Falling in love at Camp Gordon Johnston

Published: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 09:58 AM.

Penny said her mother never lost her drawl and there was always okra in their summer garden.

In keeping with the times, though well-educated, Sarah never worked outside the home again but raised three healthy children.

John and Sarah were not the only couple to find love at Camp Gordon Johnston.

Mary Westberg and Lillian Smith of Carrabelle were both schoolgirls when the GIs arrived at the camp in 1941 but they remember the troops well.

Westberg said any girl who walked down the street alone was followed by six or seven soldiers asking for dates. Margie Solomon said local families sometimes invited the GIs for Sunday dinner.

In addition to local girls, many soldiers brought a wife or sweetheart to camp. There were also secretaries and nurses like Sarah. Women military employees were lodged in Lanark Village at the old Lanark Inn.

Marriages increased dramatically in Franklin County during the war years. Courthouse records show that, in 1941, the year the camp opened in September, 100 marriage licenses were issued.

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