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Picturing the Past 61: Depot and urban renewal

Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2010, at 10:12 AM

'Doc' Mummert with Bill Cannon and a new 1959 Impala in December 1958. (T-G file photo)
We've published several photos of old Shelbyville auto dealerships, as it seemed the Times-Gazette made quite a few in those days.

Here's "Doc" Mummert taking delivery of a new 1959 Impala from Bill Cannon at Cannon Chevrolet in its Depot Street location sometime in December 1958. Looks like as late as the late 1950s men routinely wore hats.

At top right, just under the Chevrolet banner, you'll see one of the old houses that lined Depot Street between Cannon and the Times-Gazette building. Was this large, white house the Baptist Church parsonage, or did the minister live in the red brick home (later housing the Gingham Dog in the 1980s and 1990s) that was torn down just a few years ago?


WHERE IS THIS? The negative envelope dated April 18, 1956 indicates this street was within the area designated for urban renewal due largely to repeated flooding. I'd guess most people under 60 have no memory of this street. But I'll bet some of you recognize this right off.

Much of the news coverage of Nashville's record floods concerned mold left behind as water receded from homes -- and whether to scrap the homes entirely or do extensive repairs such as replacing practically everything, etc. Much emphasis has been on the health hazards of mold.

So how did people whose Shelbyville homes were flooded over and over, such as those on this street likely were, handle mold and repairs? Was as much attention paid to health hazards in those days?

I hesitated to use this photo because the negative isn't in the best of shape, but this shows a side of Shelbyville most of us who are relatively younger haven't experienced. Look at how much newer portions of downtown Shelbyville look compared to downtown areas of some of our surrounding towns. Shelbyville's changed so much.

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

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

I'm just speculating here, but perhaps one factor is that today's homes are more tightly sealed-up and less likely to have windows, doors, etc. open. That holds the mold spores (or whatever) inside, where the person who lives in the home is more likely to breathe them. You hear this mentioned sometimes as a factor in why radon concentration is a concern.

Then again, there are a lot of allergies that you hear more about now than in the past, so maybe there's something about the environment, or our diet or lifestyle, that makes us more sensitive.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Tue, May 18, 2010, at 10:40 AM

David, I just now spoke with Bro. Homer Cate's widow on the phone to ask about the parsonage. She told me that the parsonage was the red brick home that was later an office for Dr. Avery and Dr. Burch. She said that Dr. Burch bought the house from First Baptist. Then First Baptist bought a house on Moody to be used as the parsonage, and the Cate family moved there. Bro. Cate was pastor at First Baptist from 1941 until 1952. She said that Dr. Gilbert, a local dentist at that time, lived in the white house she thought.

The picture from the flood area looks familiar to me, but I can not place exactly where it was.

I agree with Jicarney about the houses being tighter today than what they were in those days. I can never remember mold being mentioned as a major problem. Whenever it was mentioned that something smelled moldy folks would just say we need to air it out and that solved the problem. My Dad had our house built in 1946 and that is the first that I can remember of sheetrock being used in the construction of inside walls. Before that inside walls were either plaster over wood lathe, or 1/2 inch tounge and groove boards covered with wallpaper, or concrete block walls.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, May 18, 2010, at 2:18 PM

Where did 'Doc'Mummert work?

The name rang a bell,however I can't remember how I know it.



-- Posted by Gus on Tue, May 18, 2010, at 5:20 PM

I don't remember where "Doc Mummert worked, but I do remember his wife was my Latin teacher at Central. I hope that someone comes forth with an answer, because I can't remember either.

-- Posted by cookie on Tue, May 18, 2010, at 6:08 PM

If I am not mistaken "Doc" worked at Brantleys Drug Store, but do not bet the farm on that. Mrs. Mummert was my Algebra I teacher in both my Freshman year and my Freshman red shirt year.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, May 18, 2010, at 6:27 PM

These houses look like the ones on N. Britain back in the 40's and 50's, but I don't think that they would be a part of the Urban Renewal. I just remember walking up N. Britain going to the movie on Saturday, and seeing the houses that seem to be right on the street. They would have been in the block just north of Holland Street.

-- Posted by cookie on Tue, May 18, 2010, at 9:11 PM

Supposedly, when JFK took his inaugural walk barehead, it started the trend of men not wearing hats. It is a bit like Clark Gable taking off his shirt in "It Happened One Night"; undershirts took a nosedive because he wasn't wearing one.

-- Posted by Tyger on Tue, May 18, 2010, at 9:32 PM

leeiii...you are not mistaken....Doc Mummert was the pharmacist at Brantley's for many years. But I didn't know that Miss Emma ever taught anything except Latin and French. She must have started that Algebra stuff after I departed CHS in 1954. Was she still doing the language courses as well as math when you came along? She was a classic!

-- Posted by steadyeddie on Wed, May 19, 2010, at 12:09 AM

steadyeddie, yes she was doing both Latin and Spanish when I came along, however I do not remember French. I am wondering if French was dropped sometime earlier before I started high school. Mrs. Mummert only taught first year Algebra. I think FlaDon's Mom taught second year Algebra and maybe some Plane Geometry. I think Miss Troxler (Mrs. Wesner) taught Plane, Solid, and Trig.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, May 19, 2010, at 7:09 AM

Doc Mummert was the pharmacist for many, many years at Brantley's Drug Store on the east side of the square. I also fondly recall that when my dad would stop by the drug store to pick up prescriptions, my siblings and I would occasionally be treated to "the best malted milkshakes in the world" made by Carl, another longtime Brantley's employee.

-- Posted by marnold1118 on Wed, May 19, 2010, at 8:21 AM

I don't remember the street, but I do remember that most houses back then were open under the house. When I was about 6 yrs I asked my grandmother sitting on the front porch "who does all these chickens belong to?" She said "anybody that can catch one". We did'nt need pest control, running wild chickens ate every bug within a mile of the house. Thanks David for all the great memories generated by your pictures.

-- Posted by Grits on Wed, May 19, 2010, at 5:55 PM

I had Mrs. Mummert for two years of Latin from 69-71. I also had Mrs Wesson the last two years, 71-73. These were by far the best teachers I ever had anytime.

-- Posted by cfder on Wed, May 19, 2010, at 5:58 PM

I don't recall either one of my great grandparents having air conditioning, but I do remember windows being left open, as well as doors witth only the screen door being latched from the inside. I don't recall mold ever being a problem. Window fans were the order of the day and my great grandma on my mother's side never cooked on an elctric stove. (Her children bought her one once and she would'nt allow it in the house!) That old Black Diamond wood stove made the best homemade biscuits I've ever tasted. Seemed like homes smelled better then too. I really enjoy this blog of yours David. Keep it up!

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Wed, May 19, 2010, at 10:58 PM

Tattoos & Scars you have stirred the old memory pot again with the wood cook stove. Who can forget coming in from school and getting a biscuit out of the warming closet of the old cook stove, punching a hole in it with your finger, and pouring it full of molasses. I guess that was kind of a jelly filled donut long before its time.

As for the window fan. I can remember that we were able to afford a window fan about 1950. Dad said that it would cool the whole house at night if we would just crack a window closest to our bed. Boy was he right. You had to get under the covers.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, May 20, 2010, at 6:54 AM

In the 30s it was my job to put kindling in the kitchen stove and build the fire for Mom and sisters breakfast baking and cooking. I also had the job of emptying the "slop jars" into the outhouse out back. No one in the world has a greater appreciation of indoor plumbing and sewage systems than I.

One of the Halloween pranks some boys pulled, was outhouse tipping. They would turn an outhouse over and run. That stopped forever when one of the pranksters accidently fell in the hole.

-- Posted by Grits on Thu, May 20, 2010, at 8:42 AM

Grits, you made me laugh all over myself. Yes, I remember those times as well. Back to your earlier post about the houses being open underneath. My job was to gather the eggs from under the house. It seems that the hens always wanted to lay as close to the chimney as they could, and I was always on the look-out for any snakes that might try to beat me to the eggs. What kind of snakes you ask? They are all Copper Mouthed Rattling Mocasins don't you know?

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, May 20, 2010, at 11:10 AM

Yep..leeiii and Grits...I really can remember building those fires with kindling in the kitchen stove..and the Franklin heater...and the old Warm Moring heater...and leeiii, we couldn't afford a fan to keep us cool at night. In the summer, we all changed our sleeping position...with our head at the foot of the bed...and the windows wide open to try to catch some cool air from the outside.....And in the winter, we heated a flat iron and wrapped it in newspapers for our feet to rest on in the ice-cold bedroom (with linoleum on the floor).....Ah..the good old days!

-- Posted by steadyeddie on Thu, May 20, 2010, at 1:05 PM

steadyeddie, the reminder of cold linoleum on the floor makes me ouch just to think about it. The flat iron reminds me that after we got us a warm place made in the straw bed or feather bed we had better stay there and not roll out of it lest we freeze all over again.

I have heard my Dad talk about warming rocks by the fireplace all night and then wrapping them in a quilt to put in the car for heat the next day if they were going to take a long trip like to Nashville. I am too young to ever have done that.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, May 20, 2010, at 2:05 PM

steadyeddie...did you have to mention those cold linoleum floors? You just made both of my feet sting with chillingly painful recollections. Being the oldest of four children, it was my responsibility to start the morning fire if we were at our grandparents home. (Remember those "pallets" on the floor?) The only pleasurable thing about being the first one to hit the old linoleum was that I was the first one to feel the heat!

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Thu, May 20, 2010, at 2:08 PM

Leeiii, under the house was a great place to hangout with the neighbor hood kids. In the summer it was cooler there. I remember one time I was sleeping there and woke up with a big startup, when a pig began licking my face.

Steadyeddie, I always loved our Warm Morning Heater and I have the fondest memories of the fireplace in the living room. Sitting on a sofa with the family gathered around, without PC, Celltexting, TV abstractions and all the faces reflecting a bright orange glow. The memory seems almost like a magical place.

-- Posted by Grits on Thu, May 20, 2010, at 3:29 PM

I love the stories! Thanks all!

-- Posted by bbbluebird on Thu, May 20, 2010, at 6:18 PM

bbbluebird, one of the funniest stories I heard during the late 40s was: Two boys were always looking for a good secluded parking place to take their girl friends for some sparking.

One of them noticed that a farmer on the old Tullahoma road had left his grazing field gate open. That night they picked up their girls and went through the open fence and it was a hot night, so they rolled all the windows down. A whole lot of loving was going on when all of a sudden a hugh bull stuck his head in a window and went MOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!. One girl fainted and the other wet all over her partner. The driver got his ankle caught in between the break/clutch and

the other boy screamed like a wild wombat in a hornets nest.

-- Posted by Grits on Thu, May 20, 2010, at 8:39 PM

These last ten stories have been the best of the year and I have lived every one of them.

-- Posted by Cal t on Thu, May 20, 2010, at 10:06 PM

Grits....I believe you've won the prize with your story of "Love in the Meadow"....That's a real leg slapper!..It's too bad that today's young whippersnappers have no concept of "catching an ankle between the brake and the clutch". They are too busy with their I-pods....What a pity!

-- Posted by steadyeddie on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 1:04 AM

Grits . . . hilarious!!!!!!!!! Thanks!

-- Posted by bbbluebird on Fri, May 21, 2010, at 9:26 AM

Off the subject, but great advice from years ago:

Do not run back and forth across a busy highway just to show possums it can be done. Don't even think about kidnapping the Tennessee cheerleaders during a game. Always remember the old German saying "those who sup with the devil better us a long fork". To be really green always use 100% recycled electrons when you send in your comments.

-- Posted by Grits on Sat, May 22, 2010, at 6:50 PM

Hey Grits....let me know if you decide to put out a book filled with your "recollections of days gone by"....I'll buy the first copy.

-- Posted by steadyeddie on Sat, May 29, 2010, at 1:12 PM

Thanks, steadyeddie. It would be difficult to write a book now at my old age and cloudy memory. Sometimes I remember the old times, but then most I have forgotten until a commenter reminds me. Hope you and your family have a great Memorial day.

-- Posted by Grits on Sat, May 29, 2010, at 7:58 PM

Thanks, steadyeddie. It would be difficult to write a book now at my old age and cloudy memory. Sometimes I remember the old times, but then most I have forgotten until a commenter reminds me. Hope you and your family have a great Memorial day.

-- Posted by Grits on Sat, May 29, 2010, at 8:03 PM

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