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These are a couple of old clips from Stembridge Gun Rentals. Enjoy!
I’ve been researching some of the histories of the Stembridges’ in Waynesboro since I used to live in Waynesboro! One of the ones that I’ve read about was Henry Hansell Stembridge, Jr. He traces back on Thomas Baker Stembridge’s line, and that makes us (distant) cousins! Our common ancestor would have been William Stembridge born in 1792 in Baldwin County.
I have been in touch with Henry Hansell’s daughter Jane Stembridge who shared more details about her dad. She said that he grew up in Waynesboro. His dad, Henry Hansell Stembridge Sr , or Dr Stembridge as he was known, was a pharmacist in Waynesboro, and lived where the Pizza Hut is now located on 11th street. Henry Hansell Sr was a charter member of St. Michaels Episcopal Church. Henry Hansell Jr. was influenced by his uncle, Rev. Barney Foreman, of Beech Island, who was a Baptist Minister.
This past weekend, my older brother Ed and I drove over to the ol’ property with my Dad. He didn’t remember going out there, which made it all the more reason to go!
He used his camera to take a few photos;
Cory Zamora was kind enough to let me know that her book: Gunsmith to the Stars will be released next month. We have had several articles about her Father, Manuel Zamora, who worked for Stembridge Gun Rentals in the early days. I hope to get a copy, and learn a little more about a somewhat connected history.Â Here’s the link via Amazon
The photo above is Manuel Zamora of Stembridge Gun Rentals demonstrating a gun designed for Howard Hughes.
A gentleman by the name of Jim Ferguson wrote me last year:
“I was cleaning out a home today and found a box of letters and photos dated in the 1940’s. They were letters to a Frederick T. Dickie at Stembridge gun rentals at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. The photos were of lots of neat guns and of some people whom I asume are related to the gun shop. I guess I’m wondering if anyone is interested in seeing this stuff.”
I wrote back of course, and said yes! Here’s what Jim found!
SHORTLY AFTER THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR, James Stembridge left his East Coast home and went to Los Angeles to seek his fortune. Somewhere around 1913 he met up with Cecil B. DeMille and landed a job helping him make a war movie. Mr. DeMille wanted James to coach the actors on how to act like soldiers and emulate their habits. This led to some steady work and sometime between 1916 and 1920 they recognized the need to accumulate a stock of firearms that could be used as movie props. Thus was the beginning of the Stembridge gun arsenal.
Over the years, James continued looking for and purchasing guns of all make and style and he became the leading armorer for the movie industry. Even though they rented firearms to all the studios, Stembridge Gun Rental was housed in a secure warehouse on the Paramount lot until 1979. The backbone of the business was its manager Fritz Dickie, who reigned from 1927 until 1974.
On Dec. 7, 1941, with the attack on Pearl Harbor underway, there was an immediate shoring up of the coastal defenses. On that same day the commander of Ft. MacArthur in Los Angeles called Stembridge and told him that he didnt think there were enough firearms at the fort. Stembridge immediately sent over several hundred rifles and more than 50 Thompson sub-machine guns.
Amazingly, when the war was over, all of the weapons were returned. Can you imagine a government agency being that reliable today? Stembridges contacts with the War Dept. paid off because with demobilization came the disposal of thousands of military firearms and Stembridge acquired enough to stock a movie army at scrap-metal prices.
By the 1980s, Stembridge had more than 10,000 guns in their armory. Unfortunately, the settlement of a family estate forced the sale of 400 of their historic guns, those used by legendary actors. Publishing magnate Robert Petersen bought them for his personal collection. Now his estate is auctioning them as noted in the article preceding this one.
The Stembridge Gun Rental is still in business and is operated by Syd Stembridge, grand-nephew of the founder. But times have changed. Many studios are using model guns now that can fire blanks designed to give a cinematic flash. Providing customized blank cartridges has long been a big facet of Stembridges business.
Most of this information was provided to Firegeezer in a personal interview with Syd Stembridge.
(article from Bill Schumm’s website: http://firegeezer.com/2007/06/04/stembridge-gun-rental/#more-274/)
* Received some new items from CorlettÂ Zamora this evening, who is looking for information on her Father, Manuel Zamora. Here’s a card that had her fathers name mentioned. If you have any information about Manuel Zamora, please leave a comment below so we can be in touch! Thanks!!!
October 2008: Dylan and I have been involved with archery for the past 3 years. We have really enjoyed the competition, and fun that goes along with it. Actually, Dylan does the competition, I coach.
This is the first year we have ever gone hunting with our bows. There’s actually a lot to it, for newbies like us. We had to make sure our bows were in good shape, get some broadheads, which are the arrow tips used for hunting, and learn all about tree stands. Good for me, my Dad gave me a tree stand that he had gotten to do some limbing; but because of his bad knee had to give that up. Dylan and I both quickly ot aqquainted to putting on safety harnesses, and climbing in a tree, then pulling our bow up with us using a rope.
After the 2nd or 3rd time, we began to realize some patterns for the deer. There are places they seem to concentrate in, and trails they use. The trick is finding the best place to put a stand, and getting in position a couplee hours before sunset, or an hour before sunrise, then quietly waiting…
We have found that they start wondeing out just after sunset before it gets pitch dark. So far we haven’t had a good shot; but we will continue, even into the rifle season. Dylan’s mama wants us to get that freezer filled up!
I just posted 2 stories (not written by me) that share a little more about Marion Wesley Stembridge, that shed a little more light on who he was, and what he did. There’s actually a story going on currently involving the house he lived in.
“Well, one of our past relatives, Marion Stembridge, is in the news again. No, not because his ghost has frightened off another interloper in Marion’s old house on Washington Street. The house has been reputed to have his ghost roaming the halls since his demise back in 1953 by his own hand after killing 2 of the attorneys who were trying to put him in jail for the killing of a woman who was trying to help defend John Cooper from Marion who was trying to get payment for a car he had sold Cooper. By the way, that house, I think, is for sale because all prospective buyers get run off by some unknown entity stomping through the house.” written by my Dad, Roger E. Stembridge
Here’s s picture my nephew Chad just sent of Marion’s Grave. The whole idea of ghosts used to really interest me. I view things much differently now, I know there is a very real spiritual war taking place. I do however believe that once you die, you enter either into heaven or hell – depending on the way you viewed Jesus Christ. This is the belief taught in the Bible; which I have excellent reason to believe is the Word of God!
What do you think?
written by Jonathan Jackson
September 05, 2008 09:42 pm
Peter Dexter won the National Book Award for fiction in 1988 for his novel “Paris Trout”. The book was later adapted into a screenplay, and a 1991 movie version starred Dennis Hopper and Barbara Hershey. The work of fiction, however, had roots in a Milledgeville tragedy that began unfolding almost 60 years ago.
Marion Stembridge was a Milledgeville businessmen who, in addition to selling groceries, made a living as a local loan shark. These transactions were reportedly often made between Stembridge and people who could ill-afford to pay back the loans. One of these loans turned deadly in 1949.
Stembridge made a loan to a man named John Cooper, who purchased a car. Cooper returned the car to Stembridge in an attempt to rid himself of the note. Stembridge and an employee named Sam Terry reportedly drove to an area of town called Shantytown and confronted Cooper.
According to published accounts, multiple sources record that Stembridge and Terry began beating Cooper and that two women intervened in the attack. Stembridge shot the two women, wounding both. One of the women, Emma Johnekin later died from her wounds, and Stembridge was charged.
Stembridge claimed he shot both women in self-defense. Still, he was sentenced to one to three years for the shooting. Stembridge appealed the sentence and was released on bond. He was represented by Marion Ennis, Frank Evans and Jimmy Watts.
According to published accounts, Ennis grew uncomfortable with the case and ended his legal representation of Stembridge. Stembridge was tried again and convicted, but was released again.
His former attorney, Marion Ennis, reportedly attempted to have him prosecuted yet again, but could not persuade authorities to do so. In the course of events, Ennis was assisted by another attorney, Pete Bivins, in trying to get Stembridge back into court.
Federal authorities learned and later successfully proved in court, that Stembridge had not paid federal taxes in several years. It was a widely held belief at the time that Ennis and Bivins uncovered evidence that resulted in Stembridges conviction on tax evasion charges. It was a belief that Stembridge himself also held.
On May 2, 1953, the City of Milledgeville was celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding when Stembridge went to Ennis office above the Campus Theatre and shot him with a .38 caliber revolver, killing him.
Stembridge then went around the corner to Bivins office in the Sanford building and shot and killed him as well. Stembridge then killed himself with the gun.
Peter Dexter took liberties with actual events for his award-winning work of fiction, Paris Trout, but the man behind the account was most definitely Marion Stembridge.
Copyright 1999-2008 cnhi, inc.
article written by Carol Clark
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, August 10, 2003; P01
“I was there the day Marion Stembridge came up the stairs, wearing that big coat with a pistol in his pocket.”
Bob Green, a 78-year-old lawyer, was telling me a story as I sat on a bench beneath a tulip tree in Milledgeville, Ga., waiting for the tourist trolley.
“I heard the shots from my office. The whole town was aflutter,” Green said, recalling the 1953 killing spree that became the basis for Pete Dexter’s prize-winning novel, “Paris Trout.”
Milledgeville, about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta, is a small town full of big stories. The comic and the tragic, the real and the unreal, the famous and the forgotten, all blend together in the rich local lore.
A young Oliver Hardy ran the projector at Milledgeville’s first movie house. “He sang and danced to entertain people between the picture shows,” said guide Gwendelyn Clark as the red trolley rolled along. “Then he left town, said he was going to make movies.”
We passed the cemetery where writer Flannery O’Connor is buried along with train robber Bill Miner — “the last of the Dalton gang” — and turned into a neighborhood of towering white oaks and white-columned mansions.
We stopped at the Gothic-style building that served as Georgia’s capitol during the Civil War, before the seat of government shifted to Atlanta, and the church where Gen. William Sherman’s troops stabled their horses when they marched through in 1864.
Milledgeville was founded in 1803, near the geographic heart of Georgia, and is the only planned capital in the country besides Washington. The compact town center contains more than 200 architectural landmarks, including many examples of a distinctive style known as Milledgeville Federal.
A bicentennial celebration has sparked efforts to attract more visitors. A new museum in the old state Capitol contains artifacts going back to the Creek Indians. The former Governor’s Mansion, where a ballroom scene for “Oldest Confederate Widow Tells All” was filmed, is undergoing renovation. Limited tours recently became available to Andalusia, the dairy farm on the edge of town where O’Connor did most of her writing.
So why has this middle Georgia gem, now marketing itself as the “Antebellum Capital,” remained off the tourism radar for so long?
For many native Georgians, Milledgeville is synonymous with five state prisons and Central State Hospital, once one of the world’s biggest — and most notorious — mental institutions. Generations of children grew up hearing: “If you don’t behave, I’m sending you to Milledgeville.” I had to pay it a visit.
“Turn right when you come to a little old restaurant and then you’ll see a pecan grove and the White House,” a liquor store clerk told me when I stopped to ask directions. “That’s the main building of the hospital, but everybody calls it the White House because that’s what it looks like.”
The mammoth Greek Revival administration building sat on a rise overlooking several acres of pecan trees, bordered by decaying red-brick structures that resembled abandoned schoolhouses, except for the rusted bars over the broken window panes.
Bud Merritt, a former psychiatric social worker who now serves as the hospital’s informal historian, met me inside the Victorian train depot that housed the museum.
A straitjacket was laid out on a gurney. A rolling medicine cart stood next to a metal bed with leather straps and sheets stenciled “state property.” Lobotomy tools were arranged in neat rows on a shelf. Below them was a vintage electric shock machine — a metal case with a Bakelite knob labeled “Intensity.”
When the hospital opened in 1842 as the Georgia Lunatic Asylum, it offered some of the best care available at that time for the mentally ill, Merritt said. Then it started growing, swelling to a small city of 13,000 patients by the 1960s. One or two staff members were assigned to as many as 100 patients.
“What you had here were a lot of decent, caring people working under extraordinarily difficult circumstances,” he said. “You’d just carve out a little area and do the best you could.”
Georgia has long since reformed and decentralized its mental health care system, like the rest of the nation. Central State now averages about 900 patients in its daily census.
We toured the grounds in Merritt’s van, entering an area where most of the former patient buildings have been turned into prison facilities. Loops of razor wire stacked five rows high lined both sides of the road until we entered a forest of cedar trees.
Between 1843 and the early 1900s, more than 20,000 patients who died in the hospital were brought to the forest and buried anonymously, according to a plaque.
The twitter of songbirds mingled with the distant shouts of prisoners in their exercise yards. I could see the faint outline of the unmarked graves — row after row of rectangular depressions in the forest floor.
“We’ve been getting a lot of inquiries now that there is less stigma attached to mental illness,” Merritt said. “Some people are finally learning that great-granddad didn’t die in the war, he died in Milledgeville.”
During lunch at Elaine’s restaurant, on the outskirts of downtown, police officers and farmers, elderly couples and young office workers filled the tables as a sturdy blonde weaved among them, carrying pitchers of iced tea that rattled like castanets. Every few minutes, the cooking staff burst through the kitchen’s swinging doors with trays radiating the aroma of hot biscuits.
The waitress addressed the diners by name as she poured their tea. When she got to me she asked, “You travelin’?”
I told her about my visit to Central State.
“I used to play at the hospital when I was a little girl,” she said. “My grandfather was the coroner and my grandmother was a caretaker. They’d take me along to work sometimes.”
“Weren’t you afraid?” I asked.
“Oh, no, I made a lot of friends,” she said. “I remember a woman who never talked to anyone. I went up to her and asked why she was sittin’ all alone and why she was so sad. And then she got to talkin’, and she talked from then on. I always tell people that I changed her life.”
Everybody I met in Milledgeville was a good storyteller.
Dianne Johnson, manager of the Antebellum Inn B&B, brought goose bumps to my arms when she told me about a ghost that was harassing a tenant in a nearby rental property.
“She was making the bed in the upstairs room when her 4-year-old daughter said, ‘Mama, make that man stop staring at me.’ She said, ‘What man, honey?’ And the little girl pointed to an empty corner of the room.”
Johnson assured me that the inn was ghost-free, then dashed off to a dinner engagement, leaving me alone in the elegant, but somewhat creaky, mansion.
I took a volume of O’Connor short stories from a bookshelf and sat on a rocker on the veranda. I hadn’t read “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” since college. I had forgotten how funny were O’Connor’s descriptions of a banal family from Atlanta, driving to Florida for vacation.
“Let’s go through Georgia fast so we don’t have to look at it much,” the bratty little boy says.
But the family turns off onto a side road. The narrative shifts from funny to terrifying when they find themselves at the mercy of an escaped felon known as the Misfit.
I snapped the book shut and called it a night.
Andalusia, the 544-acre farm where O’Connor drew her inspiration, is one of the last rural remnants amid the strip development lining the highway into Milledgeville.
Craig Amason, director of the Flannery O’Connor-Andalusia Foundation, met me in front of the two-story white farmhouse built around 1850. The house has been vacant since the author died in 1964 of the debilitating effects of lupus. She was 39.
We squished through mud notched by deer tracks as Amason told me about the foundation’s plans to renovate Andalusia and expand the regular visiting times. The farmhouse opened to the public for the first time in June. None of O’Connor’s famous peacocks remains on the property. The sole inhabitant of the farm, a mule named Flossie, eyed me suspiciously from a distance.
“This has the potential to become one of the most important literary landmarks in the country because it’s more than an author’s home. It’s also the source of her imagination,” Amason said. He gazed toward a rickety, weathered barn with a rusting tin roof. “Anyone who’s read ‘Good Country People’ can’t look at that hay barn and not think of Joy and the Bible salesman,” he said.
O’Connor was born in Savannah but moved to Milledgeville with her family when she was 13. Her two novels, “Wise Blood” and “The Violent Bear It Away,” and most of her short stories are set in the red-clay landscape of middle Georgia. Her characters spoke in the pitch-perfect cadences of the region’s farmers, housewives, laborers and aristocrats, making them seem real even when they veered off into extremes — which they often did. O’Connor used violence like flashes of lightning to expose her deeply spiritual themes.
An annual O’Connor symposium attracts hundreds of fans and scholars to Milledgeville, including many from Europe and Japan, Amason said. “She has a fanatical following. People either love her work or they hate it.”
He led me through the screened-in porch of the house and into the small room where O’Connor slept and worked. Dark blue curtains filtered the light. The air was suffused with the smell of old wood and textiles. The simple furnishings included empty bookcases and a twin bed covered in a thin cotton bedspread. An armoire stood in the center of the room, next to the bed.
“Flannery was on crutches, so it was an advantage to have everything pushed together,” Amason said. “She wrote every morning religiously, from 8 to 12, and she sat facing the back of this armoire so she wouldn’t be distracted.”
O’Connor, the most famous storyteller in a place weighted with stories, had her work cut out for her.
Carol Clark last wrote for Travel about Mobile, Ala.
Details: Milledgeville, Ga.
GETTING THERE: Milledgeville is about a 1 1/2-hour drive from Atlanta. Go east on I-20 about 60 miles to Exit 114 (Madison). Turn right onto Highway 441 south and continue about 45 miles to Milledgeville. Nonstop flights from D.C, to Atlanta start at about $235 round trip.WHERE TO STAY: The Antebellum Inn (200 N. Columbia St., 478-453-3993, www.antebelluminn.com), a five-room B&B, is a great place to soak up the ambience of Milledgeville. The 1890 mansion is in the heart of the historic district. Rates from $65 include a superb breakfast.
Milledgeville also has a number of chain hotels, including the Budget Inn (225 E. Hancock St., 478-452-3533), which has a convenient downtown location. Rooms go for about $35.
WHERE TO EAT: You won’t leave Elaine’s (1057 S. Wayne St.) hungry. This homey, no-frills restaurant has all-you-can-eat lunch and dinner buffets of fried chicken, quail, catfish and other local specialties for $6.50. Cafe South (132 Hardwick St.), housed in a historic building that was once a post office and general store, is another good place for southern comfort food. Meat-and-two- vegetable lunches served cafeteria-style are $6.15. Try the bread pudding.
WHAT TO DO:
• Trolley tours of the town are offered Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. by the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Convention and Visitors Bureau (see below). Cost of the two-hour tour, which includes a drive through the historic district as well as stops at historic homes, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and the Old State Capitol, is $10.
• The museum at Central State Hospital (620 Broad St, 478-445-0755, www.centralstatehospital.org) is free but open by appointment only.
• Flannery O’Connor’s farm, Andalusia, is open for self-guided, “walk-in” tours on Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., for $5 per person. Guided trolley tours depart from the visitors center the third Saturday of every month at 11 a.m. for $10. Other tours are offered by appointment. For directions and information: Flannery O’Connor-Andalusia Foundation, 478-454-4029, www.andalusiafarm.org.
• The fifth Flannery O’Connor Symposium (478-445-5277, www.gcsu.edu/revelations), Oct. 8-11 at Georgia College and State University, features readings by poets and fiction writers, performances of original musical compositions, and area folk art exhibits. Ticket prices vary.
INFORMATION: Milledgeville-Baldwin County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-653-1804, www.milledgevillecvb.com.
— Carol Clark
Tonight we watched a total eclipse, at about 10pm eastern standard time. There’s a good article by the citizen.com below on the eclipse. Enjoy learning!
Mon, 02/18/2008 – 9:52am
Georgians will have an opportunity, clouds allowing, to see a total eclipse of the Moon on Wednesday night, Feb. 20. The next total lunar eclipse visible from Georgia won’t occur until December 2010. For this month’s eclipse, members of the Flint River Astronomy Club will have their telescopes and binoculars set up for free views by the public. The site will be in front of the club’s usual meeting place, the Stuckey Building on the Griffin campus, University of Georgia, at 1109 Experiment Street. Telescopes will be set up at 8 p.m. to view the Moon, Saturn, and various stars, and the eclipse begins at 8:43 p.m.
Warm clothing is advised to enjoy this event. If you have a scope or binoculars, feel free to bring them.
Usually one or two lunar eclipses occur each year, although some are only partial eclipses. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, which can only occur at full Moon. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and Sun, which can only occur at new Moon. Eclipses occur in pairs, about two weeks apart, either a lunar eclipse followed by solar, or a solar eclipse followed by lunar. This month, a solar eclipse occurred February 7th, but was only visible in the Southern Hemisphere.
Partial eclipse begins at 8:43 p.m., when the Moon begins entering Earth’s shadow, and totality, the point at which the Moon is completely within Earth’s shadow, begins at 10:01 p.m., and lasts until 10:51 p.m. The eclipse ends about midnight.
During totality, no direct sunlight shines on the Moon, but Earth’s atmosphere reflects some sunlight onto it. The result is that the Moon gets very dim, but never dark enough to be invisible.
The color of the Moon during an eclipse varies from year to year, and depends mostly on how much dust is in the atmosphere around the world. Large amounts of dust from volcanic eruptions or forest fires can cause the Moon to be a distinct reddish color. More common is a dull orange color.
The planet Saturn will be seen near the Moon, in the constellation Leo. Now is a good opportunity to view this fascinating planet through a telescope. The tilt of the rings is slowly diminishing so that in September 2009, we will be viewing the rings edge-on, and they will be nearly invisible from Earth.
Mars will also be high in the sky on Wednesday, in the constellation Taurus. It appears very small, but dark features should be just visible through the telescope.
For more information and directions, go to www.flintriverastronomy.org, or call the club’s president, Curt Cole, evenings at 770.946.3405. Information about eclipses can be found at http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/. Click on “Mr. eclipse.”
January in the south is hit and miss with the cold weather, especially when you get a little further south. Moving here from metro Atlanta, we were surprised that the brief cold snaps were followed by warm days, sometimes going up in the 70s! Global warming….? I think it’s more of geographical location. Quite nice actually. We heat mostly by wood using a wood stove, and on some of those warmer days, you can actually go out and cut and split, and get things in order for th next “snap”
Narcissus Flowers blooming all around gives us a sign that Spring, is just around the corner! Walmart reinforces this with all the gardening stuff out as well… What’s the weather like where you are? When I see flowers like the one pictured here, it just amazes me that God created them, and cares for them, as well as those who follow Him!
from our humble abode in the deep south, we would like to wish you a Merry Christmas. I’m sure everyone has great memories of relatives living in far away lands, and the looong drives there. As a child growing up in Athens, we used to make the drive to Hapeville to visit my Mom’s parents, and later my Dad’s Mom, Bonnie Stembridge. So many distant, yet very warm memories. I recently have been working on some old film footage that my brother Ed loaned me. It brings back so many memories. Here’s a clip of my Dad Roger E. stembridge pulling myself, and brothers Ed and James around on his old Sears Craftsman tractor (which still runs!) It even has an old rototiller attachment that my brother Mike recently took back to Atlanta, and sandblasted and painted it, and got it running again! My dad was pretty amazed, it hadn’t run for years. My brother Mike has a gift with mechanical things!
Hope everyone has had a wonderful Thanksgiving. At home in Waynesboro, we had 4 families over to celebrate, and enjoy time together. There was a wonderful meal as well!We are all so thankful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who gives us a reason to live! We are so excited about this great time of the year where we continue to teach our children what Christmas is really all about.
This evening, we had a couple of visitors walk down our street, to our home. They had visited once before. These young men were “elders” from the Church of Latter Day Saints, commonly known as Mormons. We had a nice visit, and they asked a little about our summer, and we were able to share the story of what had brought us to Waynesboro, and how God had called us into a different direction… Continue reading
We live in what many folks refer to as “rural Georgia” but don’t let that fool ya! We are blessed beyond measure even in the small towns in Georgia.
Our town is referred to as the “Bird Dog Capitol of the World”; but then again, so is Union City, Alabama… I guess there are a number of bird dogs in our town, in fact we own a lab/weimaraner mix named Zoe.
Here’s a link for Union City Alabama’s website…
and the City of Waynesboro‘s website,
Check it out!