It seems that every few years some people try to claim their city or state was the first to develop and name the hamburger.

I am personally aware of one such case in the early Sixties. I was mayor of Athens at the time. We were privileged to have access to several good and reliable men locally who either remembered personally or had first-hand knowledge of the fact that Uncle Fletch Davis of Athens introduced the hamburger’s name worldwide at the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904.

There were several, but I most vividly remember the help of four of these local men on this subject.

Mr. R.J. Craig, early owner and publisher of the Athens Review, Mr. Will Justice, longtime practicing attorney, Mr. Winfield Stirman, owner of Stirman’s Drug back then was the place to go drink your nickel cup of coffee and learn everything from the time Athens began.

Then there was Jay Benson, perhaps Athens’ most generous and dedicated civic and service-minded person ever who owned and operated several Dairy Queens beginning in 1948 in Athens.

Jay did a tremendous amount of research to the beginning of the hamburger. As of result of the combined efforts of all, including the report from McDonald’s, they found no evidence to question the validity of the fact Athens was the original home of the hamburger.

Though I did not receive or see a written statement from McDonald’s regarding their opinion, I have been told there probably is one.

If they were needed, we also had our state senator and representative Bill Hollowell and Galloway Calhoun in Austin and Congressman John Dowdy and U.S. Senator Ralph Yarborough in Washington all willing to help.

I was surprised to see the challenge appear again, this time in Connecticut where they claim their registration is in the halls of Congress. You can register, which is no problem to do, but it can also be challenged, too.

I commend Mary Lou Williams, Peggy Gould and all the others who are involved to combat this new allegation. I understand this may seem very insignificant to some, particularly newcomers, but I think it’s pretty important to be able to say I live in the town where the hamburger originated. Probably the most spoken and read word in the food industry in all the world today — “I like ’em, too.”

I say, “Go for it with everything it takes.”

I’ve spent more than 60 years boasting of Athens as the Home of the Hamburger. I don’t have enough time to go back and retract it.

C.W. Tidmore


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