Main Street Provided Saturday Entertainment
By Charles Cooper
Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week. I’ve been reading with interest the effort to revive the downtown area and hope it will be a success. As I’ve written in past columns, young people today would be astounded at what a vital street Main was in the thirties and forties.
On Saturday, it was almost impossible to find a parking space unless you came early. Since there were no parking meters, you could stay in the same spot all day without a penalty. Some of the town people would sit all day in a spot watching the crowd go by. Since most of the county people came to town on Saturday to do their shopping, you would be in a crowd up and down the street.
There was a story going around that someone rushed into Dr. Cooper’s office and told him Mrs. —— was having a baby and Dr. Cooper asked them, “where is she parked?” I remember one Saturday when we got an ambulance call stemming from a bad wreck on the Old Oxford Road. I was driving and Paul Kiihnl was riding shotgun and as we tried to go into Main Street from Wood – the traffic was bumper to bumper. I hit the siren a few growls with no results. Paul reached over and flipped the switch to full siren and probably scared everyone in town. Needless to say they cleaned a path, and I went up Main at top speed with the siren wide open.
You turn off Main on Lafayette and go to where it dead ends into Boyd and turn left and from there on everyone always called it the Old Oxford Road as years ago there was no Hwy. 7 and that was the way to Oxford. I’ll have a comment about Hwy. 7 later in the column. About a mile after the house where Harry and Luella Fair lived, was what was known as the Jim Tate place.
The Nelson family lived there at that time and just past there was a small house at the curve in the road. We could see the wrecked car on the side of the road and people were already gathering, much as they do today at an accident scene. One guy came staggering up to us with blood all downs the front of his shirt and said, “I didn’t get a scratch, see about these girls.”
They weren’t exactly girls as one came up to us and said, “I know I’m hurt,” and showed us a badly broken arm. We had already concluded that they were all drunk when another woman and a man came up and the woman started screaming, “my baby, my baby.” We rushed to the wrecked car thinking that the baby might be inside, when someone told us that the baby had been taken to the next house.
We loaded them all up, stopped at Mr. Nelson’s and picked up the baby, which was unhurt, and took them to Dr. George’s emergency room. There the story unfolded that they were all married, but not to each other. We left them to work that out and never saw them again. As usual one story with me leads to another. I write this as if I were talking to you and this convoluted tale was to give you an idea how busy Main street was on a Saturday afternoon.
Now back to Hwy. 7. It ran through the communities of Springdale and Yocona bottom, and there were lagoons on both sides of the road. People referred to them as “bar pits.” I later learned that it was a corruption of “borrow pits,” where dirt was dug up on the sides to build a road bed, or borrowed.
That part of the old highway is now part of Enid Lake’s back water. At one time Papa Badley leased some of the farm land, known as the Andy Ross farm, and I remember as a small child going with them when they worked the fields. Mr. Clyde Fite, who had been bought out by the government when they built the Sardis dam, bought the farm and built a frame house on the east side of the highway where they lived for several years before moving to Water Valley.
I remember when I was small that Dad built a John boat and fished on the river for several years. All this about the Old Oxford Road is leading up to another story that I plan to write in a future column.
My thanks to Mrs. Annie Denham of Oxford, a first time writer. She is compiling a family history that will include the Joyner family, and I’m going to recommend that she contact them as they can give her better information than I can. I do appreciate the letter and hope to hear from you again. This column starts its ninth year and I do appreciate all of you sharing your memories with me.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 and have a great week.