Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, History by chamblee54 on March 17, 2018

WSB radio is 96 years old. On March 15, 1922, The Atlanta Journal received a telegram authorizing it to broadcast weather bulletins. The telegram instructed the station to use the call letters WSB. (Later, a station in Nashville was named WSM.) While the letters were later said to stand for Welcome South Brother (as well as World Series Baseball, and We’re So Boring), they appear to have been randomly assigned at first.

WSB is a 50,000 watt, clear channel station. At night, it can be heard for hundreds of miles around. It’s transmission tower is on LaVista Road, across the street from Northlake Mall. In the seventies, you could hear broadcasts on pay phones in the area.

WSB was owned by the Atlanta Journal, and had it’s first studio in their building downtown. The radio station moved to the Biltmore Hotel when it opened in 1926. In 1926, WSB joined the NBC radio network. (Station logs show a broadcast of the inaugural NBC broadcast in November, 1926.) In 1939, the Journal, and WSB, were sold to James Middleton Cox, who founded Cox Enterprises. In 1950, Mr. Cox bought the Atlanta Constitution.

The thirties and forties were the glory days for radio. In the fifties, television started to move in. WSB-TV started to broadcast on Channel 2. A studio known as “White Columns on Peachtree” was built in 1955, and was the home WSB, radio and TV.

When PG was old enough to listen, WSB had a format which is no longer in use. It played “middle of the road” music, and had lots of news broadcasting. As FM radio began to dominate music broadcasting, (including WSB FM), the venerable AM station evolved (devolved) into a news-talk format. This is what you hear today.

HT to Peach Pundit. This is a repost, with pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library” and WSB.











Carlton Gary

Posted in Georgia History, Library of Congress, The Death Penalty by chamblee54 on March 13, 2018








Carlton Gary, GDC ID: 0000418413, is scheduled to be executed Thursday, March 15. He was convicted of the rape, and murder, of Florence Scheible, Martha Thurmond and Kathleen Woodruff. They were killed, along with four other elderly women, in Columbus, GA, in 1977 and 1978. The serial killer became known as the Silk Stocking Strangler. “Gary’s execution was originally set for December 16, 2009. … The Georgia Supreme Court entered an order on December 16, 2009, remanding the case to the trial court to determine whether Gary was entitled to DNA testing.”

Chamblee54 published a report on the case in 2009. This post will be copied below. Before getting to that, we should consider whether there is any new evidence, that indicates that Mr. Gary should be executed. In 2009, the opinion of many was that the evidence against Mr. Gary was far from conclusive. This is not to say that Mr. Gary is innocent of all charges. In fact, DNA evidence links Mr. Gary to a 1975 murder in New York state.

However, it is far from clear that Carlton Gary is the Silk Stocking Strangler. This chart summarizes the problems with evidence against Mr. Gary. In addition, an article in Vanity Fair goes into great detail about the case, as does this story.

The story of the alleged confession is bizarre. “Albany, GA, police arrested Gary on May 3, 1984. Columbus police drove over that day to bring him back. Boren (Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren, who was a detective … in 1984.) testified that Gary that night offered to take police on a tour of homes he’d burglarized, so Boren and other investigators started driving him around midtown… Gary would talk about other victims’ homes he had been in, Boren said, but he always blamed an accomplice for the homicides. … Boren said police were so fatigued they ended the interview about 3:30 a.m. May 4, 1984, forgetting to drive by the 3783 Steam Mill Road where Janet Cofer, 61, was found dead April 20, 1978. Defense attorney Jack Martin challenged Boren’s account, noting detectives had neither recorded the interview nor taken notes.Boren said investigators feared Gary would stop talking if they used a tape recorder or took notes.”

DNA testing was done for some cases after the 2009 ruling. “Extensive testing was performed during the extraordinary motion for new trial proceedings, which revealed a positive DNA match between Gary and … Jean Dimenstein.” (Mr. Gary was not convicted of Jean Dimenstein’s death.)

“Prosecutors have operated on the theory that one person committed all seven murders, so any evidence that might clear Gary in one case could undermine the claim that he is the “Stocking Strangler” … Gary was convicted of killing Thurmond, Scheible and Woodruff. Authorities say his DNA matched semen evidence from Dimenstein’s rape but not from Thurmond’s.”

Gertrude Miller survived an early assault, and indentified Mr. Gary as her attacker. “a later DNA test on her clothing yielded a profile that did not match him.” Gertrude Miller’s testimony is questioned by others. In the Matha Thurmond case, “police collected semen samples later thought suitable for DNA testing. The G.B.I. crime lab accidentally tainted and destroyed that evidence.”

When Georgia decides to execute someone, they don’t like to give up. Troy Davis, Kelly Gissendaner, and Warren Hill are recent examples. No matter how inconclusive the evidence, no matter how bad it makes the state look, when Georgia wants to execute someone, they usually do it.

Since this is Georgia, race must be considered. Carlton Gary is black. The ladies who died were white. This was a high profile, racially charged case. The authorities were under enormous pressure to solve the case. While not necessarily racist, the authorities did not look good in their handling of the case.

“In February 1978 Columbus Police Chief received a bizarre, frightening letter supposedly from a white racist group of vigilantes called the “Forces of Evil.” The Forces of Evil wrote that if police did not apprehend the Stocking Strangler by “1 June,” they would murder a black woman in retaliation for what were believed to be murders of white women by a black man. That black woman, the letter went on to assert, would be Gail Jackson. She had already been kidnapped and was being held by the group. She would die unless the police caught, in the letter’s terms, the “S-Strangler.”Investigators learned that Gail Jackson was a black woman from nearby Fort Benning. And, chillingly, she was missing. While they were still puzzling over the disappearance of Gail Jackson, the police received a second letter from the supposed Forces of Evil. They demanded a $10,000 ransom for the kidnapped woman’s freedom.

Columbus police took this baffling, frightening letters to the Behavioral Science Unit of the F.B.I. As Jordan wrote in Murder in the Peach States, that unit “came to some startling conclusions. They felt the author, or authors, of the ‘Forces of Evil’ letter was not seven white men, but more likely one black man. The profilers believed he probably already killed Gail Jackson and that the letters were intended to divert attention away from the real killer. The profile predicted him to be an artilleryman or military policeman. An excerpt in the letter which stated, ‘the victims will double’ led profilers to believe that he may already have also killed two other women. … They also believed that he might be the stocking strangler.”Investigators eventually arrested William Hance for the murder of Gail Jackson. He was a black artilleryman at Fort Benning. He confessed to having authored the “Forces of Evil” letter and to have killed two other women in addition to Gail Jackson. However, there were no links between Hance and the Stocking Stranglings.”

UPDATE: Carlton Gary died at 10:33 pm, March 15, 2018. “… he did not accept a final prayer or make a final statement.” Mr. Gary declined a special last meal. He ate the standard prison dinner of a grilled hamburger, a hot dog, white beans, coleslaw and grape beverage.

The State of Georgia has set an execution date for Carlton Gary. December 16 is scheduled to be his date with the gurneygoinggone, in Jackson, GA. Mr. Gary is said to be the “Stocking Strangler”, who terrorized Columbus GA in 1977 and 1978. Not everyone agrees with the verdict.

Carlton Gary was born December 15, 1952. (His birthday is the day before the scheduled execution). He met his father once, when he was 12. His mother was poor, and often got relatives to care for her son. As Carlton Gary got older, he became familiar with law enforcement.

In 1970, there was an elderly lady strangled and murdered in upstate New York. Mr. Gary was involved. Later DNA tests indicate that Mr. Gary was the 1975 killer of Marion Fisher in Syracuse NY.

On August 22, 1977, Carlton Gary escaped from Onondaga prison. On September 15, 1977, Mary Willis “Ferne” Jackson was strangled to death with a nylon stocking. Between this date and April 20, 1978, six more women were raped and strangled with stockings. All were elderly white ladies, most of whom lived in the affluent Wyntown neighborhood.

— Ferne Jackson, 60, of 2505 17th St., killed Sept. 15, 1977.
— Jean Dimenstein, 71, of 3927 21st St., killed Sept. 25, 1977.
— Florence Scheible, 89, of 1941 Dimon St., killed Oct. 21, 1977.
— Martha Thurmond, 69, of 2614 Marion St., killed Oct. 25, 1977.
— Kathleen Woodruff, 74, of 1811 Buena Vista Road, killed Dec. 28, 1977.
— Mildred Borom, 78, of 1612 Forest Ave., killed Feb. 12, 1978.
— Janet Cofer, 61, of 3783 Steam Mill Road, killed April 20, 1978.

During this time, Carlton Gary was busy robbing restaurants. He was caught, and sent to prison in South Carolina. He escaped in 1984. At this time, the police in Columbus were working on a lead in the Stocking Strangler case.

“Police in Columbus hoped against hope that a lead they were developing in the long, dragged-out case of the Stocking Strangler would pan out. A .22 Luger handgun had been stolen from a Wynnton house at the time of the murders. An anonymous caller called the owner of the gun and said, “The police have the gun you had stolen from you.”

That gun owner reported the call to the Columbus police. At first they were baffled. They did not have that gun but could police in another area have it? Detectives put out a nationwide teletype asking if anyone had it. No other police department did. Two Kalamazoo, Michigan clerks went painstakingly through their records and found that the weapon had been registered at their shop in 1981. Detectives tracked the gun down to its current owner who said he had purchased it in Phenix City, Alabama from Jim Gary. The police interviewed Jim Gary who said he had gotten it from his nephew, Carlton Gary.

Detectives then discovered that Gary had recently escaped from the South Carolina prison where he was serving time as “Michael David.” That made their job especially urgent. If Gary was the Stocking Strangler, elderly women were in terrible danger.

Fingerprints of Carlton Gary were matched to prints found in the home of victim Kathleen Gary. Then Columbus police were contacted by investigators from Phenix City who were looking for suspected robbers and cocaine runners, one of whom was known as Michael David…

On the early morning of May 3, 1984, acting on a tip, a S.W.A.T. team went to a Holiday Inn in Albany, Georgia. Carlton Gary was in a room with a woman. When that woman came out of that room to go to an ice machine, S.W.A.T. members asked her to come to a room for questioning. She agreed to cooperate with authorities and told them that Gary had a gun on the nightstand.

Trying to decoy him into opening the door, she went back to it and knocked but ran away before he answered it. Gary opened the door, saw the police, and tried to shut it but officers kept it open with their shoulders. Then the team swarmed into the room and captured him…

True to his pattern, Gary confessed to having been at the homes of the Wynnton area victims but denied raping or murdering them. His accomplice, Malvin Alamichael Crittendon had done that. “I did the burglaries,” Gary explained, “and Michael killed the old ladies.”Crittendon existed and was located by the police. He denied taking part in the Stocking Stranglings and police could find no evidence to connect him to them.”

In August 1986, Carlton Gary went to trial. The state would not give the defense any money to hire investigators or expert witnesses. The star witness for the state was Gertrude Miller, who had been attacked, in similar fashion to the other victims, but survived. Mrs. Miller identified Carlton Gary as the attacker. On August 26, 1986, Carlton Gary was convicted of the murder of Florence Scheible, Martha Thurmond, and Kathleen Woodruff. He was sentenced to death the next day.

In a death penalty case, there are a lot of reviews. This is especially true for a high profile case like this. Evidence has come up which indicates Carlton Gary is not the stocking strangler.

DNA testing was not used during the trial. After the trial, the body fluids from the crime scenes were destroyed as a bio hazard. (This evidently was not done in Syracuse). It is not possible to compare DNA from Mr. Gary to what was found at the crime scene.

The following quote is from a Vanity Fair article about the case:
“Even though DNA-testing techniques had not been invented at the time of the stranglings, investigators did possess an older method for testing semen that could be very effective: secretor typing. Most people, about four-fifths of the population, are “secretors,” meaning that in their saliva, semen, and other fluids they secrete chemical markers that give away their blood group. A “group-O secretor” would be someone from the common O blood group whose semen contained a relatively large amount of the relevant marker.
The tests carried out on semen collected from the murder scenes of Ferne Jackson, Florence Scheible, and Martha Thurmond indicated that the stocking strangler was a “non-secretor,” whose body fluids contained only tiny traces of the group-O marker. As for Carlton Gary, the police took a saliva sample from him after his arrest. It revealed that, together with some 40 percent of the population, he was an O secretor.”

The star witness, Gertrude Miller, seems to have a few flaws as well. She had identified several other men as being her attacker, some of whom looked nothing like Mr. Gary. The trial was in 1986, when the murders had been committed in 1977-78. A commenter in a Columbus internet forum named “former Wyntown resident” says:
” I personally knew one of the “witnesses” well and she is a Hystrionic Personality Disorder who interjected herself in this appalling travesty of justice solely for the attention. She obviously presented well enough in court but I knew beyond a doubt she lied- she concocted the story of an encounter years after it allegedly took place.”
The last victim, Janet Cofer, had a bite mark on her breast. A impression was taken of this mark, and a model of the teeth marks produced. The teeth in that model do not match Carlton Gary. (“Gary was not convicted of the April 20, 1978, strangling of 61-year-old Columbus school teacher Janet Cofer, from whose left breast the impression of an apparent bite mark was made. Prosecutors used evidence from that case during Gary’s 1986 trial “solely to show similar mode, method and motivation,” U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land writes in his order Thursday granting funds for further examination of the bite cast. Prosecutors have operated on the theory that one person committed all seven murders, so any evidence that might clear Gary in one case could undermine the claim that he is the “Stocking Strangler” … Gary’s attorneys first sought the bite-mark mold in 2003, but no one knew where it was. It was not used as evidence in the 1986 trial, and Gary’s defense attorneys weren’t told about it then. Prosecutors later claimed it was irrelevant because Gary had dental work after the murders. Last month, Muscogee County Coroner James Dunnavant discovered the mold stashed back in an old file cabinet in an office storage room. For years Dunnavant’s predecessor, Coroner Don Kilgore, had kept the mold in his desk drawer, occasionally showing it off. But no one knew what happened to it after Kilgore died in 2000.”)

The fingerprints were not photographed “in situ”, or in the original location. They had been lifted and transferred to file cards. There is no tape of the interrogation. The detective, Mike Sellers, wrote the only record of the interrogation at his kitchen table at 4:30 am, after interviewing Mr. Gary. The tape of the discussion was destroyed.

A British journalist named David Rose came to Georgia to write about the death penalty, and got caught up in the case. He wrote a book, The Big Eddy Club, about the case.

Unless something happens to stop the process, Carlton Gary will die on Wednesday. While he is no choir boy, there is doubt that he is the stocking strangler.

Update The Georgia Supreme Court issued a stay of execution on Wednesday, helpfully before the 7pm deadline. The Supremes voted 5-2 to order Muscogee County Judge to hold a hearing to consider DNA tests.

PG was under the impression that the fluid samples from the crime scene had been destroyed. Other evidence in this case has been said to be destroyed or lost, only to turn up later. (i.e., the mold made from the teeth marks).

PG has too much free time these days, and was going to go to Jackson to witness the scene outside the prison. He went to the 11 alive weather radar to check the weather, and saw a headline announcing the stay of execution. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.









The Time PG Voted For Casey Cagle

Posted in Georgia History, Library of Congress, Politics by chamblee54 on February 28, 2018









@CaseyCagle “I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA. Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.” Lowell S. “Casey” Cagle is running for Governor of Georgia. He recently gave a twitter performance, and got a lot of attention. The effect of this tweet is not yet known. Delta Airlines is a major force in Georgia, and knows how to play the game. It might not get this particular tax cut, but it will get another one.
Mr. Cagle has been Lieutenant Governor for twelve years. While this may seem like shameless payroll riding, it should be noted that “ZigZag” Zell Miller held this position sixteen years before being promoted to Governor. While researching this fact, PG realized that he might have actually voted for Mr. Cagle. Here is the story, from a previous edition of Chamblee54.

Ralph Reed is a professional Christian, the youthful looking head of publicity groups. At one time he was the big dog at something called the Christian Coalition. He left that to start his own consulting company…. In 2006, Mr. Reed ran for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. He lost to Casey Cagle, whose shoelaces become untied. When the Republican Primary was held that year, PG felt obliged to help put an early stop to Mr. Reed’s ambitions.

The problem lies in the primary system. In Georgia, you must choose either Democrat or Republican, and in the inevitable runoff, vote in the same party. To help Mr. Reed spend more time with his family, PG needed to vote Republican. There was a race on the Democratic side which was important. Hank Johnson was running against Cynthia McKinney. While PG used to like Miss McKinney, after a while the joke grew old. She needed to retire. While Mr. Johnson won the runoff, PG would have liked to help. The bottom line is, Ralph Reed cost PG his last chance to vote against Cynthia McKinney.

Mr. Cagle won the 2006 election. He soon began to run for Governor. This is what the Lieutenant Governor does. Unfortunately, his campaign ran into some difficulties, and he was forced to settle for two more terms as Lieutenant Governor.

“Her departure from Cagle’s staff had to do with the fact that this couple was caught in the act at the Capitol in Cagle’s office by a secretary, Laurie Sparks. Dewberry claimed she was “tying Casey’s shoes” under his desk. … Then, to everyone’s surprise, Cagle announces he is dropping out of the race in August 2009 because of a severe degenerative spinal disorder … Cagle’s spinal injury cleared up sure enough so that he could run the 2010 Peachtree Road Race and his statewide campaign. … Recently, another tryst involving female staff members occurred in the 2009 legislative session. The scuffle that ensued ended when the police broke up the fight. Apparently, one young intern who was sleeping with Cagle found out that another staff member was riding the Cagle Express too. An open records request was recently filed seeking information on the incident, which Cagle’s office has subsequently ignored. Instead of thinking about education or jobs, Cagle was engaging in sexual relations with two young female members of his office which allegedly ended in a “Cheaters” style brawl that was only broken up when the police were involved.”

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.









Peachtree Street

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on February 27, 2018

PG finished a book, Peachtree Street-Atlanta. The author is William Bailey Williford, and it was published by the University of Georgia Press in 1962. PG found this at the Chamblee library, and this is probably the best way to find this book today. (Reissued by UGA Press.)

How this road got the name Peachtree is a good question. Most peaches grow south of the fall line. The story goes that there was a Creek Indian village called Standing Peachtree, located where Peachtree Creek runs into the Chattahoochee. During the war of 1812 Fort Peachtree stood there.

There was a trail that ran from Buckhead to an intersection with the Sandtown Trail, at what is now Five Points. A short distance south of this intersection was a settlement known as White Hall. For many years, Peachtree Street south of Five Points was known as Whitehall Road. At some point in the last thirty years, a decision was made to change Whitehall to Peachtree. It did not help the rundown condition of Whitehall Street.

In 1835 Governor Wilson Lumpkin decided that a railroad that would be centered near the junction of Peachtree Trail and Sandtown Trail. The new town was named “Marthasville”, after the daughter of the Governor. Martha Lumpkin resides in Oakland Cemetery today.

The village was soon renamed Atlanta, which was a feminine form of Atlantic. Houses, churches, and businesses were soon built on Peachtree Road. In 1856, Richard Peters built a flour mill. To insure a steady supply of firewood, he bought four hundred acres of land, for five dollars an acre. The land was between Eighth Street, North Avenue, Argonne Avenue, and Atlantic Drive.

Another pioneer citizen with a large landholding was George Washington (Wash) Collier. Mr. Collier bought 202 acres for $150 in 1847. The land was between West Peachtree, Fourteenth Street, Piedmont Road, Montgomery Ferry Road, and the Rhodes Center. Much of the land was used for the development of Ansley Park.

In 1854, Atlanta entertained, for the first time, a man who had been President. On May 2, Millard Fillmore arrived from Augusta on a private rail car.

There was some unpleasantness in 1864, which we will not concern ourselves with.

In 1866, there was a shocking murder. John Plaster was found dead, in an area known as “tight squeeze”. This was an area of shanties, at the present location of Crescent Avenue and Tenth Street. A hundred years later, this was near “the strip”, Atlanta’s hippie district, also called “Tight Squeeze”.

As the nineteenth century rolled along, many mansions were built on Peachtree Street. The road was paved, and streetcars ran up and down. Automobiles came, and came, and came. An expressway was built in the 1950’s, and quickly became obsolete. One by one, the mansions were torn down and replaced with businesses and churches.

The book was written in 1962, when the party was just getting started. The High Museum was known then as the Atlanta Art Association. In June of 1962, a plane full of prominent Atlanta residents crashed in Paris, killing all on board. As a memorial to those people, the Memorial Arts Center on Peachtree, at Fifteenth Street, was built.

Another phenomenon which is not explained by the book is the custom of naming everything here Peachtree. There are countless streets and institutions named for a fruit tree that likes warmer climates. Atlanta has a one street skyline, that stretches from Five Points to Peachtree Dunwoody Road, almost at the city limits. PG lives a quarter mile off Peachtree, in Dekalb County, and has no idea why Peachtree is a magic word.

Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. and The Library of Congress. This is the annual repost.

The Healey Building

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, History by chamblee54 on February 20, 2018

A local blog recently had a feature about the Healey Building PG worked at 57 Forsyth Street for five years, between 1991 and 1995. This is a good excuse to write some text, and upload some pictures.

PG represented Redo Blue in an architect’s office on the fourteenth floor. His printroom was the third window from the north end, on the third floor from the top. There was a large window, on the west side overlooking Woodruff Park. A surprising amount of attention was captured by the gold dome of the State Capitol. At street level was Broad Street, home to a constantly changing array of merchants.

There were some sights coming in that window. On the coldest winter day in 1993, a music video was filmed on top of the Church’s Fried Chicken on Broad Street. On the week before the Super Bowl, The Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, and Martin Mull, kicked field goals in the park. When PG left town that Friday, a large, inflated rendering of Izzy, the Olympic mascot, was resting in the park.

It was not completely happy times. In April of 1992, a jury in California delivered an unpopular verdict. The next day, April 30, the streets downtown erupted. People in Rosa’s Pizza got a broken window, to go with their calzones. The next day, a notions shop on the Forsyth Street side had a sign in the window, “Black owned business”.

William T. Healey opened his office building in 1914. There were sixteen stories, taking the entire block between Broad, Walton, Forsyth and Poplar Streets. The firm of Morgan and Dillon designed the building. The original plan was to have twin towers, with the rotunda, and arcade, in the middle. World War One, and the death of Mr. Healey, put a stop to those plans.

The tower stood on the edge of the Fairlie-Poplar district. In photos of downtown, the Healey building, and the Candler building, serve as easily recognized landmarks. For many years, many bus lines ended on Walton Street, at the south end of the building. Hundreds of people waited there to change buses.That custom ended with Marta trains.

The Healey Building has many features that are no longer seen. The terra cotta details are too fancy for today’s buildings. The stairwells had a garbage chute. You could go to the garbage hole on any floor, and throw your trash to a receptacle down below. The building does not have a loading dock. A freight elevator pops up from behind a steel plate on the Forsyth Street sidewalk. This takes deliveries into the sub basement, where they are transferred onto the freight elevator.

Since 2001, the building has been Healey Building Condos

Pictures today are from Wendy Darling, The Healey Building, “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”, and Chamblee54. This is a repost.

The Georgian Terrace Ballroom

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, Music by chamblee54 on February 9, 2018

The Georgian Terrace hotel used to have an adjacent ballroom. The building opened as the “Lucky Strike”, featuring “Duck Pin” bowling. At some time, it became a 1300 seat ballroom. It was not the grand ballroom, where events for the premiere of “Gone With The Wind” were held. As time moved on, the ballroom became a music performance hall. PG saw shows there under four different business names. After the Agora Ballroom closed, the building was vacant, until a fire August 30, 1987. The site of the ballroom is now occupied by an annex of the Georgian Terrace Hotel.

The first show PG saw at this facility was in 1972. The name of the business is forgotten, as is the act that performed. A band, comprised of people PG went to high school with, played before he got there.

In 1974, “Big Time” promoter Alex Cooley opened “Alex Cooley’s Electric Ballroom”. (Alex Cooley died December 1, 2015.) The first show that PG saw was Dr. John The Night Tripper. A few months later, Capricorn artists Cowboy played, with a vulgar New York band named Mercury opening. Gato Barbieri played, with PG wondering how people could dance to that type of music.

Several major acts appeared at the Ballroom, mostly without PG in the audience. KISS played there in 1974, and photographs from backstage are in the embedded video. In April of 1974, Steely Dan was across from the Fox. In the summer of 1974, The Tubes played a week at the ballroom, with another heavily hyped show. On January 23, 1976, The Patti Smith Group played at the ballroom.

In 1975, Bruce Springsteen was on the covers of Time and Newsweek, and was receiving a promotional push unlike anything seen before. He played a show at the ballroom that summer, with a generous press party in the balcony. (At one unforgettable show Alex was caught off guard by a Bruce Springsteen request. “He asked if we could shut down the cash registers because they were making too much noise!… That’s the only time I ever did that.” Alex admits.)

PG attended two shows in 1975. Mckendree Spring opened for Fanny, while PG drank too many bourbon and cokes. In November of 1975, Juice Newton opened for Hot Tuna. Miss Newton seemed to be a bit pale, and performed “Get drunk and screw”. Hot Tuna was amazing. They went on stage at 10:55, and played, without a break, until 2:50. The drummer wore a shirt, mother fucking hot tuna. Few would argue that night.

In autumn of 1977, some brave soul opened a place called “The Ballroom” in the space on Peachtree Street. One night, PG went with some friends to see an act, Happy the Man. There seemed to be a bit of chaos in the management of the facility. The Great Southeast Music Hall loaned a few microphones for the show. When the show was over, PG walked out to a car, whose motor was running, with the driver asleep inside.

In the summer of 1978, the ballroom opened as The Agora Ballroom. Apparently, there is a music hall in Cleveland with that name, and they opened branch facilities around the country. There were some shows that PG did not attend. Todd Rundgren opened the facility August 19, 1978. On October 2, 1979, The Clash played. Pictures from the crowd appeared on an album by the band. On December 2, 1981, U2 made their Atlanta debut.

A few weeks after the opening, PG won tickets to an all Texas show. Marcia Ball opened, and a bored PG went to a neighborhood bar to drink beer. PG returned later, and stayed long enough for the singer with Asleep at the Wheel to ask the crowd, Are you stoned?

In November of 1978, PG called a radio station, and asked to be put on the guest list for Talking Heads . (For Talking Heads, and three links in the following paragraphs, the link is for a previous Chamblee 54 post about the show.) The first six people he called were busy, but the last one agreed to go. On the bus going home, a group of black men started to make unfriendly comments. At the next stop, a black friend of PG got on the bus, and went to talk to him.

A few weeks later, Tim Curry made his United States debut. Some record company invested a lot of money in him, and supplied him with an outstanding band. PG was wandering around the balcony after the first show, and saw Tom Waits sitting at a table. The bodyguard said no, that’s not Tom Waits, it is just someone that looks like him. At a bar, after the show, PG was raving about what he had seen, when a lady came up to him. What color are your eyes? They are brown, because you are full of shit. Soon, the 23 Oglethorpe was taking him home.

Somewhere in the haze of 78 and 79, Ultravox brought their synthetics to the Agora. A local band, First Blood, was more entertaining as the opener. PG drank a very large can of Foster’s beer, and floated through the proceedings. After the show, PG was invited to a party in Candler Park. On the way there, there was a horrific car crash on Ponce de Leon. At the party, friends of First Blood dissected their performance, between lines of coke.

One night, PG was enjoying drink specials at a neighborhood bar. He took a break, walked over to the Agora, and saw a few minutes of a show by Freddie Hubbard.

In early 1979, the B 52s were on the verge of stardom. (Here is a nifty feature about the Atlanta local music scene in those days.) The opener for the 52s was The Brains , yet another talented band that never made it big. At the table next to PG, a lady wore a dynamite World War Two army uniform.

Later in 1979, Ted Turner had an idea for a TV show, “Live at the Agora”. The first show was filmed in Atlanta, and featured Graham Parker and the Rumor. If they ever show that film again, and you see a crowd shot, that is PG wearing a white T shirt, with a white Agora iron on logo. Parker was a great musician, who had the misfortune to look like Big Bird’s nerdy little brother. If Graham Parker looked like Bruce Springsteen, he would have been a superstar.

In March of 1980, Lene Lovich came to the Agora. About a year later, Spirit played on Peachtree Street. The show was sponsored by a radio station, and tickets were $2.96. Despite the low price, and high musical quality, the balcony was closed, and only about a hundred people were at the show. PG thought this was odd, but little surprised him by this time.

The last show that PG caught at the Agora was The Ramones. Joey and the pinheads were past their prime, with only two original members playing. It was an all ages show, with alcohol served in the balcony. Downstairs was a festive party, with costumes and enthusiastic high school kids. The balcony was the same rock and roll drunks you had seen for years. The Ramones would have made a great oldies band, if they could have quit dying. This is a repost, with pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.

Examine Your Whiteness Part Two

Posted in Georgia History, Library of Congress, Politics, Race by chamblee54 on January 31, 2018






There have been some new developments in the Burkhart’s melodrama since Examine Your Whiteness was published. For those who are new here, a facebook screen shot appeared, showing the owner of a popular Atlanta bar saying the magic word. A community hissy fit followed. The drag queens who performed at the establishment quit. PG questioned the validity of the screen shot. Global warming got worse, Atlanta traffic slowed down, and Donald Trump got a haircut. It was a bad week.

Someone finally talked to Palmer Marsh, the bar owner with a facebook habit. Yes, he did say the magic word on facebook. He took the post down soon after, but not before a cunning employee got a screen shot. The evidence would prove handy.

Mr. Marsh made another noteworthy comment. “Marsh says his son-in-law is black, as are several of his own grandchildren.” This puts a new spin on the old saying… I can’t be racist, some of my best grandchildren are black. The people upset about the facebook post were not impressed. Don’t confuse me with the facts, the man is a racist, because I said so. The issue remains unresolved, as well as the issue of why anyone should care.

Racist is the one of worst things you can say about anyone. It is also tossed around casually, with no proof, or thought, required. Once accused, you are guilty until proven innocent. If you defend someone accused of racism, you are considered racist yourself.

Racism is not an either/or binary. Many people have conflicting feelings on the matter. While the facebook post is apparently valid, what is in Palmer Marsh’s heart remains a mystery to most observers. Maybe he is a racist, and maybe he is not.

Why does a person need to be politically correct to own a queer bar? Historically, bar owners have been shady characters, who settled disputes with contract killing, and convenient fires. The business revolves around selling alcohol, a deadly, addictive, legal drug. People often misbehave under the influence, and the bar will use brute force to resolve the issue. Enemies are made. It is a tough, dirty business. And now we are supposed to shun an bar owner, because he used the magic word one time on facebook. (Full disclosure: PG is a retired drunk. He has been sober since 1988.)

Anti racism can be highly superficial. Lip service is paid to high minded definitions of racism: “Rather, according to the newly uncovered formula, racism = prejudice + power (or “prejudice + privilege” in some trendier renditions). White people are the ones with all the power and privilege here, so, per the formula, they cannot possibly be the objects of racism.”

That is good in theory, but boring in practice. When there is a racism controversy these days, it is frequently because someone said the magic word. (One exception is when the police kill someone.) Honest to G-d oppression is boring, and will not get attention. Catching someone saying the magic word gets attention. The ex-employee, who leaked the screen shot, wanted attention.

The other development is the sale of the bar. Supposedly, a group was planning to buy Burkhart’s. This group included the General Manager, Don Hunnewell, who gave a statement soon after the original screen shot emerged. “Yesterday it took everything I had to soldier on and not terminate my employment agreement.” A few days later, he was part of a group trying to buy the bar.

You might ask, how does a complicated sale like that happen so quickly? The answer is, it doesn’t. The owner of The Jungle, a now closed cha cha palace, is said to have made an offer. The Jungle got in SJW trouble a few years ago for hosting a performance by Sharon Needles. For the foreseeable future, Palmer and Mary Marsh own Burkhart’s.

An ex-employee had a problem with the club. Ex-employee leaked the screen shot to the press, and the fun started. Now, there are three possible motives for the ex-employee. 1 – Someone was offended by racism at the club, and wanted to call attention to it. 2- Release of the screen shot is somehow connected to a sale of the bar. It is not known if the ex-employee was part of the group that was going to buy the club. 3 – The ex employee had a problem with the club, and wanted to get revenge. Number 3 is the most likely, although all are possible. All things are possible in a world without G-d.

Where does this put the performers who quit, and the pearl clutching public? If this is motivated by sincere concern for racism at Burkhart’s, then people are entitled to the self congratulation. OTOH, if this whole mudbath is just part of the proposed sale, or a shot at revenge by an embittered ex-employee, then the pearl clutchers are being played.

Pictures are from The Library of Congress, taken at “Annual “Bathing Girl Parade”, Balboa Beach, CA, June 20, 1920.” Part three of this series is now available.







Examine Your Whiteness

Posted in Georgia History, Library of Congress, Politics, Race, The Internet by chamblee54 on January 27, 2018

Is the Owner of Popular Atlanta Drag Bar a Racist? This article started the current controversy. A “former employee” of Burkhart’s sent some screen shots to a local publication. The shots allegedly came from the facebook page of the bar’s owner, Palmer Marsh. The first post that you saw said “Obviously Vladimir Putin thinks that Barack Obama is a stupid (magic word). He just might be right.” The pearl clutching started immediately.

PG noted that the screen shot did not have a date or time. Three other shots were shown in the initial presentation. None of the other comments had a fraction of the offensive power of the Putin comment. The showpiece comment was suspect.

If you are going to have a public controversy about someone’s racial values, you need something strong to get people’s attention. Stories about poorly treated employees or customers will not do this. Facebook comments like “I used to think that NYC was the most intimidating place on Earth. Thanks to Mayor Rudy Giuliani … ” do not have the explosive power of the magic word. If you do not have the comment about Putin, you do not have a controversy. The ex-employee does not get their revenge.

For all the talk about institutional oppression, the public debate on racism remains very shallow. Style rules over substance any day. If you talk about economic equality, equal housing, or access to education, the audience will ignore you. Talk about police brutality, and mass incarceration, will get you a bit more attention. Palmergate is none of these things. It is about an old man, who owns a popular business, saying things on facebook that people do not like. The most spectacular of these comments is impossible to prove or disprove.

A few days later, there was another facebook thread about the comment. PG noted “Did anyone see the Obama/n-word post when it first appeared? What was the time and date? Is there a cached copy available? Do you realize how easy it would be to fake that screen shot? If an incendiary post like that appeared, why wasn’t it noticed at the time?” There was a vigorous reaction.

“this is racist apologist trash. there could be video of him typing the words in and y’all would still be like “that could be someone in prosthetics and a wig. you don’t know for sure!” ~ “Here’s a screenshot of a screenshot posted closer to the original occurrence. Is it so hard to believe that an older white man is racist?” ~ “This is on Palmer Marsh’s FB page now. You can go take a look yourself if you think I’m faking it. Doesn’t necessarily mention the racism, but is a good indicator:” ~ ‘This is also still on his FB wall. Go take a look yourself if you think someone is faking it:” ~ “And someone calling out his racism in 2013. Also on his wall. Go scroll down and look:” ~ “Do you need more? I’m happy to keep scrolling if you’re too lazy/afraid to confirm the truth yourself” ~ “alleged” I can’t with you. Look at my posts. I advise you do some research before making a public comment that makes you look like a racist apologist. I’m out.”

There are arguably racist comments on Mr. Marsh’s facebook page. (“Here in Brunswick, GA there is a billboard that reads, “Blue lives matter.” Indeed!”) Mr. Marsh went on a bit of a facebook binge sometime in 2015, and said all sorts of things. ( “I have been drinking so much liquor that I do not know what I have been saying. My apologies to those of whom I have offended. Now would probably be a good time to shut the blank up.”) However, none of these comments are evidence that he made the Putin post. They are not nearly as explosive, or overtly racist. They don’t have the same tone as the Putin comment. Also, how many people were talking about Vladimir Putin in 2015? It just does not add up.

It should be noted that there is a possibility that the Putin quote is legitimate. There are rumors that Mary Marsh, the wife of Palmer, “basically confirmed by making a status the other day saying Palmer was drunk and that she gave him hell at the time.” (PG has not seen this comment.) However, showing far less offensive posts, from the same account, is not convincing evidence.

“Do yourself and the POC in your life a favor and Examine. Your. Whiteness. Examine why its so hard to believe an old white man said the n word. Examine why you are so invested in defending a man who by all accounts was an outspoken racist. Examine why you are calling this so deeply into question.” Logic is not always a facebook friend.

After a while, PG took a break from the action. When he got back, he decided to look for cached copies. It seems that the Internet Wayback Machine does not have copies of this facebook account. The Putin post remains impossible to prove, or disprove.

Palmer Marsh on facebook is up. What has not been deleted is easy to look through. Some of the comments are still up. Some posts are arguably racist. (“If the South had won, we would be a hell of a lot better off.”) There are also some comments that contradict the racist narrative.

“Because of love, part of my heritage is West African. Some tings you cannot change. I treasure my heritage.” “I am from McIntosh County Georgia. The first dialect of English that I spoke was Gullah-Gitchee. It was a fantastic beginning as I have a perspective of the Third World that few Anglo-Americans understand. Now I feel more at home in the Bahamas than I feel at Home. I like turning back the clock.”

For those who are new here, Gullah-Gitchee is a dialect used mostly by African Americans. Does this sound like something a racist would say?

Maybe the truth is a bit more complicated. Maybe Palmer Marsh has posted some things that rub liberal fee fees the wrong way. But maybe, just maybe, a man from the Georgia coast, who has been around black people all his life, has some complicated feelings about this whole racism thing. Not everyone falls into the racist/woke binary. If we are going to have a public debate, on the statement Resolved: Palmer Marsh is a racist, the we should do a better job of examining the evidence. Don’t just accept a screen shot from a former employee. Consider that maybe it is none of your business.

Pictures are from The Library of Congress. Parts two and three of this series are now available.

The Great Speckled Bird

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, Politics by chamblee54 on January 24, 2018








One day in the eighth grade, PG had a sore spot in his eye. They called it a stye. One afternoon, he got out of school, walked to Lenox Square, saw a doctor, and got some eye drops.
When he left the doctor’s office, there was a man, standing in front of Rich’s on the sidewalk, selling a newspaper. He had blond hair down past his shoulders. PG asked what the newspaper was. Mostly politics, he said. PG gave him fifteen cents for a copy of “The Great Speckled Bird”.

The Bird was an underground newspaper. It was so bad, it needed to be buried. If you are under fifty, you have probably never seen one. These papers flourished for a while. The Bird was published from 1968 to 1976. The April 26, 1968 edition was volume one, number four. This was what PG bought that day.
The GSU Library has a digital collection. Included in it are copies of The Great Speckled Bird. Included in this collection is edition number four. PG went looking for that first copy. He needed to be patient, for the GSU server took it’s time. Finally, the copy he asked for came up. It was mostly politics.

When PG saw page four, he knew it was the edition from 1968. “Sergeant Pepper’s Vietnam Report” was the story of a young man sent to Nam. It had a paragraph that impressed young PG, and is reproduced here. The rest of the article is not that great, which is typical of most underground newspaper writing.

A couple of years later, PG spent the summer working at the Lenox Square Theater. The number two screen was a long skinny room. If you stood in the right place, you could hear the electric door openers of the Colonial Grocery store upstairs. The Bird salesmen were a feature at the mall that summer, which not everyone appreciated. This was the year of the second, and last, Atlanta Pop Festival. PG was not quite hip enough to make it. He was back in the city, taking tickets for “Fellini Satyricon”. The Bird was printing 26 pages an issue, with lots of ads, pictures, and the distinctive graphics of the era.

Vol.3 no 26 June 29, 1970 was especially memorable. On page 17, there was a bit of eyeroll inducing polemic. PG was easy to impress. The first paragraph is the one that matters. “What is Gay Liberation? It is people telling the truth; it is me telling you the truth NOW, homosexuality is the CAPACITY to love someone of the same sex. For­get all the crap about causes (no one knows and we don’t care), “cures” (there aren’t any, thank god), and “prob­lems.”The only problem is society’s anti-homosexual pro­paganda and the oppression it has produced.”

Stories about hippies, and the Bird, can be found at The Strip Project. This repost has pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.









One Diamond Two Believers Four Monkees

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, Music by chamblee54 on January 20, 2018







JoemyG-d has been running videos of number one hits lately. Today, the numero uno is from 1966. It is by the Monkees, called “I’m a Believer”.

PG always liked the Monkees. They were the twelve year old’s band when he was twelve years old. There was an article in the Saturday Evening Post about the “Pre Fab Four”, and a classmate of PG said that he was disillusioned. Certainly no one was confused about the made for tv nature of the band. The rumors…which turned out to be true…said that the Monkees did not play the instruments on their debut album. Still, a seventh grader is easily amused, and the show was fun to watch.

“I’m a Believer” was written by Neil Diamond, aka the Jewish Elvis. Mr. Diamond played guitar on the Monkees version of IAB. (Michael Nesmith does a convincing imitation in the video. It is not known if he was wearing the green hat.)

IAB is part of the rock tradition of misunderstood lyrics. PG thought that Mickey said he “needed sunshine on my brain”. PG did not learn the truth for many years. One afternoon, he heard a band on the radio do IAB, and the lyrics were understood. What the song really said was, “when I needed sunshine I got rain. “

This is a repost, with pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. The video in the original post is no longer on youtube, but there was no shortage of replacements. The video used today is one PG remembers from the TV show.

The other video, with unfortunate sound, is from the second year of “The Monkees”. PG did not like Mickey Dolenz with frizzy hair, and quit watching the show. 13 is a year older than 12. The fall of 1967 found PG as an eighth grader, or “subbie”, at a grungy high school. This was the first year after Lynwood Park High School closed. A few people were not happy about integration.

The other video has the word believer in the title. (The middle of the word believer is LIE.) One afternoon, the disc jockey at WQXI said he was tired of playing that stupid song by the Monkees. Before long, the Monkees were replaced by the Partridge Family.







The Number One Hit When I Was Born

Posted in Georgia History, History, Library of Congress, Music by chamblee54 on January 16, 2018

This post went up for the first time on May 28, 2008. The meme of looking up the number one hit on your date of birth is making the rounds again. It is a good excuse for something to post on a slow day. Pictures are from The Library of Congress.

There is a man known as XWinger. He sells Celtic music, promotes DimSum groups, and has a blog.

Once at his place I saw a link to a site that tells you what the Number One song was on that day. The arbiter of number oneness is Billboard Magazine.

The List goes back to 1892. On January 1, 1892, the #1 hit was “Drill, Ye Terriers, Drill” by George J. Gaskin. I imagine that before a certain date this would refer to sheet music, or maybe player piano thingies. Other big hits from the Gay Nineties include “The Fatal Wedding” (1894, George J. Gaskin), “Little Alabama Coon” (1895. Len Spencer) and ” A Hot Time in the Old Town”(1897, Dan Quinn).

When my daddy was born in 1916, the top hit was “M-O-T-H-E-R (A Word that Means So Much to Me) by Henry Burr. When my mother was born in 1922, the top of the billboard charts was “Stumbling” by Paul Whiteman.

In October 1929, the stock market crashed to “Am I Blue” by Ethel Waters. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the big song was “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller. Mr. Miller joined the Army after the start of the War, and toured with a band to entertain troops. On December 15, 1944, his plane disappeared in France. The number one hit that day was “I’m Making Believe” by the Ink Spots and Ella Fitzgerald. The Ink Spots played at the Domino Lounge downtown when I was a kid. I heard people say, “the Ink Spots have been around for a while”.

In 1954, this reporter was born. The number one hit that day was “Wanted” by Perry Como. Two years later, my brother was born to the sounds of “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley.

One way to track the hits through the years is to pick a date and follow it. It should be noted that Billboard is the essence of “commercial”. On my tenth birthday, the big sound was “Hello Dolly” by Louis Armstrong. On the verge of the summer of Love, the big hit was “Something Stupid” by Nancy Sinatra and Frank Sinatra. At no time did the Beatles have a number one hit on my birthday. This attitude improved in 1969 with “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” by the Fifth Dimension.

The seventies continued the commercial tradition with “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night. This was in 1971, the year they played a big show at Atlanta Stadium. The disco monster raised its glittering hand with “Night Fever”, by the Bee Gees in 1978.

As the eighties rolled in, I got a job and apartment, and music became less familiar. The first big May hit of the eighties was “Call Me” by Blondie. It was from a movie starring Richard Gere. The movie did not feature gerbils. The decade was not a total loss, as 1983 featured “Beat It” by Michael Jackson.

Moving into the nineties and oughts, my old fogey decrepitude is near total. Or is that the wasteland of pop music? By this time top 40 is all but extinct, am radio given over to all talk stations, and fm music so spread out that no one style of music is dominant. The number one hit on my birthday, one recent year, is “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis.

Of course, the leaders of our country don’t always listen. On May 28, 1915, the biggest song was “I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier” by the Peerless Quartet. And, on May 28, 1964, the number one hit was “Love Me Do” by the Beatles.

Lost Atlanta

Posted in Book Reports, Georgia History, GSU photo archive by chamblee54 on January 10, 2018









Lost Atlanta is a coffee table book. The content is the buildings, and institutions, that no longer exist. Atlanta has a long love affair with the wrecking ball. General Sherman was a minor player. Pictures for your Wednesday morning entertainment are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. This is a repost.

PG is a native, and knows a few things about the city. While looking through LA, he began to take notes of things he did not know. The names behind the Ferry Roads is one. Plantation owner James Power established Power’s Ferry in 1835. Hardy Pace established his ferry in the 1850s. The fare was 62 cents for a full wagon, 50 cents for an empty wagon, 12 cents for a man and a horse, and 4 cents per head of cattle. The last ferry to cease operations was the Campbellton Ferry, in south Fulton county. The Campbellton Ferry ceased operations in 1958.

Wheat Street Baptist Church is a prominent Atlanta institution. If you look for Wheat Street on google, all you see is Old Wheat Street. It turns out that Wheat Street was renamed Auburn Avenue. “Originally called Wheat Street, the road was renamed in 1893 at the request of white petitioners who believed Auburn Avenue had a more cosmopolitan sound.”

Bald Hill, aka Leggett’s Hill, was leveled in 1958 to make way for the East Expressway, later known as I-20. On July 22, 1864, the Battle of Atlanta was fought there. After the unpleasantness, Frederick Koch bought farm land on the site. His house was at 382 Moreland Avenue. The house was demolished in 1953. South of I-20, 1400 McPherson Avenue has a monument. Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson was killed at that location.

The outfield wall at Ponce De Leon park was covered with advertising. One sign was for Southern Bread. The picture had a “Southern Colonel”… apparently the only type of officer in the CSA … saying “I’d even go North for Southern Bread.” This ad was also painted on the side of a building on Tenth Street, just off Peachtree. The late Jim Henson produced a tv ad for Southern Bread.

Jacobs Drug Store was a prominent chain at one time. It was founded by Joseph Jacobs. Mr. Jacobs had a store in the Norcross building, on Peachtree Street at Marietta Street. In 1886, the soda fountain mixed John Pemberton’s patent medicine with carbonated soda water. The rest is history.

There are a few notes, which do not justify a paragraph. The Governor’s Mansion was at 250 The Prado, in Ansley Park, until a new GM was built on West Paces Ferry road. The Henry Grady hotel did not have a thirteenth floor, but went from 12 to 14. This did not stop the building from being demolished, to make way for the Peachtree Plaza hotel.

When Laurent DeGive built his grand opera house at Peachtree and Houston (Now JW Dobbs,) people were horrified. The central business district was south of five points. The area north, where the opera house went up, was residential. In 1932, the opera house was renovated, and opened as the Loew’s Grand. In 1939, it hosted the world premiere of “Gone With The Wind.” On the other side of Houston Street was the Paramount Theater, and across Peachtree was the Coca Cola sign. The GP building occupies the site today.