The late Sue Eckstein once shared with me an undated newspaper clipping from a scrapbook that belonged to her father, Paul Carr. It documents several unrelated stories of early Johnson City, written by former Johnson City Press-Chronicle writer, Fred Hoss.

During the economic boom of the early 1890s, everything was going “Carnegie.” Old cow pastures were subdivided into lots that sold for as high as $1,500 and $2,000 each. The Three-Cs railroad had commenced its line through this section. It was being built through Cash Hollow with a depot in Carnegie. The road was graded to about Unaka Springs when a depression hit causing the railroad to come to a screeching halt. It was abandoned before it got started.

Almost overnight, the Carnegie Hotel, store buildings, tennis court, new houses and other developments were abandoned, becoming burrows for rodents. Some of them burned while others decayed and collapsed. The large block of railroad bonds owed by the city were relieved of the debt by the courts.

Later, lots in Carnegie sold for prices ranging from 15 cents to 10 dollars. City records show that one fellow in the western part of the country, who owned a lot that had been assessed at $5.00, regularly mailed in his tax check each year that ranged from 10 to 12 cents.

On other subjects, the late Henry H. Carr was described as a “master of argument” in court. His delivery was what his opponents deemed dangerously convincing. He stood while speaking with his eyes closed and without making a gesture. His demeanor gave people lockjaw to the extent that they could not respond to him.

Charlie Cargille, whose father started a photograph gallery in town, brought in the first big-wheeled bicycles. Skillful riders pedaled them to work and on trips about town. They became the envy of youngsters until Charlie Estes introduced the first “safety” bicycle. Not to be outdone, Cargille purchased a high-wheeled rubber tread buggy and a horse to pull it.

Hoss mentioned a large house owned by local lawyer Robert Burrow that sat on the hill behind Science Hill High School at N. Roan. The judge was still in law practice at the age of 90. He became a partner of Isaac Harr. Burrow would write a beautiful “copper-plate” by hand (a style of calligraphic writing) because Mr. Harr couldn’t read his own handwriting. Together, they produced winning documents.

Dr. Eb S. Miller, a leading doctor in Johnson City for many years, maintained records of births and deaths that became invaluable for folks needing to prove their age for governmental purposes. One old-timer humorously remarked that records in the doctor’s account books revealed that many people were born on credit.

The Bee Hive, a leading downtown department store, used the first moving window display in the city. A turntable made of wood operated in a socket with a shaft leading to the basement. It was turned by a “flutter wheel” operated by a stream of water. Folks came from miles around to gaze into the window and watch it turn. The genius behind the invention was identified as P.M. Ward.

And finally, there was a news story about patrons attending Jobe’s Opera House who became overly alarmed when a loud clap of thunder occurred during a performance. Two young girls screamed and created a stampede toward the stairs. Fortunately, cooler heads intervened and quickly barricaded the door preventing what could have been an avalanche of humanity falling down the steep stairwell. 

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I have fond memories of growing up on Johnson Avenue in a house directly behind the Henry Johnson School playground. When we moved there in 1950, my dad, eager to exercise his green thumb, turned our double lot into a mass of thick foliage with a variety of trees (including fruit), bushes, plants, vines, flowers and a vegetable garden.

Tarzan and his family could have felt right at home in the confines of our yard. A thick rose hedge, so thorny that rabbits had trouble infiltrating it, fittingly surrounded three sides of our property.

All of this came to mind recently when I read a March 24, 1940 Sunday edition of the Johnson City Press-Chronicle that dealt with the Security Feed and Seed Company.  I recall going there with my dad on numerous occasions to purchase supplies. The $20,000 annual business opened in 1929 under the leadership of Earnest D. Johnson, a Knoxville businessman. Initially, it was located at 208 W. Main Street (two doors west of the Johnson City Press-Chronicle building).

Other competing firms operating during that era were Treadway Feed and Seed Co. (601 Spring), Barter Implement and Feed (Buffalo at Cherry), Johnson City Feed Co. and Hatchery (110-114 McClure) and Farmers’ Exchange (139 Commerce, later named London Hardware). The store became recognized as one of the leaders in its field. It was a division of Security Mills of Knoxville, one of the chief distributors of farm feeds and fertilizers in the South. Other area locations were Jonesborough, Bristol, Kingsport and Greeneville. In addition, nearly 40 additional stores were maintained inside the Southern territory. Within ten years, the firm was taking in a half-million dollars annually.

The store remained at its Main Street site until 1935 when it relocated to 117 Commerce. In 1940, new manager O.J. Jackson offered an encouraging sales outlook for the approaching year. He boasted of having 12 employees and an $18,000 annual payroll, equating to yearly wages of $1500 per worker. The business focused on feeds, fertilizer, grass seeds, heavy hardware and general farm supplies. The local store became sole distributor for John Deere farm machinery. An ad proclaimed, “John Deere farm implements are known the country over for their efficiency and stamina. We offer the complete company line of tractors and farm machinery and are prepared to give every farmer a liberal trade.”

Another ad that year referred to the business as “The Farmers Store” declaring, “Security carries almost everything needed in the operation of a farm. From planting to harvesting, (we) can supply you with the proper implements and material to do the job right. There is a Security feed for every feeding purpose. Properly balanced to give your stock and flock a scientifically correct diet, Security offers a feed of superior value. Try Security next time.”

A 1948 ad provided another indication of the company’s success – the formation of a new division identified as Security Tractor & Implement Company. It was located on the new Jonesborough Highway. Around 1950, Security Feed and Seed Co. moved to 135-137 Commerce. Three years later, the store moved again, this time to 929 W. Watauga (at the bottom of the hill adjacent to the railroad tracks near W. Walnut). The manager was Glen E. Mize.

A drive by my former Johnson Avenue home today offers little hint of the sprawling plant jungle proudly created by my father in the 1950s. Sadly, the yard no longer holds an appeal for Tarzan, Jane, Boy and Cheetah. 

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Johnson City once boasted of having two prominent and competing foundries. The Johnson City Foundry and Machine Works, Inc. (1883-1987) operated at 920 W. Walnut Street, the Inter-State Foundry and Machine Company (1924-early 1980s) at 343 Love Street. Ironically, the same two founders started both businesses.

In 1963, JCF&MWI had the distinction of being the oldest industrial plant still operating in Johnson City. That year the company celebrated its 80thanniversary of the original company and the 17thanniversary of the new one. Its principal officers (and positions) were George H. McDowell (President-Treasurer), May A. Ross (later McDowell, Vice-President and Secretary), J. Frank Lamons (Sales Manager), R.O. Wood, Jr. (Chief Draftsman), Sabe W. Hawkins (Office Manager), Robert F. McNeil (Plant Superintendent), Willard McInturff (Foreman of Structural Steel Department), M. Guy Lane (Foreman of Ornamental and Light Steel Department), Vernon Eads (Foreman of the Foundry and Pattern Shop) and Gilbert Ingle (Foreman of the Machine Shop).

A foundry is defined as a business where metal is melted and poured into molds. The new venture formed in 1883 was initially known as the Miller and Crumley Foundry. It was situated on the tracks of the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad (later the Southern Railway). The Ash Street Courthouse would later occupy the site. Over years, the business would carry three names: Johnson City Foundry and Machine Works, Johnson City Foundry and Machine Company and Johnson City Foundry and Machine Works, Inc.

The next year, Colonel Thomas E. Matson purchased the Miller and Crumley Foundry and converted it into a large store and hollowware (hollow metal utensils) plant. Colonel Columbus Powell of Knoxville became a partner with Matson and the plant was incorporated with a capital of $20,000. Matson served as president.

The company erected two buildings at the junction of the ETV&G and ET&WNC railroads. One was a 5000 square foot two-story structure, the other a 12,500 one-story one. Matson acquired machinery for them from a firm in Philadelphia. Beginning in 1885, the Foundry repaired and rebuilt locomotives for the “Tweetsie” Railroad and specialized in custom ironwork.

 In 1907, the plant was rebuilt on the western half of its Walnut Street property in order to make room for the expansion of the Clinchfield Railroad. The plant consisted of a machine shop, a foundry and a blacksmith shop. They provided service and repairs for the “Tweetsie” Railroad, which had just completed construction of a railroad line from Cranberry, North Carolina to Johnson City, Tennessee.

In 1914, the company faced a foreclosure crisis. Glen Setzer, a former machinist who received his apprenticeship at the plant and completed his training on the Southern Railway in Bristol, became manager of the organization. He successfully ran the Foundry until his death in 1935, when the job befell his widow.

The Foundry was a jobbing plant, meaning its products were mostly made to specific customer orders. The one exception was the standard veneer slicing machine used in the lumber and furniture manufacturing industries. George Sitton, an early plant manager, developed the device that initially bore the name, the Sitton Slicer. It later became known as the Johnson City Slicer after several improvements were made to it.

 The business was always geared up to accepting new challenges to sustain or acquire new customers. That was never more important than when customers began asking for products fabricated from aluminum, a lighter metal. The company’s responsiveness to change helped keep the foundry in operation throughout its long history.  As early as 1943, the Aluminum Company of America became the Foundry's largest customer and continued to be so until the 1970s.

During World War II, the Johnson City Foundry became one of the nation's leading producers of military equipment and hardware. The company received the “Distinguished Army-Navy E Award” in 1943 as recognition for impressive production achievements.

In March 1946, Mr. George McDowell became the company’s president and treasurer. Mrs. McDowell was vice-president and general counsel. She was a sister of Mrs. Setzer and had worked at the company before becoming an attorney. George offered a concise explanation of the nature of their work by saying, “If it's made of iron or steel, draw a picture of it and we'll build it. As a matter of fact, you can now add brass or aluminum to that list.”

According to McDowell, the reason the plant was able to operate for such a long time without specific products was because of the diversification of its manufacturing facilities and its highly skilled workforce, which enabled the plant to continue even during hard times.

Fierce competition and a profit squeeze made it essential that each department become sufficient in its operations. The constant improvement of facilities was another important factor in its success. The Company increased its plate storage and added cranes to improve the handling of metal products. It enlarged the Ornamental Shop, added several new machines and rearranged all departments for better flow of raw materials and final products.

JCF&MWI continued to expand under the leadership of the McDowells, filling a wide range of regional business and construction needs. It fabricated steel for small building projects and large construction jobs, such as 750 tons of steel supplied to East Tennessee State College for the building of Memorial Gymnasium. With the advent of aluminum manufacturing, the Foundry began moving away from cast iron and steel production.

During the early 1980s, the company soon fell prey to declining demands for aluminum castings, inflation and a gradual shrinking of the coal industry to which the the company was a major supplier. In 1984, a Knoxville firm, Tenetek, bought the business, but it faced foreclosure in 1987. When the end finally came, approximately 133 employees from Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina were left without employment.

The Johnson City Foundry and Machine Works, Inc. had a 104-year successful reign in Johnson City. 

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A vintage jukebox is a coin-operated phonograph, typically in a beautiful colorfully illuminated cabinet, having an assortment of records that are selected from numbered push buttons.

The music phenomenon that had its roots back to 1927 included major brands as Wurlitzer, Seeburg, Rock-Ola and Ami. Mrs. Evelyn Moore shared the story of Moore Amusement Company that was located at 269 W. Market: “Fred and I started the jukebox business in 1940 with four Model 700 Wurlitzer phonographs, each costing $295 and holding 24 records. They were not fancy but very pretty.”

The Moores’ first jukebox was placed in Roby Wagoner’s Frozen Custard Parlor on E. Main. Others soon jumped on the bandwagon: Spot #1, Spot #2, Patio Grill, Lucky Grill, Melody Lane, Rainbow Corner, Black Hawk, Sevier Café, Varsity Grill, The Par, Bar-B-Q-King, The Cottage and others. This was the era of breakable shellac 78s (78-rpm records). Some of the popular bandleaders were Sammy Kaye, Guy Lombardo, Glenn Miller, the Dorsey Brothers, Les Brown, Shep Fields, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw.

“We purchased most of our records from salesmen representing major record companies such as Columbia, Decca and RCA,” said Moore. “Later, we bought them from a Cincinnati firm. Locally, we acquired some from The Music Mart and Smythe Electric. The first 78s cost us 18 cents. Customers paid a nickel for one selection or a quarter for six. Later, we upped the price to a dime per song or three for a quarter.”

Fred and Evelyn refreshed records in the jukeboxes once a week, which meant determining in advance which ones to replace. Fred carried his manual typewriter with him so as to change labels. Next, they removed coins from the machines, equally dividing the take with the businesses. Eventually, “route boys” handled the weekly chore.

Hit records removed from phonographs were stored for use in filling future requests to put them back on the players. Other discs were placed in small wooden bins at the store and sold to customers at a discount price. No 78s were sold because they were always too worn for resale.

 The war years were challenging for the couple because manufactures stopped producing records and phonographs. Also, trained repairmen were difficult to locate due to labor shortages. Records stayed on jukeboxes until they wore out. Small wall boxes were installed at tables at the Trailways Bus Station café, allowing convenient remote access to the centralized jukebox. This was done mainly to accommodate military travelers.

In 1950, the record industry switched to the smaller unbreakable vinyl 45s with the big hole in the center. They were priced at 35 cents, eventually escalating to 75. Fortunately, phonograph manufacturers provided conversion kits, allowing the new smaller records to be played on existing jukeboxes. By the mid 1950s, a change in musical tastes was ushered in by Bill Haley & the Comets and further popularized by Elvis Presley, The Platters, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Pat Boone, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Big Bopper, Bobby Darren, Ray Charles and many others.

Wurlitzer’s Model 1015 became its most popular jukebox, consisting of a mostly wooden body, dome top, multicolored normal screw-in light bulbs and neon bubbling tubes that spiraled around the top of the machine.

In 1965, the Moores sold their business, which by that time had grown to 200 jukeboxes, to IAM Co. in Greenville, Tennessee. It became known as ABC Amusement Company. Ironically, the jukebox craze peaked between 1940 and 1965, the identical 25-year span that Fred and Evelyn ran their successful amusement business. 

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Many area residents fondly recall shopping at Dosser’s Department Store that once stood at 228-230 E. Main Street, sandwiched between Sterchi Brothers on the west, Beckner’s Jewelers on the east.

 According to an unidentified 1924 newspaper clipping (from the John Fain Anderson Collection, ETSU’s Archives of Appalachia), James H. Dosser came to Jonesboro about 1836. He gained business experience working as a store clerk.

In the 1850s, Dosser and a Mr. McEwen of Philadelphia erected a three-story brick building diagonally opposite the Washington County Courthouse and offered an extensive line of men’s wear and ladies’ yard goods. During the same decade, he formed another partnership known as Dosser and Stevenson. The businessman ultimately became an active builder with two large storehouses and several excellent dwellings as evidence of his prowess.

James Dosser had four sons: Robert N., Albert T., Frank F. and J. Harry. In 1907, Robert established a mercantile establishment in Morristown. Two years later, he and his brothers opened a store in Johnson City, known aptly as Dosser Brothers. Robert was president and principal owner of the business. He lived in Johnson City while his three siblings resided in Bristol, Morristown and Knoxville. 

A 1915 Chamber of Commerce publication had glowing remarks about Dosser Brothers: “This is one of the big and successful department store enterprises of Johnson City. The location is at 228-230 E. Main Street. The firm deals extensively in dry goods and notions, millinery and shoes and high-grade ladies’ ready-to-wear suits. The business has been established at this point for the past five and a half years and during this time has become recognized as one of their real leaders in the trade and the patronage is largely with the leading and representative families of Johnson City and vicinity. The family also operates stores in Bristol and Morristown.”


The Johnson City business experienced steady growth since its conception. The amount of trade during 1923 was said to be the largest in the history of the store up to that time. Sales were encouraging during those early years with the exception of one year just after the war.

The company began making plans in early 1924 for an even bigger and better Dosser Brothers Store. With this determined vision in mind, they installed new equipment on the first and second stories and acquired additional space by acquiring and connecting an archway with the second story of the adjoining Crumley Building. This gave the facility about 75 x 100 feet in the ready-to-wear department. Their strategy for ongoing business success was to keep pace with Johnson City’s growth and to ensure the capability to meet its demands.

A 1915 advertisement in the Johnson City Staff further offers an idea of the nature of the business: “The Millinery Department is showing a wonderful number of beautiful hats, adding new shapes, new trimmings and new ideas daily. Suits coats and dresses still are arriving in the latest and most approved models. Silk sweaters are attractively priced at $5.00, $5.50 and $6.00. The Billiken shoe is the most satisfactory selling shoe sold in Johnson City.”

During his life, Robert was affiliated with the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce and the Country Club. He was an active member for many years of Munsey Memorial M.E. Church, South. He died on March 22, 1927 of pneumonia after being struck by a passing car.

Dosser’s Department Store, as it later became known, closed its doors in downtown Johnson City sometime after 1972 after a successful run of over 63 years. 

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Ben Scharfstein recently provided me with a précis of his family’s business that once operated in East Tennessee before eventually being acquired by another company.

Ben is a fan of the History/Heritage page that appears in the paper each Monday. “I am sending you a brief history of Stein-Way Clothing Company,” said Ben, “which was a major manufacturer during the 1950s and 60s.”

Ben explained that his dad, Phil, and his brothers, Irving, George and Moe, moved their Scranton, PA factory to Erwin in 1939. They manufactured men and boys’ trousers at the time. At the outbreak of World War II, their productions lines became devoted almost exclusively to the military effort. 

After the conflict ended, the family decided to close their factory in Erwin and pursue other professions. Phil went into the real estate business and began building warehouses at 707-713 W. Walnut Street near the location of the present day Firehouse Restaurant. Things changed when the Korean War broke out in 1950. Impressively, the Defense Department asked Phil and his brothers to return to the business and start making trousers for the war effort again. They complied with the military’s request.

According to Ben: “Many of the first employees in the Johnson City Stein-Way Company came from the Erwin plant. Dad and his brothers never thought of their employees in the traditional sense but as valued members of one ‘big family.’ I remember Christmas parties at the National Guard Armory, handing out turkeys and hams to employees, Dutch treat lunches at the plant where everybody brought something to eat and share and sponsoring Stein-Way sports teams. When times were tough, Dad would take contracts at or below cost so that he minimized lay-offs for his ‘family.’ Several members of my mother’s relations worked and managed various departments of Stein-Way, including Joe Wood, W.W. and Bertha Gouge and Blake and Ben Gouge.” 

Phil bought out his brothers’ portion of the business in the early 1960’s. By then, Stein-Way had increased its production base to include civilian and military trousers of varied types including jeans, military dress and combat fatigues. The elder Scharfstein passed away in 1965 resulting in the business baton being passed to Ben; his mother; and cousin, Blake Gouge, who continued to concentrate on fulfilling military needs during the Vietnam War. Amazingly, at the peak of the war, the company employed over 500 people and produced more than 6500 pairs of trousers for the military each day. Walnut Street became a congested roadway with a steady flow of tractor-trailers to and from the manufacturing plant.

“In the early 1970s,” said Ben, “we built a new 50,000 square-foot facility on a 10-acre tract on Rolling Hills Drive that Dad had purchased several years previously. After the Vietnam War ended, the Defense Department drastically reduced its contracts with us, causing us to secure jeans and trousers from name brand companies to stay busy. Unfortunately, many of these companies relocated overseas to reduce their costs and we decided that it was the right time to sell out to a larger company.  Around 1973-74, we sold our business to Levi Strauss and Company. They produced quality jeans and apparel lines for many years at the Rolling Hills facility until they too moved overseas.”

Ben reflected on his family’s business: “I still think about those hardworking, loyal and very special people whom I was privileged to grow up and work with in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Many of them are no longer with us, but they will always be part of the Stein-Way Clothing Company family.”  

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Today is Saturday, August 17, 1929 and we need to do some grocery shopping. Our first order of business is to examine the Johnson City Chronicle to see if there are any specials being advertised in the local grocery stores.

We are frugal people so we are willing to walk or drive all over town in order to save a few pennies on our purchases. We don’t know it but the Great Depression is just around the corner. Although there are 103 mostly “mom and pop” retail grocery stores within the posted limits of Johnson City, most do not advertise in the newspaper. Their bargains are generally posted on their store windows.

Given that we plan to buy numerous provisions, we take our family’s 1929 Model AA Ford pickup along because of all the additional space in its bed. We drive to downtown Johnson City and park near the Arcade building in the 200 block of W. Market. Five of the stores we will be visiting are located in that general vicinity, allowing us to return to the truck and drop off our purchases after every visit.

We begin our shopping spree with Miller Grocery Co. at 124 W. Market and McClure and purchase four items from their store: 12 packages of Post Toasties ($.25/3 pkgs.), a 2-pound can of Maxwell House coffee ($.49/lb., $.20/lb. cheaper than Sanka), 2 large cans of Carnation milk ($.10/can) and a 12-oz. Bottle of Vermont-Maid maple syrup ($.29).

Our next stop is Jamison’s Chain Grocery Store at 130 W. Market. At this location, we buy six items: a 4-pound picnic ham (pork shoulder, $.20/lb.), 4 packages of Brown Rice Flakes (Comet Brand, $.25), two pounds of Armour’s corn beef ($.19/lb.), a large box of Duz detergent ($.20), a quart jar of pickled pigs feet (Black Hawk Brand, boneless, $.45) and two quarts of Welch’s grape juice ($.55/qt.).

We exit Jamison’s and enter Lay Packing Co. next door at 132 W. Market. We tell the meat cutter to give us three pounds of Cloverleaf cured ham ($.28/lb), one pound of Cloverleaf skin-off sliced bacon ($.33/lb), five pounds of Family beef steak ($.25/lb.), two pounds of veal chops ($.25/lb.), one pound of Cloverleaf bag sausage ($.30/lb.) and two pounds of Mutton Roast ($.26/lb.).

We next visit Piggly Wiggly two doors west at 136 W. Market where we buy three cans of Campbell’s tomato soup ($.25), three bars of Lux toilet soap ($.25), a pound of Brookfield creamery butter ($.45/lb.), a 5-lb. fryer ($.33/lb.) and a pound of Compound lard ($.125/lb.). We have two more stops to make.

Our next business is The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, known succinctly as the A&P located three doors west at 142 W. Market (other locations at 206 N. Roan, 109 Buffalo and 408 S. Roan). Our list shows four needed items: a loaf of Grandmother’s bread (15 oz. Pullman loaf, $.07), three cans of Norwegian sardines ($.25), two packages of Shredded Wheat ($.19) and a large watermelon ($.55), which the grocer plugs for us to taste. It is delicious.

We will drive to our sixth and final store. We hop in the truck, motor west on Market, turn right onto Boone, bear right onto King and travel to the end of the block at Roan.

When we arrive at the E.W. Brown Cash Store at 200 N. Roan and King, we are greeted by Eugene Brown the owner. This business is known as “The Store with the Yellow Front.” They sell E.L. McCleod meats and are agents for Mrs. R.L. Tranum’s homemade cakes. Our final purchase consists of two 16-oz jars of raspberry jam ($.25), a 10-pound bag of Irish potatoes ($.25), three pounds of Kentucky Wonder green beans ($.25) and 24 pounds of Brown’s Special flour ($.91).

Our Saturday grocery-shopping mission is now complete. Our purchases totaled $14.86 and we did it without a credit card, debit card or check. We used cold, hard cash. Bon appetite and bon voyage.  

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Louis Feathers, former resident of the city, once worked for the Johnson City Press-Chronicle. He shared his memories of working for the newspaper.

“My source of spending money from 1932 until 1938,” said Louis, “was from delivering papers. My first route was inherited from Dan Meador who moved from the city to a farm near Watauga. It involved delivering ‘Grit,’ for which there were a few customers spread over a large area. The quality weekly tabloid-size family publication is still being printed in Williamsport, PA. Back then it cost five cents.”

Feathers explained that his next paper route was a joint effort with his brother, Lee, delivering the Johnson City Staff-News. It was an afternoon edition that soon experienced competition from a new city newspaper, The Johnson City Press-Chronicle, started by Carl A. Jones and Charles Harkrader. It soon acquired the Staff-News and its companion morning newspaper, The Chronicle, which produced morning and afternoon editions.

“Shortly after quitting my job at a textile mill located in the “Y” section in the southwest part of town,” said Louis, “I received a telephone call from Judge C.F. Callaway at the Press-Chronicle about a position in the business office. He was referred to as judge because he had previously been a Justice of the Peace. I was told the firm had just discharged an employee and wanted to talk to me about the open position.

“It looked like an interesting job so I accepted it at a pay rate of $18.50 per week, not too bad considering the fact that the country was not yet out of the Great Depression. My responsibilities involved verifying an advertiser’s space and logging it in a journal, delivering copies of tear sheets (cut or torn pages from the publication to prove to the client that the advertisement was published) to advertisers, assisting wherever needed in the Advertising and Circulation departments and working in the Photo Engraving Shop. The latter job consisted of sending half-tone plates to other newspapers and printing shops that utilized our services. In short, I was a ‘go-fer’ for them.”

Louis described the composing room as a loud and foul place consisting of a bank of about six Linotype machines setting and casting the type for all the news matters in the paper. He described a large container of melting “pot metal” from which the plates for the printing press would be cast. The large print for headlines and advertising were typeset by hand. Feathers worked in the Press-Chronicle office from mid 1939 until he left for the military in January 1942.

In the 1970s, Louis revisited his former place of business and was escorted by his good friend Jim Beckner. By this time, the composing room had been converted into an art studio. A page make-up consisted of “pasting up all the material that was to be on the page. “It was then photographed for engraving on a thin sheet of metal,” said Louis. “This replaced the heavy half-cylinder casting that was used in the former process. The changeover occurred about 1950.”

Lee Feathers was employed in the composing room and belonged to the Pressman’s Union. The organization objected to the changeover because it eliminated several jobs and went on strike, but to no avail.

When Louis was drafted on Jan. 19, 1942, his strong desire to enlist in the Army Air Corps evaporated because his 1-A classification directed him into the Army. He was listening to bandleader Sammy Kaye’s “Sunday Serenade” on NBC radio that fateful Dec. 7, 1941 afternoon and heard the chilling news that Japan had attached Pearl Harbor. He later wrote in his journal: “News that your country is at war can ruin your afternoon.”  

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Three individuals, Gary Phillips, Dan Ward and Chris White, former Music Mart employees, shared memories of working at the Frick’s store once located on S. Roan Street.

Gary Phillips wrote first: “Bob, you might remember me as the kid who took over your Johnson City Press-Chronicle paper route around 1961 that included Lakeview Drive and surrounding streets.

“The summer after I graduated from Science Hill, I got a job working with the Fricks, repairing, cleaning and overhauling band instruments. I didn’t play any of them and had never been in a band, but Mr. Frick taught me what I needed to know to do the job.

“I started out making $.90 an hour and over four years worked my way up to $2 an hour. Those were great years working for the Fricks and, like you, I could tell many an anecdote on them. They were great folks to work for. I was there when they moved into the store next to their original store and worked there for probably a year or more.

“My in-laws currently live in south Johnson City off Roan Street and occasionally I’ll drive thru downtown on my way to their house. I miss seeing The Music Mart when I pass by there. So many great memories took place there.”

Dan Ward added his comments: Bob, in the fall of 1964, Gary Phillips called me and he asked me if I would be interested in applying for a part-time job at The Music Mart. Gary had started working there as a janitor, but Mr. Frick had promoted him to instrument repairman.

“I told Gary that I was interested in the part-time job but that I did not think that I would be qualified for a job at a music store because I did not play an instrument or read music. Gary told me to go ahead and apply for the job. Mr. Frick hired me and gave me Gary’s former job. 

“Henry and Mary Lou Frick were wonderful people to work with. They were hard workers, but they were very caring and compassionate. I performed various tasks over the next four years at The Music Mart, doing whatever needed to be done.

“I worked at the store in the afternoons after my classes at ETSU, all day on Saturday and full time during the summer. My salary from working there paid for my college education. After graduation from ETSU in June 1968, I continued working there until September 1968 when I went on active duty in the United States Army. The Fricks gave me a tape recorder when I went into service.” 

Finally, Chris White offered his remembrances:“Bob, your (Music Mart) columns resonated with me so powerfully and emotionally; it was very surreal. I too am a prodigal son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Bond Frick. I worked part-time for the Frick's the entirety of my junior and senior high school years as well as my college years.  

“Mr. Frick was one of the most witty individuals I've ever met. The dryness in which he delivered his wittiness made him even funnier. He and I used to laugh together until literally tears formed in our eyes. With my young ‘green behind the ears’ naivety, Henry used to have a lot of fun with me, all in good spirit and humor. Each year he would ask Mrs. Frick: ‘Mummy,’ what day is Easter on this year? It was on Sunday last year.’ The man was hysterical. 

“I too, dressed and undressed the show window countless times with each seasonal theme. I also put thousands of miles on a vacuum cleaner in that store, as well as swept tons of waste off the sidewalks.

“Then there is Mrs. Frick.  She was a saint, dedicated to Mr. Frick, to her work, to superior customer service and to everyone around her. 

“Bob, I can't even begin to scratch the surface of the many wonderful and joyful memories I experienced during my time at “a sweet music store.”   

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The Gump name stands tall in the annals of Johnson City history. A perusal of several old city directories yielded a myriad of Gump businesses over the years: A.S. Gump & Co. (Abraham S. Gump), Gumps (Martin I. Gump), Gump Brothers Clothing (Harry D. and Louis D. Gump), Gump’s Wholesale Grocery (Martin I. Gump), Gump Investment Company (Louis, Harry, Jay and Alan Gump), Bert Gump Insurance and Bert Gump Real Estate.

An area in north Johnson City, originally known as the H.D Gump Farm and later Hillrise Park subdivision, became what is today referred to as the Gump Addition. Mr. Harry Gump acquired the property consisting of 100 acres on Oct. 25, 1907 from Carnegie Realty Co. and Carnegie Development Co. The lengthy deed, written in typical land vernacular of that era stated:

“That boundary where the road, leading to and being near Holston Avenue and Baxter Street, crosses said branch; thence South 2 degrees 20’ West 494 feet to a set stone, … thence N 22 degrees 20’ W to a stake in the center of New Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues; thence with the center line of New Street in northerly direction to the center line of Sixth Avenue of said Addition; thence east with said center line of Sixth Avenue to the center line of High Street, …”  

 The Gump family is credited with another accomplishment – the naming of a number of streets in the Keystone community. The information came from the late Jay L. Gump, whose father and uncle bestowed the names to the streets.

In 1912, Harry D. and Louis D. Gump bought 132 acres in the designated area. They acquired the property from Mrs. Alice Earle who had obtained it from her father, A. Pardee Jr., builder of the narrow gauge railroad that brought iron ore from Cranberry, NC to the furnace in Johnson City.

A current map of Johnson City verifies some of the information found in my history archives. The land in question comprises 12 streets encompassed by East Main, Bert, Orleans and Broadway. Streets running parallel to E. Main are Pardee, Cranberry, Dyer, Colorado, Bettie and Orleans. Those running perpendicular to E. Main are Bert, Mary, Jay and Alan.  

Harry and Louis, deciding to subdivide the land, named it Keystone because both men were born in Pennsylvania, the Keystone State. Then, with city engineer, W.O. Dyer, they began systematically laying out streets and assigning names for them. They decided to start by using the first names of their children in the order of their birth.

The first two named were Bert and Mary streets, the children of Harry Gump followed by Jay and Alan streets, the sons of Louis Gump. Having quickly exhausted the names of their children, the Gump brothers then picked other appellations that they deemed fitting. Pardee Street came from the name of the original owner of the property, while Cranberry Street represented the Cranberry mines and furnace.

Dyer Street was named after the city engineer. Colorado Street was chosen because the brothers and their family had moved to the Centennial State from Pennsylvania and grew up there. Harry and Louis had their first jobs in Colorado working in a men’s clothing store. One more street in the Keystone grid needed a name; this time the oldest grandchild, Bettie, the daughter of Bert was picked.

After the naming process was complete, the brothers divided the land into lots and sold them to individuals.

Today, the Gump Addition and the nine Keystone streets serve as reminders of a family who has lived and worked in Johnson City for over 125 years. 

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