June 1955: Man rescues pup from well, teen leads cops on high speed chase


While going through old Mountain Eagles of a certain era, I have come across some version of this headline several times in recent months: "Eagle receives first cotton bloom."

According to the June 23, 1955, edition, local farmers had been competing for many years to deliver the first cotton blossom of the year to the paper.

In 1955, the honor went to W.J. Berry's farm on Jasper Route 4. I assume that bragging rights and having one's name printed in a small item in the paper were the only prizes in this unofficial contest.

Two tragic deaths were announced in the same issue. First Lieutenant Charles F. Minor, 23, of Dora, had been killed June 16 in a jet training plane crash in Roswell, New Mexico.

Closer to home, 32-year-old Powell Simpson Hamner had died June 20 when he lost control of his car on Highway 78 near Graysville.

Hamner, formerly of Jasper, was the son of Powell Hamner, who had served two terms as sheriff. He had been an Air Force and airline pilot. At the time of his death, he was a junior at the University of Alabama and was employed at the B.F. Goodrich plant in Tuscaloosa.

The report on his death noted that funeral services were being delayed while attempts were made to locate his brother, Sam Hardey Hamner, who was on a submarine at sea.

On June 30, the Eagle reported that Sam Hamner had been reached thanks to "the speed and efficiency of modern communication."

"An attache of a Navy yard located the submarine, the boy talked with his father, a helicopter was sent from the Atlantic port to pick the boy up and he reached Jasper in time for the funeral Thursday," Eagle readers learned.

The June 1955 papers are full of odd little articles that aren't enough to build a whole column around but are worth sharing.

Directly below the article about young Hamner being picked up at sea is a short item with the headline "He fished a pup out of a well."

It seems that Green Haynes had witnessed his neighbor, Russell Myers of Nauvoo Route 1, pulling two fish hooks attached to a plow line. 

Myers was attempting to save a puppy that his 2-year-old grandson had dropped down an 80-foot well that was about half full of water.

"He (Myers) could hear the pup yelping and churning the water and knew it couldn't hold out long. Hooks were attached to the plow line and it didn't take Mr. Myers long to fish the pup out of the well. A hook caught it in one ear," the Eagle reported.

The crow struck by Eagle bookkeeper Elloise Griffin was not as lucky.

Mrs. Griffin hit the crow while driving from Jasper to Sipsey and the injured bird held onto the bumper until it was removed at a service station.

The Eagle made a little joke that Griffin could supply the bird if any defeated candidates or other disappointed persons needed to eat crow.

The collapse of an old man (identified only as "an old gentleman named Estes") was also front page news. Mr. Estes collapsed and hit his head on the concrete in front of First National Bank while waiting with a group of people for the bank to open.

"Bystanders raised him up to a sitting position and brought water to bathe his face and give him a drink until recovered. He was soon revived and led to a seat in the bank," according to the Eagle.

The big news on June 30, 1955, (the same year that "Rebel Without a Cause" was released) was the teenaged hoodlum who led police on a 90-mph chase before crashing on 7th Avenue.

Jimmy Winfield, described as a "tattooed 19-year-old Jasper youth with a record of traffic violations," was spotted speeding past Lynn's park in a 1954 sedan. 

He almost lost control when he swerved in an attempt to hit an African American man on the side of the road.

As he entered Jasper, Winfield roared down 19th Street before skidding and clipping a telephone pole on 7th Avenue.

Winfield was charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and destroying private property by city police and with reckless driving by the county. 

He was released after posting three bonds of $300 each as well as a $1,000 bond. 

Jennifer Cohron is the Daily Mountain Eagle's features editor.