September 2, 2013

Amanuensis Monday ~ The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 13

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Remembering back to the 1930s.
I remember the Coca Cola man.  His name was Mack.  I believe his last name was Junkin and he was from Natchez.  He drove the coca cola truck that delivered the cold drinks.  We were little boys.  We'd be there on the streets and the truck would come and we'd meet it and help Mack unload the cokes.  Sometimes he'd give us a nickel.  The Holsum bread man.  All I remember is his name was Sam.  I remember the Wholesale Grocery man.  His name was Mr. Jordan.
S.I. Bank, Montgomery Store and Curtis Drug Store

It was back in those days when a fella named Mr. Mobley was a cashier in the Sicily Island bank.  Not very many people living here today [1991] remember Mr. Mobley but I remember him.

I remember the merchants, people who had businesses in Sicily Island back in the early and mid-1930s.  You had Mr. Stewart Montgomery with a store right next to the bank.  Dr. Gordon's office was there in the back of a little drug store he owned.  The drug store closed for a few years and later on a man named Mr. Curtis moved in and re-opened it.  The drug store was two buildings down from the bank, next to Mr. Montgomery's store.  

Saltzman's Store
Uncle Wes Ogden had a grocery store.  Mr. Uriah Whatley and his wife, Laura, had a store.  Mr. Morris Saltzman had a store and so did Mr. Buck SmithMr. Rufus Knight had a filling station on the corner across from the bank.  [Editor's note:  The Pan-Am station in the photograph above was the former site of Rufus Knight's filling station]  Right behind his station was Mr. John Knight's big ole store.  Big Emmett Chisum had a store back over by Uncle Wes' store and the Whatley's store. 
On down the road was Charlie's place, Charlie's Nite Club.  Charlie and Gus Smith had once had a garage there.  Charlie turned it into a restaurant and later into a nite club.

The nite club flourished for years and years.  Charlie's Nite Club was well known all over this part of Louisiana.  A hot spot; a famous spot for about twenty-five years.

Mr. Pop Denham and his son, Earl, had a little filling station and garage on the other end of town toward Harrisonburg.  We had a saloon.  Jack McNair started working there as a bartender.  I believe his Uncle Walling Chisum owned the place and Jack worked there.  Later on, Jack went into the business for himself. 
The post office was right there on the main drag where the bank and everything else was.  We had the barbershop.  The same barbershop that is still standing there today [1991] was there when I was a little boy.  The first barber I remember was Mr. John Randall.  On up in the 1930s, in the mid-1930s, Uncle Tom Enright opened up a little coffee shop and called it Uncle Tom's Cabin.  
Uncle Wes Ogden's Store
About 1935 or 1936, somewhere along there, the Whatleys either closed up or sold out to a fella by the name of O. G. Wynn.  Mr. Wynn stayed in business for years and years.  After Uncle Wes died, the Wynn's rented his store building and moved their business into there.  The old Whatley store was then torn down and a vacant lot remains there today. 

Woodmen Hall in background; two-story white building

Right past that vacant lot, Sonny Smith built a pool hall and on the corner, Howard Smith had a cafe.  There had been a big ole two-story building, the Woodmen Hall, but it was torn down in the late 1930s.  Howard built his cafe there after he came back out of the army and WWII, about 1945.

Along about the mid-1930s, a man named, R. G. "Reggie" Cruse came in here and opened up a sawmill.  He was quite successful through the years.  He created a lot of working in the woods sawing the logs, truck drivers hauling the logs, and men working there in the mill.
Charlie's Nite Club hired a lot of people...waitresses and cooks.  They had gambling going on with lots of gamblers and their families as patrons.
Another little business that was here was a bat mill.  A fella by the name of Jeff Elgin came in here and opened up the mill.  They cut this bitter pecan wood to make bats out of.  All they did was cut the wood the length of a bat or a little longer and round.  They shipped that to Louisville, Kentucky.  Louisville finished it and made baseball bats out of it.  The bat mill had about 4 or 5 people working in it that added to the jobs in this little village.
We had another business that was open from September through the middle of December.  Howard Smith opened this business and his uncle, Buck Smith, named it the Greasy Spoon.  Howard was just a teenage boy. 

Every Fall he'd go up to an old vacant lot beside the cotton gin and take some old rough lumber and throw up a little shack.  During the ginning season, he'd sell coffee, parched peanuts and some cakes and things.  He'd make several hundred dollars a year.  That was a lot of money back then. 

Back in those days they would gin cotton all day and night.  The ginning never stopped.  Horses and wagons and mules and wagons were used to haul the cotton.  There would be streams of wagons as far as you could see.  Wagons bringing cotton and wagons leaving to go back home and bring more cotton to the gin.
I well remember the Greasy Spoon.  John Fairbanks and I used to help Howard.  We were just little ole boys and we'd help him at the Greasy Spoon.  John and I loved working there and helping Howard.  The employees working in the gin didn't have time to leave the gin to come over to the Greasy Spoon so Howard would fix up a tray with coffee and four or five cups, a bowl of sugar and a can of pet milk on it.  John and I would take the coffee over to the gin to sell to the workers several times a day.

Note:  Parts 1-12 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment