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Gene Ramsay's History Blog

Are you a history buff who can't get their hands on enough stories about Norcross? You've come to the right place! In this blog, local historian Gene Ramsay will take you on a journey to Norcross' past to discover the people and culture who laid the foundations for the city we know and love today. 

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Jan 28

Norcross Goes Fishing

Posted on January 28, 2022 at 8:59 PM by Gene Ramsay

The Fishing has been a popular sport for residents of the Norcross area for many years.  We have visited many locations in search of “the big one”-  local farm ponds, the Chattahoochee River, South Georgia’s Altamaha River basin, North Georgia’s mountain lakes, Steinhatchee in Florida, Canada and places in between and beyond.  In this post we look back at a few of the fishermen (and women, and kids) from our past.

Minor Garner ran Garner’s store in Norcross for many years in the mid-20th century (in the building now occupied by the Iron Horse Tavern), and he and his friends enjoyed spending time fishing in various locations.  The photo below shows him (standing in back with a hat) with Harry Lankford (at the left with the pipe) and other unidentified friends in the midst of one of their fishing trips.

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The State of Georgia has regulated fishing form many years, including requiring a fishing license.  There were a number of places in Norcross where one could purchase a license.  In downtown Norcross you could go to Johnson’s Store or the hardware store on South Peachtree Street. (In the 1950s the latter was operated by Roy Carlisle, a retired major league baseball player who was well-known for having hit the longest measured home run in professional baseball history during his playing days.)  A number of the service stations that were located along US 23 (Buford Highway) sold licenses as well, including George Verner’s auto repair shop, where you could buy rods, reels, lures and other fishing tackle as required for your trip to the lake or river. 

Below is Minor Garner’s hunting and fishing License for the 1951 – 1952 year (April, 1951- March, 1952), purchased at the Norcross hardware store. 

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In 1939 eleven local men (Minor Garner, Frank and Harry Langford, Jack and Johnnie Reynolds, Chubby Dietz, Arthur Verner, Ollie Simpson, Nelson Mitchell, George Johnson and J. T. Williams) formed the River Rats Hunting and Fishing Club in 1939.  Together they built a simple cabin on stilts on a small island in the Chattahoochee near Jones Bridge, and used it as a base for their outdoor activities in that area for a number of years.   (Dr. Floyd McRae, an Atlanta physician who owned the island, gave his permission for erecting the cabin, and was made an honorary member of the club.)  

All went well for several years, until one of the floods that occurred regularly on the Chattahoochee in those days washed the cabin away, and club activities were discontinued at that point.  The first photo below shows a close-up view of the structure, while the second, taken from Jones Bridge, shows the cabin with more of a view of the river. 

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Milt Nesbit grew up on North Peachtree Street in Norcross, the son of Joseph and Minnie Medlock Nesbit.  He later lived with his family near the intersection of Lawrenceville and Rakestraw Streets.  He held a number of jobs during his life – he worked for General Motors at the automobile assembly plant at Doraville, delivered fuel to service stations for Texaco and ran a service station and car wash at the corner of Cemetery Street and Buford Highway.  He also served on the local school board.

Milt is shown in the photo below with David Verner, with their catch after a trip to a local fishing hole.

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Frank Scott grew up in a farm family near Norcross, and married Mary Dean Flowers after first meeting her at a baseball game in Tucker.  In the 1940s he ran an Amoco service station on Buford Highway in Norcross (where the new Brunswick development is being constructed today).  The photo below shows Frank and Mary with the catch they made while on a fishing trip to the North Georgia mountains. 

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Horace Simpson grew up in a large family on Autry Street in Norcross.  He spent 40 years working in distribution for the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company and its successor company, AGCO, and in addition he worked part time for many years teaching roller skating at the Playland roller skating rink in Chamblee. 

The photo below shows Simpson with his impressive catch of the day from one of his fishing trips, a large snapping turtle. He recalled that friends cooked up the turtle, frying some of it and making turtle soup as well, with the group enjoying a meal at that point under a large oak tree. This photo was taken in the driveway of his West Peachtree Street home.

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Many thanks to Richard Garner, Betty Scott Jarrett, Walter Freeman and Horace Simpson for their help in putting together this post.

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