Local history of American Legion

Published 3:43 pm Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Editors note: In light of Tryons recent 125th Birthday celebration, Roger Durham, Post Historian of American Legion Post #250, submitted the following:

As post historian [of American Legion Post #250], I recently sat down with Mr. Howard Greene and talked about the early days at the American Legion. Mr. Greene is one of the last charter members, so I figured he was the man to talk to.

Mr. Greene said he first attended a Legion meeting at the Mill Spring school with his father-in-law in December, 1945, and joined that night. After the January 1946 meeting it was moved to the Courthouse in Columbus.

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In 1947, we decided to build a building in Tryon. So Thurston Arledge went up and down the street getting merchants to sign $500 notes. Altogether he got $15,000 in notes signed. Mr. Arledge heard that Tryon was going to get a new post office, so he talked them into renting the top floor for the post office and received rent from the government for 20 years. The American Legion paid off the debt on the building; none of the merchants lost a penny.

For one of the first fund-raisers, the Legion decided to buy a new 1947 Ford and sell tickets for $1 each. The new car cost less than $1,000 and we sold $4,000 worth of tickets. The community donated furniture to furnish the club room downstairs. We had a club room manager and they played poker with some proceeds gonig to the American Legion. They also sold beer and soft drinks. The bar was open for each meeting and about every three months the Legion would have a chicken supper which was free to members, with all you could drink. This lifestyle lasted for several years. Mr. Sel Edwards was the club room manager and if anyone got out of order he would send you out the door.

Some of the hard workers over the years were Thurston Arledge, J.T. Foster, John McGuinn, Charles Lankford, Edwood Martin, Sel Edwards, Howard Greene and Thommy Thompson. None of the workers received any pay.

Mr. Howard Greene was commander of Post #250 for many years and also served as adjutant and treasurer for many years.

Mr. Greene says he enjoys the American Legion because it does good things for people, children and veterans, their widows and disabled veterans.

For a number of years we have donated money to the Thermal Belt Outreach and each year we give a scholarship to a senior from Polk County High School and Landrum High School.

In later years, George Scofield was commander and he started a violin program, with more than 400 children eventually in the program. Mr. Scofield also started Friday Night Bingo, which is still going strong today. Bingo is our biggest fund-raiser, which enables us to make the donations mentioned above and send students to Boys State. Boys State is a week-long camp held at Catawba College in Salisbury. During this week they study government processes.

Post #250 sponsored Harley Gaddy of Polk County High School, who went to Boys State in 2003. In 2009, he was elected to serve as Detachment Commander for the Sons of American Legion (SAL) for North Carolina.

In 1994, Mr. Greene began as a volunteer with the VA hospital in Asheville. He would take veterans up to Asheville about 8 a.m. for their appointments and while there he would work as an escort all day until around 4 p.m., then bring the veterans back home. He made this 110-mile round trip for 12 years, simply because he enjoys helping people.

Current officers of American Legion Post #250 are: commander, Mike Collins; 1st vice commander, Leonard Wells; 2nd vice commander, Tom DeVries; adjutant, Morton Poliakoff; chaplain and finance, Glenn Burgess; sergeant-at-arms, Erwin Fletcher; post historian, Roger Durham.