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Reflections

Water Valley No Longer Mired In The Past

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, Hope you’re having a good week. 

In the past two weeks I’ve seen more evidence of my  belief  in there being more good people than bad. I’ve received emails and phone calls asking if I was hurt in my wreck. Surprisingly some calls were from my Memphis clients and I have no idea how they heard unless they get the   Herald.  It is a gratifying and humbling experience and from all of you who asked, I was not hurt except maybe my pride in having my first accident in years. My heartfelt thanks to all of   you instead of sending a card.

I was happy to learn that Kagan has some tenants in his buildings, Blu-Buck Mercantile, which only proves what happens when someone has a vision of the future instead of being mired in the past. There is one undisputed truth, “nothing stands still, it either goes forward or backward,” which Water Valley has seen too much of the latter.

I was talking to my friend, Bobby Barnett, who lives in Batesville and grew up on a farm near Pilgrim’s Rest church about his father, Jack Barnett, who got in the dairy business in the 1930s. This was the height of the depression and the Kraft cheese plant was planning to locate in Water Valley.

The Chamber of Com-merce sent out two-man teams to sign up farmers to sell milk to the plant and offset   eight-cent cotton as their cash crop. Earl Fly and Claude Wood  came the Barnett house and saw Mr. Jack had a two-ton Chevrolet truck. They asked him if he would not only sell milk to the plant but also operate a milk route to pick up from other farmers.  Mr. Jack saw a potential for him in two ways,  sell  and haul milk to the plant. So, he accepted on the spot. 

Bobby said that his dad and Hugh Hill from Pope had the two longest routes. Bobby and I are the same age and he remembered how he and his older brother, Lamar,  would get up at three in the morning to milk the cows and after he got old enough to drive, would run the route during summer break. It  was a hard job as a typical full milk can weighed about 80 pounds.

Each customer’s can had a number which was checked as it went through the conveyor belt  at the plant. Since very few rural homes had electricity in those days, enterprising truck operators made additional money by going by the Harvey Ice house and taking large blocks to some of the customers when they delivered the empty cans.

It was a seven-day-a-week job, winter or summer. This is an  example of forward thinking that put money in the pockets of struggling farmers during the most difficult financial crisis of the 20th Century.  If the government would get out of the way we can get out of the mess our self-serving politicians have gotten us into. 

Let me hear from you as I intend to go into more details about the Kraft cheese plant.  My email address is cncooper1@hotmail.com or write me c/o The Herald and have a great week.

 

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