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Early Valley Merchants Got The Job Done

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week.  This week I’d like to visit some local businesses as I try to do from time to time.  
Johnny McDonald operated a grocery in the block below the old Blackmur Hotel. He was a slight built man, and always seemed to be in a hurry. He was well liked and always did a good business. He was married to John Peacock’s daughter and his daughter, Frances, graduated a year ahead of me.  She married Peewee Sartain and they ran a  restaurant on North Main for many years.  
McDonald also wrote a column similar to this one for a long time.
Another character was George Miles, who was married to Genie Meggs sister,  and had served as a baker in the Navy in World War II. He opened a donut shop across the alley below the Grand Theater. He was a tall lanky individual with an outgoing personality. When he installed a counter and offered coffee, the business became a gathering place for  Main Street business people.  
He and his wife had no children, so she worked in the shop with George and they were popular with the customers. George was a great baker and during the Christmas holidays he baked pies and cakes almost around the clock for special orders.
He would be assisted by his good friend, R. L.  Williams, who was an accomplished baker in his own right. They would tape paper over the windows and work through the night.  The results were so good that they could barely keep up with the orders.
Another business owner was Vernon Johnson, who had been in the used car business, got the Chevrolet franchise and operated it in the old Jimmy Wilbourn Dodge-Plymouth building for many years.  
His brother, Dale Johnson, ran a neighborhood grocery at the corner of Central and North Court streets.  
Coley and Ruby Taylor had a full line grocery across the street where the bank is now.  
Across Court Street, Will  Crews operated a grocery with a single gas pump in front.  
Just north of Taylor Grocery,  H.O. “Hot” Thomas had a one chair barber shop with a bicycle seat attached to the chair to allow him to sit down as he had lost a leg in a railroad accident. We should all have a sense of pride in all the Water Valley people who overcame handicaps and became successful.  
Sherman Greenlee and Ralph Wells operated from wheel chairs, Hobson Lewis was a deaf mute, Frank Harding and Gates Wood each had crippled hands, Ben King and Doss Parks had only one arm, Bill Baddley had only one eye–but all of them knew they had a job to do and they did it.  
Let me hear from you. My email is cncooper1@hotmail .com or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, TN 38101 and have a great week.

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