In writing for the Easley Progress, I have had the luxury of reviving an old segment of the paper called “Through the Years.”
“Through the Years” is a segment where I, as a staff writer, look through the old rolls of microfilm and pull excerpts from those past editions to create a literary retrospective for each Friday’s paper.
There have been many interesting tidbits of history rediscovered amongst the archives that I have had the pleasure of reissuing to the reading public.
I found that the movie “The Wizard of Oz” was released in 1939, the same week that the old Easley High School was completed.
I found that the newspaper writers of a century ago generously applied their own opinions through the cover of decorative language, and I offer the following passages from a 1906 edition in which a reunion of Confederate veterans was described.
“There were several absent, kept away by business, and others who have answered the final roll call on earth and gone to again unite with comrades who have already crossed the river.”
The article concluded with this line,
“Their deeds of valor on the field of battle will be only a memory, and instead of hearing them recounted from the lips of the participants, pages of history will have to be consulted.”
“Through the Years” is a resurrection of the past, our past, and in sifting through the pages of Easley’s history, there was one particular edition that stirred me the most, the July 20, 1944 edition.
It had been more than a month since the D-Day invasion and nearly three years since the attack on Pearl Harbor.
It was war, on a global scale, and even this small county in the Upstate of South Carolina was deeply affected by the far away events and awaited news from the Pacific and the battlefields of Europe with a level of anxiety that only a mother with lost children could understand.
The front page reported three local casualties, Pvt. Fred Duncan, Pvt. Preston Rice, and former Easley High School student, Harold Duncan.
I can imagine the soft, yellow glow of porch lights along neighborhood streets burning long into the night as the mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters of those Pickens County boys in uniform paced their front rooms with worry.
But now those days are gone, the war is over, and the fighting men and women from that time are now great-grandparents, and their children, our parents, and our parents, now grandmothers and grandfathers.
Indeed, a formidable collection of years now separates then from now, and many, if not most of the local families that made up our small town in the 1940s, have long since been forgotten, moved on, or passed away.
And as each day passes, and as each grandfather and old soldier returns again to the creator, even fewer remnants of that time will remain, and much like the bulk of that waning generation, will soon pass away from this earth forever.