Lillian Alabama Historical Events Profile and Resource Guide, City or community of Lillian, Alabama Historical Events and Facts, Information, Relocation, Real Estate

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Lillian, Alabama Historical Events

Window on my Life. This is a brief window on my life, from 1945 to 1983. I came out of high school and took a job driving a semi double outfit, that is a semi and a four wheeler approximately 55 ft. in length hauling 50 to 75 thousand pounds of steel to the auto plants in and around Detroit, Michigan, a job I loved and kept for eleven years. In the tenth year, it became apparent that the steel industry was in trouble and I started to look for something else to do. I became involved in the wholesale hardware business with my dad and my two brothers calling on local hardware stores, and finally expanded this to three states . We sold everything in the hardware line including a complete line of paint rollers covers and related items , through necessity, we developed a plastic foam cover that was seamless and built a machine that could turn these out in great numbers, The business grew so rapidly that our money could not keep up with the demand We started to infringe on the local paint supplier in Detroit and he decided it was time to try and buy us out , what he wanted was our foam seamless paint cover and also we had been working on a foam paint brush that he wanted. While we had been doing all this business, we had also bought a piece of property in the area and put up a twenty by eighty cement block building doing all the cement work ourselves .This foam paint brush seemed to be the valuable item that he wanted . We had been trying to pour this into a mold but the process always came out of the mold with a skin and after trying this several hundred times we were about ready to give up on it. But alas, the day our prospective buyer came to call with his lawyer in tow - and as he walked in the back door we were just taking a brush out of the mold and at that exact time it came out of the mold without a skin, it did it that one time and we were never able to do it again. Once was enough! He bought us out and we worked for him for the next two years until he started to have labor problems in his plant in Detroit and decided to move the whole operation to Johnson City, Tennessee . At that time we all split up and went our separate ways. I bought some property in northern Michigan with the idea of having an R. V. Park, but I guess it was not in the cards because from the time we went up north, business was bad and we did a number of things trying to hang on but they were not enough. I started selling insurance and together with my wife, we opened a real estate office, but nothing seemed to work. We lost everything including our shirts. We then came back to the Detroit area and I went to work for Sears Roebuck and co. and stayed there for twenty two years. My wife worked for AAA insurance co. and this was the best thing we had ever done . I have failed to mention that in the middle ofall this, my wife and I had three children. Now, looking back over this, our lives kind of relates to the poem, foot prints in the sand, where GOD was explaining to the man that the reason he only saw one set of footprints in the sand when he was having trouble in his life was the timeswhen GOD was carrying him . We have been carried by GOD many times in our lives and here are a few. Picture this - fifteen miles down the Detroit river our forty gallon gas tank sprung a leak and leaked out into the bilge. We had to start the engine and pump out the gas out all theway back home , we are here by the grace of GOD. Another time, we were going out to eat on my wife's birthday. As we were coming up a ramp onto the expressway, a car coming from the opposite direction missed the off ramp came across a three hundred foot median and off atwelve foot high embankment and landed right in front of us hitting us head on. It was 89 degrees that day and I had a long sleeve leisure suit on and my wife kept saying take off that coat. Story to be continued!
Bill Piner's Homepage

1945 - During WWII
Window to My Life # 2 Here I sit in Lillian Alabama, home of George C. Wallace . If anyone had told me that I would be seventy-one yearsold and sitting down in Alabama, retired, recipient of a Quad By-Pass, cancer surgery survivor and all-around old guy, I would have laughed in their face. But here I am with a wealth of stories locked up inside of me and they're starting to seep out. It was back in 1945 , I had two brothers in the Army, one was in France, the other in England laying in a hospital with part of his foot blown off; and both were sending letters home saying, don't let the army draft you. It was a frantic time. I was only seventeen and had little or no experience for life or war. I was rushing around trying tofind something to keep me out of the Army . We were sitting around listening to the radio, you remember those - the little brown boxes sitting on your table that the sound came out of, when the man in the box came on the air with a important announcement. They need cooks and bakers in the Merchant Marine . I was neither, so where do I go from here? I had always liked to mess around in the kitchen, baking rolls and bread, but a cook or baker I was not. My dad knew a man that owned a little Hamburg Stand in the town where we lived and I was looking intothe possibility of getting a letter from him saying that I had worked for him in his restaurant as a cook and baker.. He did give me a letter and itwas very impressive, so I took my little letter and headed for Detroit. It was the closest town that had a Merchant Marine Office which wasrun by the U.S. Coast Guard. I was interviewed by a Lieutenant Commander and everything went well until the end of the interview. He said in one parting last question, by the way, you do bake don't you? Oh yes, I forgot to tell you that the letter I had gotten failed to say that I was a baker. So, during the interview, I had skirted that question until he pinned me right down and said, you do bake and then I had to say No.. He then threw up his hands and said, "Well, in that case, we can't use you. I came home dejected, and in a very sad mood, but at seventeen ,you remember, you can conquer anything . I took my letter, hopped on a Greyhound Bus, and headed for Cleveland Ohio. This was the closest townthat had another Merchant Marine Office. I had picked up a lot of information in the first interview and felt very confident that given anotherchance I could pull it off. Interviewed by another Lieutenant Commander I had all the answers, he said, "You are a cook and a baker?" and I said "YES, I AM." He said that was very good and started to type up my papers, which read, William E. Piner, 2nd Cook and Baker. Looked good on paper and better when signed by a lieutenant Commander. In the Merchant Marine you were on your own. He handed me my ticket that said, "report to San Francisco, California in six days. Go to the Union Hall and receive your orders for a ship." When I arrived, I was sent for a physical and blood test and all the necessary shots and was told to report back when I was done. I was sitting there waiting when he called my name, "Piner," loud enough to be heard back in Michigan. "That's me," I said. "Here you go," he said. "I got you on a shipload of Wacs. In case you don't remember, those are what they called women in the Army. You would have thought that he was giving me an award by giving me this ship, whathe didn't know was that I was scared to death. I went down to the Seaman's Club that night and tried to learn what was expected of me the nextday. I was told that I had to fix breakfast the next morning. I slept on the ship that night and took a glance in the galley I t was a10 ft. long cast iron stove and I didn't even know how to light it. It was a wood burner. So the next morning came and when I was not up fixing breakfast, they knew something was definitely wrong. The Purser said, "I think we're going to take you back to the union hall and see what we can work out. I have to say that I received the best of treatment from everyo ne that I came in contact with, they all tried to help me . Now on my second trip to the union hall, I had picked up a lot of information, and when he said, "Piner again," he said, "you're the guy that's a cook and no baker." I said, "YOU GOT IT." So the ship he gave me was a punishment for the trouble I had caused him in the first place . It was called the S.S. JAMES J.CORBETT. I saw it was sitting very low in the water, but a fellow seaman, said this is a good one , see those rivets - that's the only kind of ship I would signon . So I had picked up some more valuable information. I was signed on as second cook. The chief cook was an old Mexican fellow and I took a liking to him right away. I worked out a deal with him, I would help him with any of his work that was a little too hard for him and, in return, he would keep me out of trouble and teach me what I had to know. A Liberty ship was 440 ft. long and we had a crew of about 85 men. We were armed to the teeth and carried a navy gun crew that manned the guns. I remember we traveled every where in convoys, the largest of which was a 83 ship convoy that we picked up in Manila. I was sitting up on the railing one day and I was told I had better get off of there because if I fell over board no one was going to stop and pick me up. Here I was, out in the middle of the Pacific ocean, and the last thing you think of is the water. It never occurred to me that if I fell overboard that I would not be picked up. I made more than my share of mistakes. There was the time that I didn't fix a seaman's eggs just the way he liked them and he came to the galley window and threw the eggs, plate and all, thru the galley window. I think they were aimed at me, but he missed . He was an old seaman who they said carried a knife and would slit your throat as soon as look at you. Needless to say, I was a little more careful with his eggs after that . He was a trouble maker as hegot into trouble with another seaman over a slice of bread it seems that they were both reaching for it at the same time and he lost so he took hisfork and run it right through the other seaman's hand. He also got into an argument with the first cook who was a close friend of mine and theywent at it one afternoon. The first cook was a Australian about 5 ft.10 in. but built like a mack truck. He made short work of the trouble maker andwe never had a problem with him after that. I also remember sitting on that ship railing one afternoon and we had just had mail call. I had gotten one letter and was starting to open it when I dropped it and had to watch it float away - And was I home sick. We have been out now about 90 days and no prospect of going home soon , they just kept shuttling us back and forth between the islands. We also crossed the Equator and had a little ceremony for the seaman that had not crossed it before of which I was one . They made you go through a paddle line, but also you had to climb over a huge cargo net they had strung up and crawl over about fifteen ft. to the other side while they took their whacks at you. Then somebody got the bright idea that they should paint us. The only thing they had was creosote, and I spent the rest of the day trying toget it off. There were about nine or ten men that went thru this. I received a large wall poster that was worth the effort, but when I hit San Francisco on the return trip, I set my bag down to check into a hotel and my bag disappeared just that fast. I lost all my souvenirs. You will have to tune in another time as I am running out of space on this Page Watch for story # 4

This page is for perpetual written accounts of historical events that have occurred in the city. Anyone who feels they have pertinent information may submit it. This includes all people in or out of Lillian and could involve any interested adults or children with events or items that are of interest. Items may be submitted for publication on this page where they will remain as part of a historical archive for the city. Items of interest may include noteworthy events, special events of historical importance, information about area growth that pertains to the history of the city, and other pertinent notes. We hope to establish a large data base of information about the history of each city. Historical Societies are encouraged to open their own page on Key to the City for more extensive historical information.

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