Billy Clements was a Combat Engineer

1942 recruitment poster for the Army Corps of Engineers

1942 recruitment poster for the Army Corps of Engineers

On August 2, 1942, William A. “Billy” Clements enlisted “for the duration of the War.”  He was inducted first as an Army private at Fort Mcpherson, Atlanta, GA.

A line of soldiers during induction at Ft. McPherson, Atlanta, GA, 1942.

A line of soldiers during induction at Ft. McPherson, Atlanta, GA, 1942.

Billy had four years of college education, and after basic training it was decided his “civilian occupation, training and background were more suited for conversion to Specialist use in the Engineer Corps than in other branches of the services…The army engineer is a builder as well as a combat soldier.”  It was in 1942 that the construction of domestic military bases reached its peak.

On October 5, 1942 The Atlanta Constitution reported William A. Clements had been transferred to the Engineer Replacement Training Center at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.

William A. "Billy" Clements was assigned to Fort Leonard Wood in October of 1942.

William A. “Billy” Clements was assigned to Fort Leonard Wood in October of 1942.

The Atlanta Constitution
October 5, 1942

The Army and Navy

Fourteen Georgians are now stationed at the Engineer Replacement Training Center at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
    From Atlanta are Herbert C. Johnson, of 476 Lytle avenue, S. E. and James B. Owen, of 1189 McLendon avenue.
    Other Georgians are: Earl L. Nash, of 3787 Highland avenue, Hapeville: Thomas B. Jordan, of Greenville; Roy W. Smith, of Jonesboro; Philip E. Williams, of Colquitt; Glen B. Phillips, of Forest Park; James E. Terrell, of North Roswell; Charles A Lindsey, of Dalton; Arthur L. Long, of Woodbury; Robert F. Meek, of Smyrna; William A. Clements, of Ray City; John V. Benson, of Nelson, and Frank W. McCrae, of Raleigh.

New arrivals at Fort Leonard Wood were greeted with a pamphlet, Introdution to ERTC Fort Leonard Wood,  which provided an orientation to the base and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“The prime reason for your being here is to be trained as a combat engineer.  You will learn the use of hand and motorized tools, to construct fixed and floating bridges, to build roads and obstacles, to execute demolitions, and to protect yourself against  enemy attacks.

WW II era yearbook, Fort Leonard Wood

After the War, Billy Clements returned to Ray City, GA. He later became the owner of the Victory Soda Shop, Ray City’s iconic landmark of World War II.

Billy Clements (left) on Main Street outside the Victory Soda Shop after the Ray City fire of March 1969. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Billy Clements (left) after the Ray City fire of March 1969. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

 
 

The Berrien Press 
February 2006

The Berrien Press — William A. “Billy” Clements, 88, of Ray City died February 2, 2006 at Louis Smith Memorial Hospital in Lakeland. Born October 3, 1917 in Berrien County to the late William A. and Mary  Elizabeth Clements, he owned and operated Victory Soda Shop in Ray City for 33 years. He served in the U.S. Army during WWII and was a member of First  Baptist Church in Ray City. Survivors include his wife, Helen Wood Clements of Ray City; three sons, Richard Clements of Chula, David Clements of Ray City, Chris Clements of Virginia Beach, VA; two sisters, Ann Ryals of Valdosta and Grace Howell of  Houston, TX; one brother, Wendell Lee Clements of Conyers; seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren. Funeral services were held February 5 at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Ray City. Interment was in Beaver Dam Cemetery. Music Funeral Services of Lakeland was in charge of arrangements.

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Ray City School 1934

Ray City School, 1934

The Ray City School held a junior high school rating until 1936, when it became an accredited senior high school.

Ray City School class photos from 1934. Identifications needed.

Ray City School 4th Grade Class Photo, Believed to be Spring 1934. Photo was inscribed on back " Mildred's 4th Grade Class, Ray City School." The reference may be to Mildred Clements, who graduated in 1939.

Ray City School 4th Grade Class Photo, Believed to be Spring 1934. Photo was inscribed on back ” Mildred’s 4th Grade Class, Ray City School.” The reference may be to Mildred Clements, who graduated in 1939.  Image courtesy of Edith Mayo.

A 1934 newspaper article on Ray City included the following information about the school.

The city of Ray City affords every convenience and comfort for the citizens of the community.  There is a fine school system, which is under the capable and efficient supervision of Prof. P. M. Shultz.  Prof. Ulmer Crosby is principal, and the other teachers are:  Mrs. P. M. Shultz, Miss Jessie Aycock, Mrs. A.B. Baskins, Miss Lillian Ford and Mrs. Eulalie Dickson.

The school has nine grades, with an enrollment of a few over the two hundred mark.  A number of fine students complete the school each year, advancing to higher institutions of learning.  The school system in Ray City is really a big asset, (illegible) a higher type of citizenry.

The school board is composed of the following gentlemen who handle their duties in a most admirable manner and of benefit to patrons and students combined.  H.A. Swindle, chairman, M.A. Studstill, sec.-treasl., C.H. Vickers, J.M. Studstill and W.M. Creech, members.

Ray City School, 1934, Grades 4 and 5. Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of Edith Mayo.

Ray City School, 1934, Grades 4 and 5. Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Teacher, Jessie Aycock. Image courtesy of Edith Mayo.

Ray City School, Ray City, GA. 1934 6th Grade Class. Lillian Ford, Teacher. (Top Row, L to R) Belle Garner, Thelma Sirmans, Velma Wood, Frances Sirmans, Geraldine Brown, Lounelle Futch. (2nd Row) Sarah Hunter, Monafaye Swindle, Hazel Futch, Helen Dubose, D'Ree Yawn. (Bottom Row) H. Cox, Lawson Fountain, Dan St?, Robert Hunter, James "Skinny" Holliday, Morris Johnson.

Ray City School, Ray City, GA. 1934 6th Grade Class. Lillian Ford, Teacher. (Top Row, L to R) Belle Garner, Thelma Sirmans, Velma Wood, Frances Sirmans, Geraldine Brown, Lounelle Futch. (2nd Row) Sarah Hunter, Monafaye Swindle, Hazel Futch, Helen Dubose, D’Ree Yawn. (Bottom Row) H. Cox, Lawson Fountain, Dan St?, Robert Hunter, James “Skinny” Holliday, Morris Johnson.

Ray City School, 1934, Grades 7 and 8. Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Ray City School, 1934, Grades 7 and 8. Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Boy at top left, Earl Pafford Swindle. Front row, second from right is believed to be Robert Bruce Johnson.

1934 Ray City School, Girls Basketball Team. (Left to Right) Front Row: Johnnie Sirmans, Grace Clements, Louise Paulk, Winona Holiday. Back Row: Helen DuBose, Clyde Carter, Jinnie Johnson, Helen Swindle, Virginia Studstill.

1934 Ray City School, Girls Basketball Team. (Left to Right) Front Row: Johnnie Sirmans, Grace Clements, Louise Paulk, Winona Holiday. Back Row: Helen DuBose, Clyde Carter, Jimmie Johnson, Helen Swindle, Virginia Studstill.

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Ray City, GA Women’s Hoops, 1934

Given public attitudes about women and sports, local school support for girl’s athletic teams in Ray City, GA seems downright progressive.  That progressive optimism was apparent in a 1934 Ray City ‘Booster’ article, which included information on the Ray City School.

Ray City, GA  has always taken pride in its athletic teams.  A Ray City School alumnus recalls the  hometown girl’s basketball team.

“We had a tremendous basketball team, and they’d win. They played basketball all over the county. There were a bunch of schools. I never played on the basketball team, but Edna Francis [Futch] did. Hazel Futch was one of their best players. That was in 1943. They just played on hard courts outside. Some of the places that they played had gyms. They didn’t build the gym at the Ray City School until after I left.”

1934 Ray City School - Girls Basketball Team (Left to Right) Front Row: Johnnie Sirmans, Grace Clements, Louise Paulk, Winona Holiday. Back Row: Helen DuBose, Clyde Carter, Jimmie Johnson, Helen Swindle, Virginia Studstill. Coach: Jesse Webb.

1934 Ray City School – Girls Basketball Team (Left to Right) Front Row: Johnnie Sirmans, Grace Clements, Louise Paulk, Winona Holiday. Back Row: Helen DuBose, Clyde Carter, Jimmie Johnson, Helen Swindle, Virginia Studstill. Coach: Jesse Webb.

While women’s basketball followed almost immediately upon the invention of the sport in1892, for many years there was strong resistance to women on the court.  The Women’s Sports Foundation gives this assessment of the opposition to women’s basketball in the 1930s.

As the game’s popularity grew, so did the backlash from educators concerned that the physical activity was unladylike, inappropriate and unhealthy. This seesaw battle of growth and resistance continued into the early ‘20s, but the balance shifted in 1923 when Lou Henry Hoover, head of Girl Scouts of America and wife of President Herbert Hoover, helped organize the Women’s Division of the National Amateur Athletic Federation (WDNAAF). In 1925, the WDNAAF passed a resolution outlawing extramural competition, opposing gate-receipts, all travel for women’s games and all publicity of women’s sports. The National Association of Secondary School Principals supported the resolution and they, in turn, pressured high school sports associations to disband tournaments. By the mid-‘30s, competitive basketball at elementary, high school and college level in many states had all but disappeared.

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