Reflections

Hello everyone. Hope you’re having a good week.  

Lately I’ve been writing about boarding houses around Water Valley and this actually led into another story.  

Someone had told me that I had never said a word about Oakland and it was a vital part of Yalobusha County for many years.  

I did a little research and found some information about the Granny Matthews Hotel in Oakland.  I didn’t know the old lady well, as I was about six and starting school at Oakland. I passed the hotel every day.  

If you passed Granny Matthews without speaking, you did so at your own peril.  At that age I was intimidated by older people I didn’t know, but for some reason I didn’t feel that way about her.

I remember once some older boys had been teasing me and I was crying when I passed the hotel.  

Granny Matthews demanded, “What’s wrong with you, child. I told her and she said, “Tell those bullys that Granny Matthews said to leave you alone, or they’ll have to deal with me.” I don’t think I ever told them, but from that time on I felt she was a friend of mine.  

She was what today we would call “salty” since she took the attitude that she either liked you a lot or she didn’t like you at all.  

As I remember she was a tiny old lady, probably not quite five feet tall. She dipped snuff didn’t care who saw her.

People said she would say, “They’re no better than me, so why should I care?”  I never saw the inside of the hotel, but I found by research that the guests were seated at long tables in the dining room just as if they were at home.

The regulars had their own place at the table and no one thought of taking it. They might be salesmen, called “drummers” in those days, railroad men, store employees or just an occasional drop-in.

Granny sat at the head of the table and if you didn’t take something of every dish she wanted to know why.  

The hotel was a two story affair  just across the street from the main line of the IC. Like most of the old time hotels of that day, there was a porch around two sides of the house and in good weather guests would sit in chairs or the swing and gossip with each other.

As I remember, Granny sat in a rocking chair, dipping her snuff and entering conversations from time to time.

I wish I had been older so that I could have known the old lady better, but Granny died in 1938 and the old hotel was torn down to make room for the new Post Office.  

I know that my cousin Melvin Ford probably has more knowledge of this place as he and his brother grew up in Oakland.

If any of you have any more information about the Granny Matthews Hotel and you want to share it with us, I would appreciate it.  

The Oakland in my memory was one long street running along side the Railroad and nearly every store was open for business.  I drove through it several years ago, and none of them were open but the small house by the railroad that we lived in was still standing and was occupied.  

I remember that my friends and I would sit by the railroad and watch for the block signal  to drop meaning that a train had entered the block.  

What a thrill it was to see #4 come roaring by with those tall drivers churning and the steam whistle blowing for the crossing.  

This was depression days and the freights would always have men riding the empty cars, looking for work.  Nearly every day one would come to our door offering to work for food.  

Mother would always give them something if only a biscuit or warmed over coffee from breakfast.  

Incidentally, they said that Granny Matthews would always feed anyone that came to her door.  

Let me hear from you either by my email which is charlescooper3616@sbcglobal.net or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 and have a great week.

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