Thirty years ago, in 1987, as Memorial Day approached, memories of the Vietnam War and even the Korean War and World War II were still fresh. The Rev. D.F. Hickman, who had preached in both Carrabelle and Apalachicola, returned for a visit and to reminisce about Camp Gordon Johnston.
Our Chasing Shadows question this week; “What was the site of the old Baptist Church that burned in Carrabelle, mentioned below? If you know, please call the Times at 653-8868 or email Lois Swoboda at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gordon Johnston’s World War II ‘chaplain’
On Mother’s Day of this year, Rev. D. F. Hickman preached in Carrabelle’s First Baptist Church. If it seemed familiar, there was a reason. Forty-five years ago he did the same thing.
Hickman and his wife were in Carrabelle when Camp Gordon Johnston, where Lanark Village area now stands, covered thousands of acres and had “perhaps more than 100,000 soldiers there.”
The young Baptist preacher ministered to the soldiers as if he were a regular chaplain. “There were some military chaplains there, but the need was greater than they could handle,” Hickman says.
He set up a small social club in the old Baptist Church (since burned) and treated lonely soldiers to refreshments and spiritual needs. He and his wife often took in young married couples who could not at first find housing.
Today the minister still remembers some of those kids. “One, a big sturdy boy named Penn became my right hand man in church activities about camp,” Hickman remembers.
“We had a cross section of America here. We had boys from the Bronx, from California, Oklahoma, Texas, Pennsylvania… just everywhere.”
In 1943 Carrabelle was a smaller city than it is now.
“We had a few things here, a drugstore, a grocery store, some houses and a few churches. The Baptist Church was a big meeting point for officers, soldiers, families and civilians.”
Hickman remembers the old, now Burda’s had the bus station in the same building. The drugstore served ice cream and cokes and it was a gathering place.
Next door to the drugstore was a military supply store and there were some big cane chairs there. A lot of young wives sat there during the day and talked.
Hickman left Carrabelle in 1945 to take up a new ministerial post in Apalachicola. Later on, he went to many different churches and retired a few years ago from the Southern Baptist Convention.
“I began activity preaching in 1924,” Hickman says. “After I retired I have preached in more than 50 churches as interim pastor.”
As of right now, Hickman is interim pastor of the First Baptist.
“My son, the one in a picture here, when he was three years old, will be with us this Mother’s Day,” the preacher noted. Hickman’s other children, all grown and “doing well” are scattered about the country. Hickman says he will be leaving Carrabelle soon because the church is getting a new pastor.
“I am very fond of this area. I have spent a long time in the ministry, but this is one of my favorite spots.”
Harking back to the big war and those hard years of the early forties, Hickman smiles and talks in a low voice.
“Those were busy times. The army and navy had hundreds of thousands of men in uniform and a lot of them were here. There wasn’t a whole lot to do and the training was very tough.”
Hickman remembers the amphibious training and the mock landings on Dog Island. He also remembers the long boring days of serving in what was virtually an outpost for thousands of young men and women who served at Camp- Gordon Johnston.
“Some of the fellows, especially the boys from the big cities, were pretty ill at ease here. They joked about being “overseas” and all. But they did their jobs and a lot of them became good friends to us.”
Approaching 82, Reverend Hickman’s once jet black hair is thin; he is stooped and has a slight tremble in his hands. But his voice is strong, his memory agile and his position clear.
“I’m supposed to be retired but I continue to preach. The Lord has been good to me and to my family. Sometimes I get out my old picture album and my photos and think back to those days in Carrabelle and Gordon Johnston. It seems like only yesterday to me, but I know it is really almost a half-century.”
Homemaking By Gwen
On Memorial Day we honor all the ones that have gone ahead for us. For the military persons that are still with us, I give you the “1889 White House Cook Book” recipe for “Dried Beef with Cream.”
Better known to our servicemen and women as S.O.S. We hope it will bring back a lot of fond memories.
Dried Beef with Cream 1889 Version
“Shave your beef very fine. Put it into a suitable dish on the back of the stove; cover with cold water and give it time to soak to its original size before being dried. When it is quite soft and the water has become hot (It must not boil.) take it off, turn off the water, pour on a cup of cream, if you do not have I use milk and butter, a pinch of pepper; let it come to a boil, thicken with a tablespoon of flour wet up in a little milk. Serve on dipped toast or not, just as one fancies. A nice breakfast dish.”
With our modern conveniences of refrigeration and endless fresh meat, this true American breakfast dish is very easy to serve.
“1987 version of S.O.S.”
1 ½ cups milk
3 tbsps. Flour
¼ cup cooking oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cooked meat minced or ground (leftover roast, steak or ground chuck)
In a 10 inch skillet, over medium heat, make a roux of the oil, flour, salt and pepper. Add milk; stir constantly until it begins to thicken. Add the meat and continue cooking and stirring until desired thickness. Serve over toast points. Enjoy.
Sewer board meeting lasts 38 seconds
What may be one of the shortest official meetings in recent history occurred in Lanark Village Monday night. Carl Bailey, chairman of the Lanark Village Water and Sewer Board sat down at the table at 7:30 p.m.
He looked at his watch and announced, “It is now 7:30. I call this meeting to order and since I am the only one here, I now adjourn the meeting.” The whole thing lasted less than 38 seconds.
Burwell Harrison and Sam Davis, the other two commissioners of the water department are out of town and did not appear at the meeting. Grace Williamson, secretary for the department, accompanied Bailey to the meeting. A sparse crowd of antagonists to a proposed sewer to run eastward from Lanark to Sacred Heart Catholic Church attempted to engage Commissioner Bailey in conversation. I t was not successful.
Gaining the entrance, Bailey made sporadic conversation, then got in his car and left. Tim Sanders, a property owner opposing the sewer watched him leave and said, “There he goes”.
Gene Hensley asked Bailey about the sewer and was told, “The Department of Environmental Regulation has asked us to hold off for a few months until they can complete a sewer survey along the coast.”
Tommy Panebianco had told the Times last week that the sewer was ready to go as soon as the board decided to implement it.
But Hensley and several others have retained a lawyer to stop the sewer if at all possible. They have also contacted DER and several other agencies.
Sanders told Bailey that the opponents “had registered a complaint in writing at a meeting several months ago.” This was in relation to Panebianco statement that the opponents had filed in writing.
Bailey seemed unaware that such a written complaint against the sewer had been made, but agreed to look into the minutes of that particular meeting.
No special meeting or other extracurricular get together has been scheduled as of this time by either Bailey or the opponents of the sewer.
Blood donor cat has steady job
Times Staff Reporter
Gator has a steady job. The big, grey tabby cat works for Dr. H. F. Fulmer who practices veterinary medicine in Eastpoint and Carrabelle. Gator is a blood donor cat.
“We use Gator about six times a year,” Dr. Fulmer said. “We used to have to round up a stray cat and go through a lot of testing and all. With Gator, we no longer need to do that.”
Gator lives in the veterinary clinic in Eastpoint, where, in addition to his blood donor duties, he catches mice, bugs and teases dogs who hate cats.
“H came to us as a stray and when we realized that he would be a large cat, well able to donate blood, we put him on his professional basis,” Dr. Fulmer stated.
Gator, a little shy after a blood donor chore early in the week, was not very affable but did allow a photo session.
He had donated some blood to a sick kitten owned by Mickey and Jackie Gay of Carrabelle.
“He does a good job,” Jackie commented, holding a tiny, fist-sized kitten in her hand. “Gator helps a lot of cats get through some difficult periods.”