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Boyd Street Produced String Of Interesting Characters

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone I hope you are having a good week.  I was sorry to hear of the death of Tommy Swearengen and though I didn’t know him that well, he would always make a point to speak to me when we would meet. I knew his father and his older brother, Robert Earl, and they were all good  people.  My condolences to the family.  

Now back to Boyd Street–the saga continues. Robert Edward Montgomery called me the other nigh and we had a long talk about people we both knew. He reminded me that I hadn’t mentioned the Jones family and I explained as I did in my last column that Boyd is a long street and can’t be covered in one column.

That said, Down below Frances Crews was Mr. Sam Lindsey, and across the street Asa and Clois Herring.  They were good friends and neighbors and I got to know their oldest son, Jim, who was a career Army Officer.  Then across the street, Jim and Bessie McCullar.  Bessie and her brother, Keith Kirkwood, were first cousins to my Dad.

Even though they lived around the corner on Lafayette street, Tommy and Verdie Lewis who were related to Nannie Badley, were part of the Boyd Street community.  We were probably the closest  knit community I have ever lived in, before or since.  

We had our share of drama. For example Fannie Lou Champion, who was a cousin to Mother, gave birth to twin girls. Her husband, Fred Champion, who was a conductor on the railroad, was plowing in his garden when we heard a scream. Pat Crews ran in and told us that Fred had touched a downed power line and was dead.  Jim Peacock’s grandfather, Jim, heard a scream and ran out and saw the line clenched in Fred’s hand and tried to poke it loose with a stick.

The power knocked it out of his hand and he got a longer sticks and finally go it loose.  When Fred came to he yelled loud enough to be heard for blocks.  Tommy Lewis and Jack Haller who happened to be walking by loaded him in Tommy’s car and took him to the hospital.  

He recovered but lost a finger and was on disability for some time. He eventually returned to the railroad and lived a long life.

Buddy Palmer was working for Cleve Peacock at the axe handle mill. Although he had been cautioned about the correct way to hand crank a tractor he forgot and got a badly broken arm. 

I had a pet goat who would follow me around like a dog and one day I was doing homework on the porch he walked up and took a huge bite from the papers.  

One Saturday I wanted to go to a dance and I didn’t have any money. Mother let me sell two of her ducks to Mr. Ross.   The way Jim tells it after that the ducks knew when Saturday came and would disappear.  I neither confirm or deny that.  Now Robert Edward back to the Jones family.  As I wrote in a column several years ago, Johnny Jones came to Water Valley from Ireland to work on the railroad.  Edward Scanlon’s grandfather, Thomas Scanlon, Sr. was his sponsor and as Johnny knew no English, guided him until he learned the language.

Johnny never lost his rich Irish brogue and as he had inherited some land became a substantial citizen, respected by everyone.  The street known as Cotton Mill Row  was changed to Jones street to honor his memory.  The constraints of space will require some future columns.  As soon as Jim Peacock compiles the names of the children of these families, we’ll include them as well.  My email address is or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, TN 38101 and have a great week.

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