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Cola War: 1956

Cola War: 1956

Columbus, Georgia, circa 1956. "Boys Club picnic." RC Cola outlier on the left, and he's armed. 4x5 acetate negative from the News Archive. View full size.


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Linus' law

I teach Linux in IT classes at college. Shorpy is a practical example of the the thing that makes Linux special. It was coined by Eric S. Raymond as Linus' Law. It states: "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow"

Simply if enough people work on a problem, somebody, will say "oh that's not a problem! I know how to fix that!"

Shorpy shows With enough people looking at an image, somebody is going to go "Oh I know who/where/what that is!"

The State Patrolman's Sidearm

I bet he's holding it for one of the local youths at the table, the one in the black shirt maybe? Could he be the Governor's protection officer?

The Patrolman and the Legionnaire sure look related. Father and son? If so, the apple didn't fall very far from the tree.

The Governor's shoes certainly draw attention.

Amazing how a whole story can come out of one snapshot.

Good catch

I never ceased to be amazed at the range of knowledge displayed by the Shorpy crew.

Chip off the old block

That sure looks like Gov. Vandiver, which probably makes the boy to his right his son (amazing resemblance), Samuel Ernest "Chip" Vandiver III.

Gov. of Georgia

If I'm not mistaken (and the presence of a state trooper may bear me out), that's future Georgia Governor (1959-1963) Ernest Vandiver looking at the camera. Yep. I believe that's him.

[I believe you're correct. -tterrace]

[In 1956, he was Lieutenant Governor. - Dave]

Snack center of the universe

Not only was RC Cola invented in Columbus, and the company is still based there, but the original formula for Coke also was invented there by John S. Pemberton, a local pharmacist. Used to walk by the site of his pharmacy on the way to lunch every day when I worked for the newspaper there in the early '70s. Columbus is also the home of Tom's Peanuts, so between RC and Tom's, every textile mill worker had a ready snack for break. Also, in Columbus and in east Alabama, barbecue is always served with several pieces of good old white bread, so, that's not any kind of sandwich, just stacked slices waiting to be consumed.


Slices of sandwich bread are a staple served with BBQ in Columbus. Bite of BBQ, bite of bread. Repeat.

Hot Georgia night

These folks are sweating like crazy. I live about 60 miles north of Columbus and nearly every night this summer it's been as hot as fire. 88 degrees at 10 pm. I know how they feel. Muggy like somebody squirting you with hot saltwater. Sweat dripping off the State Patrolman's face and coming thru his shirt. I reckon they either don't have air conditioning or are going to enjoy Gramp's birthday whether it kills them or not.

Toy pistol?

The small size, spurred trigger guard, and longhorn on the grips make me think that might be a toy sixgun under the state policeman's leg. Here's a 1950s Texan Junior cap gun that has those same characteristics.

The Trooper's "sidearm"

looks like a Hopalong Cassidy cap gun to me

Take your pick

Him or this lady


RC Cola was, of course, first compounded in Columbus, Georgia, so the cop impersonating a colonel is but displaying his good 'ol boy bona fides by enjoying this local product.

I wonder where in the police academy curriculum they cover "good things to do with your sidearm while picnicking?"


The woman is using a spork.

The guy with three slices of bread is a mystery. What is he going to do with them? A double-decker potato salad sandwich perhaps.

9 Out of 10 State Troopers

Prefer RC Cola to Coke. But where are the empty peanut packages? An RC without peanuts is like a day without sunshine.

Dynamic Range Envy

Anyone who thinks digital has surpassed film in every way should try to replicate this shot. The foreground blasted with a bare bulb flash, no loss of detail in the man's bright white shirt and we can still see the cars parked in the dark parking lot behind them.

Also, the kid in the black t-shirt has got to be the neighborhood bully, right? He's straight out of Central Casting. I'm guessing that Eugene sitting next to him has got some "purple nurple" and "indian rug burn" bruising from earlier in the day.

There's an important part missing

The Moon Pie on the good Colonel's plate!


I don't know what awful thing happened in Columbus, Georgia, on the day this photo was taken, but I know that the kid in the checkered shirt did it.

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