to El Dorado to become a guard at a defense plant.

The newspapers in 1943 were now filled with news from the war front as well as pictures and short articles on the locals who were wounded, killed or missing in action.

November brought news of Hilton Ferguson, brother of Doyle Ferguson who was killed in an accident; December brought news of the capture of Travis Goss in the Philippines and who would be held as a POW until the end of the war; Clifton Fomby of Bernice was killed at the Battle of Tarawa; Monroe Kennedy was killed in the battle for the Solomon Islands; and the names of the wounded seemed to be in every newspaper.

Not all deaths were in faraway places.  A June 13, 1943 Monroe News Star article entitled “No Place to Hide; Woman Drops Dead” recorded the events that led to the death of Annie Belle Cryson.  Cryson was working in the home of J.E. Farrar when she started for the yard to take down the clothes washed that morning.  A sudden thunder storm arose and Mrs. Farrar shouted to her to leave the clothes alone and come into the house.  Cyrson replied, “When the Lord calls for me, taint no use to try to hide”.  An instant after she made that remark she fell dead being struck by a bolt of lightning.


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