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‘Fatty’ Barnes Was Always Late To Fires

by Charles Cooper

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

Since I get my Herald so late I just learned of the death of my old friend, Eddie Nelson. We go back to the end of World War II when we both attended First Methodist Church. I lost track of him after he moved to Arizona.  We reconnected since I started writing this column and it was just like all those years hadn’t passed by.  My condolence to the family.  

It seems that since the first of this year I’ve lost four old friends, Bill Trusty, Cathy Ward, Gary Redwine and  now Eddie.  This seems to be one of the prices we pay as we get older, although Gary wasn’t close to our age group.  

Jim and Jo Peacock lost their 15 year-old terrier, Daisy, and  having lost our Lucky a few years back, I can certainly sympathize with them. That’s the downside to having pets, somewhere down the line we have to let them go, but it’s never easy.  

Jim told me that having a compassionate vet like Dr. Fred McCullar helped ease the pain. I don’t know Dr. McCullar but I did know his father. I remember mentioning him in one of my first columns, which was about Martin Boydston.  

Since it’s been ten years since that column, and for the benefit of some of you newer readers, I’ll give you a brief recap of what I wrote about Fred.  

One Saturday night, several local businessmen came into Martin’s drug store and Fred wanted some vanilla ice cream. Martin told him that the keg was almost empty and Fred told him he’d finish up what was left and he could charge him accordingly. Fred was spooning the ice cream out when the others started talking about how gross it was to find hair in butter. Fred didn’t miss a beat except to say, “hair doesn’t bother me a darn bit,” and went on until he had finished what was in the keg.  

We’ve had so many interesting characters in the Valley over the years and it’s been a pleasure profiling them in my columns.  

After he retired, Frank Harding would come into the Blackmur cafe and sit on the same stool and drink coffee and greet his friends as they came in.

Roy Barbee was active in civic affairs and was a scout master at one time. He belonged to the Rotary Club, but for some reason didn’t sit at the table like the rest but took a stool close by.

A local businessman, out of respect to his memory I won’t mention his name, would leave a nickel tip.  

John and Nick Stamolis operated the cafe. John always ran the register and Nick spent most of his time in the kitchen.  However, he would always come out when it was time to make coffee in the old fashioned urn.  

Russell Byers and his wife lived in the hotel for years and ate in the cafe. It was said that Mrs. Byers had never cooked a meal during their married life.  I have no idea if that was true, but it does make an interesting story.  

Fatty Barnes, an ex-tremely large man who was a volunteer fireman, was always late getting to a fire.  Once he showed up at a fire and someone told him he was too late and Fatty, who had a great sense of humor, replied, “at least I’m in time to save the lot.” He was loved by everybody and when he died suddenly  one Sunday after church the whole town went into mourning.  

That’s just a few of our interesting personalities and I’m proud to say that I knew most of them.  

Let me hear from you either at my email address or write me at P.O. Box  613189, Memphis, TN 38101 and have a great week.


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