Reflections

Private Car A Perk For Railroad Officials

By Charles Cooper


Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week.
I just learned of the death of Mrs. Doris Ward. Al-though we never met, her husband, Doris, and his twin brother, Horace, were part of the Jumper’s Chapel family when I was growing up.
As a matter of fact he and I were a part of one of Ludie’s singing schools in the early 1940s. I offer my condolences to the family.  
I also offer my condolences to the  family of Dr. Joe Walker.
I didn’t know Willie Wal-ker but his older sister, Quay and I were in the same graduation class.  
Last Friday I made a brief business trip to the Valley and stopped in the Herald office and visited with Jack. We covered several subjects, mostly about railroading as he and his dad are carrying on that tradition started by his Uncle Bruce. He mentioned that his granddad, B.G. Gurner, was the engineer on one of the the last passenger train through Water Valley, which was a special to an Ole Miss game.  
I remembered during World War II that a former  Water Valley native, Clint Christy, who had become an executive with the Illinois Central, had died and  was bought back in his private railroad car. It was put on a siding near the depot for a visitation before his burial in Oak Hill.   
In those days a private car was one of the perks of railroad officials much like the stretch limos for executives are today. I remember my dad telling me that once the trainmaster climbed on his engine and said, ”Cooper, Mr. Wayne Johnson’s private car is part of this train. Since he is the President of the IC, be on your Ps and Qs.” Dad, who was never known to be tactful replied, “Any time I step on an engine I’m on my Ps and Qs, Wayne Johnson or not.”  
When I glanced at last week’s column and saw the mention of Mr. Jimmy Harris who worked for Newman-Gardner and later for Hamric Henry I realized that I had overlooked mentioning Bill Morgan who also worked for Newman-Gardner and later for Hamric. We worked together for over two years and  were good friends.
In addition to Bill, Paul Kiihnl, Jimmy Harris and I, others who came over to Hamric were Buck Edwards, Lawrence Hale, and Lonzo Harding, who dated back to the original Trusty funeral home.  
I mentioned last week that I would write about some of our country friends and one that really stood out was Charley Ritter. Papa Badley said he remembered when Charley got his start as a teenager cutting wood on his mother’s farm and selling it in town. He and Ernest Stone became partners on nothing but a handshake and became successful farmers and  landowners.
When beer was legal in Water Valley in the 1930s, Charley had a cafe about where the Flower shop is  on South Main. It was an orderly business that sold as much food as beer. When beer was voted out, Charley resumed his farming interests with Ernest Stone until Ernest’s sudden death in 1948.
I was assistant director on his funeral and I remember Charley coming by the funeral home later and thanking us for a good service.
Whenever he would hear of land for sale he would buy it. At one time he owned extensive country property in Yalobusha and Calhoun Counties.  
He never had children, but after the death of his wife he married Mrs. Blanche Worsham and they were together as long as he lived.  Charley gave the appearance of being a bluff-loud type, but people who knew him well said that underneath he was a gentleman and honest in all his dealings. I guess that’s a fitting epitaph.   
I’m just getting started on this series so any input you  have about people I might not know, will be greatly appreciated.  
My email address is cncooper1@hotmail.com or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, TN 38101 and have a great week.

Leave a Comment