Charles and Marge Carmack

I was surprised not too long ago to receive a phone call from Anaheim, California. The call was from a fellow who once called Livingston and Overton County home. His name is Charles Carmack, son of the late William Truet "Doc" Carmack and wife Maggie Pauline Carmack. The purpose of his call was to let me know how much he enjoyed reading "Josephine’s Journal." He said that my column was always the first thing he looked for when he got the paper, and the next thing he did after reading my stories was to check the obituaries. I thanked him very much for his kind words, and must say I was happy to know my stories rated higher than the obituaries. After a very enjoyable conversation with Mr. Carmack, I later received in the mail some information from him that will make up my journal entry this week.

On September 25, 2004, Charles Carmack celebrated his 80th birthday. In honor of this achievement, a birthday celebration was held. One of Mr. Carmack’s sons prepared a tribute to his father, and a portion of that information I am including here.

According to information prepared by Mr. Carmack’s son, in 1924, the year of Charles Carmack’s birth, life was much different than it is today. For example, a three bedroom home cost $4,500.00. The average yearly income was $1,300.00. The price of a new Ford automobile was $300.00. Gasoline sold for 21 cents a gallon. A loaf of bread was nine cents, and a gallon of milk was 54 cents. First class postage cost two cents. A bottle of coke could be bought for five cents.

Charles Carmack was born before any of the following was known about: Television; Penicillin; injections for polio; frozen foods; plastic; ball-point pens; dishwashers; clothes dryers; electric blankets; air conditioners; and long before man walked on the moon, which is now considered ancient history. That year, Calvin Coolidge, the Republican candidate, defeated John Davis, a Democrat from West Virginia, to capture the Presidency. 1924 also saw Washington defeat the New York Giants in the World Series, 4 games to 3. The first Winter Olympics were held in France. Flagpole sitting became the craze. Little Orphan Annie comic strip was created, and Charlie Chaplin starred in the silent film, The Gold Rush.

The Carmack family consisted of eight children. Charlie was number seven, and his brothers and sisters were Lloyd (former Circuit Court Clerk for Overton County); Roy; Floyd; Ray; Betsy; Essie; and Carson. (Lloyd Carmack’s daughter, Cleo, and I were classmates, and graduated together in LA’s class of 1963.) The Great Depression hit when Charles was five years old and poverty became a way of life for everyone. Times were tough, and Christmas at the Carmack home often consisted of an orange or an apple being the only gift received. After graduating from Livingston Academy, Charlie went to Detroit looking for work. He joined the Navy in 1943, and during World War II, was on the USS Essex, an aircraft carrier, that participated in the Pacific Campaign. The ship and crew carried out thirteen campaigns and was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Prior to his leaving for service, Charlie had dated an attractive lady named Marge who grew up in Detroit. After only a second date with Charlie, Marge said he would be the man she would marry. They continued their courtship after Charlie returned from service, and sure enough, on March 15, 1946, Marge became Mrs. Charles Carmack. After his tour of duty with the Navy, Charlie was employed with the Chrysler Corporation, and later, began working in the glass glazier business. Marge worked as secretary and bookkeeper, in addition to caring for their six children their family eventually grew to include. After experiencing enough of the cold Michigan winters, Charlie and Marge uprooted the family, and moved to sunny southern California, and in time, Charlie opened his own small glass company. After running a successful business for many years, Charlie is now retired. Going fishing, watching the Angels play ball, and being a grandfather are things he very much enjoys doing.



Charles and Marge Carmack pose for a picture while on a trip to Brussels, Belgium to visit their son and his family a few years ago.


Included in the information sent to me was a copy of the Livingston Academy school paper, "The Wildcat", dated March 23, 1945. Charlie was one of the 103 members of the freshman class that year. Jean Stephens Webb was also a member of that same class, and while Charlie was serving with the Navy in the Pacific, he received that issue of the school paper from Jean. I wish I could reproduce the entire issue of the school paper here, but since that isn’t possible, I will list some of the information printed on that date. The Wildcat staff included: Editor - Jean Stephens Webb; Assistant Editor-Anna Ruth Cobble; Business Manager - Pauline Deck; Sports Editor - Howard Clarke; Reporters - Jean Davis, Uldean Sells, Marinella Brown, Henrietta Murphy, Jane Coward, Betty Jo Spurrier, Art - Juanita Gray; Typing - Johnie Ferril, Sadie Little, Clodell Smith, Maxine Garrett. Circulation Manager - Eldrith Carwile. Faculty Adviser - Margaret Miller.

That issue contained a column entitled, "When Grandma Was a Girl". Some of the responses were: "She couldn’t pound the keys like Marinella Brown." "I’m sure she didn’t wear pants like Martha Beaty does." "She probably couldn’t talk as much and as long as Jane Coward." "She couldn’t drive a car like Johnnye Warden." "She wouldn’t wear those low necked dresses like Juanita Gray." "She never thought of jitterbugging like Jean Webb. In fact, she never thought of jitterbugging."

A long list of names of students on the L.A. Honor Roll was printed, and contained some former students who were in some branch of service. There are approximately 427 names printed. Should anyone like to have a copy of that issue of the school paper, I will be glad to share one.

The Senior class of 1945 was also listed and includes:

President - Hymer Smith

Vice President - Jean Webb

Secretary - Ozella Winningham

Treasurer - Katherine McMillin

Sergeant-at-Arms - Willie Beaty

Class members: Bruce Barnes; Martha Bea Beaty; Carvel Cope; Pauline Deck; Johnie Ferril;Sara Ruth Franklin; Juanita Gray; Houston Holman; Ann Howard; Ibue Hunter; Bertha Nell Ledbetter; Mary Alma Ledbetter; Sadie Little; Anna Dell Looper; Geraldine Maxwell; Arta Maynord; Nell Dean Maynord; Joy McDonald; Dormal Newberry; Marie Ogletree; Imogene Peterman; Gwendolyn Qualls; Betty Reeser; Phyllis Reeser; Uldean Sells; Bethel Smith; Anna Glynn Speck; Ruth Vaughn; and Vaneta Wright.

Honor students were: Ozella Winningham; Katherine McMillin, and Hymer Smith.

It was very enjoyable to look back at the life of Charlie Carmack, and to revisit Livingston Academy through the school paper of 1945. I appreciate Mr. Carmack sharing this information with me, and I know it will bring back a lot of good memories to many who still remember him, along with former classmates at Livingston Academy.