The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
My thoughts are going back to the old stores and merchants we had here in town in the 1930s and 1940s. Mr. Maurice Saltzman, Big Emmett Chisum, Uncle Wes Ogden, Mr. Buck Smith, and Mr. and Mrs. Whatley.
One of the stores had big hooks of cheese out on the counter. In the summertime, the cheese wouldn't be yellow. It would be orange colored and soft. You could get a pound of cheese for about 10 cents back in those days.
You could fill a little brown bag with soda crackers for 5 cents and have you some crackers and cheese. There were jars of oil sausage, jars of sweet pickles and jars of pickled pig feet sitting out on the counters.
I remember the smell of coal oil. The merchants would sprinkle it around on the floors to settle the dust.
Everybody kept coal oil lamps. We had electric lights on the Island back in the 1930s but they were always going out. It seemed like they always went out on Saturday nights.
Saturdays were big days and nights. I don't know if it was overloading the system or what. It took several hours before the lights would come back on so everybody kept their coal oil lamps nearby.
You could walk in one of the stores and smell the tobacco. There would be a big square of tobacco and the store owner would cut you off a nickel, a dime or twenty cents worth of tobacco.
I remember the old tobacco cutters. They looked something like a cheese cutter.
The stores would have big ole wooden crates of loose apples out front. You could even buy a slice of a dried apple.
New overalls had a certain scent to them. You could smell the leather of the mule and horse gear they had in the stores.
I wonder how many people would remember that great big, black dog that belonged to the Whatley family. His name was Old Dan. He looked something like a German Shepherd. Old Dan stayed at the Whatley store all the time.
When John Fairbanks and I were little boys, we would go by the Whatley store and ask Mr. Whatley to get Old Dan to ask for a cookie. Mr. Whatley kept the cookies in bins. Old Dan would go over to the bins and bark for a cookie.
Mrs. Yancey had an old bird dog named Old Rex.. That dog used to stay in front of the Montgomery store that once belonged to Mr. Yancey.
Old Rex was a liver spotted pointer. He would come to that store every day. Even after Mr. Yancey died, that dog kept coming to that store. Albert Earl Krause and Charles McNair used to take Old Rex bird hunting.
There used to be a great big ole cottonwood tree in the alley by the Whatley store. The story was told that this tree was the tree that one of the Bennett boys stood behind and was shooting at a store across the street over there close to the Methodist Church and close to where the Whatley's house was. Mr. Claude Enright and his brother Roy were supposedly up in the store shooting back at the Bennett boy behind the cottonwood tree. They were shooting back and forth across the street at one another.
John Fairbanks and I were told that you could still see the lead bullets in the cottonwood tree. We were always looking at that tree to see if we could find some of that lead. The shootout was supposed to have taken place about 10 or 15 years before; in about 1915 or so.
There was a store that stood on the corner across the street from the Whatley store. I don't know if that was the store that Mr. Claude was shooting from, though. For years that store had a sign on the front that said Carl Shipp and Son. I don't remember them being in business but I do remember Hughes McKnight having a store and a little meat market in that building.
That particular building hasn't been torn down for too long. They last used it for a laundry. Claude Haley had a laundry there. Later, a fellow by the name of Henslee had a laundry in that store. He was married to one of the Cruse girls.
|Herd Guice standing beside Haley's Cleaners Delivery Vehicle|
Dr. Gordon's house was about fifty yards on down from that building. The next house was the Chambless house, then Big Emmett Chisum's house, Cousin Jessie McNair's house, then the Garners, the Bourkes and Uncle Tom and Aunt Kate Chisum's house. On down from there was Mrs. Anna [Doniphan] Peniston's house.
I make these tapes for those who are about my age and would remember the things I talk about. Future generations won't know about some of the things I mention but they're worth mentioning.
Note: Parts 1-25 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of this blog.