DUE TO A TECHNICAL DIFFICULTY, THE NEXT EDITION OF THIS WEBSITE WILL BE DELAYED. PLEASE CHECK BACK TOMORROW.
ARTICLES ON THIS PAGE:
(Today through May 28th)
1. REVISED article:That Old James River Bridge: Facts and Photos (with some additional content).
2. REVISED article:The Memorial Day Poppy: A Tradition Born from a Poem (additional content and photographs).
3. CNC's First Pro Athlete: Baseball Player Sam McIntyre.
4. The Historical Importance of Chris's Crier: Second Year, Issue 2(Vol. 2, No. 2, dated December 7, 1962).
5. NEW cartoons: Mating Season.
"I've found in life the more you practice the better you get. If you want something enough and work hard to get it your chances of success are much greater.
Baseball Hall of Famer
(1918 - 2002)
I fly, yet I have no wings. I cry, yet I have no eyes. Darkness follows me, lower light I never see. What am I?
That Old James River Bridge:
Facts and Photos
Revised May 2020
by A. Jane Chambers
It was June of 1963, and I was traveling to Newport News for the first time, to be interviewed for a position in CNC’s English Department. I was glad I had the whole seat to myself on that Trailways bus, allowing me to shift positions often during the very long ride from Charlotte. Dozing, my head against the window, I was jolted awake by a bump, followed by a higher-pitched humming of the bus’s wheels. Sitting upright, I looked out at a tremendous expanse of choppy water dotted by whitecaps, and between that seeming sea and the bus, I saw nothingelse—no railing to protect us from the water. I sat quietly terrified, telling myself there had to be a railing, yet fearing that at any moment the bus would plunge into the waves.
I knew there would be a wide river and a 2-lane bridge to cross into Newport News, but I was totally unprepared for this particular experience. I had never crossed a river so very wide, on a bridge so very long and narrow, with railing so very low that I could not see it from my seat on that Trailways bus.
The aerial photo left above, showing the old draw span, is a Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce picture (ca. 1930) reproduced on p. 119 of Dr. Jane Carter Webb's book Newport News. Notice that only two cars are visible on that stretch of the bridge (look far right), an early indication that the high toll ($1.20 one way; equivalent to $17.82 in 2020) was discouraging traffic. The average skilled worker at the Shipyard in 1928 made less than $1.00 an hour. The aerial photo right above is a 1937 VaDOT view that includes Warwick Blvd. and a railroad track paralleling the river, and homes and businesses near, but not in, Hilton Village.
When the 2-lane bridge opened on November 17, 1928, it was the longest bridge over water in the world, so its opening was accompanied with much excitement and fanfare. In his November 18, 2013,Daily Press article on the 85th anniversary of that opening, Journalist Mark St. John Erickson wrote: Some 30,000 people turned out to witness its formal dedication on Nov. 17, which included a 2-mile-long "monster parade," a pyrotechnic recreation of the Civil War battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac and an electrical connection with the White House office of President Calvin Coolidge, who pressed the button that activated the bridge's gigantic lift span and lowered it into position over the 2-lane highway (“When it opened on Nov. 17, 1928, the James River Bridge ranked as the world's longest”).
As this undated VaDOT photo shows, traffic on the high toll bridge was so light in the early years that these ladies could pause in their trip to pose on the bridge for this picture.
Newport News Mayor Philip W. Hiden’s daughter, representing the Commonwealth of Virginia, cut the ribbon opening the span with an immense pair of scissors. Standing by her side in blue frocks and golden hats was an escort of 23 "fair maidens," each one representing a Hampton Roads city, town or county. When the parade started, a "rude cart, drawn by a stolid ox" led a lengthy collection of period vehicles that underscored the bridge's importance as an unprecedented connection with the future. It was accompanied by a line of marching military units measuring more than a mile in length, while a long series of nearly 100 lavish historical floats entertained the crowd with such prize-winning entries as the "Capture of Blackbeard," which was acted out enthusiastically by the members of the Women's Club of Hampton. Nine airplanes and two blimps from Langley Field added to the martial pageantry of the affair, as did the presence of the USS Marblehead and numerous other Navy vessels (“When it opened”).
This 1928 photo was reproduced on the editorial page of the weekly Smithfield Times on July 24, 1913. At first I thought the man standing on the bridge was a policeman; now I think he was instead (notice his hat) the chauffeur of the man in the first car and was gesturing to the driver of the second car to go around (pass) the first car. Possibly the driver had stopped the car because its owner wanted to get out to take pictures and enjoy the scenery. Notice that no other cars are visible in this picture.
The JRB was privately funded and operated by the James River Bridge Corporation, which was chartered by Virginia’s General Assembly to build a system of bridges across the James River, Chuckatuck Creek, and the Nansemond River (Wikipedia). Two prominent Newport News citizens were major investors: Mayor Philip W. Hiden and Daily Press Editor W. Scott Copeland, who joined forces “to convince the nationally known Boston investment firm of Paine Webber to arrange bond financing for the innovative bridge” (“When it opened”). The total cost for the 3 bridges was about $7 million; the cost of the JRB alone was $5.2 million of that. The bridge was, by today’s standards, quite narrow: only 20 feet wide from curb to curb. The main lift span was 300 feet long (Wikipedia). The lift clearance was 147 feet. The bridge was almost 5 miles long—specifically, 4.8 miles. I remember clocking it often when I drove across it during my early years in Newport News.
his is a 1929 VaDOT photo of the JRB toll house on the Newport News end. Two vehicles are barely visible on the bridge in the distance, seemingly one driving toward Isle of Wight and one driving toward Newport News.
This VaDOT photo shows a bus headed for Norfolk approaching the toll house on the Isle of Wight end of the JRB. The toll collector is standing outside, looking at the bus. No other vehicles are visible here. Being a toll collector in those earliest years of the bridge must have been rather boring.
As the above photos demonstrate, after the JRB’s 1928 opening, the projected traffic volumes failed to materialize because the tolls were very expensive ($1.20 each way was equivalent to $17.82 one way, or $35.64 roundtrip in 2020) and, 11 months after the opening, the stock market crashed, plunging our nation into the Great Depression. “The bonds issued to pay for the span,” as Erickson noted in his 2013 article, “lost most of their value” (“When it opened”). The James River Bridge Corporation went bankrupt.
This Daily Press photo shows the toll gates on the Newport News side in 1953. In 1955 this toll plaza was removed and tolls for both north and south traffic were collected at the south end of the bridge (Isle of Wight County).
This 1937 postcard, courtesy of Dave Spriggs, shows an old hotel, including some cabins, which used to operate near the isle of Wight end of the JRB.
Wikipedia sums up the rest: It was bought by bondholders, headed by a local businessman from Smithfield. The new owners raised tolls, proving unpopular with local residents. Chapter 399 of the Acts of Virginia of 1940 authorized the SHC [State Highway Commission] to acquire the James River Bridge System, consisting of the three bridges and approach roads. The SHC bought the system from the corporation for $5.6 million on September 30, 1949. However, in 1955, the state doubled tolls to $1.80 round trip for cars and $4.00 or more for trucks in order to pay for repairs, new toll booths, and a new punched card system compatible with the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.
I remember in the 1960s and early 1970s paying that 90-cents toll each way when I drove to North Carolina to visit my family in Charlotte. The state finally removed the tolls after paying off the remaining bonds. By that time, of course, there was so much traffic on the old bridge that it had to be replaced by the new 4-lane bridge.
Did YOU ever have a personal adventure ( misadventure?) with that old JRB?If so, please share it with us and our readers! Just contact us at one of the email addresses below.
Shown above, next to his most famous poem, is Lt. Colonel John McCrae (1872 - 1918), a Canadian poet, soldier, and physician. At age 41, as World War I began, he volunteered to join a Canadian fighting unit as a gunner and medical officer. He had previously fought as a volunteer in the Second Boer War (1899-1902) and considered military service his major duty, having a father as a military leader in Ontario.
While McCrae's unit was fighting in the Second Battle of Ypres, in the Flanders region of Belgium, the German army attacked the French positions north of the Canadians with chlorine gas on April 22, 1915, launching one of the first chemical attacks in the history of war. Luckily, the Germans were unable to break through the Canadian line although fighting for over two weeks in a battle McCrae described in a letter to his mother as "a nightmare" during which "all that time ... gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds....And behind it all was the constant background of the sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, and a terrible anxiety lest the line should give way" (Wikipedia).
Lt. Alexis Helmer (photo L), a close friend of McCrea, was killed on May 2 during this fierce battle. There was no chaplain available, so McCrae performed the burial service himself. He noticed with surprise that red poppies were growing quickly around the graves of his dead comrades. As Sarah Pruitt writes in her essay "The Poppy and the Poet," "the brutal clashes between Allied and Axis soldiers tore up fields and forests" in this region, "tearing up trees and plants and wreaking havoc on the soil beneath. But in the warm early spring of 1915, bright red flowers began peeking through the battle-scarred land: Papaver rhoeas, known variously as the Flanders poppy, corn poppy, red poppy and corn rose...classified as a weed" (www.history.com).
The above photo showing poppies growing atop a French trench is the only known color picture that shows poppies on a World War 1 battlefield. Taken in 1915 by an official French war photographer, this photo was published in 2009 in Flanders Fields Music courtesy of www.greatwar.nl.
The sight of the blood-red poppies among the recent graves inspired McCrea to write "In Flanders Fields" the very next day (May 3, 1915). Various friends urged him to publish it, and in late 1915 it was published in the English magazine Punch. The poem was often used at countless memorial ceremonies, and became one of the most famous works of art to emerge from the Great War. Its fame had spread far and wide by the time McCrae himself died, from pneumonia and meningitis, in January 1918 (Wikipedia).
An American woman, Moina Michael (1869 - 1944) initiated the practice of wearing red poppies to remember the deceased military. She read “In Flanders Fields” in the Ladies’ Home Journal two days before the armistice. A professor at the University of Georgia when WWI began, she had taken a leave of absence to volunteer at the New York headquarters of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), which trained and sponsored workers overseas. Inspired by McCrae’s verses, Michael wrote her own poem in response, which she called “We Shall Keep Faith” (copy below).
As a remembrance of the Allied solders' sacrifices in the Great War, professor Michael vowed to always wear a red poppy. Finding a batch of red fabric blooms at a department store, she kept some for herself and gave others to her colleagues. After the war ended (1918), she returned to the university town of Athens, GA, and began making and selling red silk poppies to raise money to support returning American veterans. In the summer of 1920, she managed to get Georgia’s branch of the American Legion to adopt the poppy as its symbol. Soon after that, the National American Legion voted to use the poppy as the official U.S. national emblem of remembrance when its members convened in Cleveland in September, 1920 (Sarah Pruitt, in www.history.com).
The red poppy quickly became a major symbol of both our Memorial Day (celebrated the last Monday of May) and also of Remembrance Day (celebrated November 11) in the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Belgium, Australia and New Zealand. Moina Michael became known worldwide as "The Poppy Lady." In 1948, four years after her death, the U.S. Postal Service issued the above postcard and stamp honoring her, and in 1958 the state of Georgia placed an historical marker near her birthplace.
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Published May 25, 2018
Revised and published again May 15, 2020
FIRST DECADE HISTORY
CNC's First Pro Athlete:
Baseball Player Sam McIntyre
by A. Jane Chambers
Includes major information from Brook Treakle's
article "Pro Athlete at CNC," published in
Chris's Crier, Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 3.
The St. Louis Cardinals scorecard (below left) sold at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri, is dated 1955--the year James Samuel (Sam) McIntyre graduated from Hampton High School, joined the St. Louis Cardinals farm system, and began a career of six years as a minor league baseball player. After his baseball career he served in the U.S. military, then entered CNC as a freshman in the fall of 1962. The photo of Sam below is from the first CNC yearbook, the 1964 Trident. He received his A.A. degree at the June 4, 1964, commencement held in the old Daniel Elementary School building in downtown Newport News, CNC's first home.
Not until I read the Chris's Crier article "Pro Athlete at CNC," by Brook Treakle, did I know that CNC First Decader Sam McIntyre was once a professional baseball player. He never mentioned that fact to me. The December 7, 1962, article's opening paragraph states that while enrolled at CNC then-freshman Sam, "a Gloucester county native," was living in Buckroe "with his wife, the former Lenore Clarke" [still his wife in 2020] and that during his Hampton High years he was "active in basketball, baseball, and band" and in the summers played baseball "for American Legion Post 31," which twice voted him "Most Valuable Player."
Right after high school, Sam signed on with the Cardinals for $4000, equivalent in purchasing power to about $38,525 in 2020--quite a lot of money then, especially for a boy of 17 or 18. The Cardinals sent him first to Hazlehurst, Georgia, then later that season to Decatur, Illinois. According to the Crier article, that first season for Sam was "frustrating." He played third base, and "his .211 batting average failed to impress the Cardinal organization."
His career improved greatly, however, when his position changed to pitcher. His second season, 1956, Sam was sent back to Hazlehurst, where he "won ten games...to lead his last place team to victories." In 1957, he played in Albany, Georgia, where he "again paced his team in victories (13-5) and was named by the league sports writers as the Georgia-Florida League's top hurler." From 1958 - 1970, Sam led two more teams in victories: "one year at Billings, Montana and two seasons at Winston-Salem, North Carolina." His second year at Winston-Salem, 1960, he hit "back-to-back home runs...six round-trippers in all that year."
Two events occurred in 1960 that led to the closing of Sam's baseball career: the military draft connected with the escalation of the conflict in Vietnam, which had begun in 1955, and physical problems with his pitching arm. Sam played for the Tulsa Oilers of the AA Texas League in 1960, but "bothered by arm trouble" he "failed to win a game." He soon fulfilled his obligation to the armed services.
At CNC, Sam was a member of the Circle K Club and also served in the Student Government Association as an Assemblyman in his sophomore year. After receiving his A.A. degree, he earned a B.S. degree in physics at William and Mary in 1967. He then worked for Exxon Company USA for 33 years. He and Lenore currently live in Richmond and have two grown children, Pamela Anne and Samuel Scott. Sam and Lenore attended the first reunion of CNC's First Decaders, held at CNU on September 16 & 17, 2011. In 2014, they also attended the 50th Reunion of Sam's CNC Class of 1964, also held at CNU.
NOTE: Mentioned also in Treakle's article "Pro Athlete at CNC" are some of the top hitters Sam faced in the minor leagues such as Orlando Cepeda (who became a major league star with the San Francisco Giants). To read the entire article, go to the website tab Chris's Crier (left margin). Open that and then the sub tab Crier Issues. Look for Vol. 2, No. 2, dated December 7, 1962. The article is on the third (last) unnumbered page.
The newspaper photo with caption above is courtesy of Jo Berry Sinclair (Class of 1963). The photo was published in the fall of 1962 by The Daily Press in either its morning newspaper (The Daily Press ) or its afternoon newspaper (The Times-Herald ). Not all members of this first Glee Club, which included both sexes, are in the photograph.
New in this second issue of the 1962-63 Chris's Crier are an improved masthead, advertisements for local businesses--though not very well done (pp.2 & 3), and a more professional listing of the paper's staff (p. 2). Continued growth is evident in articles about additional student organizations: the Glee Club (p. 1), for both sexes, and the Basketball League (p. 3), for male students, with 4 teams that would use the Magruder Recreation Building in Hampton for games. Thriving well were Circle K (p. 1), with officers elected, and the Bowling League, for both sexes (p. 3), also with officers elected and games underway. And the second freshmen class elected its officers with a fairly good turnout of voters (p. 1).
Having a book budget of $27,000 to spend (equivalent in 2020 to $235,996.53), CNC's library was growing too (p. 1), having added 1000 new books, with more to be added in academic year 1963-64--the year that I would join the English faculty at CNC. Part of my job that year would be working in the basement library in the old Daniel building, helping spend some of that money on more library books, which I certainly enjoyed doing.
The article on page 3, "Pro Athlete at CNC," interested me very much, especially since I know First Decader Sam McIntyre (A.A. degree, 1964). The Crier article led to my writing the article "CNC's First Professional Athlete: Baseball Player Sam McIntyre," with additional information about Sam.
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Published May 1, 2020.
SILLY DILLY ANSWER
ANSWER: A cloud.
Dr. Jane Chambers, Editor and Head Writer
Ron Lowder Sr., Webmaster
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