On June 10, 1984, Scott Pratt, Johnson City Press-Chronicle staff writer, composed an article titled, “The First Issue – So Different and So Familiar.” It concerned the 50th anniversary of the newspaper, which began publication on June 12, 1934.”

Vol. 1, No. 1 consisted of 20 pages and cost two cents. The lead story on the front page, among 28 others, dealth with Congress passing the National Recovery Act (NRA) that authorized the president to regulate industry to stimulate the economy. A small emblem containing an eagle and the words “NRA Member – We Do Our Part” was positioned on each side of the newspaper title.

Another front page news item was titled, “Tennessee Hotels Ask State Commission For Lower Telephone Rate.” Only one news story was written by a local reporter, but that would soon change.

Other front page news accounts (and the reporting city) included: “Malaria Control Project Is Started in Memphis” (Nashville), “Cuban Store Robbed” (Havana), “12 American Women Bow Before Royalty” (London), “Car Drivers Ask For Police Protection” (Chattanooga), “(Dionne) Quintuplets Gain Slightly in Weight” (born two months prematurely, gained 2.5 ounces in one day, Ontario), “Tax Exempt (Old) Cotton Will Be Tagged” (to avoid payment, Washington) and “Congress Ready to End Session” (Washington).

Members of the Police Department Post in Front of the Central Fire Hall on E. Main Street

A perusal of Pratt's half-century edition offered a delightful look not only at an emergent stage of journalism, but also of an era of Americana that has long since vanished.

Studebaker stock sold at $5.50 per share with Packard Motors posting at $4.

The weather forecast was printed in the upper left corner of the front page. Only general forecasts for Tennessee and North Carolina were provided. The first one said, “Generally fair tonight and tomorrow.” The second was a bit more specific: Local thundershowers tonight; Wednesday generally fair.” That was it. No temperatures were listed and no forecasts were offered beyond that night.

Local businesses in 1934 advertised pretty much as they do today. Although the content of the ads has not changed much, the style certainly has.  For instance, Jigger Milligan announced in an ad his takeover of Checker Cab.

Hamilton Bank advertised three percent earnings on savings and certificates of deposit. Appalachian Funeral Home announced that they had inhalation and ambulance services available. All it took was a “Number please…Thank you” phone call to 342.

Beckner's Jewelers was around then, as was Sterchi Brothers and Sam Sells had opened his Kings Department Store just seven years prior. 

Ferdinand Powell, a general agent for Atlantic Life, placed an ad containing a clever advertising slogan: “Honesty, it's the best policy.” That was it.

A potion dubbed S.S.S. Tonic pointed out in an advertisement that the human body often operated with only 70-75 percent healthy blood volume. Another ad encouraged the reader to “pull the trigger on constipation.” Enough said.

Missing from the paper in 1934 were television listings. Instead, radio programs were provided. Unlike TV, radio challenged the listener's power of the imagination.

For all the enjoyment gained by reading the first Johnson City Press, one thing sticks out. At the left top side of the front page, the headline reads, “Coury-Wide Strike Threat Grows Serious.” It correct spelling should have been “Country, not “Counry”.

Pratt concluded that some things, including typographical errors, never seem to change. They can elusively slip past even the most observant writer and attentive proofreader.  

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On June 10, 1984, Terri Higgins, Johnson City Press-Chronicle staff writer, composed an article titled, “1934, Bad Times and Good Times.” It concerned the 50th anniversary of the newspaper, which began publication on June 12, 1934.”

The Press Used to Publish the First Johnson City Press in June 1934

Photo Courtesy of Eddie LeSueur

The country was deep into the Great Depression with job shortages, little cash on hand and people wearing worn and patched clothes. Local residents, who numbered about 25,000, somehow managed to savor life. “Draggin' the Main,” became a popular amusement with youth who cruised the downtown area just to see who was present. Trendy stores included King's, Dosser's, Beckner's, Masengill's and Kress's.

Popular hangouts were The Chocolate Bar, The Shamrock, Peoples' Drug Store, The Savoy and The Gables. The Smoke Shop provided an atmosphere where young men could hang out and partake of tobacco products. In the 1930s, girls on dates usually had to be home by 11 p.m. at the latest. It was common for couples to date together, frequently gathering on someone's front porch and talking for hours.

Dances were held regularly in people's homes where thick, breakable 78-rpm records were played on windup Victrolas. The fox trot and waltzes were popular. Songs included “Stardust,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover,” “I'll Never Smile Again” and “I'll Always Be in Love with You.” Upscale dances were held in the John Sevier Hotel Ballroom where the Buddy Dean Band and others regularly performed. The hotel was also the center of social activity for businessmen and women who assembled there for lunch in the trendy restaurant.

Afternoon tea dances were all the rage. Ballroom dances were dress-up occasions where young men wore suits and ties. Young women usually owned one or two evening dresses that could be slightly altered for each use. No one ever laughed at hand-me-down or worn-out clothes because it was more the norm than the exception.

Downtown entertainment venues provided “picture shows” at the Majestic, Capital (later Tennessee)  and Liberty theatres. George Arliss could be seen in “The Green Goddess” or John Wayne in “Sage Bush Trail.” Sometimes live shows were provided in the theatres with traveling magicians, dance teams and actors, making routine appearances on the downtown stages.

At the beginning of the tobacco season, everyone flocked to the Big Burley Warehouse on Legion Street for visits by big bands with such leaders as Sammy Kaye, Ted Fio Rito and Guy Lombardo. The cost  was $2 a couple.

In the summer months, the Sur Joi swimming pool (now the Carver Recreation Center) at W. Watauga and W. Market was the place to go. Women wore wool swimsuits that cost between $2 and $6 and covered their head with plain white swimming caps. Men's outfits were cheaper at $1.50 to $3.50. Pool admission was $.30 for adults and $.20 for the youngsters. Season tickets were also available.

A nickel ride on one of the five streetcars in operation in the city would take the traveler to Soldiers' Home, East Tennessee Teachers College, Carnegie or the recreation area that carried a variety of names: Lake Wataussee, Lakeview Park and Cox's Lake. Two streetcar conductors warmheartedly remembered from that era were D.T. Cash and John Lusk.

Cabs became a necessity because not everyone owned an automobile. People often rented cars for special trips and dates. Although driver's licenses were not required, vehicles had to have a tag on the front and back. Longer trips called for a ride of one of the nostalgic steam locomotives that chugged through the city daily.

This was the way of life on June 12, 1934 when the Johnson City Press opened for business, 80 years ago.

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Eddie Baldwin reminisced about his employment at Wilson Pharmacy at 273 W. Market Street in the late 1950s and early '60s. He lived on W. Main Street within a short walking distance to the store. He previously worked at nearby (Hubert C.) Dyer's Venetian Blind Laundry.

The drugstore, initially identified as Prator-Wilson Pharmacy, was established in July 1936 by Lee Prator and Guy Wilson. After about two years, Mr. Prator decided to relocate to Abingdon, Virginia and open a pharmacy there. The split proved to be very profitable for both men. The business would retain the same name until about 1951 when “Prator” was dropped, becoming “Wilson Pharmacy.”

“The business,” said Eddie, “was a combination soda fountain and drugstore. Food service included hamburgers, Campbell's soup (especially chicken noodle) that was served in little green bowls, Will Cope hot tamales, ice cream, milk shakes, soft drinks (both fountain and bottles that were kept in a large cooler behind the counter), hot chili with crackers, a variety of chips and an assortment of desserts that included (Orville) Seaver's Pies that sold for a dime.”

1940s: Guy Wilson at Door of His Pharmacy, Next to His Car Parked on W. Watauga Avenue

Older folks may recall that Will Cope made scrumptious hot tamales which were wrapped in corn husks and tied off on each end with string. He operated out of C.C. (Edward W. Carson) Grocery at 212 W. Chilhowie. He delivered his product to Guy's Pharmacy and other downtown establishments, such as John's (Buda) Sandwich Shop. 

Guy had a relief pharmacist by the name of Bill Gregg, who worked there and operated the drugstore in Guy's absence. The pharmacy initially opened at 7:00 a.m. and closed at 10:00 p.m., but later was changed to 8:00 p.m. and then to 6:00 p.m. Unlike most downtown stores, Guy's Pharmacy stayed open Wednesday afternoons. That mid-week evening was known as “mop the floor night,” with Eddie and others performing cleanup duties after the store closed.

A large section of magazines was displayed to the left as you entered the store. The all-important comic book rack was located on the east side of the store, adjacent to a large walnut cabinet that was used to store women's cosmetics.

Comic books were often read by adults as well as children, who would, after buying something from the fountain, take it back to a table, pull a comic book from the rack and read it as they consumed their purchase. Guy was amicable enough to let customers and even employees on break read comics, provided they purchased something. When Guy saw someone reading a book without spending money, he uttered the oft-repeated words, “Okay boys, order up.” The perpetrators got the message.

Eddie worked three basic jobs at Guy's: serving customers behind the counter, delivering food and/or medicine orders on a bicycle” and general cleanup duties.

Eddie recalled this humorous story: “After receiving a prescription order, I jumped on my bicycle and headed west on Market Street to Green's Rest Home (owned by Mrs. Bertha Green at 607 Hillcrest Drive), behind the old Hillcrest Drug building. When I arrived, I parked my bike in an empty space in front of a car.

“I delivered my package and was about to leave the home when I heard a loud crash. To my dismay, my bike had fallen over and the driver of the car behind it accidentally ran over it, heavily damaging it. Since it wouldn't roll, I lifted it over my head and carried it back to the store, dreading having to tell Guy the bad news. When I did, he just smiled at me as if it was no big deal. Two days later, I had a brand new bicycle to ride. That's the kind of man Guy Wilson was.”  

Bill's (Garland) Barber Shop was in the building on the east side of the pharmacy. When Bill moved his hair cutting operation across the street to the building vacated by (W. Howard Stewart's) The Red Store, Guy bought the building, knocked out the wall between the two stores and significantly increased the floor space of his pharmacy. This acquisition allowed more tables to be added.   

A nice feature about the pharmacy was that people who urgently needed an order filled could call Guy's home and someone would come and open the store to fill the customer's order. He remembered one urgent request that occurred in the wee hours of the morning turned out to be for a pack of Kodak film.

Eddie left Wilson Pharmacy to go to work for Giant Food Market on Commerce Street in downtown Johnson City. Later, he was hired by the Johnson City Police Department, serving under Police Chief Tom Helton. Eddie requested that I give honorable mention to three long-time store workers: Shirley Shepherd, Ray Trivette and Mabel Dykes.

Thanks Eddie, for your cherished yesteryear memories. 

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In 1921, an advertisement in a local Johnson City newspaper contained these words: “If  you are going to farm, why not sell out and buy where you can get every advantage for yourself and family?” The real estate ad was placed by Stanyarne Little of the Johnson City Development Company (later known as the Stanyarne Little Co.

The firm's office was at 108 N. Roan Street (later at 307-309 S. Roan). Little was president-treasurer; Thad Cox, vice-president; and H.M. Brown, secretary. Further research indicates that the company owned Cherokee Heights in Johnson City.

Interested parties were urged to write and inquire about the seven pieces of property listed in the ad. The farms, although not explicitly identified, were located close to Johnson City, “where the best of good roads had been built and where the best schools were to be found anywhere in Tennessee.”

Of particular note, mention was made that the new owners could educate their children from primary grades through the State Normal School. Another plus was that it was in the best market in the south for wheat, corn, oats, hay, cattle, hogs, sheep, poultry and vegetable products.

Mr. Little invited newspaper readers to visit Johnson City and let the company show them a highly industrious city where the $550,000 John Sevier Hotel was under construction, boasting that there was “nothing quite like it in the South.” Also, a new facility, Appalachian Hospital, was being built at a cost of $165,000; a $300,000 apartment house making it the sixth to be built; and other large improvements underway.

At that time, there were between 90 and 100 first class residences being built and a number of permits issued to others who were preparing to build. The estimated cost of total building in the city for 1921 had already reached the $2.5 million mark.

The announcement stated that there was no city in Tennessee twice its size that had half the business being conducted. The reader was urged to visit other nearby towns and compare what they saw there with what the people of Johnson City were doing. After duly endorsing the Johnson City area, the company invited the public to check out the seven farms they were selling in their ad:

“90 Acres/$10,500: Good farm four miles from Johnson City with first class improvements. House has six rooms with carbide lights, good cold storage house, good barn, rolling land and has large frontage on Southern Railway. About 30 acres in young poplar timber and worth half the price of the farm. Is in a high state of cultivation and well situated for trucking and the raising of poultry.

“71.5Acres/$8,500: Located 1.5 miles from railway station, churches, four year high school and county seat. 60 acres in cultivation. Balance is woodland. Spring branch running through farm. Five room house and suitable outbuildings. Attractive proposition for the price asked. Terms, one third cash, balance in one, two or three years with six percent  interest.

“57.5 Acres/$7,000: Good land, 20-acre creek bottom with fine stand of grass. Ten acres of timber. Large bold spring, good barn and granary. Located on good road, one-quarter mile from rock pike within a mile of the railway station, churches and 4-year high school.

“14.5 Acres/$3,750: Small farm of 14.5 acres just outside the corporate limits of Johnson City on old Watauga road and Southern Railway. Two story house, five rooms, convenient to market, stores, churches, schools. Land adapted to truck, fruit and poultry. Good terms.

“7 Acres/$5,500: In high state of cultivation with 7-room bungalow finished in no. 1 material, Has grates, mantels, porches, large concrete basement, metal roof. Good barn with 30-ton silo, six concrete stalls hay fork and metal roof. Other outbuildings include concrete spring house with smokehouse above, chicken house and wood house. Only seven minutes walk from car line. Has large grape arbor. Running water furnished by three springs.

“7 Acres/$4,000: Short distance from the city. Seven acres of good rich garden land with full equipment for poultry raising. Includes five room house, metal roof, with bored well under cover adjoining kitchen. On a graded road in a good community. Price is right, terms easy.

“5 Acres/$2,100: Located 2.5 miles from Johnson City on Elizabethton Pike midway between Johnson City and Milligan College. Excellent location for a suburban home. Good terms.”

What a treasure this represented – ample choice land available in East Tennessee in 1921.

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I enjoy receiving correspondence from folks who once worked at long-deceased businesses. Such was the case for Ledford's Food Center, once located at 206 N. Roan, just down the street from The Gables, a popular confectionery.

The informant, who asked to remain anonymous, noted that the store once experienced a relatively large volume of business. John Doe's tenure there spanned more than six years. His comments are shown in quotes; my added notes are in brackets.

According to Doe, “The property was owned by area businessman, Robert London, but its contents comprised a retail grocery store leased by Howard V. Ledford. Howie, as he became known, acquired the reputation of being an affable person to customers and employees.

“Although lacking a suitable parking lot, air conditioning, fancy advertising, extended hours, flashy displays and background music, its various perks and clever practices set this store apart from most of its competitors.”

(Customers had to locate parking spaces on nearby streets or use one of the few located behind the store, which had a two-hour limit. Store hours were 8:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. on Monday through Thursday. It was open until 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Unlike most downtown stores of that era, they did not close at noon on Wednesday. They were closed all day on Sunday.) 

“Several area restaurants and small grocery stores routinely bought meat, particularly ground beef, at wholesale prices from them. One eatery, Melody Lane Grill, managed by Jim Townsend, was the best commercial customer through the years, enjoying the greatest discount. 

“Johnson City Eye Hospital’s Ms. Patrick was provided free delivery of her institution’s orders as a reward for their business. Also to the delight of Billy Carpenter, the food center also stored refrigerated and frozen items free of charge for nearby Junior High when the school's own equipment could not accommodate its needed supply.” (Many folks will remember the colorful Billy at the school's cafeteria, working with his mother, Mary, who was the manager.)

“Meat cutters, who stayed busy most of their respective tenure, especially on Saturdays, included Earl Ledford, Dennis Miller, Roy Cannon, Sherman Cox, Claude Lilly, Gene McKee, Jimmy Bowman, and Geeter Sheets. 

“Ledford's obtained its meat from several wholesalers: Rath, Swift, Cudahy, Wilson, Valleydale, Hormel, Oscar Meyer, and Selecto (East Tennessee Packing Co. in Knoxville).  Choice beef was obtained from Kingan Co. in Indianapolis, while pork sausage was procured from local distributors such as Morton Brothers, Bulla and Payne. 

“Locally, the Sells Company sold fresh poultry to the small store. Occasionally, fresh rabbit as well as Will Cope’s home-made tamales could be found in the self-service case.” (Mr. Cope, as many of us seniors can testify, made absolutely the best hot tamales in town.)

“The produce department rivaled the meat market in attrition of employees. At various times, tending the fresh fruits and vegetables were Everett Hughes, Henry Arnold, Bobby Hoss, Joe Henley, Ray Bowman, Edwin Goines, and Bill Hughes.

“Fresh produce was delivered twice weekly and placed at the front door with no fear of theft or damage, despite being left unattended an hour or more before Ledford or assistant manager, Ralph Booth, opened the door around 7:30. Most of these high-quality foods had been bought from Hale Brothers, a premiere wholesaler of fruits and vegetables in Morristown.

“Bag-up boys never had to ask customers whether they preferred paper or plastic; the latter had not come into existence back then. Personnel included J.G. Peterson, Raymond Kilby, Tony Bowman and Marvin Gouge. Jim Evans had a brief stay there as chief shelf-stocker. Only two cashiers were employed at Ledford's: Booth and a worker named Wallace Bolding.”

My column photo shows a Ledford's store ad with a caricature of Mr. Ledford, who promoted his products using humorous comments, usually preceded with the words, “Howie Sez.” 

Thank you, John Doe, for escorting us back to yesteryear for a peek into Ledford's Food Center. Does anyone know additional facts about the operation or what years the store was in business? If so, please send me a note.

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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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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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My cousin, Wayne Whittimore, and I recently conversed by phone concerning the Crosley automobile dealership that his father, Ernest, and another man, Jess Crigger, opened and operated about 1949. They appropriately named it C&W Motor Sales.

Ernest previously worked for (J. Norton) Arney’s Motors while Jess was once employed by Potter's Auto Repair (whose business was on the New Jonesboro Highway). Whittimore had previously worked at a King Street repair garage and at a Maple Street shop. The businessmen acquired a building on E. Main Street, two businesses east of Broadway Street on the right (west) side. 

The photo at the bottom of the collage, taken in 2013, shows the same building used for the Crosley dealership in the late 1940s and early 1950s

Crosleys were the only products they sold. The front showroom was fairly small, being just large enough to display two of the diminutive vehicles. However, the back portion of the building was spacious enough to service 15-20 cars.

Although Crosleys were not overly reliable, they were so affordable that, depending on the maintenance problem encountered, it was often more economical to buy a new car rather than repair an old one. Wayne recalls that the shop was usually full of automobiles. He further recalled that the owners obtained parts from Knoxville. Although the autos averaged about 50 miles to the gallon, it was barely large enough for four normal sized people to sit comfortably in them, thus adding new meaning to the expression “no frills.”

Wayne indicated that while he later owned a Crosley, his father never did because he was a staunch Buick man. My cousin recalled that the smallish Crosley weighed nearly 1100 pounds, possessed a 4-pound engine block, had four cylinder pistons and measured 4-foot wide by 12-foot long. The consumer was limited in factory color choices that included gray, yellow and blue. It has been said that four husky musclemen could pick up and carry the vehicle a short distance, making it the target of pranksters.

Wayne alleged that the most unusual Crosley product was a “Farm-O-Road” (meaning “farm or road”). It could be modified by installing two extra wheels on the rear and used on the farm as a tractor. Afterward, the wheels were removed and the car driven onto the highway.

Powel Crosley, Jr., already well-known for producing low cost radios, reasoned that a basic, no frills car would attract scores of customers. A $300 Crosley had a chassis with an 80-inch wheelbase, half elliptic springs with beam axle in front, quarter elliptics in the rear, a 2-cylinder Waukesha air-cooled engine with the fan a part of the flywheel, a 9-inch diameter clutch and a 3-speed transmission. If a patron desired a rear seat, it cost extra.

The first Crosley produced was a two-door convertible that weighed under 1000 pounds and sold for $250. While not an instant success, the company introduced additional body styles in 1941 to boost sales.

The Crosley was so narrow that it could go though a standard commercial store door, allowing dealers to sell radios and cars from the same building. A glove compartment, barely large enough for a pair of gloves, was set into the right side of the dash, while above the steering column was a crank for the manual windshield wiper. Although windows slid open for signaling and ventilation, a standard summertime modification was to remove the side glass entirely.

In 1949, a station wagon, a pickup truck, and a sports model called the “Hotshot” were added to the product line. It was the first real postwar sports car in America and lived up to its name by winning the first Sebring 12-hour race.

According to Wayne, C&W Motor Sales stayed in business about four years, closing around 1953. By the early 1950s, demand for the little cars began to diminish. I asked my cousin if he still owned his Crosley. He said he finally sold it to a person in Johnson City who fully restored it and let him drive it. He was thrilled at the make-over because he has a soft spot in his heart for the Crosley.

If you owned a Crosley, I would like to hear from you.

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Hotel Windsor, originally built as Hotel Pardue in 1909, became a downtown fixture on Fountain Square until it was razed in 1971. I located an interesting item from what appears to from 1939 in ETSU’s Archives of Appalachia’s “Hotel Windsor Collection” (AppMs269, 1937-54).

The assortment contained a listing of 33 signs that once adorned the local East Tennessee landscape with facts about each one: number, property owner, location, authority (permit or lease), highway, miles from Johnson City and type (bracket, barn or other). The list includes 11E, 23, Old Jonesboro Highway, Glanzstoff Highway (E. Main Street in Johnson City to Elizabethton) and 81/34 (rural state roads). They are as follows: 

102 Ben Miller, Telford, lease, 11E south, 17 miles, 36”x48” bracket. 103 C.R. Green, Telford, lease, 11E south, 13 miles, 36”x48” bracket. 104 J.E. Slonaker, RFD Jonesboro, lease, 11E south, 11 miles, 36”x48” bracket. 104A Frank Hawkins, Johnson City, lease, 11E south, 9 miles, 14’x45’ barn.

104B D.A. Vines, Johnson City, permit, 11E south, 8 miles, 23’x45’ barn. 105 Mrs. J.S. Pritchett, Jonesboro, lease, 11E south, 6 miles, 36’x48” bracket. 106 Mrs. J.S. Pritchett, Jonesboro, lease, 11E south, 6 miles, 8’x30’. 107 Mrs. J.S. Pritchett, Jonesboro, lease, Old Jonesboro Highway, 5 miles, 6’x10’.

109 Mrs. F.S. Gray, Johnson City, leash, 11-E south 3 miles, 12’x60’. 110 C. M. Martin, Johnson City RFD, leash, 11E north, 3 miles, 8.5’x20’. 111 Mrs. Sam Fulkerson, Johnson City RFD, lease, 11E north, 4 miles, 36’x48’ bracket. 111A Mrs. Ida Meadows, Johnson City RFD, lease, 11-E north, 6 miles, 36”x48” bracket.

112 C.P. Taylor, Piney Flats, lease, 11E north, 8 miles, 36”x48” bracket. 113 Ira Green, Piney Flats, lease, 11E north, 10 miles, 8’x25’ barn. 114 Gregory Place, Bluff City RFD, permit, 11E north, 12 miles, 8’x55’ fence. 115 Mrs. W.S. Sproles, Bluff City RFD, lease, 11E north, 13 miles, 36’x48” bracket.

200 E.P. Roller, Kingsport RFD, lease, 23 north, 15 miles, 36’x48” bracket. 201 S.S. Rollins, Jonesboro, lease, 8 miles, 36’x48” bracket. 202 John B. White, Nashville, lease, 23 north, 5 miles, 10’x32’. 202A R.L. Crouch, Jonesboro RFD, lease, 23 north, 4.5 miles, 8’2”x26’.

203 Colla Sell, Johnson City RFD, lease, 23 north, 4 miles, 36’x48” bracket. 204 J.A. Denton, Johnson City, permit, 23 south, 1 mile, 6’x8’. 205 Mrs. H.H. Swadley, Johnson City RFD, lease, 23 south, 3 miles, 10’x30’. 207 Mrs. Peek, Clear Branch, permit, 23 south, 26 miles, 8’x22’.

207A Mrs. J.S. Runion, Erwin RFD, lease, 23 south, 22 miles, 12’x35’ barn. 208 Mrs. R.D. Dittorton, Unicoi RFD, lease, 23 south, 8 miles, 36’x48” bracket. 209 John Ledford, Unicoi RFD, lease, 23 south, 11 miles, 36’x48” bracket. 300 V. Chambers, Johnson City, permit, 67 south, 4 miles, 6’x10’.

301 Orville Martin, Johnson City, lease, Glanzstoff Highway (E. Main in Johnson City to Elizabethton), 2 miles, 8’x35’. 302 Carter Furniture Co., Elizabethton, lease, 19E, 11 miles, 36’x48” bracket. 303 J.D. Miller, Elizabethton, lease, 19E, 12 miles, 12’x25’. 307 Mrs. F. Hoss, Embreeville, permit, 81/34, 10 miles, 5’x9’. 308 Mrs. Ellis Moody, Jonesboro RFD, lease, 81/34, 12 miles, 6’x10’.

When I was growing up, these signs could be seen on most roads surrounding the city. Many of them remained long after the hotel closed. I hope today’s column generates unique memories from readers who recall one or more of them. I particularly visualize the one at Clear Branch near Erwin. If you know of one that is still standing or would like to comment on any of them, please drop me a note. 

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In the late 1940s, Mom and I shopped for my clothing needs at Parks-Belk under the able guidance of Morris Thompson. As I grew older I started patronizing Kings Department Store where funnyman Ed Bateman helped guide me through selections (while continually reminding me that I needed to get married).

(Note: The three photos of Hannah's would not load. Check back later for them.)

On occasion, I shopped at Hannah’s at 213 E. Main. I was always impressed with the vast selection of (slightly higher priced) clothing they offered, the neatness of the place and their always-helpful attendants.

Hannah’s defined the scope of its business by its logo: “Hannah’s Incorporated – Dependable Wear for Men and Boys.” Another slogan was “Hannah’s is not merely a word but is that personal, individual interest in each customer that means guaranteed satisfaction on every purchase.

George S. Hannah established the George S. Hannah Co. in 1912.  Prior to that, he was a traveling salesman residing at 117 E. Watauga. His management team included Ferrell B. Hannah and H.A. Smith. He and his wife, Margaret, later lived in the beautiful Westover Manor (subject of a previous column) on Walnut Street Extension. In 1924, George withdrew from the business causing the formation of a corporation, Hannah’s, Inc. The incorporators were Harry A. Smith, Ferrell R. Hannah and Kyle Slaughter.

The George S. Hannah Co. covered a complete line for men, women and children’s wearing apparel. However, Hannah’s Inc. narrowed its business focus to only men and boys. It featured such nationally known product lines as “Kuppenheimer and Griffon Clothiers, Nettleton and Nunn-Buss Shoes, Dobbs and Style Park Hats, Interwoven Hosiery, Manhattan and Arrow Shirts, Manhattan and Vasser Underwear and Pajamas, Resilio and Beau Brummel Neckwear, Knit-Tex Top Coats, Lilly Baggage and Bradley Sweaters.” 

It its ads, Hannah’s Inc. singled out several brands to promote why they stocked them at their establishment:

Griffon Clothers (“Established in 1862, L. Grief & Brothers, Inc.”), Endicott Johnson Shoes (“For men and boys at popular prices in Hannah’s Annex. We carry a full line of these well known shoes and recommend them for service and satisfaction to the thriftiest buyer.”), Dutchess Trousers, (10 cents a button, $1.00 a rip. Free from loose buttons, seams and belt loops that rip, inaccurate size markings and other common annoyances.), Tom Sawyer Shirts. For real boys at Hannah’s, no boy’s shirt is more favorably known in Johnson City mothers than Tom Sawyer.), …

Nunn Bush & Weldon Shoe Co. (men’s fine footwear of nationally known merit.), The Middishade Co. (fireproof, Middlishad blue serge suits.), Manhattan Shirts (“The Best Known-Known as the Best.”), Duckhead (overalls made for men and boys. An overall should give you these three things: perfect fit, good appearance and long wear.), Stylepark Hats (something entirely news in the field of modern prices. $5.00 at Hannah’s.) Amdur Clothing Co., Inc. (AAA guaranteed sun proof, Service Surge hand tailored.), …

The Excelsior Shoe Company (We feature the Grant Flexated and Excelsior fine shoe for men.), Morris Asinof & Sons, Inc. (Boy’s Students’ and Young men’s Clothing of Merit.) and Resilio Cravats (“In motor cars, it is Speed. In tobacco, it is taste. In cravats, it is resilience that counts. Why? Because a tie is discarded when it lost its freshness, its smart lines. A Resilio cravat always had that “just out of the box” newness. A patented hand-tailored construction is the secret. Look for the loose stand of silk thread in the lining. 

To those of us who grew up in Johnson City, today’s column takes us on yet another pleasurable remembrance journey to the often crowded and festive downtown area that we loved so much and visited often.  

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