Sue Summer For The Observer
August 14, 2014
NEWBERRY — Attention!
Remember when the Community Players asked: Who are the two lovely ladies who were detained in the summer of ’63 by soldiers?
After three weeks, no one knows for sure.
In the summer of 1963 the Army and Air Force mounted the largest-ever peacetime maneuvers in U.S. history. During Swift Strike III, almost 100,000 troops were divided into the Red and Blue armies, and as the capital city of the mythical nation Columbia, Newberry played a starring role in the conflict.
One goal of the Swift Strike maneuvers was to develop strategies on how military forces should interact with civilian populations. In a photograph from the summer of ’63, two local lovelies have been detained by grinning soldiers.
The Newberry Community Players asked who they might be, and the community responded — but still, there is no definitive answer.
Earl Waters thought the young ladies were the West sisters, Annie Mae and Margaret. He was in school with Margaret, he said. During the maneuvers, the sisters lived across from Ebenezer Methodist Church, and their route into town would have taken them near Boyd’s Crossing, a likely site for the photo.
Margaret West Smith, however, looked at the photo and said no.
Even so, the photo reminded Waters of another Swift Strike story. He said a turkey farm set out a 500-gallon tank with fresh water so that the soldiers could have a cool drink on a hot day.
Another candidate for “detainee” is Carolyn Richardson Nichols, who said she may be one of the girls in the photo. She was a newlywed of 18 at the time, and she doesn’t remember the other girl or the car — but it may have belonged to a co-worker who was giving her a ride home.
Jerry Nichols has another candidate for detainee: Patsy Nichols, who had been married two years at the time, and LaVonne Garnet Coats.
That memory stirred yet another, about how planes dropped tanks and jeeps during the maneuvers.
The guessing may continue a while longer. Call 276-6197 if you think you know who these “detainees” are.
Call the Newberry Opera House at 276-6264 and purchase your tickets for the Newberry Community Players production of “Swift Strike Summer,” directed by Ellen Hunt. Performances are scheduled at the Ritz for Aug. 22 and Aug. 23 at 8 p.m., Aug. 24 at 3 p.m.
The Players are also asking if folks in the community might provide two churns of ice cream for each performance.
“Part of the play takes place during a Vacation Bible School picnic and, of course, homemade ice cream is being served. We’ll ask the audience to attend the picnic, and we hope to have two churns of ice cream at every performance, to share,” said director Ellen Hunt.
If you can bring a churn, call Hunt at 924-7158.
Also consider sharing your memorabilia from Swift Strike III. Bring your items to the theater on Tuesdays or Thursdays. And if you have any fabric or patterns from the 1960s, give Ellen a call. The ushers will try to dress in costume for these performances.
Meanwhile, at ease.