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Dr. Tom Never Drew Blood While Removing Corns

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, I hope you are having a good week.  This is the first column of our ninth year and it’s been great and with all of your help we’ll keep writing it as long as I can make it interesting–for you as well as me.

As I recall, my first column was about Martin Boydston and my second about  Dr. Tom Pulley.  Both of these men were practically town institutions, and I was privileged to know them both.  

Martin was the son of “Uncle Tobe” Boydston, who was a railroad engineer for many years.  Martin started as a teenager for Mr. Brick Knox in the Knox Drug Store, which dated back to the 1880s.  Even in school Martin was something of a character. Once he misbehaved in class and the teacher told him he had earned a whipping.  Martin fell to his knees in the aisle and began to pray loudly saying if he was spared this whipping he vowed to do better in the future.  The teacher, finally told him to get up and go back to his desk.      

Binnie Turnage told me that once a customer wanted to buy some asafetida and when he asked how much, Martin told him it cost a  dime.  The customer told Martin to charge it and Martin told him he wouldn’t write up anything for a dime, to take it and go.

Another time Elmer Higginbotham’s brother, Fred, who worked at night in the shops, would often come in early and take a nap in his car.  Martin noticed he was snoring with his mouth open, and he went up and poured a spoonful of quinine in his mouth.  A few minutes later Fred came in agitated, asking for Martin to call a Doctor because his gall bladder had ruptured.  

Now before some of you write me that I’m repeating old stories, these two have never been used.  My thanks to Binnie, and he has promised me some other material relating to his business and Martin Boydston.  

Dr. Tom Pulley actually had no medical training, but was given that title by a grateful public that went to him for relief from their corns and bunions.  

Dr. Tom’s promise that he never drew blood, and for more that 50 years he kept that promise.  In the past eight years I’ve learned just how little I knew about the town where I was born and grew up.  Now thanks to all of you who have contributed, and research I’ve done, I realize what a rich heritage we have.

In the early days of the 20th century the Valley had gangs.  Of course they were nothing like the gangs of today, but more along the lines of turf wars.              

A point where Market Street dead ends at the Baptist Church was the demarcation between north and south.  Usually the problems amounted to fist fights and minor vandalism and most of the participants, became friends after going into World War I together.

I’ve also heard older people talk about how country boys would get into fights with town boys from time to time, but I never saw that except at the Saturday night dances.  

In the early days of the twentieth century Gene Rogers served as town marshal both night and day, with no deputy, yet he maintained order with very little physical effort.  I’m looking  forward to another year of hearing from all of you and I already have several future columns I’m working on and I hope you’ll find them entertaining.  Let me hear from you at email or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 and have a great week.

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