David Melson

Picturing the Past 52: Checkers at the country store

Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2010, at 8:16 AM
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  • Happy Anniversary David. I offer my undying gratitude to you for starting the Picturing the Past blog one year ago. It has given us a platform from which to express our memories with one another. It is good to have a venue in which the participants are not always fussing at one another, and in which the utmost kindness is shown toward all even when we see things through different eyes. I am very much looking forward to this next year of PTP.

    In a quick scan of this past year I have discovered that you have had almost 150 different responders with more than 1500 responses, and I am sure that there are many more who are monitoring the blog activity who have not responded. Please keep it up.

    As for this weeks picture of the country store checker players, it is interesting to note that the pot bellied stove (note the stove pipe thimble in the ceiling) of years past has been replaced with a modern kerosene heater. Also thanks to you and Cal t for the Bradyville toll gate photos. I am looking forward to seeing the Atkinson Street photos that OWHO said he was sending you.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 9:04 AM
  • David, You are right about the location being the corner of McDale and Fairfield Pike. Despite the picture being out of focus, it brings back many warm memories of that time in my life, and the people that were an important part of it.

    I recall, as though it was yesterday, the little soft drink machine on the left front as you walked into the store, and the relatively small refrigerated meat case at the left rear, with its round sticks of bologna, and square sticks of other types of sandwich meats, which could be purchased as "chunks" or sliced for free on the hand cranked meat slicer, which was located just to the right of the meat case. On your right, as you walked in, was the little check out counter and hand operated cash register.

    Many, many times Perry (I called him Mr. Perry, at the time) would ask me to "watch the store" for him while he ran over to Shelbyville, for supplies, a haircut or whatever. Now and then, not too often, he and "Miss Susie" would go visit relatives for a few hours while I tended the store. Perry had a list of those who had charge accounts with him, so I knew who to extend credit to, otherwise I might have given the store away. It would be several years down the road before I would come to fully understand and appreciate the trust and confidence that Perry and Susie placed in a young boy of maybe 15 at the beginning.

    Among many memories related to this store, which are indelibly etched in my mind, are the many times several of us in the neighborhood would gather at the rear of the store for an enjoyable horshoe pitching session. Not with those big old ugly things that got to be popular later, but the real thing, real horse and mule shoes. Many pleasant hours were spent there.

    Then there was the time that two friends and I were engaged in a little typical horseplay on the front porch of the store. One of my friends, had a Hotstick, a cattle prod for those who don't know what a Hotstick is, and during the course of our "play" he managed to brush me briefly with it, and man, that thing shocked me. Now, I have a long memory about such things, and patiently let things subside to the point that my friend forgot about it. Later he was sitting on his bicycle, gently rocking back and forth, as boys seem to be prone to do. I slipped up behind him with that Hotstick, and he almost went over the handle bars, thought we going to have a fight there for a minute. But he never brought that Hotstick back to the store.

    Then there was the summer with no leaves on the trees. I think it was the year following this picture of the store, 1957. We had a very late, very hard freeze that spring, after the trees were in full bud. The only thing green were the evergreen type trees. It was weird, and was right in front of you every time you walked out of the store, as you were looking right at the foothills of Horse Mountain.

    My wife and I visited with Perry and Susie a couple of times after they moved to town, seems like they moved to a house at the corner of White St. and Woodland St. But like most young folks do, we got caught up in our own lives, and in the end, lost touch with two of the most wonderful people that either of us had ever known.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 11:53 AM
  • ilikeoldsongs, you are correct about the location of the store. That store was a great hangout and basically served as a community center for the Fairfield Pike neighborhood. Perry and Susie operated the store for many years--I'd like to know the precise time frame. I do recall that the Bartletts sold the store to Raymond and Maude Arnold, who also operated the store for many, many years. It was during that time that our family lived very near the store and I recall "helping out" on some Saturdays. I would pump gas...and it cost a whopping 25-cents per gallon.

    Speaking of the McDale Road-Fairfield Pike intersection, does anyone have or know where I can locate a picture of the old McDale School which was located on that connecting road from Fairfield Pike and Murfreesboro Hwy.?

    Thanks David for the photo.

    -- Posted by marnold1118 on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 12:40 PM
  • I wonder if anyone out there can identify any of the folks in this store picture.

    I'm gonna throw out a few guesses(all in the form of questions, actually) Could the gentleman in the center of the picture, directly behind the heater, in the dark jacket, possibly be O.C.Walker, who was known to be both a checker player and a fox hunter?

    At the table on the left, could the gentleman in the light suit be Ollie Gill? And could the couple standing directly behind him be Perry and Susie? And could the gentleman watching, wearing overalls and a cap be either George Moody Arnold or Bobby Cartwright? And if it's Bobby, could that be his wife, Jane, standing next to him?

    Not sayin', just askin'.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 12:56 PM
  • David, great work as always. I think it would be interesting every once in a while to post a picture of some of the old sports teams from years gone by. You could post pictures ranging from Little League Baseball to some of the school sports teams from around the county. Just a suggestion. Keep up the good work.

    -- Posted by volfanatic on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 2:47 PM
  • A very do-able suggestion, volfanatic. I'll begin posting some team photos. Thanks.

    -- Posted by David Melson on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 3:00 PM
  • The man in the foreground playing checkers,hat pushed back, looks like Olie Gill. This was also the lot the school was on. One of My classmates, Don Edwards, we were in 1st grade and Jane Gentry Cartwright was in the 8th grade. Hazel Shelton, our teacher. Jane wished I could find a picture of the old school that I might paint for her. I don't think I could justify it from memory. I remember Don Edwards jumping off one of the outhouses with a parachute a brother sent from the war. Didn't work. The water next door was sulphur So we hauled it from where the large holly trees were.

    -- Posted by Sam 3 on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 6:54 PM
  • In reference to toll roads, there was a toll gate on fairfield pike at Arnold Road, I remember the old building in the corner. This memory is going back to 1944. I thing It might have belong to Mr. Moody Arnold. Don't know when it might have operated.

    -- Posted by Sam 3 on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 7:05 PM
  • Thanks for your input, Sam 3. I have been meaning to mention that building at Arnold Road and Fairfield Pike for some time, but seems it kept slipping my mind until I was away from my computer.

    Moody Arnold did own that building, and I was told in the early 1950's that he operated a grocery store at that location in years past. Of course, being a youngster, I didn't delve into it any deeper, just went on my merry way. I wonder if marnold1118 might have some inside information on this particular situation, that he could share with us. The idea of a combination toll house/grocery store seems logical enough to me, especially considering that Uncle Moody was a hard working, go-getter type of person.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 7:37 PM
  • I remember that old building too. Also, who remembers the bomb shelter? I used to play in it as a kid. I remember a Halloween party in it from church one night.

    -- Posted by dh38583 on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 8:37 PM
  • dh38583, I remember the bomb shelter very well. I caught the Bell Buckle school bus at that end of Arnold Road for several years. With tornado season coming soon I would like to have that shelter in my back yard today.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 10:12 PM
  • The very first road to the right after crossing the Duck River bridge on the way to Flat Creek, was once know as the 'Narrows Road'. Less than a quarter of a mile on the left was a residence owned by Cale and Georgia Shavers which served as a toll gate for those wanting to use the road for traversing into the area know as 'The Narrows'.

    There was no other roadway entrance or exit from the area. The home stood until around the eighties when it was destroyed by fire. George Shavers, youngest son of Cale and Georgia, owned the place at the time. George has since passed away, his only dauthter is deceased and, to my knowledge, his closet living relative would be Duran Shavers of Tennessee Tax fame.

    -- Posted by garhawk on Wed, Mar 17, 2010, at 8:55 AM
  • garhawk, Yes that is the one toll house that I remember vividly, but some other mentions of other toll houses have piqued my memory somewhat of other structures as well, such as Hickory Hill.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Mar 17, 2010, at 9:32 AM
  • Oh, if only this photo were sharper. I bet we could identify most if not all of them. I agree that the man seated to the left, with his hat pushed back is Ollie Gill and I also think the couple standing directly behind him is Perry and Susie Bartlett, the store owners. Another I'm pretty sure about is the man on the extreme right being George Arnold. He's standing and has on a hat and dark coat. While O.C. Walker played checkers there quite a bit, I'm not so sure that it is he in the center, behind the heater.

    Regarding the tollgate and store at Arnold Road-Fairfield Pike intersection: I recall always hearing as a child about the little store building on the corner of Moody Arnold's property, but I don't remember ever hearing anything about the tollgate. However, one certainly could have been there. I hope someone chimes in with more info on this.

    I do remember when Paul and Vesta Gentry (and maybe others of their family) built the bomb shelter. It was right after the Cuban Missile crisis and the heating up of the cold war. It was a bit scary at the time.

    I sure would like to know the dates that the McDale School was in operation. Don Edwards and Jane Cartwright are a bit older than I am. When I began school in the fall of 1948, I don't know if McDale was in use or not. We went to Harts Chapel over on Hwy 231, near the airport. It was a 2-room school and Louise Rucker was my teacher that first year.

    -- Posted by marnold1118 on Wed, Mar 17, 2010, at 9:35 AM
  • Another little sidenote to the Arnold Store/Tollgate discussion of yesterday: On the list of Bedford County Post Offices of past years (it can be found on the Internet), there is one with the name of "Arnold's Store". It was in operation from July 13, 1869 until June 7, 1872--only 3 years. I'm assuming, but not certain, that we're talking about one and the same place. In the early days there was a post office located every few miles. The list I'm quoting from has 77 Bedford County post office locations. Many of them ceased to be in Bedford County at the time some of the surrounding counties were formed from parts of then-Bedford County. Hopefully, someone can add to this discussion.

    -- Posted by marnold1118 on Thu, Mar 18, 2010, at 9:37 AM
  • marnold1118, about the "Arnold Store" post office, I asked Dick Poplin about that several years ago after coming across that name on the internet, or he could have mentioned it in his column, can't remember which. Anyway, I got all excited and called him up to confirm that it was Uncle Moody's little store, but he said no, it was in another part of the county. Again my feeble mind can't recall exactly where he said it was, but seems like it was in the eastern part of the county, I do recall that it was several miles distant from the one we are discussing.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Thu, Mar 18, 2010, at 10:36 AM
  • I don't know how much before or how much after, there was a tole gate on Lewisburg Hwy. In 1927 my greatgrandmother, Kitty Tucker Trott, lived in the house and took care of the tole. I think it was close to Thompson Station. It was in the Pleasant Grove area. Her brother Bob Tucker had a store at Bedford, close to the Park. I hope someone remembers this location.

    Wilderness 68

    -- Posted by Wilderness 68 on Thu, Mar 18, 2010, at 6:06 PM
  • wilderness 68: do you know of any photos in existence of that tollgate?

    -- Posted by marnold1118 on Fri, Mar 19, 2010, at 9:52 AM
  • Wilderness 68,

    According to the 1878 Beers Map there was a toll house about a mile and a quarter from the highway 64 turn off onto Pleasant Grove Road, which is just a tad past a present day horse operation.

    The more I read about toll houses, the more I am becoming convinced that there was a high degree of fluidity concerning the location of those things, almost a "here today, gone tomorrow" situation.

    On the Fairfield Pike, the only toll house that is noted on the 1878 Beers Map was located on the right after you pass Anthony Branch Road, and just before you reach the last right hand curve before Cascade School. I have struggled to remember a building in that location, since I passed that spot every morning on the school bus, beginning in 1950, but am drawing a blank. Of course that doesn't mean much.

    Wilderness 68, about the store at Bedford, I was never in there more than a couple of times, but don't remember a gentleman named Tucker, but seems that I remember a lady referred to as "Miss Robbie" Tucker. But as the song says, it's been a long, long time.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Fri, Mar 19, 2010, at 12:20 PM
  • ilikeoldsongs, The name that I most associate with that store is Gant. I know that at one time E.C. Gant's mother ran that store, but I do not know what her last name was at that time. However the name "Miss Robbie" does sound somewhat familiar to me.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Fri, Mar 19, 2010, at 12:36 PM
  • leeiii, I could have easily "mixed & matched" those names, I don't put anything past myself anymore. And, the Gant name has been in that part of the county for a long time, as I understand.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Fri, Mar 19, 2010, at 1:41 PM
  • I don't remember seeing a picture of the tolegate house. I do remember my Mom showing me where she got her leg broke as a child. The house the best I can remember looked like those two above.I maybe wrong ,but I think Miss Robbie was Uncle Bob Tucker's daugther. They lived across the rode from the store. Robbie was killed by a car, crossing the rode from the store to the house. I believe Robbie was married to a Gant. I was a small child at this time. Robbie had a daughter that worked at Empire during the 60's, but I can't remember her name. I hope this is right.

    -- Posted by Wilderness 68 on Fri, Mar 19, 2010, at 6:27 PM
  • Arnold's Store

    Ran across a mention of the Arnold Store post office today on an excerpt from an old map of tennessee towns. The population was listed as 25, but I strongly suspect this was just a loose estimate,as most others were also listed with too much regularity as 25, 50, 100 etc. There was no information as to the name of this map or the year of publication. It did, however, prove my memory wrong once again, as I thought Dick Poplin had told me it was in the Eastern part of the county, but the map stated that it was 13 miles NW of Shelbyville.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 6:34 PM
  • Welcome back ilikeoldsongs. You have been missed.

    -- Posted by leeiii on Sat, Apr 24, 2010, at 7:02 AM
  • Thanks, leeiii, I've missed being around.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Sat, Apr 24, 2010, at 7:35 AM
  • Arnold's Store (Update)

    I finally ran down the name of the chart and map referenced above.(Don't run as fast as I once did)

    The chart is Tennessee Counties, Rivers and Cities, and is from an 1878 McNally Tn & Ky RR Map. This map is on a cd titled 56 Tennessee Railroad & Highway Maps 1839-1934, and is part of the Jim Bohannon Map Collection. Wow!,and what a collection it is, if one is interested in this sort of maps. I purchased this on Ebay, but didn't see it listed this morning. Information about this map collection should be available at the following address: www.borger47@aol.com

    David, I hope posting this e-mail address doesn't violate any T-G rules, if so, feel free to delete, won't hurt my feelings a bit.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Sun, Aug 8, 2010, at 9:28 AM
  • When the above photo of checker players at Perry Bartlett's Store was first posted, I had high hopes that there might be several folks come forward and identify most of the people pictured.But after an extended period of time, and a little deeper thought on the time that has passed, and the ages of many of the subjects in the picture, that doesn't seem like a very realistic expectation on my part. In an earlier post I guessed at a few names, but not all that I thought I knew. I deliberately passed on about five other names to leave some room for others to become involved. I believe that the five I am going to name now, along with those previously identified, will just about cover everyone that actually lived in the community, with most of the rest probably from other parts of the county, and Shelbyville.

    Before I guess, however, let me mention two players that I CANNOT identify, but who have just about driven me up the wall with their familiarity. That would be the gentleman with his back to the camera, on the left, playing Ollie Gill, and the gentleman on the right side of the center table, with his hand extended over the board. Both these fellas are so familiar that I can almost turn their heads around and look them full in the face in my mind, but still can't put a name with them.

    Please understand that the guesses that I am about to offer are just that, guesses. I will say however, that on a percentage basis, I feel about 98% sure that these are accurate. But that 2% is always lurking.

    On the right side of the picture I believe the gentleman sitting in the chair, with his hands crossed in his lap is Joe Overcast, and the young boy by his side I believe is his son (Larry?) In the 30+ years that I was acquainted with Joe, I don't believe I ever knew of him playing checkers, but he may have. I think a better explanation for his presence might be found in the fact that his brother Thomas L., lived on Airport Road, and had a boy about the same age as Joe's boy. They could have stopped in for a Coke, or just to see what was going on with all the cars that were present.

    Behind the young man, standing in a chair in front of George Moody Arnold,I believe is Carolyn Coop, daughter of Austin and Sarah Coop. I would say how old she is but I learned long ago that it's best to not mention a lady's age.

    If Carolyn's there, then Austin or Sarah is there. Look back to the center table, behind and to the left is a gentleman wearing a hat,overalls and a vest type jacket. I believe this to be Austin Coop.

    And lastly, but not least, but possibly most embarrassing guess,is the gentleman standing to the right rear of the center table. Light haired, dark coat, hand in pocket. If this is who I believe it to be, I visited with him and his wife this past Sunday, and I hate to say it, but he doesn't recall having his picture made at the store, and his wife doesn't recall a conversation about the event later that evening. Strangely, I do recall at least a portion of that conversation, as clearly as if it was last week. I also passed around a copy of this photo, which was printed out by one of the grand children, to his son, wife, daughter-in-law, and no one picked him out of this photo, including him. I guess a logical person would would give it up in the face of so much negativity, but I guess I'm not a logical person. Sometimes, regardless of the odds, one has to go with what one knows, and I know the conversation I heard in my living room that Saturday night in 1956:

    Sis: Well Pete, did they have a big crowd at Perry's today?

    Pete: Yeah, there was a bunch of people down there. You couldn't hardly get around in there. They even had somebody taking pictures for this newspaper uptown.

    Now, the fly in the ointment in this scenario is the fact that Pete and Sis could have been later than usual arriving at our house this particular time, he could have been told about the photographer, as opposed to being there when the photo was made. I was at work on my six day a week ten hours a day job, and so can't say for a certainty what time they arrived in town. But you could usually set your watch by them, as they would arrive between nine and ten AM.

    Given the number of years that have passed since this photo was made, and the medical gauntlet that Pete and Ann have had to endure for at least the past 30 years, it's not surprising to me that they have no memory of this event, and I guess really would be more surprising if they did remember after all they have been through. So, until I am proven wrong, I am going to believe I'm right when I say that this gentleman is my then 26 year old brother-in law "Pete" Clark of Mt. Pleasant,Tn.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Thu, Sep 9, 2010, at 3:28 PM
  • I have a bowl that is marked on the bottom that says "Compliments of City Grocery, Bell Buckle Tennessee. Where was this store located? Any information would be great.


    -- Posted by R.A. Clift on Tue, Sep 14, 2010, at 6:08 PM
  • I need to make a correction to my last post above.(That's beginning to sound like a broken record)Without giving much thought I stated that Joe Overcast was Thomas L's brother, when in fact he was his uncle. After a little reflecting on the subject, I feel pretty sure that Joe, Gene and A.R.(Monk) Overcast were brothers, and Thomas L. was a son of A.R., along with Sam and Ben. Then there was Everett Overcast who was a part of this group, but for the life of me I can't state his relationship for a fact, although I think he was a brother to A.R., Joe and Gene.

    -- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Sep 14, 2010, at 8:28 PM
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