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Reflections

Choice Parking Spots Scarce On Saturday

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week.  

Winter doesn’t seem to want to loosen its grip on us and some of the nut cases still want to insist that it’s caused by global warming.  It seems that pseudo science is still alive and well. I’m old-fashioned and I still believe in weather cycles that have been around as long as the earth.

A good rule is to always follow the money. These doomsday writers that tell us the end is near always want to sell their books. If what they write is true, why not give the books away because what would the money be worth and what would they spend it on.  

I know critics are going to say that Cooper’s over simplifying again but since I don’t have a dog in that hunt, I’m free to speak my mind.  

I’d like to hear from any of you who attended the  teen canteen on Main Street a few doors from where the Herald Office is now. We all could be entertained with simple pleasures in those days because, after all, we didn’t have  television and the movies and the Canteen were about all we had for entertainment. We were happy because we didn’t know anything else.

It was a pleasure to bid on a box lunch and get to share it with the girl who  had prepared it. Today I wouldn’t eat a wiener under any circumstance, but it was fun to roast them over a campfire and then toast some marshmallows for dessert.   

Today it seems strange to drive down Main Street in Water Valley on a Saturday afternoon and it’s almost deserted.  Until the late 1950s, Saturday was the shopping day for most country people and many of the town people as well. There were no parking meters, so anyone who was fortunate to find a parking space could stay there all day if they wished. This was entertainment for many who tried to get down early to get a choice spot and watch the people go by.  

Horses and wagons had to park away from Main street, usually on Duncan  where Mr. O. J. Ross had a feed and produce store and Mr. Wiley Johnson had a corral and mule barn.

Further up near where Fred’s is now, Mr. William House had a blacksmith shop and grist mill. Papa Badley and nearly every other county person would drop his corn off to be ground and go about his other business. Mr. House took a portion of the meal as his fee, and even back then he tagged your sack and gave you the matching number.

Most people wanted to take their corn  there because it was stone ground as they say today, although I never heard anyone use that term back then. The corn was poured into a hopper and was crushed by stone grinders. This gave the meal a firmer texture and the chaff was separated from the edible meal. They could set the grinders to give you what was called “chops,” which was coarser and the chaff left in because it was for chicken feed.  

Mr. House was also a farrier and could shoe your horses and mules.  Like many old time blacksmiths, he made his own horse shoes. He also repaired farm implements and sharpened plow points. When he retired due to bad health, Julian Boxx took over the business and did auto repairs in addition to the grist mill service.  Julian was an outgoing man who, like many southerners, always had a joke ready and was well liked by his customers. Unfortunately years later he and a helper were killed installing a TV antenna  when they touched a power line.

As usual I veered off from Saturday Main Street traffic so I’ll try to get back on course and give you a mental picture of how it was.  

School routes in those days were bid off and the low bidder got the job for a year.  Many drivers took the school bus body off during summer and used the truck for farm work.  Others left it on and many would bring a load of country people who had no cars to town for a small fee, usually a dime, to buy their groceries.

These Saturday shopping trips were as much a social gathering as a grocery buying trip, as they would see old friends and get up to date on all the happenings.  As a result, late Saturday afternoon there would be a flurry of activity in all the stores to get their shopping done and get ready to go home.  

Shine Tyson, who was an astute businessman, sold all his tickets for a dime on Saturday and usually the theater was filled for two matinees and two night shows. Since the auditorium seated over seven hundred people, he made most of his money on Saturday and for your dime you got to watch a western with a serial and cartoon. Popcorn and peanuts cost extra.  

Let me hear from you as I always appreciate your input.  My email address is cncooper1@hotmail.net or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, TN 38101 and have a great week.

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