October 2008

I received a copy of a time card for trains and trolleys at the Union and Carnegie Passenger Depot for February 12, 1893. It consisted of a long narrow sheet of paper, folded six times for ease of use and printed on all sides containing 23 local advertisements and nine railway systems:

East Tennessee Virginia and Georgia, Tennessee and Ohio, North Carolina Branch, Knoxville and Ohio, Embreeville Branch, Johnson City and Carnegie Street Railway (streetcar), Walden’s Ridge Railroad, CC&C and East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

A glance over the ads reveals a nostalgic look back to a simpler Johnson City.

Hotel Carnegie: “The Only First-Class Hotel in the City. New Elegant and Attractive. $2.50 and $3.00 per day. Special Terms to Commercial Men. Electric Cars to and from Hotel Every 20 Minutes. R.W. Farr, Proprietor.”

C.F. Melcher: “For Furniture, Carpets, Oil Cloths, Mattings, Shades and House Furnishing Goods of Every Description. Prices Guaranteed to be the Lowest.”

The Iron Belt Land Company: “Will Harr, President. C.G. Chandler, V. Pres. F.P. Burch, Attorney. W.A. Hite, General Agent.”

Webb Brothers: “Dealers in Fresh Meats, Chickens, Butter, Eggs, Etc. Fruits and Vegetables in Season. Ocean, Lake and Gulf Fish.”

F.M. George & Co.: “Dealers in Lump and Steam, Wood, Lime and Cement. Office on Spring Street. Prompt Delivery.

W.L. Taylor & Bros.: Wholesale and Retail Dealers in Feed, Groceries, Glass, China, Queens and Tinware.”

Seaver & Summers: “Oldest Hardware Firm in the City. Paints and Oils, Sash, Doors, Etc. Agricultural Implements.”

Hotel Greenwood: “Centrally Located. Rates: $1 Per Day. W.M. Patton, Proprietor.”

W. A. Kite & Co.: “Real Estate Dealers and Agents.”

I.N. Beckner: “Dealer in Watches, Clocks, and Jewelry. Silver and Silver Plated Ware. Spectacles, Sewing Machines, Etc.” 

W.W. Kirkpatrick: “Leading Clothiers and Gents Furnisher.”

R.G. Johnson: “Furniture, Carpets, Oil Clothes, Mattings, Windows, Shades and Draperies.”

McFarland & Co., City Drug Store: “Prescription Druggists.”

T. B. Hurst & Co.: “The Tireless Toilers for Trade. The Most Complete Dry Goods and Millinery Store in East Tennessee. Wedding Trousseaux a specialty.”

Gump Bros.: “Clothing and Gents’ Furnishings. Opera House Block.”

P.F. Wofford: “Harr-Burrow Block. Druggist.Carries the Largest Line of Drugs, Toilet Articles and Cigars in the City.”

The Bee Hive: “Headquarters for Drugs, Tobaccos, Candies, Fresh Meats and Groceries.”

A.P. Henderson & Co.: “Dealers in Staves, Tinware, and Galvanized Iron Cornice. Roofing and Guttering a Specialty.”

Palace Livery Stable: “Englesing & Snapp Proprietors. Elegant Turnouts for All Purposes. Special Rates to Drummers (traveling sales reps).”

D.K. Lide: “Hardware, Cutlery, Paints, Oils, Glass, Sash, Doors, Blinds, Grates, Water Elevators, Pumps, Etc. Railway and Mining Supplies. Dynamite, Fuse and Exploders. Picks, Shovels, Etc.”

First National Bank: “Resources $250,000. Oldest, Largest and Strongest Bank in the County.”

John W. Boring: “Undertaker and Embalmer. All Kinds of Coffins, Caskets, and Metallic Cases Kept in Stock. Telegrams and Night Calls Promptly Attended to.”

The station stops for the nine railway systems will be noted in my next column. 

Read more

My recent column on the demise of the B-western stars brought immediate responses from Don Dale and Bill Farthing, sharing their memories of the old westerns.

Don Dale sent this note: “Hello Bob, Here I am again responding to one of your columns that rekindled tons of memories. I could go on for a lifetime about the Saturday westerns, particularly at the Tennessee Theatre. When I was a pre-teen, my father and his partner had their accounting office on the second floor, just adjacent to the upstairs balcony.

“Almost every Saturday, my brother, Glenn, and I went to the usual double-features and sat in the balcony for free, usually while Dad worked, watching Johnny Mack Brown, Whip Wilson, Lash LaRue, Tim Holt, Hopalong Cassidy movies and on and on. Popcorn was 10 cents. They had an occasional stage show with a cowboy star.

“My most vivid memory is going to see Lash LaRue on stage between a double feature. While Glenn and I were watching the first movie, unbeknown to us, LaRue came through the balcony door behind us and started down the steps where painting equipment was sitting from some touch-up work. He tripped over a ladder and went tumbling down the fortunately carpeted stairs, uttering a few unexpected but expressive remarks as he picked himself up. It was a real eye-opener for us.

“I used to love the cliffhanger serials that accompanied the westerns as well. My all-time favorite was “King of the Rocketmen” — perhaps you remember that one. He wore a silver helmet and turned knobs on the chest of his uniform to soar off — just like Superman. Man, those were the days. As usual, I could go on.”

Bill Farthing offered these words: “I enjoy so much your articles in the Johnson City Press.  Today was especially great because I too grew up in the theatre every Saturday watching what I have always viewed as true heroes – the silver screen cowboys.

“My theatre experience was in the Appalachian Theatre in Boone when my brother and I would walk every Saturday and between us pay 34 cents to watch the cowboys, most of the time twice and when there was a double feature we could see both of them twice, forgetting that it was getting very close to supper time.

“I hope I can find a copy of the book you referred to in your article.  It is sad that all of the cowboys are gone but one. But in addition to the wonderful memories you brought back to me, add Johnny Mack Brown, Rex Allen and Whip Wilson, along with a whole bevy of horses. 

“One of the highlights growing up was to see Hopalong Cassidy in person in Boone.  About fifteen years ago while working at Lees-McRae College I traveled with the clogging team and we always joined in the clogging competition at the NC State Fair. One year in a tent right next to the performance tent there was in person Lash LaRue. 

“Talk about memories.  I have a CD by Rex Allen, Jr. in which Rex Allen, Sr., before his death, did a narration on one of the songs “The Last of the Silver Screen Cowboys.”  One line in that narration indicates that the cowboys have died out, but memories don’t die.  They certainly haven’t for me and, like you said, all of them had a deep influence on me because right always won.  Thank you again for stirring these memories again and I look forward to your next column.”

I received several inquiries as to where Bobby Copeland’s book “B-Western Boot Hill” can be purchased. Most local bookstores could likely order it for you. Also, I found several sources listed on the Internet.  

Read more

“The music goes zoom zoom; The drummer goes boom boom; And everybody shouts, Hurray for Valleydale; Hurray for Valleydale; All hail, it's Valleydale. (cymbal) Valleydale sausage; (cymbal) Valleydale wieners; (cymbal) Valleydale bacon; Zing, zing, zing, zing, Valleydale; Hurray for Valleydale; All hail, it's Valleydale.”

In 1956, Valleydale Packers, Inc., located in Salem, VA, sought a way to make the public keenly aware of its meat products. They devised a clever animated television commercial featuring cute cuddly pigs, dressed in band uniforms, singing about Valleydale products. People all over the area soon fell in love with the little curly-tailed critters and began harmonizing the commercial’s snappy tune. It became one of the most recognized television ads in East Tennessee history. 

The little hogs eventually appeared in 12 different television commercials, one humorously known as the Green Bay Porkers. Perhaps the most recognizable one was a 30-second clip of eight charming little swine marching in a parade to the approbation of a cheering crowd lining the streets.

The first two pigs carried a large drum and one played it. A third porker rode on top of it pounding cymbals. The fourth and fifth piglets trailed behind with one poking the other in the head as his trombone slide went forward and backward. The sixth one was modestly stretched out on a Valleydale float. Next came pig #7 marching and playing cymbals with a different meat product displayed with each clash – “Valleydale Sausage, Valleydale Weenee, Valleydale Bacon.” The final hog, an adorable little baton-twirling majorette, performed for the crowd and simultaneously displayed additional meat products. 

A second commercial was almost identical to the first but featured a few different frames, such as having the pigs alternately march forward, then backward and forward again. This time, only six pigs were featured.

In a third ad, three little piggies are escorted onto the framework of a large building riding a narrow I-beam, being hoisted by a third little pig who precariously let each one off at a different floor. One pig initially threw hot rivets to the other pigs and then predictably switched to tossing Valleydale products to them presumably for lunch.

Another commercial featured a five-piece pig jazz band, consisting of a trumpet, Sousaphone, piano, trombone and drums, playing the all-familiar little Valleydale refrain.

A fifth ad shows a customer entering a meat shop operated by one of the Valleydale pigs. When he asks for just any brand of bacon and sausage, the angry proprietor gives him a stern lecture by asking him why he would take a chance on buying a questionable “pig-in-a-poke.” The patron mistakenly asks him, “What is a poke.” The owner abruptly pops him onto the floor, but immediately revives him with some tasty Valleydale bacon and sausage. 

The irony of the commercials was that pigs were advertising themselves. Perhaps the cheerful parade was a cleverly orchestrated diversion to get the jovial swine to march to the slaughterhouse at the end of the route.

The Valleydale advertising campaign was eventually phased out. After returning to television for a brief revival some years later, the little hoofed creatures squealed off into “hog heaven.” The music stopped going “zoom zoom”; the drummer stopped going “boom boom”; and there was no longer a cheering crowd to shout, “Hurray for Valleydale.” It was the end of a colorful, memorable era of yesteryear. 

Read more

A 28-page city progress report addressed to the people of Johnson City from the Mayor and Board of Commissioners was issued in 1965. D.A. Burkhalter, then City Manager, produced the booklet for the citizens of Johnson City to inform them of community progress that had been made over the previous two years.

The front cover contained a circular symbol of progress with “1869” inside it, denoting the year the city was incorporated. In addition to Burkhalter, the commissioners included Ross Spears, Jr. (Mayor); Edward N. Backus (Vice Mayor); Mrs. May Ross McDowell, Hal Littleford, Robert E. Henry and Jack B. Strickland (Assistant City Manager).

The booklet was divided into seven sections: “People Progressing, People Providing, People Participating, People Planning, People Preparing, People Playing and People Protecting.”

The most amazing and eye-catching item in the report was an artist’s rendering of a futuristic Main Street. The photo was taken from about midway on E. Main Street facing east. Main Street is permanently closed to vehicular traffic from Fountain Square to what appears to be Colonial Drive or possibly Division Street. Shoppers do not have to cross Roan Street to access stores on the east side of town; instead, they walk through an underground pedestrian tunnel under Roan Street.  Flowers, trees and benches line both sides of the street with a large fountain (not the Lady of the Fountain) in the middle of the block near S.H. Kress. Unfortunately, this grandiose farsighted and obviously expensive vision never materialized.   

A glance back at the city’s impressive accomplishments for 1963 included a Pro Shop and 9-hole Municipal Golf Course; new fire station in North Johnson City; new fire pumper; 764 new street lights; four new classrooms to Fairmont Elementary School; modernization of City Garage facilities; Management Program for the city’s 1500 acres of water-shed land; completed survey of leaks in the city’s water system, saving of hundreds of thousands of gallons daily; the first Tennessee city to participate in the People-to-People program, choosing Guaranda, Ecuador as its “Sister City”; a litter ordinance and installation of numerous receptacles in downtown Johnson City; an Advisory Committee for Human Relations; new sanitary landfill site purchased; improvements at Civitan, Rotary, Kiwanis and Carver Parks; major improvements at Lions, Jaycees, Towne Acres and Civitan Parks; systematic replacement of city street name signs with attractive reflectorized ones; comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program; report on area-wide vocational-technical training school for Upper East Tennessee; revised city zoning ordinance and map after detailed study; the most comprehensive street improvements program in the city’s history at a cost of a quarter million dollars; and commencement of the initial phase of Downtown Improvement Program.

Some of the 1964 accomplishments 1964 included adoption of an official city flag; inaugurated Youth-in-Government Day; approved additional downtown parking lot; welcomed 75 Latin-American Mayors and other officials to the city; improved traffic circulation at intersections; and moved the sanitary landfield.  

The report concluded with seven future plans for the city: Provide additional water sources; revitalize the downtown area; construct a new municipal and public safety building; continue to extend sewers; build additional school facilities; improve the street system; and expand recreational programs and facilities. 

Read more

An impressive booklet titled “Annual Catalogue of Boon’s Creek Male and Female Institute for 1860 and 1861” embodies a time in history nine years before Johnson’s Depot (Johnson City) was incorporated.

Sue Car Eckstein submitted the 8-page booklet that was printed in Jonesborough. The principal that year was Thomas P. Summers; Miss Nannie E. Bowers and John W. Burke were assistants. The Board of Trustees included Lawrence Bowers (Chairman), George P. Faw (Secretary), James Vaughn, Perry Hunter, William P. Reeves, David J. Carr, Elbert S. Cox, Fuller P. Hale and Alfred M. Crouch. All were from “Boon’s Creek” except for Reeves who resided in Jonesborough. 

Fifteen men served on the Board of Visitors. Three were from Boon’s Creek: Dr. Alfred Martin, Joseph D. Clark and Samuel E. Edwards, Esq. Five lived in Johnson’s Depot: Rev. James Miller, Caswell C. Taylor, Peter M. Reeves, Esq., Alfred Carr, Esq. and Samuel E. Miller, Esq. Two resided in nearby Fordtown: William C. Newell and Richard Kitzmiller. Three called Jonesborough their home: Rufus P. Wells, Alexander N. Harris and A.G. Graham (Attorney at Law). Nathaniel B. Taylor’s address was listed as Elizabethton.

Next, the students’ names were revealed in separate lists, 73 male and 24 female. Proving that a good education was worth traveling long distances or perhaps staying with someone in the area, it was interesting to note where the 97 students were from: Allison’s Mills (6), Bedford County (1), Boon’s Creek (48), Buffalo Ridge (5), Carter County (4), Cherokee (2), Cox’s Store (2), Elizabethton (1), Embreeville (1), Johnson County (1), Johnson’s Depot (9), Jonesborough (7), Knob Creek (1), Longmire’s (2) New Stirling (North Carolina) (1), Sequine (Texas) (1), Taylorsville (2), Watauga Bend (1) and Wheat Vale (2).

The catalogue further stated: “The institute is located in the quiet, pleasant and beautiful valley of Boon’s Creek seven miles north of Jonesborough. The building is commodious and comfortably furnished. The morality and healthfulness of the neighborhood are unsurpassed. Here students are far removed from inducements to extravagance and almost entirely free from the demoralizing influence of alcohol, the bane of schools.”

The publication went on to provide a brief history of the school. It was erected in 1853 and chartered by the Legislature on February 15. 1856. The goals of the institute were to prepare students either for college or to equip them for “the duties of active life.” The success of the educational facility was credited to the wisdom of its founders. The principal spared no labor to improve the pupil’s hearts and heads. Thoroughness in everything was accentuated as a primary aim, not how much but how well. The administration was said to be mild in its nature but firmly and impartially administered.

Students were required to adhere to four conditions: to conform cheerfully to all rules and regulations of the school, to manifest a desire to improve, to use no profane or unbecoming language and to abstain from intoxicating beverages.

Progress reports to student’s parents were issued in the form of quarterly letters when desired, stating the deportment and proficiency of their “children or wards.” Students living some distance from the Institute were urged to come by public conveyance to Jonesborough or Johnson’s Depot and then onto Boon’s Creek. The cost was declared to be very reasonable.

The catalogue expressed the school’s appreciation for the liberal patronage that it had received from surrounding communities. Its hope was to “merit an extension of the same.” The school year was divided into two sessions. The fall session commence on the third Thursday in August and continued for 20 weeks, with a week’s holiday for Christmas. The spring session began at the close of the fall session and continued another 20 weeks. No mention of other holidays was noted.

Tuition per session was listed by groups: Spelling, Reading and Writing, $5; Mental Arithmetic, Primary Geography, English Grammar, $6; English Grammar, Arithmetic, Geography and Watts on the Mind, $7.50; Nat. and Mental Philosophy, Rhetoric and Geography of the Heavens, $9; Elementary Algebra, Astronomy, Anatomy, Physiology, etc. $10; and Latin, Greek, Algebra, Geometry, Logic, Moral Science and Criticism, $12. Students were assessed an incidental fee of up to 50 cents for items such as wood, repairs, etc. Lodging was available in the surrounding area from $1.25 to $1.50 per week.

Textbooks used at the school were Webster’s Speller, Definer and Dictionaries; McGuffey’s Series of Readers; Mitchell’s Geographies; Davies’ Arithmetics, Algebras and Legendre; Bullion’s English, Latin and Greek Grammars; Peterson’s Familiar Science; Emerson’s Watt’s on the Mind; Comstock’s Chemistry, Philosophy and Mineralogy; Cutter’s Anatomy, Physiology and Hygiene; Kame’s Elements of Criticism; Alexander’s Evidences of Christianity and Tooke’s Pantheon. Latin books included Bullion’s Reader; Anthon’s Caesar, Virgil. Cicero, Sallust and Horace; Brooks Ovid; and Folsom’s Livy. Greek texts were Arnold’s Lessons; Bullion’s Reader; Xenophon’s Anabasis and Cyropedia; Isocrates; Herodotus, Demosthenes, Plato and Homer. A further note stated, “Students must conform to the established textbooks.”

The catalogue made a curious statement from the Board of Trustees, who at their annual meeting adopted the following resolution:

“Whereas, Thomas P. Summers has been principal of Boon’s Creek Male and Female institute for more than four years; therefore,

“Resolved, That we, the Board of Trustees, have found in Mr. Summers not only a gentleman, but also a faithful and competent teacher, and that on our part we have no desire to make a change, but while he would continue to foster the interests of our Institution, as heretofore, he would be our first choice.

“Further Resolved, That if Mr. Summers’ sense of duty should not permit him to remain longer with us, that he retires with our best wishes for his future welfare and that we hereby comment him to the esteem and confidence of those with whom he hereafter become associated.” The statement was signed by Perry Hunter, Chairman, pro tem.

Mr. Summers responded with his appreciation to the board by thanking them for their sympathy and encouragement since he has been associated with them in the conduct of the school and for their high appreciation of his services.

The highly appealing eight-page publication concluded with a note from the Literary Society: “There is in connection with the Institution and under the fostering care of the Principal and Trustees, a Literary Society, which is doing a good work in its department. Young men wishing to cultivate the art of forensic speaking will find it a valuable auxiliary. All those indebted to the Institution are earnestly requested to make settlement at an early day. This is the first call, ‘verbum sat sapienti’” The Latin phrase means, “A word is sufficient for a wise man.” 

Read more