John Brittingham - Barney Martin

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David
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John Brittingham - Barney Martin

Postby David » Wed November 27, 2013, 10:39 pm

I started writing this story about 35 years ago but I never finished it. I probably won't finish it today. It is a story about a man who was a major influence in my life and in many others. His name was Chester Arthur Martin but everyone called him Barney. His name came from a comic strip, the forerunner of Snufey Smith about an character called Barney Google. He was Barney Google with the goo goo googlee eyes. If you know more about that feel free to comment.

I wish everyone in Hamlet could have known Barney Martin. Barney was married to my mother's sister Virginia. When I was growing up Barney played a big part in my life and in my family. Barney grew up in Hamlet and played football in High School. He talked about playing with Tug Jones and some of the other guys around town but I am afraid I cant remember the names. The point is he was large for his age and athletic growing up. Barney went to a prep school in Asheville at one time but I don't think he went to college. He and Virginia moved to New York for a while where he worked for the federal government. I believe it was some kind of an auditing job. When he heard that the Hamlet News Messenger was for sale he and Virginia moved back to Hamlet and never left.

A big part of Barney's life was owning and operating the Hamlet News Messenger. I remember asking him once how he worked so many hours and he said. " This is my golf, and my fishing, and my favorite sport. I spend all the time that I would spend doing those things. That is what you do when you are an entrepreneur." It all started for me when one day after Sunday dinner Uncle Barney took me down to the Hamlet News. He was there to see how a printing job was going. He was printing a million circulars for the B.C. Moore department store. Before I knew it he had me helping load a truck with the finished product. We carried the circulars up the embankment behind the press room two bundles at a time and stacked them in the truck. " they don't get any better after they leave here so be careful with them" That was my first lesson.

Later when I went to work at the News Mess, Barney continued to teach me about work and about getting things done. I ran a machine that tied bundles and loaded them into canvas mail sacks. When the press stopped I loaded those sacks onto a truck. He had me working every day after school and he was always there. " You can never make any real money with your own hands. The plan is to get a lot of people working for you and have each one making some small amount of money for you". "When you write just think the word and have them flow through the typewriter onto the page". "When you are on the clock I expect your hands to be doing something for me all the time, when the press stops clean up."s

There was always a lesson he had to teach. Sometimes when we were riding in the car he would ask me if I knew anything about a subject for instance radio waves. When I admitted I knew nothing he would declare himself an expert and tell me all about it. It took me a while but I caught on. Barney could tell you a story and make it come alive. I guess that is why all the younger people liked him so much. He tried to teach me about opera and about how wonderful New York was. That lesson did not take.

Barney ran for sheriff one year. He heard that Raymond Goodwin was running unopposed and so he ran against him. In the end it seems that with no opposition Barney figured if Raymond was unopposed that he would not buy advertising, but with Barney in the race he would. On the last day of the race Barney was in the barber shop. Probably in Mr. Meacheums chair when a guy from the press room came in. He said "Mr Martin if we run all these adds we are going to have to run another section do you want me to leave out Mr. Goodman's full page. Barney said " no way leave my add out he is paying for his." and so it went. Barney lost the race by a land slide.

The Hamlet news was like a family to Barney. It came with daughters and sons and inlaws. Barney enjoyed teasing and joking with all of us but when he got serious we got serious. One day he said to me " look at Jean Land, she can type so fast into that machine that the machine can't keep up. If I make her mad the machine chokes because she types so fast." Jean was one of his many favorites. He hired one sports reporter even though he knew that his references were false. The man stayed and worked for 20 years. He got pressmen out of jail for dui and got the wives and new babies from the hospital. One time I remember doing both in the same day. He loaned them money and sometimes they had to wait a week to cash their checks. It worked both way the way a family does.

Bill James and Uncle Barney were close friends. Every body in Hamlet knows who Dr. Bill was. Some times Barney and Bill would drive around and look at Bill's pine trees planted around Hamlet. Some times they would just ride around. Anyway out at Hoot n Holler there was a sign Dr. Bill had made that said Barney Martin's turtle shoot. In some ways they were two of a kind. Barney could tell a Dr. Bill story with the best of them. They were both members of the Night Lighters. The Night Lighters was a club formed by a group of folks to add some social life to the otherwise uneventful life in a small town. I think it still exist but I am not sure about that. Maybe someone can update us on that.

In the end there were 17 or so weekly newspaper associated with the Hamlet News Messenger. Uncle Barney found that he was a wizard at starting weekly papers in small towns. One summer I went to Lake City South Carolina with him. He organized and printed the Lake City Times for a few years and then sold it. There was also the Florence times, The Johnsonville-Hemmingway Times and the Turbeville Times. All of those were variations of Lake City with their own front page. He started the Kingstree times as well. In 1969 he offered to give me half of the Kingstree Times if I would go there and run it. It was a nice offer but I would have been in the army in 6 months if I had taken it. I also knew that it was his mind that powered the newspaper and he was already about 68. Barney was the heart and sole of each news paper her ran. It was his charisma that made it all work. If I had been left alone in Kingstree the paper would not have had a chance. He understood.

One can not understand Barney without mentioning his daughter Marilyn. Marilyn married Peter Coggins and move to Hamlet about the time their first born Emily came into the world. Barney went Goo Goo over Emily and the two sisters that followed. Erin and Mara came right along and before you could blink there were three. My dad wanted grandchildren so bad and Barney had three right there on the same block. Dad enjoyed them too. Those there girl adored Barney and he returned the favor. There was lot of giggling and silliness all the time with the girls. Peter got a great job and moved his family with the job. Now they all live in Florida and Peter is a retired air traffic controller. We lost Marilyn to cancer a few years back, but Peter still holds the family together. That is a whole other story. This story is far from finished but I will try again later like I promised Marilyn I would.

David
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Re: John Brittingham - Barney Martin

Postby David » Thu November 28, 2013, 8:16 pm

Chester MartinOH.jpg
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David
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Re: John Brittingham - Barney Martin

Postby David » Mon December 23, 2013, 6:52 pm

Barney Martin for Sheriff 1962OH.jpg
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Jean Raby Nelson
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Re: John Brittingham - Barney Martin

Postby Jean Raby Nelson » Fri January 3, 2014, 12:04 pm

I loved your story John. I am sorry to hear about Marilyn. I liked her a Lot. I loved Barney. We had our own mutual admiration society. I think I sent you my Hamlet News Story. Thanks for writing
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David
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Re: John Brittingham - Barney Martin

Postby David » Fri January 3, 2014, 9:58 pm

Barney Martin aOH.jpg
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Barney Martin bOH.jpg
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Jean Raby Nelson
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Re: John Brittingham - Barney Martin

Postby Jean Raby Nelson » Mon January 6, 2014, 12:05 am

I enjoyed this article John. I knew the better part of it because he use to love to tell me stories about himself. Do you happen to know where his family lived on Spring St by chance.
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dcrooke
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Re: John Brittingham - Barney Martin

Postby dcrooke » Mon January 6, 2014, 11:15 am

Jean, according to the 1959 phone book, see attached page 17 for Chester A Martin's address.
1959 Phone Book, page 17.jpg
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David
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Re: John Brittingham - Barney Martin

Postby David » Thu January 23, 2014, 8:23 pm

Barney MartinOH.jpg
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Jean Raby Nelson
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Re: John Brittingham - Barney Martin

Postby Jean Raby Nelson » Tue November 15, 2016, 11:55 am

John I loved your story. The Martins were such special people
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