"Good Morning Earlington:
Joseph Vernon Lloyd American Legion, KY Post 2"
Assisting families in need, purchasing shoes for children, paying utility and medical bills for men out of work, loaning wheelchairs and crutches, distributing food baskets at Christmas and Thanksgiving, sponsoring students to Frankfort to learn about state government—No, this is not a church or a charity organization. It is an organization whose eligible membership grows smaller with each passing year. It is the American Legion, made up of US veterans the majority of whom served in one of two world wars.
The second American Legion charter awarded in KY was to Earlington on Aug 12, 1921. Two of the original charter members were Marvin Mitchell and Cliff Dixon. Rumor was always been that Earlington was supposed to have had the first charter but circumstance led to them becoming Post 2. Their first home was leased from KU at Brown Meadow Lake (which was curiously enough named for a Civil War veteran Wm Riley Brown 1841-1920 who moved here in 1871 and built his home in its "Meadow"). There at Brown’s Meadows for about 21 years World War I veterans swam, danced, and reminisced. Marion Stokes was one of the early commanders. Each July 4th they sponsored a huge celebration and a beauty contest which according to our male senior citizens included many of the county’s loveliest ladies, two of these being Mary Omer Duncil and Barbara Davis.
In the early 30’s the veterans moved to a building nestled next to a pond located on US 41S across from the Razor’s Edge and behind what is now the Ideal Service Station. A few years later the second "Great War" would begin and more Hopkins Countians would once again risk and lose their lives serving this country. Earlington would send many including three families of four brothers: the Larmouth boys--Raymond, John, James, and Jewell; the Brooks boys—Eugene, James, Henry, and Robert; the Cloern boys—Lawrence, James "Tom Pete," Ralph, and Wayne.
Many would return but too many more would not. Three of those who "gave their all" would be remembered for many years as Joseph (Joe Griffin) Vernon (Vernon Morgan) Lloyd (Lloyd Sisk). These veterans came to signify all those who never returned. Their combined names became representative of all veterans when in 1946 Earlington decided to build their own veterans' building and to christen it the Joseph Vernon Lloyd American Legion Building, Post 2.
An organizational meeting was held in the fall of ’45 over the old city hall/jail building on W. Main. Glenn Sumpter was the commander at that time. The building was constructed with donations of supplies and manpower. At least two mines gave a day’s wages to any man who would work on the building. Many individuals gave what they could. My dad was one of many who gave a $2 donation which during those times was a hardship. Men from many families labored without pay to help with the building for the veterans.
An early entrance was a door that faced the creek and opened onto both the main floor and to a flight of stairs leading to what would become a popular wooden dance floor. The auditorium is still used today and one of the few remaining wooden dance floors. Downstairs were two 55 gallon drums which held large planks which served as a bar and supplied by #2 and #3 washtubs of cold beer and cold drinks. Carrol Simons became the first bartender. Carrol, who owned a tin shop in Madisonville, would later become a commander.
Forty years later Post 2 ran into financial trouble, and the building was eventually sold by the federal government. However, the charter was retained and is now the oldest in the state. Currently the membership is down to twenty with three officers, Commander Kenneth Southerland, Adjutant Bill Bunch, and Service Officer Orin Hudson. Only a few records remain but hundreds of colorful stories are still remembered and recounted by those who were once part of Post 2’s history. Members like Marion Stokes, Jr (whose father was a charter member) and the late Commander Fred Slaton have attempted to find photos and memorabilia, but archival material is too often discarded because many do not realize the value of its history. Two of Marion Stokes proudest possessions are his dad’s old legion cap and a photo which he rescued and restored from the old building. The picture is one of his dad with his WWI unit. The original 1921 charter of which they are all so proud and which names all the original members is housed at the home of Bill Bunch.
How sad that an organization which was a part of so many lives has diminished to such a few members, but as one commander put it, "The only way to gain potential members is with new wars." He quickly added, "God, grant that the time will come when no others earn eligibility. May there never be another war!"
May we all pray that this prayer be granted. We are thankful that in our lifetime there have been men who risked their lives for their country and families. Let us also remember to honor them for their duty and their service. God, please bless them all!
Ann Gipson 12-14-2001