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Reflections

Valley Has Seen Enterprising Businesses

By Charles Cooper


Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week.  
Water Valley has a history of enterprising, small businesses over the years and this week I’d like to tell you about a few of them.  In the column about Camp Ground, I mentioned Mr. Dovie Rushing, who donated the land for the  school and church and was also a successful farmer and businessman. He and Papa Badley were good friends. At one time he sold milk in town door-to-door and would even give potential customers a sample taste.  
One story he told Papa Badley was about an old lady who used an ear trumpet, a forerunner of hearing aids.  She stuck one end in her ear and held the other end to Mr. Rushing. He thought she was holding a container so he poured milk into the trumpet. I don’t remember if he told Papa whether she bought the milk or not.  
Another  was Ben Blaker who butchered cattle and sold meat in town, and also door-to-door. Ben had a small problem which didn’t deter him–he couldn’t read or write. He would sell on credit if necessary, and would pull out a little “day  book” and ask the person to put their name and amount on the page. Later when they would want to pay their bill, Ben would say “just look in there and find your name and amount beside it.” Ben told Uncle Charley that he doubted if many cheated him.
Near where Odie Shufield has his shop was a blacksmith shop in the early 1920s. When it closed, some businessmen got together and built a creamery. They hired a Mr. Hessler, a cheese maker from Wisconsin, to operate it. The farmers bought separators, which would separate the cream from the milk.  They sold the cream to the creamery, who in turn made butter.
With the arrival of the Kraft cheese plant, people lost interest in the creamery so Mr. Hessler quit. Mr. Floyd Martin, later to be known as “Butter Martin,” was brought in to operate the creamery.  He added ice cream to his line which resulted in a good business.  
We kids liked it because he had a double-scoop ice cream cone, which you could get for a nickel. I know my friend, David Fly, remembers because we discussed it. Mr. Martin brought in his nephew, Charlie Langford, who had just graduated from Mississippi State. Charlie became a permanent resident and married Dr. Cox’s daughter, Lucille.  They had two sons, David and Jimmy.      So, as I said in the beginning, Water Valley has a history of enterprising small businesses. I welcome any input about others I may not know about.  
My email address is cncooper1@hotmail.com or write me at P.O. Box 613189, Memphis, TN 38101.  
Have a great week!

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