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Lets not relive 1933
Old Hinesville
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I have never shared this story before, however, in these uncertain economic times I feel it's appropriate to share now. This is the story of a man who quickly descended from a position of wealth and authority to one of poverty and homelessness. The series of events that befell the man occurred because of his friends’ fears and difficult economic times.
This is the story of Marvin Eugene Hendry of Tifton. He was my maternal grandfather and this is what happened.
In 1910, my Marvin Eugene Hendry moved to Tifton and took a job with National Bank. He worked his way up to a position of authority in the bank, becoming head cashier. Hendry married a lovely, talented young woman, Ethel Barber McCormick, from Douglas. In 1914, a baby girl was born to the couple. In 1920, Hendry began to build a new home on a fashionable street. He was on his way.
In due time, he acquired a farm, a nice car and responsible civic positions in the community. He enjoyed hunting and membership in several organizations, including the Masons, Odd Fellows, Woodmen of the World and Knights of Pythius. Hendry was an active member of the Methodist church and served on the city council and board of trade — all status symbols of his time.
In 1922, Hendry's beloved wife died from childbirth complications. He was bereft and bewildered, but looked after his child, Ethel Grace Hendry, as well as he could. After two years, he married Ethel Crosia Ault, a musician and teacher.
In 1933, the storm clouds began to roll in. Economic disaster loomed and fear took hold of the hearts and minds of the people in Tifton, especially in the Methodist church. My grandfather knew he would have to act fast to stem the tide of panic. He told all his friends not to worry - he had money coming. If they would just wait, all would be well. He spent two days on the phone with Chase Manhattan Bank in New York arranging for them to send the money his bank needed to ride out the storm. Of course, this was before the days of electronic transfers and the F.D.I.C. The money had to come by slower methods.  The people in the church and the town did not wait. They rushed to the bank, demanding their money, causing a panic and a run on the bank.  Needless to say, the National Bank closed. It went into receivership, never to reopen. I still have the original edition of The Tifton Gazette newspaper with the story.  
Hendry lost everything he owned. As the responsible bank officer, he suffered the most. He lost his home, his farm, his car and all his money. My step-grandmother took my mother and went to her sister's house in Cordele. My grandfather got a job traveling for a fertilizer company during the week and came to Cordele on weekends.  
Adding insult to injury, the officials of the Methodist church in Tifton suggested that my grandfather step down from his position on the official board for a while.
There were a few bright spots in this dark tragedy. When the time came for Ethel Grace, an honor student, to go away to college in Milledgeville, five friends stepped forward with $100 each, giving her enough money to pay for two years of her education. She became a teacher and paid them back every cent from her earnings.
Another friend made sure my grandmother had a car at her disposal so she could continue to see her sisters and mother in Cordele.
The story has a happier ending than one might expect. Hendry built up a thriving insurance and fertilizer business and was able to build a new home so that in 1938, Ethel Grace and the Rev. L.D. Shippey could be married there. In the early 1950s, my grandfather served as the chairman of the building committee for the new Methodist church in Tifton. He served as an advisor for ministers who called upon him for advice and counsel. He enjoyed going to his office every day until two weeks before his death in 1966 at the age of 80.
This has been a difficult story to tell, but I did so in order to prove that in the event of truly devastating blows to our economy, calm heads can prevail. Panic does not have to ensue. This story should also serve as a reminder that light can come out of darkness. However, it is my fervent hope that no family, state or nation ever has to endure anything like that period in our history again.
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