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Charlton County wins Two Tropies In Campaign to Combat Polio

In 1938 when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, the State of Georgia honored him by contributing funds to the National Foundation to combat Infantile Paralysis. Most every- one knew he had been a victim of this terrible childhood disease, and that he had established the Little White House at Warm Springs, Georgia where he often went for treatment.

Each of the 159 counties competed against one another and collected money for this National Foundation. The pupils of the schools and also the population at large in each county worked to bring in contributions.

Due to the excellent leadership of Mrs. Ann Clyde Gowen and Mr. John Harris, who led the schools’ effort and R. Ward Harrison, Verne Pickren and J.W. Vickery who led the county-wide fund-raising, Charlton County led all the 159 counties in the state to win both trophies.

Charlton County stole the show at the Victory Banquet in Atlanta in February 1938, when it was revealed that our county had exceeded its quota by an outstanding 73%!

The winning of these two trophies, one to the county exceeding its quota by the largest margin and the other to the county school system making the best showing, was indeed a stunning achievement.

And now, as Paul Harvey would say, here’s the rest of the story: Georgia’s governor E.D. Rivers was so impressed by this small county’s achievement that he asked to be able to personally present these trophies in a program at the school auditorium. He came to Folkston in March 1938 and presented the two beautiful silver loving-cups, which were formally accepted by Mrs. Gowen and Mr. Harris. More than a thousand persons from all sections of the county were present for this occasion.

This made such an impression on one grade school boy that he remembered it sixty years later. John Virgil Colson, who later was an honored war hero, surviving a plane crash and being confined for months in a German prisoner of war camp, recalled the excitement of the school children on the day of celebration. He said each child had felt they had been an important part of the effort to stamp out the terrible disease of polio.

After being on display at the Folkston post office for a week, the trophies were placed in a glass case at the high school building.

We wonder, are they still there?

SOURCES: Charlton County Herald, February 11, 1938, March 4, 1938; Conversation with Rev. John Virgil Colson, November, 1996.

---Lois Barefoot Mays

from DeBrahm's Report
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