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Despite Gloomy Picture, We’re Living In Good Times

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone hope you’re having a good week.  I was thinking about the millions spent on the recent races and W. A. Nolen who operated a grocery store on Main Street for many years said that he ran a successful campaign for the state legislature for $50 dollars.  

He also recalled he borrowed the money from Charlie Hague.  When I was a kid, I remember Mr. Hague would carry five $100 bills and show them to people.  Today he wouldn’t get home before getting robbed.  We hear about how more money is needed for police forces and crime is still not under control.  

I remember Papa Badley saying that in the early days of the 20th century, Gene Rogers was Town Marshal both day and night.  He said that there was very little crime which shows how different it is today.  That was when Water Valley had a population approaching 10,000.      I wrote in a column several years ago about a murder of a man named Jenkins. People in town had a suspect, a man who had been seen with him and had the victim’s watch in his pocket.  A mob of almost 50 men took the suspect to a tree on the grounds of the old grammar school and put a noose around his neck. Papa recalled that a preacher came by and talked the mob into letting him take him to jail.  

Quite by accident I learned that preacher’s name was E. L. Wesson.  I believe I had heard that name associated with the Methodist Church, but if I’m wrong let me hear from you.     

Another story I remember Papa talking about involved the race track, located south of town near the site of Jeff Davis School. The bleachers collapsed and two people were killed, and several injured. That was the end of horse racing in Water Valley.  

I remember just before World War II, when I was in the 4-H Club, we would have a rally in the old gym and Louis Sherwin – the operator of Double Cola bottling plant on Main Street – donated free Double Colas to the kids.  We enjoyed it because Double Colas were 10 ounces and Coca Colas were only six ounces.  

Shine Tyson also donated free passes to the Grand Theatre and we really enjoyed that too.  In those days, the Grand had two matinees during the week, on Wednesday and Friday as I remember.  They would be shown after school and hopefully some of the students would have enough money for a movie.

The biggest crowds were on Saturday when all seats were a dime and that was the day all the country people came to town to do their shopping.  Sunday movies were illegal, and it wasn’t until about the end of World War II that they were allowed.  Young people today will find it hard to believe that we had “blue laws” that prohibited grocery stores from opening on Sundays.

Mr. Will Crews was the only store owner that stayed open on Sunday and got away with it.  I knew Mr. Will and it wasn’t that he was greedy, but he would sit out front by his gas pump and if someone needed something, he was available.  In reality he had the first “quick stop” in town. So when you here someone talking about the “good old days” don’t you believe it.  I hope we’re living in the good old days today despite of all the gloom and doom we hear each day.  I appreciate the input from all of you over the years, so keep it up.  

My email address is or write me at P.O. Box 613190 Memphis, Tn 38101 and have a great week.

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