Fifty years ago, every man in Jonesboro was required to grow a beard. When then-Gov. Herman Talmadge came into town with smooth cheeks, a bunch of hairy-faced Jonesboro residents took him, at gun point, to the train depot, quickly tried him in an open air court and threw him in a make-shift jail.
That same week, in 1956, a line of men had their beards examined in the drugstore.
At the end of the week, the volunteer fire department played a baseball game — wearing floral print dresses and bonnets.
All of this was photographed for history’s sake and now that history has been collected into a 128-page picture book. The pictures capture the county seat from the portrait of Col. Samuel Goode Jones, the man who designed a town around a proposed railroad line through the settlement of Leaksville, to the picture of the Stately Oaks Plantation house being restored in the 1950s.
The history book, published by Arcadia Publishing Company and selling for $19.99, is being released next week with a signing and party at 6:30 p.m. at Stately Oaks of Jodeco Road in Jonesboro.
“It’s mostly about the history of the families of Jonesboro but it’s also about the city and the monuments around the city... by-and-large it’s mostly about the families that made the city what it is,” said Ray Muse, the former chairman of Jonesboro Historical Society who wrote most of the book’s history. “There’s just enough verbiage in there, I think, to give you enough description.”
The pictures were collected, during the summer, from Historical Society collections and from area family albums and storage.
“We had people dig through their closets and dig through their attics and share their family photos,” Muse said.
Many of the pictures in the book have never been seen by the public, said historian Ted Key, and some of them even surprised some of the families who had seen the pictures as children but forgotten about them.
“We wanted to get these pictures together before it was too late and they’ve all disappeared and are gone,” Key said. “The whole book reminded me of a simpler time, times when life was good.”
The society was interested in the format offered by Arcadia books because of the emphasis on pictures.
“The crowning glory of this book was to actually see the people,” Key said. “To actually see the picture itself brings the thing to life.”
A picture on page 107 shows a soldier standing next to torn-up railroad tracks. The ties are splintered out from the railroad bed and the metal rails are bent into an L-shape so they can’t be repaired.
A picture on page 100 shows veteran and Baptist evangelist Dorsey Cloud dressed in his World War I uniform, standing with his wife Rose Anderson Freeman Cloud and a baby.
A picture on page 32 shows three kids playing baseball in 1912. On the opposite page, a power company crew is sitting on the trunk of a truck.
“Look at their parties — what they considered a get-together and what we consider a good time has come a long way,” Key said. “A bathing beauty back in the ‘30s and ‘40s and what we consider to be a beauty today are far, far apart.”
Starting Feb. 26, the book will be for sale at Stately Oaks’ Juddy’s Country Store. Starting in March, the book will be available in the Road to Tara Museum Gift Shop at the train depot on Jonesboro Road and at Borders Book Stores throughout the area.
For more information, call the Historical Jonesboro Society at (770) 473-0197.