Last week’s Past Tense shared the history of Lawson General Hospital, the World War II hospital in Chamblee. Clint Daniel and Carlton Renfroe, who grew up nearby, shared with me what they remember about Lawson.
Carlton Renfroe’s family moved from downtown Atlanta to Dunwoody in 1941. His father was hired as a plumber at Lawson General Hospital. Renfroe remembers that during World War II, it was difficult to find and buy candy, but his dad was able to buy some at the PX at Lawson and bring it home to his children.
Renfroe would sometimes see Lawson General Hospital patients arriving at the Chamblee train station. They would be brought by train to Atlanta from Savannah, and then on to Chamblee. Ambulances would arrive at the train station to transport soldiers to Lawson.
Clint Daniel grew up in Chamblee and remembers the Lawson buildings after the war ended. There were connecting corridors between the buildings of Lawson. Daniel recalls that there were above-ground walkways that were almost like tunnels. The purpose was to move patients into the concrete and brick structures in the event of an attack. Renfroe also remembers these connecting enclosures.
When Lawson closed, Renfroe said some of the buildings were purchased and moved to other locations. Daniel roamed around the abandoned buildings as a child. Sometime in the late 1950s, his dad’s construction company, Daniel and Daniel, handled the demolition of Lawson General Hospital. Daniel and Daniel’s offices were located at W. Hospital Avenue and Carroll Avenue (today’s Chamblee Tucker Road).
Both Daniel and Renfroe remember a large gym and Olympic-sized swimming pool that were part of Lawson and located at Hood Avenue. Carlton Renfroe remembers riding his bicycle over to swim in the pool. I asked him if adults would run him off, but he said they never did.
Daniel remembers the Lawson baseball field and played there as a child. In addition to a baseball team, Lawson had a basketball team that played other community and college teams. In February of 1944, they played the Georgia Bulldogs. The Atlanta Constitution wrote about the game, describing it as an upset, with Georgia winning 40-36.
As I mentioned last week, there was an MP standing guard out front of the military hospital. According to Daniel, Chamblee’s long-time mayor Woodie Malone served as an MP at Lawson General Hospital.