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Granny Matthews Liked You Or She Didn’t

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, I hope you’re having a good week.  
Someone remarked to me that I always wrote about Water Valley and never about Oakland, so this week I thought I’d rectify that.
 A side bar here, I bet you haven’t seen the word rectify in a long time and Miss Coralie Metcalf would have been proud that I paid that much attention  in her English class.  
As usual I digress, so back to Oakland. I remember Granny Matthew’s hotel, which sat diagonally across the railroad from the depot.  It was a long building that faced south with a long porch filled with cane bottom rockers, swings, and straight chairs.  This was a favorite spot in those pre-air conditioner days, as there was usually a breeze.  
Granny was a tiny little lady, under five feet tall. She always wore an apron with pockets and would, from time to time, take out a snuff box and put a dip in her mouth regardless of who was around. She was from the old generation–either liked you or she didn’t  and no in between. From the porch you could watch south bound #3 stop and unload and load passengers in the morning and north bound #4 do the same in the afternoon.  Her clientele consisted of railroad men, traveling salesmen–called drummers in those days–and locals who came to enjoy the home style noon meals. This was during the depression and there were always hobos getting off the freights and Granny was never known to turn one away without feeding him.  She had a table  in the dining room that would seat up to 20 people and she would sit at the head of the table and her regulars had their same places in a home-like atmosphere.
The menu rarely changed; potatoes, beans or peas, rice,  yams,  and one meat, usually pork. A dessert was different  kinds  of puddings.  Over the years I’ve  had the pleasure of eating in several of these home-style boarding houses.
Nannie Badley’s niece, Callie Walker, in Oxford  ran one that was famous all over the south; Mrs. Shaw on Main Street in Water Valley; the hotel in Mendenhall with the food on a lazy Susan; and one in Tyler, Tex.,  which operated into the ‘60s.
I never ate in Granny Matthews, so my information has come from research.  Granny had 14 grandchildren and one, Kathleen,  was married to Pete Baddley, longtime Illinois Central conductor,  and uncle to James Knox Baddley.  
The boarding houses have passed into history but many of us still have fond memories of them and I hope you enjoy this trip back in time.  
My email address is or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 and have a great week.

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