By Charles Cooper
Hello everyone, I hope you are having a good week.
It is really great to see the progress in the revitalization of downtown Water Valley and how everyone seems to be pulling together with a single purpose in mind.
A few years ago it was depressing to see the vacant buildings in what was once such a thriving business area When I was growing up here every building on Main Street – from the Post Office on one side and the Coca Cola plant on the other – was open for business.
When Louis Sherwin came here from St Louis and opened a Double Cola plant next door to Coca Coca, many questioned his judgment. Time proved them wrong. He put Double Cola everywhere cold drinks were sold and even after he lost a leg in a near fatal automobile wreck, he rode with his driver and went on crutches into every business to take orders.
I knew Mr. Sherwin and he was friendly and definitely a good salesman. When we had 4-H club rallies he provided Double Colas free and any event where ads were sold, he always bought one.
I remember we called on him and asked if he wanted to buy an ad in our annual yearbook and he smiled and said, “Not really, but I’m going to take one anyway.”
The fire station was next door at that time and the fire truck would be backed into the alley so he could head out when a call came in. Buford Clark was the Fire Marshal for years and was the only paid employee as the rest were volunteers. Blu-Buck hardware was next and the Herald office after that.
The next building was an ice cream shop and in later years our teenage canteen. Arthur Walker and Ernest Berry’s barber shop was next and Hobson Lewis had a shoe repair shop next door. He was a deaf mute and if you didn’t know sign language he had a pad and pencil for you to write your order and he always did a good business.
Incidentally at one time there were three shoe shops in town as people had to get all the wear they could out of their shoes and half soles and heels were cheaper than a new pair. Shine Tyson bought a movie house from Alf Walker in the 1920s and remodeled it in the early 1930s so that it could seat 750 with the balcony.
On Saturdays he showed two matinees and two at night and everyone got in for a dime. Needless to say, even in those hard times, he filled it four times every Saturday. There were no double features as you paid to see each movie. One was always a Western with a serial and the other was usually some kind of detective story along with cartoons.
We also had three drug stores, two hotels, four new car agencies, two five and dime stores, a men’s wear and three dry goods stores. I can’t cover them all in one column but you get the picture. I realize it will never be like that again but for the first time in years the Valley is on the move.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 so let me hear from you and have a great week.