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City Had Successful People Who Overcame

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone.  Hope you’re having a good week. I saw in the Memphis paper about the death of Houston Goodwin and it really brought some old memories. The Charlie Goodwin family were part of the Jumper’s Chapel community and were always strong supporters of the church.  

Mother said she remembered when she was a teenager seeing Mr. Charlie and Miss Beulah drive up to the church in a buggy to get married. The family ultimately consisted of James, Charles, J.B., Marie, and Houston with two who died as babies.

J.B. and I were close to the same age and along with two other boys whose names I’ve forgotten were baptized by Brother Kennedy. I remember him saying that he hoped we would all become preachers, but that didn’t happen although I’ve been singing gospel music since attending one of Ludie’s singing schools at Jumper’s chapel one summer, and I’m sure he would have approved.

Mr. Charlie was not only a strong supporter of the church, he was a successful farmer and good citizen. Papa Badley al-ways bought his potato slips from him. They were certified and the best on the market.  

Mr. Charlie had a family on his place named Champion and they had a little boy who was about Houston’s age and his constant playmate. One day they were playing and went into the corral where the mules were and one of them kicked the little Champion boy on his head. At first he didn’t seem to be hurt badly but a few days later he developed tetanus and died.  Since the family was poor and had no insurance, Mr. Charlie made all the arrangements. He bought a suit and casket for the little boy and handled the funeral as good as a funeral director and it left a lasting impression with me.

James Goodwin went on to College while Charles due to poor eyesight decided to forego college and worked for many years at People’s Wholesale.  His son, Sam is still in business in Water Valley. Even though Charles was older than me, we were always good friends. He and Johnnie Middleton and Robert Busby were all avid Coon hunters.

Since Houston was younger than me, I didn’t know him that well, but I understand he was a good man and I offer my condolences to the family.  Marie, who married Robert Norwood, was a dear friend to Mother as long as she lived and they visited her regularly and I have always been grateful since Mother enjoyed their visits so much.

As usual I’d like to change direction and pick up on a topic I covered in a previous column about musicians who overcame handicaps and became famous. I failed to mention Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder who were both blind and became super stars.  

I rarely watch WKNO but the other night they were showing black entertainers such as Josephine Baker and Sidney Bechet who became famous in Paris after WWI and on that same program they mentioned DJango Reinhardt.  

He was a French Gypsy and his left hand had been badly burned as a child and though he could only chord with two fingers, he was one of the most famous jazz guitarists in Europe.  He also worked for the French underground during WWII.  Jamie sent me a CD a couple of years ago of his best recordings, and I’ve enjoyed them so much.   

Water Valley had successful people who overcame handicaps to become successful. Papa Badley talked about Mr. Pate who had a wooden leg but ran a successful general merchandise store on Main street for years.  Dr. French who made house calls and treated patients and he had a crippled arm. Ralph Wells, who was confined to a wheelchair, had a watch repair business.  Sherman Greenlee who was a singer and song leader and ran a radio repair shop for years  from a wheelchair.   

We also had two successful businessmen who couldn’t read or write. I’m sure that many of you know of individuals who did the same and you are welcome to share with us.  My email address is or write me at P.O. Box 613189  Memphis, Tenn. 38101 and have a great week.

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