Get Out Your High Top Shoes And Wool Suits
By Charles Cooper
Hello everyone I hope you are having a good week. As I frequently say, if I make an error someone will correct me. My old friend, Jim Allen, told me that I was wrong about there being no more section houses in this part of the country. He said that there was one near Winona which was painted gray instead of the old time orange.
That’s why I always ask for input from you readers and over the years you have responded, and I thank you. I haven’t received a Herald in over two weeks and I wonder if any of you are experiencing the same problem. Since I try to remain apolitical, I won’t comment about the way our tax dollars are wasted on the Post Office and other equally inefficient projects.
It seems incredible that here it is Labor Day and Christmas only four months away. I read somewhere that originally Labor Day was established because there was such a stretch between July 4th and Thanksgiving. But, that’s as good a reason as any and it does give a break between summer and fall.
My uncle, Charles Badley, who spent his working life in Chicago told me that Labor day was when they put aside their straw hats and seersucker suits and started wearing their high top shoes and wool suits. He always wore the western type Stetson–he pronounced it “stutson” in the winter.
He told me once that he was given one of Great Grandfather Badley’s big hats and he liked it so much he continued to wear them. In the old days out west hats were always referred to as Stetsons, jeans as Levi’s, and boots as Justin’s. Do any of you remember when Bob Halliwell had his men’s furnishings store on Main street and he would measure a customer for a suit and order it and it would be a perfect fit. He and my Dad were always called the best dressed men in Water Valley and after Dad moved, Hamric took his place.
Hamric told me once that Bob said that when he died he wanted Hamric to dress him as he was the only one who knew the way he wanted the knot in his tie. Hamric said that he honored his request.
I was thinking when I was in Wal-Mart recently how you can buy groceries, have a prescription filled, have an eye exam, buy garden supplies, clothes for the entire family, buy tires and have them installed all under the same roof. When I was a kid you bought groceries in one store your clothes in another, and your meat at a meat market. Peoples Wholesale did have a grocery, dry goods and appliance store adjoining. It wasn’t until Claude Wood opened his Jitney Jungle store that he had a meat counter in the rear and self service. He even had a wooden turnstile like the Piggly Wiggly stores in the cities.
Do you remember when the Double Cola and Coca Cola bottlers were across from the Post Office. Mother’s cousin, Henry Badly worked on the delivery truck for years. It was a relatively simple operation as all bottles were returnable and you would replace the empty bottles with an equal number of full ones.
When Coca Cola introduced the six pack cokes were five cents but as a promotion a six pack would be a quarter. All cokes came in the green six ounce bottle, only double cola had a ten ounce bottle and was a favorite with kids because you got four more ounces for your nickel.
I remember Howard Kelly had a Gulf station and Chrysler-Plymouth dealership across from the Coca Cola plant. I don’t remember if there were more cars around or if you had to order the car you wanted. Of course not many people could afford new cars in the depression years and Mr. Kelly gave up the dealership in the late thirties. In a few years Jimmie Wilbourn ran a successful Dodge-Plymouth agency until 1949 when his health caused him to retire.
Just about the time I think I’ve covered everything about Water Valley, I find more interesting subjects I intend to include in future columns. So don’t forget to share any memories you have with us. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or write me at P.O. Box 613189, Memphis, Tenn. 38101 and have a great week.