Unforgettable Jefferson Characters Of The 50s And 60s
Jefferson's Unforgettable, Most Beloved Characters Of The 50s And 60s
They were in many ways the face of old Jefferson. They bring back memories of a fun time in Jefferson history when everyone in Jefferson just about knew everyone else. From a Jefferson merchant to a gas station owner, from a local retiree to a high school kid and from a man that everybody enjoyed listening to as he talked about the Jefferson Dragons football team . . . they all stood out in their own unique way. They personified down-to-earth Jeffersonians. Their legacy lives on . . .
Joe Baxter; Not many people in Jefferson, or Jackson County for that matter, didn't know Joe Baxter.
He operated a little-bit-of-everything grocery, hardware, and magazine/comic book store in downtown Jefferson for over 30 years.
I always felt he sold the finest variety of comics/magazines of any store I had ever been in at the time. My uncle Monroe Bennett and I would drop by there just about every time we went to Jefferson. Monroe would usually buy 10 to 15 of his 10 cent comics and several movie magazines every Friday on his payday. I usually picked up a few Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel or some other superhero or western comics.
Mr. Baxter was well known for meeting his customers needs. He would sell cigarettes by the pack or bust a pack and sell them two for five cents or five for a dime. He sold penny candy and bubblegum to just about every kid in Jefferson.
Mr. Baxter had a reputation of being very frugal almost to the point of stinginess, but later would leave a goodly portion of his vast estate to Jefferson High School, where a computer center was built bearing his name.
After a fire gutted the downstairs area of his store in the late sixties, he continued to sell charred cans of vegetables at a largely reduced price to anyone that wished to purchase them.
In all the years I knew Joe Baxter, he was the epitome of a dedicated, hard working man that cared about his many customers.
Richard Gearin; I have always felt that if Jefferson High School had more students with the love and dedication for their school that Richard "Dootsie" Gearin had, it would have been a much better off place.
I had the pleasure of being a football and track teammate of Richard during our high school years. I well remember that time on a Saturday morning over at Memorial Stadium when he severely injured his left knee during a midget football game. From that day forward, he ran with a stiff legged gait that slowed his run to just a fast walk, but he never gave up his desire to play football and run track. He was at football practice every day and ran the gruelling mile on the track for the track and field Dragons.
Richard lost his life in 1979 in a bicycle/automobile accident in downtown Jefferson.
In 1980 a plaque was dedicated to him in front of Jefferson High School by the school and his 1964 classmates.
John Godfrey; One of the best known citizens of Jefferson in the fifties and sixties was John Godfrey.
I can confidently say that everyone in Jefferson knew John Godfrey. He, of Course, ran the Godfrey Standard Oil Service Station for many years at the beginning of downtown Athens Drive.
He was a well known basketball and football official in the Northeast Georgia Officials Association. I had the privilege of calling several basketball games with John over the years.
It seemed like you never saw John without a cigar in his mouth. At half-time of his refereeing assignments he would light up that cigar and steal every draw he could until we went back on the court.
John Godfrey was a very fine athlete during his high school days and was a star of Jefferson Mills baseball and basketball teams in the fifties.
In 1949, when Coach Sanders of Jefferson suffered an illness that kept him from coaching the team that night against Winder, John teamed up with Henry Robinson to coach the high school team on that night. Oh, by the way, he didn't light up that cigar during the game.
T. C. Morrison; In the fifties and early sixties, it was not surprising to see T. C. Morrison walking the streets of Jefferson, playing checkers at the Carter Warehouse or sitting in a booth, drinking coffee, at the Marlow Cafe.
T. C. might have been the biggest Georgia Tech fan I have ever seen. He lived and breathed the Yellow Jackets. He tried to get bets on all the Tech football games during the football season, but since the Jackets were so good at the time, no one would bet with him by taking the Tech opponent. T. C. finally got some betting action by giving points to his friends. It was said he would still win the bet most of the time even by giving points.
His wit and humor became almost legendary around the city of Jefferson. He is known to have said, "You can read a Jackson Herald, eat a steak at Marlow's Cafe and then go to bed with nothing on your mind and nothing in your stomach." He also once is reported to have said one morning when ordering breakfast at the Marlow Cafe, "Bring me two hard-boiled eggs and a grapefruit, something that Buck Marlow can't put his hands on." On many mornings, Mr. Marlow would help serve his establishment customers as a cook. This must have been one of those mornings.
John Burns; Any senior Jefferson Dragon fan will have known John Burns.
For many years he was the groundskeeper at the new Memorial Stadium. He loved the Dragons with a passion. Everyone always called him Coach Burns.
He seemed to always start a conversation with "hear me, now". . . Then, he would make his point or go into his conversation. During a football game, he could always be found down on the field close to the big scoreboard on the street side of the stadium.
John Burns remains to this day a fixture in the minds of us old-timer Jefferson football fans.
Of course, I could put in quite a few other Jefferson legendary characters, but we'll save that for another time. The special people I have mentioned will always stand out as some of Jefferson's most unforgettable characters. All are no longer with us. Those of us that grew up with them will never forget them . . .
At far right with hat is the only known photo of T.C. Morrison. He is at the Marlowe Cafe.
Marlow's Cafe in the early 50s.