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Clarendon County History, Chapter Nineteen

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To view an illustrated picture record of most of this chapter, please obtain a copy of Dr. Sylvia Clark's publication "Shadows of the Past" and turn to pages 127 through 140. Also an exhibit of those who served from Clarendon County in WWII is on display in the Clarendon County Museum and History Center located at 102 north Brooks Street in Manning.

World War II dominated news in the early 1940s. Postwar prosperity brought new housing, educational opportunities for veterans, and increased tourist travel on U.S. Highway 301. The 1950s generated excitement as citizens applauded the opening of Clarendon Memorial Hospital, celebrated the county's centennial, and welcomed home Miss America, Marian McKnight.

The impending war impacted this area long before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Draft registration and the draft began in 1940. Each week the Manning Times listed the names of men, both black and white, ordered to report for induction. The first Clarendon war casualty, Private Earl A. Hood, died at Pearl Harbor. A unit of the Home Guard trained to provide homeland security. Home guard units provided security for the Santee Cooper Dam. From an observation tower built atop the Cut Rate Drug Store, women performed observation duties during the day and men or couples manned the post at night. In 1942, rationing of gasoline, tires, meat, sugar, coffee, and shoes began. W.J. Clark, manager for Clarendon County, dispensed ration books to each citizen. Clarendon County met all assigned quotas for War Bonds, the Red Cross, and the USO. Houses instituted blackout measures. Children were issued metal wrist identification tags. L.C. Prothro provided a bus for daily round-trips to Charleston where many worked in factories, shipyards, and the Naval Base during the war.

During the course of the war, Clarendon County had at least six families with four sons or daughters on active duty: Burgess, Rickenbaker, Moye, Vassar, Mims, and Kennedy. Four Star mothers were recognized. Many more families, including the family of James Walker, Tuskegee airman, had three sons serving in the armed forces. Clarendon heroes included many killed in action and many held in prisoner of war camps. Summerton, a town of about twelve hundred citizens in the 1940s, was home to three World War II generals. In 1944, Belk Simpson purchased the Alderman Department Store and Sam Gamble bought the Esso station.  Josey's Funeral Home was closed and reopened by Shelley- Brunson. F.L. Overby was sheriff. Joseph P. Moore (born 1915) came to Manning in 1936 to work on Santee Cooper.

V-E Day in May of 1945 brought an outpouring of celebration. Every advertiser in the Manning Times placed a patriotic ad. The atomic bomb and victory over Japan were more quietly noted. While Clarendon citizens had oversubscribed to War Bonds by $35,600 in 1942, they were less enthusiastic about buying Victory Bonds to support the relief and rebuilding efforts after the war. Men and women from all branches of service came home, and the baby boom began. Dr. Joe Henry King began practicing medicine in Manning. Dr. Gordon Howle, Dr. E.W. Kellar Jr., and Dr. L.E. Kirven Jr. practiced in Summerton. In 1950, Dr. Thomas Marion Davis came to Manning as a surgeon at Clarendon Memorial Hospital and, for many years, was the only one in the county. "Negro 4-H boys Make Good Record at Beef Cattle Show," a Manning Times headline read in 1946, describing the success of 4-H work sponsored by William Thompson, black agricultural agent. Thompson worked with black farmers for twenty years. As one of many events celebrating Clarendon County's centennial in 1955, a pageant "Clarendon County - Past and Present" was performed, highlighting historical events.  In 1960, Jim and Betty Roper purchased radio station WYMB, an AM station. Their first FM station was WTWE, "The Water's Edge," and later was changed to WHLZ, "Wheels."  Betty served as chairman of Clarendon Council 1988-2000.

This is Chapter Nineteen of a continuing chronicle of Clarendon County from its early beginning to its present existence. Much, if not all, of the information and facts is borrowed from Dr. Sylvia Clark's excellent publication "Shadows of the Past." A copy may be purchased at the Clarendon Archives or at the Clarendon County Museum & History Center.

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