Sunday, January 8, 2012

Who Is the Man Behind the Plaza?

Over the last few weeks as I have been researching this week’s topic I would throw the name W.S. O’Neal out to various Douglasville citizens.

Over and over again I was met with the same response. 

“Oh, what a nice man.”
“A great man.”

 "He was always nice to me when I was a kid.”
“He’s well thought of.”

The reactions were so positive from long time residents I am very sorry I never got the chance to meet him, however, we remember him even if we didn’t actually know Mr. O’Neal simply because his imprint is all over Douglasville in so many different areas.
O’Neal came to Douglasville from Haralson County and Standing Rock, Alabama where he was born.  In his youth he attended Bowden College and the Georgia School of Pharmacy in Atlanta.

I’ve written about the commercial space where the sits today. Originally Dr. Selman ran a pharmacy there and beginning in 1919 his son Paul took over before selling the business to Mr. O’Neal.  Eventually he struck a partnership with another pharmacist named Fred Morris and O’Neal Drug Company was a heavy presence on Broad Street until they both retired in 1962.
As a pharmacist, Mr. O’Neal made house calls and assisted local doctors with surgeries.  Fannie Mae Davis states in her history of Douglas County, “He mixed his medicines from bulk shipments of simple compounds:  sulphur, castor oil, turpentine.  In those days ingredients like that arrived at the drugstore in barrels and left in medicine bottles.”   

During those years he ran O’Neal Drug Company he also provided space for the Douglasville Telephone Exchange when operators were needed in order to place phone calls.   When dial phones hit Douglasville in 1948, Mr. O’Neal enlarged the space on the second floor to give the new system the room that was needed.
From 1948 to 1968 Mr. O’Neal was chairman of the Douglas County Hospital Authority and oversaw the establishment of the first hospital in Douglasville and its explosive growth over the years.

In the early 1950s O’Neal took on another role. He became the mayor of Douglasville and served two terms. Fannie Mae Davis states he guided the city during “a time of unprecedented growth in Douglasville and the county.” He was the mayor when public housing first reached Douglasville and in October, 1952 the Lithia Springs Drive-In was opened.
In July, 1953 Mayor O’Neal published a list of accomplishments for citizens to review.  It’s quite interesting to read since there are many hints in the list regarding what Douglasville citizens in the 1950s considered to be new and innovative...  

THANK YOU for visiting “Every Now and Then” and reading the first few paragraphs of “Who Is the Man Behind the Plaza?“ which is now one of the 140 chapters in my book “Every Now and Then: The Amazing Tales of Douglas County, Volume I”. 

Visit the Amazon link by clicking the book cover below where you can explore the table of contents and read a few pages of the book…plus make a purchase if you choose!

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