LOOKING BACK: Independence Day 1923

Published 3:07 pm Wednesday, July 19, 2023

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The citizens of Franklin and the communities around Franklin on Wednesday, July 4, 1923 enjoyed Independence Day to the fullest extent. Some people visited the seashore – most likely at Virginia Beach or Ocean View; some people went to nearby resorts – such as Delaware Park on the Nottoway River; some went fishing; and some people attended community and church picnics. But, the majority of Franklin area people stayed at home and celebrated the day with two baseball games, a moving picture show, and a splendid exhibition of fireworks. The weather was just that to be desired for the Fourth of July. Large crowds were present at both baseball games, the attendance at the afternoon game being one of the largest ever seen here. Probably a crowd, even larger than that, was present to see the display of fireworks at 9 o’clock. Many people from out of town were present both at the afternoon game and at the fireworks exhibition.

Starting at half past 10 o’clock in the morning, Bernard’s Braves (a team made up of Franklin men) were matched against another Franklin team managed by D. D. Wells and known as the “Outlaws.” William Beale started the pitching for the Outlaws and for several innings held the Braves in tow. Finally, though, Bernard’s Braves solved Beale’s delivery and he had to give place to Conwell. The game proved interesting. The score at the close was Braves 9, Outlaws 3. 

Starting at half past 3 o’clock in the afternoon, Franklin’s Bernard Braves and a team from Ivor engaged in a closely contested and interesting game that resulted in a victory for Franklin. Hines pitched superbly for the Braves and kept Ivor’s hits well scattered. He was invincible when hits were needed except in the ninth inning in which Ivor scored one run on two hits. The Braves gave Hines excellent support. Ivor also played well. For Ivor, Raiford’s work in the box was good. For Franklin, Edwards, at second base, accepted six chances without an error; and Sanderford, at shortstop, accepted four. Delk, for Ivor, at third base, played a splendid game – making four assists and two put-outs. The large crowd encouraged both teams. Franklin won the game by a score of five to two.

At 7 o’clock in the evening, the “New Franklin Theater” put on a moving picture show at its Fourth Avenue location. 

At 9 o’clock, a tremendous fireworks display took place on the athletic field on Hill Street, just behind the new Franklin High School. The various designs and colors produced a show that was spectacular. It was a feature that won applause from all present and numerous favorable comments were heard on the streets the next day.

Later in the week, the new Franklin High School building on Clay Street was opened to public inspection. The visitors assembled in the auditorium and the gathering was called to order by Superintendent Robert M. Newton. Paul Scarborough, editor of The Tidewater News and a former member of the School Board, spoke of the splendid efforts of the Southampton County School Board to obtain this beautiful high school building for the town of Franklin; and, especially, of the untiring devotion of its clerk, Dr. W. H. Arthur. Special recognition was given to contractors E. C. Smith and G. A. Fowler for their careful and painstaking performance in getting the new Franklin High School built and occupied in time for the 1923 graduating class, back in June.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is magnolia101@charter.net.