The Thomasville Times-Enterprise and Hollywood had something in common in 1939: It was a banner year for both.
While Tinsel Town basked in what is billed as its greatest movie year, the Times-Enterprise took the spotlight as it observed the newspaper’s 50th anniversary.
While Hollywood — at the height of moviedom’s Golden Age — produced film classics including “Gone with the Wind,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Wuthering Heights,” “Stagecoach” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” the Times-Enterprise published an 88-page paper on Nov. 29, 1939, at that time the newspaper's biggest-ever edition.
The paper contained 704 columns, 344 photographs and used seven tons of white newsprint to produce 10,500 copies.
Page 1 stories of the Golden Jubilee edition told readers about situations that eventually led to World War II: Tension increased to the boiling point in a dispute between Russia and Finland, and a Nazi raider was shot off the coast of England.
On the national front, a Chrysler labor dispute ended.
Closer to home among Page 1 stories was a report about a Boston burglar who entered a residence one night and took $17 from the coat of a blue-serge suit. The thief returned on another night and stole the suit.
E.R. Jerger was editor of the paper, with W.D. Hargrave as business manager and Lee E. Kelly as advertising manager.
Businesses were in the spotlight of the publication, which chronicled the community’s status, progress and history.
The Neel brothers had been at the forefront of Neel’s Department Store for 40 years, and Thomasville Hardware & Supply Co. was observing a 15th anniversary of being in business.
A Hudson automobile was available at DeSoto Motor Co., 116 N. Madison St. Hudson prices started at $670.
The anniversary edition also reported:
• George Krewson, described as “a real live wire citizen" and managing director of the Three Toms Inn, was showing movies he made of local scenes. The movies were of “the color type.”
• Ramblin’, a sports page column by Albert Riley Jr., said opinions were divided about whether Thomasville High School Bulldogs would beat Albany’s “dream team.” It was feared the Bulldogs would be “overwhelmingly” defeated. Riley said Times-Enterprise employees were breathing a huge, collective sigh of relief that the newspaper's biggest edition was out. Many days and nights of hard work had paid off, Riley wrote.
• Also on the sports page were classified ads and a phone number directory for local services. Police could be reached by dialing 3. Dialing 75 would deliver an ambulance from Whiddon Funeral Home.
• Steyerman’s, a downtown store, advertised that all women's shoes were on sale for $3.95.
• Thomasville was headquarters for the South Division of Georgia State Highway Patrol, which covered 19 counties.
• The paper reported that C.M. Dixon was the “popular, capable sheriff of Thomas County.”
• According to a half-page ad, Roy Smith Stores, 900 N. Broad St., sold many varieties of wine and ale.
• The Plaza Restaurant, 115 S. Broad St., touted a “Blue Room.”
• Foremost Dairies advertised a holiday special — Fruit Cake Ice Cream.
• Flowers Baking Co. was 20 years old.
• A photograph depicted a $100,000 swimming pool at Glen Arven Country Club. The pool, completed in 1938, was a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Howard M. Hanna, of Cleveland, Ohio, and Thomasville. The pool was a memorial to the couple’s son, Howard Melville Hanna Jr.
• An advertisement said “Super Modern” Thomas Drug Store, 108 S. Broad St., had filled more than one million prescriptions since opening in 1869.
Congratulatory letters sent to the Times-Enterprise upon its 50th year were discovered recently in an old file cabinet in a back room at the newspaper office. The letters have yellowed with age, but their messages remain clear.
M.E. O’Neal Jr., a Bainbridge attorney and justice of the peace, thanked the newspaper for the Golden Jubilee edition “the boy left on my porch.”
“The apparently tremendous amount of work required in historical research left me gasping for breath,” O’Neal wrote. “ … I read until after midnight and have filed it away for future perusals.”
Roy G. Vinson, manager of the Thomasville office of the Georgia State Employment Service, said the public appreciated the time, effort and expense involved in publishing the anniversary issue.
“You combined complete adequacy with characteristic modesty,” wrote John D. McCartney, Savannah-based assistant to the receiver for Central of Georgia Railway. The paper was being read with “mingled feelings of pride, homesickness and longing for the good old days.” McCartney forwarded copies of the paper to former Thomasville residents living in Toronto, Canada, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Illinois.
Albert S. Hardy, of The Gainesville (Ga.) News, referred to the Golden Jubilee edition as “fine a piece of newspapering as I have observed in a long time.”
Hamilton T. Holt, Macon-based Kiwanis International Georgia District governor, commented: “ ... You either have facilities equal to any in the state or you are so expert in arranging them that you don’t need the best facilities.”
N.M. Huckabee, Thomasville city schools superintendent, wrote that the anniversary edition would serve as a guide to the development of a city “that we all love so much.”
Wrote William G. Sutlive, Savannah Evening Press editor, “I was so taken with the 50-year number I can scarcely restrain my impatience waiting for the centennial edition which I know will be another humdinger.”
The Associated Press also took note of the anniversary paper, describing the publication as a “worthy and patriotic effort."
John B. Franklin, John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital director, hand-wrote a two-page letter to the newspaper. The Jubilee edition, he wrote, was worth the wait. “The paper would do credit to any city,” Franklin wrote. “From it I will be able to learn the past history of Thomasville.”
A postscript to the Archbold chief’s hand-written letter said: “My stenographer is sick.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: As part of a celebration of the Times-Enterprise’s 125th year, this is the 10th in a year-long series of Sunday stories about important people, places and things in the area. The next one will be published June 1.