A Neato Glimpse Of Days Gone By

"When they took all the boys off to war [World War Two]," Morrison recalls, "they [the local canning factory] came to the school, and said you can work for four hours a day after school.  We'll give you 25 cents an hour....that's a dollar per day.   I thought, boy oh boy, I'll be rich."

The canning plant, which canned  products grown locally, operated from the early 1800s until the 1960s.  Morrison recalls that the plant's syrups were created, mixed and stored in a series of gravity-fed bathtubs.  "They took the corn cobs, and [the machines] just mashed the corn, and it was almost like juice," Morrison says.  The machines, with razor-sharp blade edges, worked at dizzying speeds. "It was a wonder," Morrison sighs, "no one was killed in there.  They didn't know what safety was.  They never had [blade] guards on any of the machines."    

During the Second World War, many of the canning plant's products were used to support the war effort.  Both Morrison and Ward-Hines recall that during those days meat was a rare commodity, both at home and for servicemen.  Ward-Hines only recalled ever seeing Spam; Morrison joked, "They used to say, I could eat a horse.  Well, that's what we're having: horse meat."

"They didn't have to label the cans," says Morrison, of the corn he helped can.  "They just marked on the box 'U.S. Government Corn.'"

"I got so I hated that stuff," Lemon says of the canned corn.  While Morrison was in Ashville's canning plant, Lemon was in the Philippines during the tail-end of World War Two, eating "a lot of C and K rations.  They," he says dryly, "were delicious."

"Originally," says Lemon, of his days in the service, "I went over as a rifleman.  That was right at the time of the Battle of the Bulge."  But fate intervened, in the form of Lemon's typing skills.  "I typed 57 words per minute without a mistake," he says, still proud of his accomplishments.  His typing skills earned him a position as clerk under General Hugh Casey, in the Philippines.  "We landed [in Leyte] on V-E Day, May 8, 1945.  I was in what they called Secret Files."  His section was responsible for receiving and translating the coded messages that came from Washington; the messages were received on a teletype.  The most memorable of those messages detailed the planned invasion of Tokyo Beach--an invasion which never happened thanks to Japan's surrender after Hiroshima.  "The day they planned to hit Tokyo was one week after Hiroshima," Lemon says.  The secret was so closely guarded that his immediate superior, a lieutenant, and he "were the only ones that knew it.  The General didn't even know it." 

 

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