Life in Valdosta :: The Millionare

The Millionare

TIME 1949

It was Saturday night. I was single and had gone down to the old Elks Club on Wells St. "bend an elbow" at the bar. Who should walk in but my old high school buddy, R. N. "Buster" Bassford. We slapped each other on the back and I told him how good it was to see him, home on furlough from the Navy. He informed me that he was not on furlough, but was getting out of the Navy. He wanted to come back to Valdosta. I told him "No, No, Buster, don't do it. You are dumb, dumb, dumb". I added "Why you've been in the Navy for 7 years; you've only got to stick it out for 13 more and then you can retire with a life pension of $175.00 per month. Buster, listen to me, listen to the voice of experience".

But, he didn't listen. He went against my advice and got out of the Navy. He came home to Valdosta and went to work for the family business - Brassford Auto Parts. He didn't like the work and quit. He took over as manager of paper routes delivering the Jacksonville Journal and Times Union and later added the Atlanta Constitution. He soon accumulated a room full of old newspapers. Metal Products (Thompson Industries) opened up in Valdosta. They manufactured chrome and stainless steel auto parts. They needed shredded paper to ship the parts. Buster bought a shredder and he was in business. He built a small metal building on the West side of town, but soon outgrew it and sold the building. He built a large metal building and leased it back to Metal Products. Valdosta was growing and he got into the business of constructing metal buildings. He branched out and began building and selling metal buildings all over the country and finally ended up building entire industrial parks. He is now worth 150 million dollars.

"Big Lou" stopped there and I could tell that this was the end of the story. So, I asked him a rhetorical question, "If Buster stayed in the Navy for 7 years and is now worth 150 Million dollars, what would he have been if he had stayed in the Navy for 20 years. "Big Lou" thought for a moment, and finally answered "He'd have been a Chief Petty Officer".

Told by Lou Blanton at a 1944-45 Valdosta High School class reunion.


In the late 1960's, a new airport was being build at Dallas-Ft. Worth. Bids were sent out for very large storage warehouses. Buster, at that time, had 3 crews working across the U.S building storage facilities. He personally attended the bid opening in Dallas. All of the other company Presidents wore Brooks Brother suits and most had their CPA's or Lawyers with them. This was a BIG time bid. Buster went alone, dressed in his traditional Wrangler khaki pants and white shirt. He carried his scratch pad, made out of opened envelopes, stapled together, in his shirt pocket. The bids were submitted and Buster tore off a piece of the pad and wrote down a figure. He handed it to the person in charge, who looked at it. The person who took the bid said "Mr. Brassford, this is 3 million dollars cheaper than the closest bid". Buster answered, "that's my bid, I can build it for that and make money on it". He got the bid.

Told by Larry Moseley, Valdosta High School Class of 1954

Copyright © 2008 Lowndes County Historical Society & Museum.
All rights reserved.