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Reflections

Early Settlers Were Accustomed To Floods

By Charles Cooper

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

    You’ve heard the expression “going full circle” and that’s what I’m doing this week. We had some extensive wind and water damage to our house and my computer and fax were ruined. This week I’m using a borrowed word processor and fax. Due to the back log of claims an adjuster has me scheduled for May 21, so bear with me.

    I can remember the flood of 1937 when I was going to school in Oakland. A procession of refugees came through from the Delta in wagons, old cars and trucks. This flood is supposed to be the worst since then.

    Pappa Badley told me that before they channeled Town Creek, you had to ford it five times going from one end of Main Street to the other. Many wagons got stuck and they had what was called a “jerk wagon” – the forerunner of a wrecker – to pull them out.

    There was a story about Mr. Pate, who had a store on Main Street. It is said that he was seen with an umbrella in one hand and a sandbag in the other. Most of the merchants did have to put sandbags in front to protect their merchandise.

    The Wagner Company had a room that could be entered from what was called “out back,” what is now Duncan Street. Wagner only furnished the room and a mattress—the blankets and pillows had to be furnished by those renting the room.

     My Uncle Joe Cooper told me how he and Mother and Dad were coming from my Grandpa Cooper’s funeral at Orwood and Yocona bottom was partially flooded. He said he walked ahead to a bridge that was under water to see if it was still intact and could be driven over by car. The next morning they heard that it had washed out during the night.

    My grandfather, Elijah Badley, Jr., owned a lot of land in Yocona bottom in the late 19th Century and his older brother, Charlie, and a friend had gone hunting during freezing weather and they got lost after dark. They realized that to keep from freezing they had to start a fire, but they had only one match. They gathered grass and leaves and Charlie had some letters which he lit to get the fire started and they collected brush to keep it going.

    Later they heard someone yelling and Charlie went to investigate and found a black man who had given up and sat down under a tree to die. He got him to his feet, and using the fire as a guide, brought him to where he could get warm. The three of them survived the night, and using the sun as a guide the next morning, walked home.     Our ancestors were a hardy bunch and we’ve all inherited enough from them that still makes us strong against anybody who threatens our way of life.

    Since you can’t email me temporarily, you can reach me at P. O. Box 613189, Memphis, TN 38101, or call me at (870) 636-2403.

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