By Lisa Cooper
A couple of
weeks ago I shared some of Sarah Elizabeth Woods Carter's memories regarding
living along the Dog River from 1909 through the early 1920s.
The second part of her narrative begins when the Woods family moved to Texas in 1922.
Her words are italicized. My comments appear in regular print.
The day came when we were told we were moving to Texas in 1922. I still feel the heartache when, as the cars were loaded and we were on our way, we passed a calf of mine in a neighbor's pasture. I choked up and hoped that Mary, my calf, didn't see me. I didn't want her to think I gave her away.
As to the results of our move to Jefferson, Texas, to make the story short, five of us married Texans. The stay in Texas was not too long and all came back to Georgia.
At seventeen, I went back to Jefferson to attend school and took several classes under a young teacher, Glenmore Carter. After two years we were married at what is now Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and we continued our education together.
Andrews University is a Seventh Day Adventist sponsored college dating back to 1874. The school's motto, which the Carters seemed to take to heart is "Seek knowledge. Affirm faith. Change the world."
We spent thirty-eight years in the ministry in India and in many of the large cities in the United States. With us, part of the time, were two sons, Lee Edwin and Glenn Thomas.
Of course, serving as a missionary in various parts of the world can be very dangerous and during the 1930s and 40s it was no different. The Southwestern Union Record, a Seventh Day Adventist newsletter, dated September 4, 1935 mentions the Carters. The article states, "A letter just received by Mr. and Mrs. L.N. Carter from their son Glenmore brings the news that because of the Suez situation being so serious word was received from Washington for them not to sail from New York via Europe. It also advised that the missionaries in Addis Ababa have been ordered to leave. This without a doubt bespeaks of the seriousness of things in the east Mediterranean....Glenmore Carter and family will now sail from Seattle, Washington on September 13, 1935."
The Suez situation mentioned above is often referred to as the Abyssinia Crisis involving Italy and Ethiopia.
The narrative continues:
There came a time when the sons reached college age and their bills were more than our salaries, so I did special duty nursing, and we always had the bills paid at the end of the school year. One dollar per hour was the pay for the special duty nursing in those days.
An issue of The Record, a Seventh Day Adventist newsletter from 1956 indicates Glenmore Carter was the pastor of Houston Central Church, and the announcement was being made regarding the purchase of property for a new church and school facility. The church - with a membership of 600 - had outgrown its building.
By 1963, the Carters were in Little Rock, Arkansas where Glenmore had become a regular on local television appearing on various religious and community shows as a representative of the Seventh Day Adventist faith.
The narrative continues:
After retirement I thought it was my turn to suggest where we would live. That ended up with our going to the county where the old Dog River flowed. But retirement was not for us.
In the 1960s along with 42 other Adventist the Carters bought the old church used by the Methodist in the center of Douglasville - at the corner of Price and Church Streets (where the city parking lot stands today) - with the handsome stained-glass memorial windows and organized a new Adventist church there.
In March, 1964 they named the new church Lou Vansant Memorial Seventh Day Adventist Church in honor of Sarah's grandmother who is listed as the first practicing Seventh Day Adventist in Douglas County. The property was sold to the City of Douglasville in 1970 and the church moved to the Bright Star property where it's located today.
The narrative continues:
We saw the need for medical and hospital work in that county on the edge of booming Atlanta. We saw the plans for the big new freeway, Interstate 20, to be built right by us, so we invested in 500 acres of land and this paid off.
We used the gain to put up a lovely nursing home, the Georgian Villa, on a beautiful lake. Then we built a school, and last of all a 400 bed ultra-modern hospital, Atlanta West Hospital, just twelve miles west of Atlanta, right on I-20. It was a dream come true when I had the privilege of planning a modern hospital with every nook and corner designed for the best in nursing care.
In 1973, projections to build the 11-story cylindrical nursing tower with an attached rectangular medical building stood at 17 million dollars, however, later editions of the Seventh Day Adventist newsletter advised the final cost was closer to 27 million dollars. The hospital was funded through bonds which were advertised far and wide.
Mrs. Carter advises.....
Construction was very successful and the new medical plant opened on time, but the administration we had chosen failed us and quickly wasted over a million dollars in opening reserve.
In her book concerning Douglas County history Fannie Mae Davis states, "The advanced architectural design was matched by a far-sighted approach to equipment inside the hospital.....Unfortunately, low utilization of the facility resulted in financial problems."
Mrs. Davis continues:
....The hospital operated efficiently, but lack of operating funds forced the founders deep in debt and finally, the hospital faced bankruptcy. In 1976, a class action suit was filed against Atlanta West, its corporation and officers, the bond trustee bank, the bonding company [First Dayton Corporation], and others. The case hung in court for six years, but finally came to trial in federal court in Ohio in December, 1981. The Carters relinquished legal responsibility three and a half months before the bonds went into default, but never hesitated to enter the court and acting as their own attorney, defended every charge. After a lengthy trial, the federal court jury gave a clear verdict on every point, favoring the Carters and the hospital corporation. Their defense was complete and decisive and it was said to have helped save millions for the bond holders, who ultimately received their full original investment and considerable interest.
Mrs. Carter continues with her narrative:
We contacted Hospital Corporation of America and they wound up purchasing the fine plant and making it one of the best operated hospitals in America.
My research indicates the hospital was purchased for 22 million dollars. An article from the Douglas County Sentinel noted "real stability happened in 1980 when the Hospital Corporation of America bought the hospital and changed its name to Parkway Regional."
The Georgian Villa Nursing Home was also part of the purchase and its name was changed to Garden Terrace. One important first for the original Georgia Villa was it was the first facility of its kind in the nation to receive a Medicare check for nursing home care. In 2008, the nursing home changed its name once again to Douglasville Nursing and Rehabilitation.
Parkway Regional eventually met its demise due to the swing of a wrecking ball in 2004. I'm told the recyclable steel was sold and shipped to China for their building boom. Today, a Home Depot sits on the spot where the hospital once served as a unique landmark along the expressway.
The Carters finally took that retirement:
There comes a day when retirement becomes a reality. We thought it would be wonderful to be up in the mountains of Tennessee near the Smokies and figured that was the answer. It was beautiful and relaxing, looking out over the hills and mountains. But one thing we did not take into consideration, the legs that had been faithful for over seventy years now did not desire to carry up the hills. On icy winter days we did not always go in the right direction. So, in 1981, we moved back to Texas, level and plenty of heat to care for arthritis. After six years back home in the college town of Keene, where Glenmore grew up, we are doing grand. At present (1986) travel for our hobby and thoroughly enjoy taking life a bit easier.
Glenmore passed away in 1996 while Sarah reached the age of 98 before passing away in 2007.