July 2013

On January 3, 1934, the Johnson City Staff-News announced a new comic strip page as part of a “New Deal” for its readers. The most significant one was the addition of “Popeye, the Sailor Man,” a highly popular feature that was incorporated in “Thimble Theatre,” a nationwide comic strip in early 1929. In time, Popeye prevailed and took over the title.

Other outstanding changes included “Jiggs” (and his wife Maggie from the well-liked strip, “Bringing Up Father), “Tillie the Toiler” (an attractive flapper who worked as a stenographer, secretary and part-time model for a women's wear company), Polly and her Pals” (a work that began as “Positive Polly,” who was a child of the woman's suffrage movement but soon was changed to include her “Pals,” who were family members) and the exciting adventures of “Brick Bradford” in the “The City Under the Sea,” an action-packed adventure serial of the “Tarzan” type. It even incorporated space travel similar to Flash Gordon.

Approximately 140 pupils from the elementary schools of the city were promoted to Junior High School while a large number graduated from Junior High and advanced to the high school. For the first time in the history of the Johnson City school system, a mid year graduation was offered to high school students who completed the city, county and state requirements.

Receipts at the Johnson City post office showed a $9,713 decrease as compared to the prior year. The decline was explained by the fact that circulars and pamphlets, formerly sent through the mails with postage were being distributed by hand and placed in mailboxes without postage. This brought about an immediate announcement from the postmaster general in Washington that all persons distributing hand-bills and placing them in mail boxes would be subject to paying special postage. Regular postmen were required to accumulate the distributed items and return them to the post office for collection.

At the January meeting of the Board of Education, Miss Kathleen Conner was hired as a teacher for South Side School. Miss Hasseltyne Oaks, instructor of music, was granted a leave of absence for the remainder of the school year at her request to allow her to attend the Teachers College to further prepare herself for teaching music in the public schools. Miss Conner, a 1931 graduate of the State Teachers College, had done extensive substitution work in the city system and her work had been rated as superior. The changes were made by Roy G. Bigelow, acting supervisor of schools.

Miss Kathleen Cooper, a current teacher at the school was transferred to the music department to fill Miss Oaks’ position. She had assisted in the musical work of the school since coming to South Side and was well qualified to fill the position.

A hot stove collapsed at the Automobile Sales and Service Company at 103 Wilson Avenue, prompting a call to the Johnson City Fire Department. The firm, which sold DeSotos and Plymouths, was the former site of the Chevrolet Sales Company. Engine companies #2 and #4, ladder company #3 and salvage company #5 responded. Little damage was reported.

A golden eagle, said to be one of the few left of this magnificent bird, was released in the Great Smoky Mountains by park officials. The bird was captured on Ben Lomond Hill, Hydes Ferry Pike, located 12 miles from Nashville. Prior to its release, the bird was in good health and eating heartily.

And finally this jewel … The January meeting of the Washington County Medical Society met on that Tuesday evening at the John Sevier Hotel. Dinner was served at 7 p.m. in the Club Room, followed by the program and a business session at 8 p.m. Dr. Henry Cass and Dr. Edward West spoke on “Diseases of the Rectum” while Dr. Carroll Long and C. Ward Friberg chose “Biologic Test for Pregnancy.” Fortunately the meal was served before the talks.

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Today's feature is dedicated to the memory of the late Mrs. Louise Bond Alley who copied her mother's 1917 Science Hill High School annual, “Yellow Emperor,” for me shortly before her passing. I am hoping that some of our Johnson City Press  readers will recognize a few of the names.

The 70-page publication, revealing 38 graduates, was the first one from the school that had numbered pages and advertisements at the back of it. It acquired its name from an orange and brown North American butterfly described as having a swift dodging flight. 

The Board of Education (see photo) that year were 1. Dr. W.J. Matthews, 2. Horace Miller, 3. J.T. Browning, 4. Frank B. St. John, 5. J.E. Brading and 6. George T. Wofford.

Faculty members (see photo) who served the institution were 1. J.L. Gilbert (commercial arts), 2. Lena Mills (domestic science), 3. W.I. Williams (history), 4. Una M. Jones (modern languages), 5. Floy Harris (Latin), 6. P.S. Barnes (superintendent), 7. Lucy Hatcher (mathematics, future principal) and 8. J.A. Tinsley (principal). Not shown are E.K. Hickam (manual training) and Dean Slagle (science).

The editorial staff (see photo) was comprised of (sitting) James Remine, Anne Huddle (editor), Bess Remine, (standing) Helen Browder, Louise Cox, Oliver Robertson, Melville Smith, H.C. Hart, Nancy Weaver and Maurice Cardwell. Not pictured was Lorna Whiteside.. 


The senior class officers were Fred Locket (president), Oliver Robertson (vice president), Mildred Wade (secretary) and Bess Remine (treasurer). Their clever class motto was “We’ve crossed the hills, the mountains are in view.”

The only sports listed were girls' basketball and boys' baseball. A “Who’s Who in the Senior Class” listed 24 senior superlatives: most popular, most agreeable, most bashful, most sarcastic, best athlete, most conceited, brainiest, biggest flirt, most fickle, most kiddish, most original liar, most lovable, prettiest, cutest, most attractive, sissiest, sportiest, most studious, sweetest, most stylish, darlingest, most vivacious, most English and wittiest.

Two verses of the class poem read: “Farewell, thou dear, old rocky hill, Farewell forevermore; Thru mem'ry we'll be keeping still, When days with thee are o'er. However oft we may have dreamed, Of the future soon to be, Tis harder now than once it seemed, Oh, hill, to part with thee!

Unlike the class poem, the class song spoke of the thrill of graduating and being set free. The chorus read, “Little Jimmie Remine, Here's Altai Boring and Anne Huddle, And Buford Conner and Jimmie Humphries. All standing here you see. Oh, won't we have a jolly time. Oh, won't we have a jolly time. Oh, seniors, put your books away. We're all set free. And Floyd, you get your Ford cranked and stand before the gate, For we just must ride your Lizzie when we all graduate. We'll drive to the Majestic (Theatre) we're hired for forty “frog skins,” And we guess we'll be given our precious, precious “sheep skins.”

An amusing observation was declared in the Class History portion of the yearbook: “The class of 1917 claims the distinction of having fooled more teachers, ridden barebacked and unafraid on more unbroken ponies, absorbed more science, evaded more mathematics and eluded more examinations, remaining still unscathed than any other class ever turned loose upon an unsuspecting world.”

My favorite witticism from a joke page was Paul asking Jack if a damaging fire was of incendiary origin. Jack answered by saying “no” because he felt that the building had been set on fire.

The student societies were listed that included the president's name and club yell if provided: Adelphian Literary Society (James Remine, “Stand 'em on their head. Stand 'em on their feet. Adelphians, Adelphians. They can't be beat.”), Ossolian Literary Society (Bess Remine), Jefferson Literary Society (Oliver Robertson, “Rah, Rah, Rah. Row, Row, Row. Boom (stomp foot). Jeffersonian, Jeffersonian, Jeffersonian.”), Francis E. Willard Society (Ruth Allison, “Chick-a-lac-a, chick a-lac-chog-chog-chog. Francis E. Willard rog, rog, rog. We are the Willards. We are the best. We are the girls of the WLS.”), Victorian Literary Society (Lorna Whiteside), Athenian Literary Society (Katherine Sells) and YMCA (Clarence Miller).

There were 39 sponsors of the yearbook: The Hub, W.M. Silver Company, Unaka National Bank, The Hart & Houston Store, Hecht's Bakery, Inc., R.C. Hunter Agency, The City National Bank, Wm. Silver Optometrist, Ferguson Drug Co., Tennessee Electrical Supply Co., City Shoe Store, Johnson City Steam Laundry, The Kiosk Ice Cream Parlors, Connor Brothers Furniture Co., Gunnar Teilmann's Florist, Colonial Hotel, J.E. Crouch, Miller's Drug Store, Masengill's Ladies' Shop, C.P. Faw & Co., Boston Shoe Repairing Co., Lockett Brothers Co., White City Laundry, Jones-Vance Drug Store, The Frank Taylor Store, I.N. Beckner & Son, Smith Shoe & Clothing Co., The Bon Marche Ice Cream Parlors, Dosser Brothers, Mountcastle-Summers Hardware Co., Gump's Leading Clothiers and Furnishers, Coca Cola, H.R. Parrott Motor Co., Davis-Fain Co., Brading-Sells Lumber Co., Garden Drug Co., Tranum Brothers (with its famous rocking horse sign), Muse-Whitlock Co. and The Charley Cargille Studio. 

Additional ending thoughts about leaving the old institute of learning can be noted in the first and last stanzas of “Good Bye Science Hill,” written by Anne Huddle:

“Dear Science Hill, we've loved you long, And now we must bid you good bye. We've filled you with laughter, We've thrilled you with song, And sometimes we've wished we could cry. Your walls they have witnessed a wearyful fight, and rung to a won Waterloo, But oh in our triumph, we are dreary tonight. Goodbye, dear old school, to you.

“How cold, still and lonely, how weary you seem, A last wistful look and we'll go; Oh, will you remember the Class of Seventeen, The class that you comforted so? The shadows enfold you, it's drawing tonight, A smarting tear blinds each eye; Alas, but it is stinging and stabbing our sight, God bless you old school, good bye!”

In March 1961, 44 years later, my classmates and I experienced those same melancholy feelings when we too bid our final adieu to the same old nostalgic brick building that we affectionately referred to as “the Hill.” We finished the last three months of our senior year at a new modern school on John Exum Parkway.

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A Monday, March 21, 1930 edition of the Johnson City Staff-News had an attention grabbing announcement as noted in my column photo. I decided to fire up my Yesteryear Time Machine and take us on a trip to participate in the store's “Grand Opening.” After setting the dial to that date, 2 p.m. and 248 W. Main Street, we swiftly arrive at our destination in yesteryear.

When W.A. Powers, manager, and V.S. Painter, assistant manager, observe our curious vehicle parked outside, they greet us and then escort us into their shop. The former business at the site had been the Claroy Confectionery.

The manager further noted that they were competing with seven local confectioners: Arcade Fruit Market, Kinmeyer Confections, The Kiosh, The Longmire, Dewey Sells, Wynne & Huskey and Zimmerman's News Stand. Two others were wholesale: Jennings Candy Co. and Long Candy Co.

The two managers possessed an ambitious, impressive  business outlook, saying they were prepared to render a service to the public that was unsurpassed in Northeast Tennessee. All they asked was that customers give them an opportunity to fulfill their pledge.

Painter insisted that we sit down at a table and enjoy some delightful Southern Maid Ice Cream. On opening day, they offered their patrons a complimentary dish or cone of ice cream. We accepted the offer and cooled off with our favorite flavor of creamy delight. I ordered vanilla.

The owners chose this special brand of ice cream because, as noted by Mr. Painter, “Every spoonful confers that satisfying sensation of sated thirst and delightful coolness with each flavor possessing an appeal all its own, being the preferred dessert and standard refreshment.” Southern Maid, Inc. was located at 500 S. Roan.

Powers told us the store was in relatively good condition when they acquired it. They were very pleased with their efforts to upgrade it because they desired to show their customers an entirely new confectionery, desiring that their patrons find a new store there that was dramatically unlike the previous one.

The owners maintained an entirely new and complete stock of drugs and sundries in order to satisfy their public's  needs. They even offered delivery service to those who found it inconvenient to come to their store. All they needed to do was pick up the phone receiver and ask the operator to ring “1279.” Surprisingly, they boasted, “We'll gladly deliver what you want anywhere at anytime.” Did they own a time machine?

The Capitol Sweet Shoppe had ample parking spaces plus efficient, clean and courteous curb service. The shop even offered eight-hour film developing service that they obtained from Keebler Studio located at 208.5 E. Main.

An announcement on the wall read, “In line with our policy of buying our entire supplies, insofar as possible, from local wholesalers and manufacturers, we take great pleasure in announcing that our complete stock of drugs and drug sundries were purchased from the Smith-Higgins Company, a local wholesale drug house.”  It was located nearby at 204-06 W. Market (in the block of buildings demolished in 2012 for flood control).

The store awarded R.S. McDaniels a $10 prize for coming up with the best name for the new venture. As we ambled around the store, we helped ourselves to free souvenirs and enjoyed their new Majestic Combination Radio and Victrola that furnished music from the radio as well as 78-rpm records. Another nice feature was a bulletin board that displayed sports returns and the latest news happenings.

The Jennings Candy Company located at the corner of King and Boone streets placed an ad in the paper congratulating the Capitol Sweet Shoppe team for their new venture and wishing them the best.

After thanking the employees for their warm hospitality, we climbed back into our time machine and made a speedy trip from yesteryear back to the present.

I became curious about how long the Capitol Sweet Shoppe remained in business. It was at the same location and name through 1944, but moved around 1948 to 124 E. Market next to McLellan's rear entrance and the narrow Arcade crosswalk between Main and Market streets. By 1953, it had relocated to 243 W. Market at Whitney, but two years later, I find no mention of it. 

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John Sevier (1745-1815) is recognized as our state's great pioneer and statesman. He was so popular that, after his first term as governor of Tennessee, the people reelected him to that office as long as the law would permit. Although the limit was six years, after being out of office for two years, he was chosen for three more terms of two years each, giving him a total of 12 years service as governor. 

When Sevier was first elected governor, he reasoned that that he would be expected to keep up the exquisite style of entertaining that had been introduced by Governor Blount. Therefore, he built an elegant brick mansion in Knoxville, which was the capital of the State at that time.

However, his financial means soon ran short and, after paying off his work hands, he abandoned the effort. He was too honest a man to risk going in debt. The unfinished house was sold and afterward completed by other parties. A line in the wall where Sevier ceased work was plainly visible by a slight change in color of the brick.

Sevier remained on his farm about five miles south of Knoxville and rode into town on horseback early in the morning to attend to his governor business. In the evening,  he returned home in the same fashion. His residence was on the site of an old frontier fort in a hilly and picturesque region. Here he added to his house one log room after another that allowed him to accommodate guests. Although Nolichucky Jack was a poor man, his hospitality knew no bounds, as evidenced by his home always being full of old friends, elderly soldiers, and Indian chiefs.

One of the larger cabins became his reception room. The puncheon floor of this room was, on special occasions, covered with a carpet representing a foreign country. Only once was the carpet allowed to remain in place all night. That was on the occasion of the visit to America by Louis-Philippe and his brothers, the French princes, who were guests of Sevier in 1797. 

After serving his last term as governor, Sevier retired to private life. Although advanced age was creeping up on the pioneer and he felt he needed rest, the people disagreed with his assessment and sent him back to Congress where he was elected three times. 

In 1815, Sevier was sent by President James Madison to handle matters with the Creek Indians, a task that matched his skills. While on this trip, he died of a fever and was buried near Fort Decatur, Alabama. He was 70 years old and had served his country 52 years. There, on the east bank of the Tallapoosa River, this great man lay in an almost  neglected grave for 74 years.

Portrait of John Sevier. Impressive monument dedicated to Sevier after his remains were transported from Alabama to the Knox Courthouse in Knoxville

In 1889, famed area resident, Governor Robert “Our Bob” Taylor arranged to have Sevier's remains brought back to Tennessee where he could rest among his people. He was transported to Knoxville, which had been the capital of Tennessee while Sevier was governor. Thousands of people met the procession and were present at the funeral. The casket was then placed under a beautiful monument in the courthouse grounds.

There is a story that relates just how popular Sevier was among the people. An old man and his young son once had a chance encounter with the governor. While they were at church one Sunday, a man, out of breath, ran up and noted that “Nolichucky Jack” was coming up the road. Everybody, including the minister, ran to see him. Although the church was not specifically identified, it is known that it was in East Tennessee during a time when Sevier was on his way to Virginia.

Soon Tennessee's hero rode up with a large body of men surrounding him. He had a good memory and began shaking hands and called people by name. He knew the boy's father and greeted him heartily. Since he had never met the lad, Sevier placed his hand on the little fellow's head and asked him his name. The father spoke up saying that it was his son and offered his name. The boy was proud to be noticed by the great man. As Sevier rode off, the boy looked up into his father's face and innocently spoke these words, “Why, father, Chucky Jack is only a man. “Those youthful innocent words said it all. 

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In the fall of 1928, the Tennessee Hotelmen's Association held a two-day conference in Johnson City at the downtown John Sevier Hotel. Folsom B. Taylor, manager of the 10-story structure and vice-president of the state association, served as host. W.W. Westmoreland, manager of the hotel and J.M. Majors, administrator of the nearby Colonial Hotel also served as hosts.

The John Sevier Hotel as it appeared in 1923 after the first of three planned additions. The second one was built a few years later but the third (adjacent to E. Market Street) one never materialized.

The event was largely of a social nature, following business sessions held in Kingsport on Monday, with Frank B. Warner, manager of the Kingsport Inn, as planner.  After arriving from Kingsport shortly before noon, the hotel men, their wives and guests, attended a luncheon at the John Sevier, where formal greetings were given on behalf of Johnson City, with responses by members of the association. A prominent part of the program was the paper on “Good Roads,” by Folsom B. Taylor, after which a general discussion occurred.

 In the afternoon, a motor visit was made to Glanzstoff, Bemberg, Soldiers’ Home and other area points of interest, where members were courteously received.

Frank Shutt, of Memphis, presided as toastmaster and in addition to the scheduled numbers, bits of enjoyable side conversations were indulged by various members.

A double feature was the dancing and singing in costume of Miss Jane Douglass, who introduced “A Cabaret Specialty,” in fancy costume, singing and dancing to modern syncopated music. Also, an Oriental interpretative dance was appropriately costumed and artfully introduced. Accompaniments were by Miss Marjorie Davenport (a clerk at J.G. Sterchi Furniture Co.).

Charles J. Broyles, baritone, introduced the popular “Brown October Ale” song from “Robin Hood” and responded with a splendid rendition of “The Wanderer,” both artistic numbers approvingly received. Music throughout the evening was inspiring, rendered by a trio, Miss Mary Inah Conner, piano;  Professor Kratochwill of Greeneville, violin; and Chester Edens of Elizabethton, violin/cello.

Besides members of the association, visitors introduced included J.W. Ring, a prominent figure associated with the securing and location of Bemberg and Glanzstoff; Carroll E. King and Fred W. Hoss of Appalachian Publishers. Mr. Hoss responded with an original piano selection. The singing by the John Sevier Bell Hop Male Quartet, whose well-known harmonies and musical humor were enjoyable parts of the program, producing arousing applause.

The hotel stay included an eight-course banquet in the beautiful ballroom on the final day, affording guests the pinnacle of preparation, service, variety and quantity of “their own wares.” 

The ballroom was lavishly decorated with a profusion of cut flowers and smilax (a popular floral decoration in the asparagus family that has a slender vine and glossy foliage. A huge decorated cake was formally cut at the conclusion of the dinner, followed by an elaborate and varied program of entertainment.

The elaborate menu offered a variety of tasty items: Stuffed Kalamaoo Celery with Roquefort Cheese, Mixed California Olives, Salted Almonds, Chicken Consommé Julienne, En Tasse Double Shutt, Poached Halibut, Oyster Sauce, Augured Potatoes, Hot Rolls, Cranberry Punch Frozen, Roasted Stuffed Milk Feed Chicken Hawaiian, Idaho Baked Potato Spanish Style, Asparagus Tips on Toast, Drawn Butter, Tiny French Peas in Novelty Cases, Buerre Fondue, Hot Rolls, Vienna Bread, Maiden Blush Salad with Saltine Wafers, Coupe Beau Rivage, Fancy Cakes and Coffee, Mints and Cigars and Cigarettes.

The dinner in the evening was followed by a dance, in which a number of local young people joined the visitors. The hotel men, managers and officials of the largest hostelries in the state, lavishly commended the entertainment provided and especially had praise for the closing banquet, which they declared could hardly be excelled.

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