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Monday, May 30, 2016

Picturing the Past 46: Alex on North Main

Posted Tuesday, February 2, 2010, at 9:19 AM

Alex Sebastian stands with his newly-presented wagon in front of a block of pre-urban renewal North Main Street buildings. (T-G file photo)
Here's a photo from June 1, 1956 with quite a lot going on within it.

The negative envelope identifies the man in the foreground as Alex Sebastian. Written on the envelope is information that the wagon he's standing near was presented to him by friends after his previous one was stolen. It's also noted that this photo wasn't published in the newspaper so we have no further information. (What appear to be spots on his clothing are actually some sort of stains on the negative.)

He's standing in front of Bud's Cafe, which previous commenters have said was on North Main Street. Note the shopping carts and a display of Coca-Cola bottles in the extreme right of the photo. Was a grocery store next to the cafe?

Down the street is Greenfield Bros. Furniture & Appliances, which looks a little different from the 1952 photo of the same business in an earlier blog.


ANOTHER LOOK: Thanks to a contributor, we have another look at the old First Methodist Church, this one from a postcard apparently from the early 1900s (note the 1909 postmark). You'll see a steeple and, on the right side of the building, several spires, which were gone by the 1950 photo I posted last week. The contributor said the steeple was taken down due to maintenance costs.

Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog. Reader contributions are welcome.

Showing most recent comments first
[Show in chronological order instead]


-- Posted by leeiii on Mon, Feb 8, 2010, at 10:49 AM

leeiii....God will get you for dissing his Saints! Oh, ye of little faith! However, if you ask for forgiveness we will see what we can do.


-- Posted by steadyeddie on Mon, Feb 8, 2010, at 10:25 AM

steadyeddie, I do not know if you have gotten out of vieux carre yet or not. However, I want to extend congratulations to you and your team. The Saints truly were the best team on this night much to my displeasure.

-- Posted by leeiii on Mon, Feb 8, 2010, at 7:08 AM

Yes, I remember that radio as well. Sorry, but I am going to have to pull for the Colts.

-- Posted by leeiii on Sun, Feb 7, 2010, at 5:15 PM

leeiii....I do believe you have Walt pinned down. In addition to his manicured yard...he kept his bicycle shiny and spotless...and I even remember him having a battery radio attached to his handlebars....That was really high-tech back then.


-- Posted by steadyeddie on Sun, Feb 7, 2010, at 4:35 PM

steadyeddie, I have been thinking about Walt Sebastian. Is it possible that he worked for Shelbyville Power System maybe for the Water Department? Also is it possible that he lived just a few houses North of the North Main and Fairfield Pike intersection? In the back of my mind I am trying to place him in that location as a man that always cut his rather small yard with a pair of scissors. He always had the most beautifully manicured yard in Shelbyville.

-- Posted by leeiii on Sun, Feb 7, 2010, at 11:59 AM

luckylu, It was my Dad that sold Peoples Service Station to your father, probably in 1948, and bought it back around 1952 or '53. I don't know how long your father owned it, and if my father bought it back from him. I also walked to Grady's Market and remember that little alley. It is a small world.

-- Posted by cookie on Wed, Feb 3, 2010, at 6:34 PM

Click on David's archives and then scroll down to April 9, 2009. It is called Looking Back: Where Was It?

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Feb 3, 2010, at 1:37 PM

leeiii...Tell me how to find "Where Was It?"

-- Posted by steadyeddie on Wed, Feb 3, 2010, at 12:32 PM

leeiii...Tell me how to find "Where Was It?"

-- Posted by steadyeddie on Wed, Feb 3, 2010, at 12:30 PM


My dad bought People's Service Station from your grandfather Overcast and we lived in the house behind the station around 1945-48. The store in the middle of the block was Grady's. It was owned and run by Grady Thompson and his wife. There was an alley that ran beside the store from N. Main to N. Brittain. I walked down that alley many times to get something from the store for mother.

-- Posted by luckylu on Wed, Feb 3, 2010, at 11:39 AM

This story reminded me of another old gentleman and his wagon. When I was a small child we lived on Maplewood street. There was an old black gentleman who came around every week leading a mule pulling a wagon and collected stale bread for his hogs. My parents always saved ours for him. One day he told us how much his hogs loved the bread and they wanted him to sing a song for us. We thought that was the coolest thing ever in 1951 and he had a beautiful deep voice. Of course my little sister and I always got in an argument over who carried the bread and gave it to him. I remember to this day, my mother admonishing us to be polite and respectful to him. She said his singing for us was probably the only way he had, somehow in his mind, to repay us. Be grateful for his song and thank him. This was one of many valuable lessons my mother taught me and has served me well all these years. I wish I could remember his name. I think it was Mr. Mose. Do some of you remember him?

-- Posted by chs61 on Wed, Feb 3, 2010, at 11:19 AM

cookie, To the best of my remembrance that was Meadow Gold ice cream with the movie star under the lid. You could save up ten tops and send them in to get an eight by ten picture of your favorite movie star that was available.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Feb 3, 2010, at 7:23 AM

steadyeddie, I remember Walt Sebastian but I did not know him as well as I did Wesley. I am not sure where Walt lived but I think the North Main area would be a good guess. I think that there is a very strong possibility that they were brothers, or at least kin, but I have no proof of that.

I am pretty sure that Newell's and Grady's were two different locations. While Newell's was on the Southern end of the block, Grady's was on the Northern end. cookie described the location perfectly in her post of yesterday.

steadyeddie, I put a post comment on "Where Was It?" just for you a few days ago.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Feb 3, 2010, at 6:56 AM

leeiii...Interesting to see your comments about Wesley and Alex Sebastian. Those names are not familiar to me, however when I lived on North Main in the 40's and 50's I talked frequently with a bicycle rider whose name was Walt Sebastian. Walt did not drive a car, but his wife (Lena Bell)drove around town by herself, while Walt always rode the bike. Do you reckon these Sebastians were all siblings....or all the same person using aliases? Is this weird or what?

And yes, I do remember that beautiful tall steeple on our church when I was a little tyke. I also remember watching our sexton pulling a long rope to ring the church bell which could be heard for many blocks around the Square.

leeiii....I kinda remember both Robert Newell's and Grady's in that strip. Did perhaps it start as Newell's...then later became Grady's?

-- Posted by steadyeddie on Wed, Feb 3, 2010, at 1:49 AM

Tattoos & Scars, I am not sure of the exact date without doing a little research, but it was in the 60s, and I think around the mid 60s.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 8:20 PM

The one thing I immediately noticed missing in this view of the church is the Big Springs Shopping Center. Of course one wouldn't expect it to be in a photo dated 1909, but I'm curious as to when the shopping center was constructed?

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 8:16 PM

I think the building was damaged beyond restoration.

We have had our share of unnecessary razing and "remuddling" however-not to mention demolition by neglect.

It is so much easier to maintain good design,materials and workmanship than try to reclaim them later.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 6:42 PM

What would I give to walk around the square in the 1900's and see that beautiful building in our town.I just wonder what were people thinking when they changed it so?I'll bet they were saying how nice it would look to update the church.You know we are doing the same thing now.What a shame.

-- Posted by mytaxesaremine on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 2:41 PM

Grits, I thought so. I lived on Whitthorne, and yes you are right, it was a great neighborhood.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 2:25 PM

Grady's Market was at that location, I'm sure.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 2:11 PM

leeiii, I lived on Hoover St in the late 40's to 51 when I went in the Navy. It was a great neighborhood and I wish I could find one like it today, but most are "gone with the wind".

-- Posted by Grits on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 1:56 PM

cookie, somewhere in the back of my mind it seems to me that someone mentioned Grady's Market being there once upon a time, but do not bet the farm on it.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 1:52 PM

I can't remember a grocery store being next to Compton's, but I remember a grocery a few doors north, but still in the same block. There was the People's Service Station, then going south toward the square, three houses, then the grocery store. My Mother shopped there, and I use to buy the nickel ice cream cups, that had a picture of a movie star in the lid. That was a real treat for me when I was young. What store was it, or am I having one of those senior moments?

-- Posted by cookie on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 1:21 PM

Bingo Grits. I believe that you are right. I had in my mind that it was a double name like Barbara Ann or Peggy Sue or Boni Maroni or something like that but I just never could come up with it. Sarah Fay seems to be a perfect fit. I get the distinct feeling that we lived in the same neighborhood at the same time. I lived beside the store between '46 and '60.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 10:34 AM

I'm not sure, but I believe Mildred's daugter was named Sarah Fay. I remember she moved to St. Louis and got into a lot of trouble. Another cross for Mildred to carry.

-- Posted by Grits on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 10:13 AM

Thanks for the clarification, leeiii.

-- Posted by David Melson on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 9:41 AM

David, I do not believe that this picture is Wesley even though Wesley always wore those type of sunglasses (he only had one good eye). The reason I say that is that Wesley's hands were badly crippled (either from arthritis or broken bones), and also he did not have a team of horses or mules, so he would not have had a need for a wagon.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 9:37 AM

I've been told that Alex and Wesley Sebastian may have been the same person. Maybe the original photographer got the name wrong.

-- Posted by David Melson on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 9:18 AM

Grits thanks for stirring my memory. I was having a hard time recalling Mildred's given name. She was a dear friend to a little boy like me. She worked for many years for Fay Yancey both at the Flower Shop, and at the house. She and Wesley lived separately for most of the years that I knew them. She on Barksdale Lane, and he on Wartrace Dirt Road. Now I am having a hard time remembering their daughter's name.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 8:59 AM

I remember when Wesley Sebastian's wife Mildred, I'm not sure of her name, died from breast cancer. It was heartbreaking because she kept her cancer secret for a long time and it must have been extremely painful, but she kept on moving and working with no complaints.

Thanks David for all the pictures. Some memories are special and some blaise, when looking back at memories from one's old age.

-- Posted by Grits on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 8:41 AM

Thanks David for another great picture. I do not immediately recognize the name Alex Sebastian, but I do remember a Wesley Sebastian who lived on Whitthorne/Horse Mountain Road/Wartrace Dirt Road in the late 40s and early 50s. Wesley rode a bicycle everywhere he went, even uptown. When the grade became to steep for him (which was often) you could see him walking and pushing his bicycle up the hill. He had a daughter, but I am not sure about a son. This could possibly be his younger brother or son if they are kin at all.

In the time frame you mentioned Robert Newell's Market was next door and Compton's Hardware was next (on the corner).

I have seen pictures before of the First Methodist Church with the majestic steeple but I had never heard the story of why it was missing in later years.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Feb 2, 2010, at 8:11 AM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.