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Special rose might still be growing here somewhere
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Recent rains, some coming close to qualifying as the frog-strangling variety, have inched the level of Lake Lanier up gradually.

But because water is constantly being released from Buford Dam, it will take months to refill the lake.
That is, unless some monsoon-like downpours fall in the Chattahoochee-Chestatee watershed. What we need, some say, are the remnants of a hurricane or tropical storm to slosh through. Something that would spare coastal residents any misery, but would provide bountiful torrents of rain up here in the foothills.

It is possible, however, to have heavy rains without a hurricane or other catastrophic weather event. For instance, in December 1932, Hall County measured 14.27 inches of rain. That would have been 9.26 inches above the average monthly total at the time.

It rained eight consecutive days in that damp December. In addition, there were five straight days of rain, snow and sleet. The rivers were roaring to overflowing. Folks were complaining about the rain instead of the lack of it. But back then they didn't have a drought-starved lake that needed filling.

• • •

When newly elected legislators convene to be sworn in at the first of every fresh term, it's usually done en masse, or perhaps individually for photo purposes in the State Capitol.

Charles S. Strong had to take his oath from his bed at home in January 1932. Elected the previous fall as a state representative from Hall County, he was too sick to come to the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony. In a rare occurrence, the legislature actually convened in his home to give him the oath at his bedside. It was called an extra-muriel session.

Supreme Court Justice Bell and E.D. Rivers, speaker of the House, did the honors.

Strong served a single term in the legislature. He was no relation to Charlie Strong Sr., longtime Hall County commissioner.

• • •

Somewhere around Gainesville, a rose bush or its descendants might still be thriving in somebody's yard or on the side of a road.

President Woodrow Wilson's first wife, Ellen Louise Axson, planted a rose bush in the yard of a home on South Bradford Street in 1884, the year her father, the Rev. J.S.K. Axson, a Presbyterian minister, died. It also was the year before she married the future president. The Gainesville home belonged to Warren A. Brown, Miss Axson's uncle, whom her family visited frequently.

One of President and Mrs. Wilson's daughters, Jessie, was born in the home, and another daughter, Margaret, was born in the old Piedmont Hotel, formerly owned by Confederate Gen. James Longstreet and recently restored by the Longstreet Society.

The rose bush Mrs. Wilson planted was known as "Maiden's Blush." The bush still bloomed at least a half century later as neighbors took it on themselves to tend the rose planted by a future First Lady.

• • •

Two cedar plantings at Green Street Swimming Pool in Gainesville apparently didn't make it as the years passed.

Green Street Pool opened the summer of 1931. It was a high priority for Dan S. Denton, city manager at the time. He was known for his love of flowers and plants. He made sure the grounds around the pool were beautified.

Denton died from injuries in a traffic accident. From his death bed, he asked Mrs. W.V. Vance, a city welfare worker, to plant red tulips near the parking lot entrance and two cedrus deodoras (cedars) on each side of the walks to the pool.

In addition, the park and recreation board named the pool in his honor. It was to be called Denton Pool. But the name apparently didn't stick long because it was called City Park Swimming Pool before it became known as Green Street Pool.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times and can be reached at 2183 Pinetree Circle N.E., Gainesville, GA 30501; phone, 770-532-2326. His column appears Sundays and on First published March 9, 2008.

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