LIVE OAK — Fifty years ago, you still had to turn the dial by hand on the television to change channels. You dialed numbers with your finger on a rotary phone, humans had not walked on the moon, gas was 34 cents a gallon and the Rev. Pomeroy Carter and Tom Kennon were serving their community as Rotarians.
Still today Carter and Kennon are doing much the same in serving their community through the Rotary Club of Live Oak.
Both men were honored recently by the club members they serve with and immediate past District Governor John Medina.
The Rev. J Pomeroy Carter joined Rotary in 1960. Bill Airth, father of current member Hal Airth sponsored him. Herb Wadsworth (Suwannee Democrat Publisher) who was a member of Kiwanis said at the time they insisted Pomeroy be a Rotarian since it was the “old man’s club” and he was used to working with the elderly.
Back in those days, the club met at the Gold Leaf Restaurant that then became the Big Dixie, it was located on the corner of U.S. 129 and U.S. 90 where B.W. Helvenston and Son’s insurance office is currently located.
Carter, former president of Advent Christian Village was club president for the 1968/69 year. One highlight was an attendance contest where the entire club had perfect attendance for 13 straight weeks with an attendance average for the year of 92.4%.
That year the Rotary International Convention was in Hawaii and Rotarian J.D. Henry and his Rotary Ann Elise, wanted to attend. The club voted to underwrite their expenses up to $1 each, provided J.D. would serve as an official delegate.
Upon their return J.D. asked permission to address the club. He reported he spent the entire trip trying to decide how to spend his Rotary dollar. Finally while waiting for Elise in the hotel lobby in Las Vegas where they were on a layover, he decided to try his luck with the slots. To his great surprise, he hit the jackpot! As he concluded sharing the story with the club, he said “I am not sure if he will accept it, but I have decided to offer my winnings to Pomeroy for the Advent Christian Home.” At that point he revealed a gallon jug filled with silver dimes. Pomeroy immediately replied, “Yes sir, I’ll accept it. The devil has had that money long enough. It is time for it to work for the Lord!”
Thomas J. Kennon, former county judge, joined the Rotary Club of Live Oak in 1966. He was sponsored by his father T.J. Kennon Sr. and by Alfred Airth. Kennon served as club president for the 1974/75 Rotary year. According to Kennon, some of his fondest experiences with Rotary include the many Christmas parties at Dowling Park, the calf scrambles that the club used to sponsor in conjunction with the county fair, 50s parties at Camp Weed and the ladies nights the club previously hosted for the Rotary Anns.
One of the most humorous experiences Kennon recalls occurred during the annual gift exchange that used to be held at the club Christmas party. Charlie Webb, who was the pastor of the First Baptist Church, received the largest set of bra and panties that he had ever seen.
Everyone got a good laugh out of it and Charlie was a good sport about the whole thing. Likewise, you never knew what was coming from a gift given by Tom Cheek or Claude Crapps. Each year they seemed to have something very special for the other.
During those early years one thing that always stood out to both Carter and Kennon was how Alfred Airth and J.D. Henry kept the club in line. They were notorious for declaring any action brought before the club as being out of order. All matters of business were to be handled by the board and they made sure the club towed the line on that matter as well as other Rotary rules and procedures.
Both Carter and Kennon commented that they have thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship of the meetings and other functions, and the ability to be of service to others at the local, district and international levels.
Bob McGranahan, a 47-year member, did the honor of telling Rotarians personal stories about both men and had gifts for each based on the stories.
Carter received a gas can because many years ago he refused to believe his car was out of gas, not “vapor locked.”
Kennon received a box of shotgun shells because years ago he was sure he “got one” while hunting. But instead had shot a tree full of buck shot.