By Jack Gurner
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? For Charlie Dunn retirement came first, then he bought the chickens, and then they laid the eggs.
For those of you who don’t know Charlie, he was well know in Water Valley as “Whistle and Run” Charlie Dunn.
His exploits on the Mississippi Division of the Illinois Central Railroad would fill a book.
He was a favorite of my late Uncle Bruce Gurner, who would often say that he liked Charlie even better than Casey Jones.
But, I digress.
I bring up Charlie and his chickens because of a letter I found in a January 1938 issue of the Herald.
Charlie was writing to pay for his subscription to the Herald for the next year.
In those days, you could get a whole year of the newspaper for $1.50. Or, you could pay for it it chickens. I don’t have a chicken to dollars conversion chart, but I suspect… Oops, sorry. There I go digressing again.
Anyway, back to the letter:
Editor The Herald:
Enclosed please find a check for $1.50 for The Herald.
I am feeling fine these days; all my clan is O. K. My son, Commander Lucius C. Dunn and wife are spending the winter in London, England, visiting his wife’s people.
They will be back in the USA between now and spring at which time they will locate in Washington D. C.
You might give me a little write-up to my Water Valley friends, telling them I am still in the chicken business, as a “back-lot” fancier.
Have 60 Buff Leghorn pullets, which produced, in 1937, twelve thousand and eighty-seven eggs.
Always look forward to getting my newspaper and read everything.
C. E. Dunn
Pensioned Engineer off the Mississippi Division.
Mr. Dunn was always very formal with his correspondence. As was his son, Commander Lucius C. Dunn, who served during World War I on the staff of Vice Admiral Harry P. Huse.
After retirement he served during World War II as Intelligence Officer at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC.
It may appear that I am digressing once again. But, I stick with me, I am heading somewhere with this.
I found a letter from Lucius written to the Commandant of the Navy Yard recommending a young man named Lafayette Ronald Hubbard for enrollment in the U. S. Navel Reserve.
Lucius praised the young applicant, but did say that he was deficient in his “academic educational background.” However, he did add that his professional experience in newspaper work and travel compensated.
Hubbard got his commission and his first job in the Navy was a desk job in public relations.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and war was officially declared.
Hubbard left the Navy in 1945 after an undistinguished career which included some unflattering reports of incidents in which he was involved. In his four years and seven months of active duty, he spent only four months actually aboard a ship; he spent more time in training than at sea.
Hubbard was better known for what he did after the war as L. Ron Hubbard, controversial founder of Scientology.
It’s not known how Lucius knew Hubbard. However, the power of his letter to the Navy got him into the military.
None of this has a lot to do with the price of eggs or subscriptions. But, I did find the connection between Water Valley’s Dunn family and L. Ron Hubbard interesting.