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Picturing the Past 64: Woosley Knitting Mill

Posted Wednesday, June 9, 2010, at 9:34 AM

(Photo)
Longtime employees of Woosley Knitting Mill received new television sets for Christmas 1950. See below for names. (T-G file photo)
During much of the 20th century, apparel-related factories made up a large portion of Shelbyville's industry.

Fly Manufacturing Co. is probably most remembered, but Woosley Knitting Mill was a factor as well.

The firm's 20-year-plus employees were given new television sets for Christmas 1950, just in time to watch their choice of Channel 4 -- and nothing else. WSM-TV was Nashville's only TV station until 1953.

This was front page news in 1950 when the T-G ran a tightly-cropped version of this photo. Here's the whole thing, showing part of the plant as well. From left are R.M. Thomas, who is listed as a "company official," Lorene McAnally, Gladys Arnold, Turley Hudson, Christine Neese, Vercie Hardin, Vance Davidson, Ernie Collier and company president Bryant Woosley.

Were Woosley and Thomas the same men who ran Woosley & Thomas Furniture Co.? And if so, could that firm have supplied the TV sets?

Speaking of TV...

SUNDAY MORNING COMING BACK: Several readers have shown interest in the 1969 video shoot for Johnny Cash's "Sunday Morning Coming Down" in Shelbyville.

The video, which I'd guess could be called one of the first music videos in some respects, was shot around the old Dixie Hotel, square and courthouse, Southside School, upper North Main, railroad tracks downtown and the alley behind what today is the Child Development Center (thanks to reader leeiii for the locations).

With help from leeiii, who has been in contact with the video's producer, you can see some of it now.

I'm copying his post from another one of my blogs here:

"I have since located at least part of that film. You can find it on youtube.com. Enter Johnny Cash Ride This Train, then go to: The second to last item on page 4. "J. Cash Ride This Train, Story 21 [The lines of the Hobo Jungle]". Enjoy."

YouTube pages change constantly, and I found it at the top of Page 4. It may have already changed, so go here for a direct link. Shelbyville's seen from 4:00 to 5:58.

You'll see some great views of downtown Shelbyville in the late 1960s. Where was the pool hall? I remember it but can't place it.

STAGECOACH STOP: Some folks stopped by the T-G last week asking about an old stagecoach stop on Old Nashville Dirt Road, at a location just to the southeast of today's Peacock Lane intersection.

They said it was on property which now belongs to Melba Whorley.

They'll be looking at this blog. Can you help with info?

Photobucket

CHALLENGERS: This photo I shot at First Baptist Church's car show Saturday vividly illiustrates the differences between today's and yesterday's Dodge Challengers.

Today's Challenger, at left, is owned by Chuck Heflin while the '72 at right belongs to Ronnie Segroves.

I'd hate to have to choose between those cars. Both are a car lover's dream.

Photobucket

The new Challenger sort of looks like it's on steroids -- it's larger in nearly every dimension except the front end, which is shorter and stubbier than the long front end of the old one, being inspected here by Jeff Reynolds. The car definitely looks threatening from this angle.

I remember the very early 1970s at the old Russell Dodge (located where Tattoo Tom's is today on Madison Street). My dad was into Mopars then and regularly stopped by to look at family cars while I looked at the muscle cars and wished I could have one when I grew older. But by the time I could drive the muscle car era was long gone.

Some Challengers (and their Plymouth counterparts, the 'Cudas) had such wild colors. Remember Plum Crazy, Green Go, Go-Mango, Sublime, Top Banana, Citron Yella (as it was called), or Panther Pink? I remember one particular day when Haywood Russell was commenting that one customer had ordered a Challenger with the peformance options but with the wild stripes borne by many earlier Challengers deleted. Wonder who that customer was? And if his car still exists?

I've been hoping the T-G made some photos of car lots with now-collectible muscle cars during that period. So far, no luck in finding any.

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


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

David, I take the risk of being wrong every time I open my mouth, but I think the pool hall in the video was on N. Main St. leading off the square...on the east side of the street in the general area of where Roger Dale's Western Auto used to be...basically across the street from the side of the hotel. Thanks leeiii for tracking down the location of the video. David, I like it when you ask questions in your blog, it becomes a historical scavenger hunt. I know that in some of my "stuff" I should be able to answer your question about Woosley and Thomas. I'll start looking unless someone provides an answer first. I think you can still see the concrete foundation of the old knitting mill at the corner of Deery and Holland Streets.

Seeing your photos of the cars brings back memories of "my pride and joy" back then--it was a brand new 1972 silver Pontiac Gran Prix. It was the one with the very long nose (hood) and had a ridiculous 180 mph on the odometer and was all tricked out. I remember the "quadrasonic sound system and the 8-track tapes". Boy, did that concept die out quickly.

-- Posted by marnold1118 on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 9:25 AM

David, I concur with marnold1118 on the location of the pool hall on North Main at the rr tracks. Years before it was a barbershop, don't remember off hand who the barber was who owned it, but someone in another blog has mentioned the name before, I believe.

This is the first I have heard about a stagecoach stop around the Peacock Lane area. I would guess that most folks, well maybe not most, but quite a few, are familiar with the location of the Belmont Avenue stagecoach stop, as it was featured in a T-G story several years ago.

marnold1118, I'm drowning in a pool of faulty memory here, could you throw me a dry stick to hang onto? Just a few days ago I was going through my cluttered mind, placing folks along the Fairfield Pike, occupation, number of family members, etc. When I got to Gallager and Gladys Arnold I drew a complete blank as to where they worked. I'm wondering if the Gladys Arnold in the picture above is Gallager's wife, and what was Gallager's occupation? Sorry to go off topic,I'll try to do better in the future.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 10:10 AM

In the first photo, I believe R.M. Thomas would be Robert McGill Thomas, Sr., whose son Robert Jr. was my age. The man in the photo would then be the brother of Miss Sarah Thomas, who taught English at Central High for some decades, played organ at the Christian Church, and lived on Deery. (Their mother was Zadie McGill Thomas, a sister to W.J., A.B., and Lula McGill.) Robert Thomas Jr. wrote obituaries for the New York Times, and became famous in that journalistic specialty. Here is a link to his own:

http://www.nytimes.com/2000/01/08/arts/r...

-- Posted by razyn on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 10:19 AM

David, Thanks for three more great pictures. Again let me say that I am really enjoying this.

I do not think that I ever knew who the owners of Woosley-Thomas Furniture were. The two names that you mentioned certainly make sense to me but I am not sure.

I am in agreement with marnold1118 and ilikeoldsongs about the location of the pool room. It sat on the South side of the Railroad tracks and the Box Factory was on the North side of the tracks. My mind kind of turns into mush when I try to recall the owners, the operators, and the employees of the various pool halls. I can not put names like Earl Hurt, Gerth Batte, Dale Cleek, Bill Rhodes and others in their proper places, but I do know that Bill Rhodes worked at this particular pool room at one time.

Wow, the pictures from the car show bring back a lot of good memories. Maybe we are seeing the muscle car make a comeback today now with the Camaro and Mustang. Also Chrysler is putting the Hemi back in several of their cars like the Charger, Magnum, Challenger, 300, and pick-ups.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 10:33 AM

razyn, Thanks for the memory. Robert, Jr. was a school-mate of mine, and I was not aware that he had passed in 2000. I have fond memories of both he and Carey Gates.

Robert shocked me in Junior High School when he wrote a piece about Harry Truman being the Greatest President. FDR was my hero and I was shocked to think that someone would think otherwise.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 10:46 AM

In the 1960 Aquila Bill's Billiard Parlor is at 218 North Main, and Capital Billiard Parlor #2 L.L.Stanton is at 114 South Spring. I'm still looking for others.

-- Posted by Cal t on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 11:03 AM

The merry go round in the Johnny Cash video was on Southside School's playground! I played on it for many years. It was so unique that I'll never forget it!!

-- Posted by cherylrichardson on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 12:23 PM

Hi everybody,

Gladys Arnold was my grandfather, Boyd Smith's sister.She and Gallager were married and lived on the farm on Fairfied Pk. across from Arnold Ln. I don't know how long she worked for Woolsey, but I'm pretty sure she retired from there. I don't remember seeing her but a time or two, but I remember telling her she looked just like my Mom. I never new of Gallager doing anything ,but farming. Very good memories.

-- Posted by Wilderness 68 on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 6:03 PM

I used to play on that merry-go-round too!

Brings back lots of old memories.

-- Posted by quietmike on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 6:25 PM

ilikeoldsongs: The Barber Shop in the location of the Pool Room on N. Main was operated during WWII by Johnny Pruitt of later Popcorn Stand Fame...In that time frame he gave me a "GI Haircut" much to my Mom's dismay...I remember that he had a stroke and had to give up barbering...I am very familiar with Woosley Knitting Mills as my Dad was the Principle Owner of Safety Motor Service and Mr. Woosley built the their building which was encircled by the Mill....Keep up the good work David and you too leeiii...

-- Posted by FlaDon on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 8:25 PM

In the photo of the Woosley Knitting Mill employees at Christmastime 1950, the gentleman on the left is Robert M.Thomas and Bryant Woosley is the gentleman on the right. Woosley and Thomas Furniture Store was indeed a joint venture of those two. Following Bryant Woosley's death, the store became Lewis and Thomas (for John Lewis, brother-in-law of Bryant Woosley and husband of Sarah Pearson Lewis). Following Robert Thomas's death, the store became Lewis and Clifford (for Randolph Clifford), ultimately ending its existence not so long ago as Clifford Furniture Store.

-- Posted by simetkroy on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 9:45 PM

Wilderness68 and FlaDon, thanks for the information, it is much appreciated.

leeiii, a couple more names that can be added to your list of pool room employees would be William "Bill" Hill, ( some folks called him "Willie") and Frank Rackley(spelling?)

Earl Hurt and Frank Rackley anchored the Spring St. location, while "Bill" Hill and Bill Rhodes did the same at the location on the square. They all seemed to rotate between the locations, as needed, to cover each other on vacations, days off etc. It seems that I want to recall a couple more part time employees during the time frame of roughly 1954-1958, but I can't quite get their faces into my mind.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Wed, Jun 9, 2010, at 8:14 AM

For leeiii, or anybody else who read that NY Times obituary of Robert Thomas -- it has Carey Gates' married name wrong. Her husband is William Lyle Hinds, Jr. The obituary spelled it "Hines."

-- Posted by razyn on Wed, Jun 9, 2010, at 8:28 AM

ilikeoldsongs, Thanks for the name of Frank Rackley. I could see his face but I could not recall his name.

razyn, Thanks for the information on Carey Gates' husband. Hines is a name that I recognize as being a local name in Shelbyville. Hinds is not.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Jun 9, 2010, at 9:04 AM

I also think the identification of Robert M. Thomas and Bryant Woosley, Sr. are switched.

To "ilikeoldsongs"--this is not much of a dry stick to save a drowning man, but here is my two-cents worth: Gallager did farm as "Wilderness 68" surmised, but I think he also worked in some capacity for Dixie Home Feeds/Dixie Grain Co., but I don't know when, or for how long. Regarding his wife Gladys, she did work at the Woosley Knitting Mill. I don't know when she started, but she retired no earlier that the early 1960s--around 1962-63. Gallager's brother George Moody was a full-time farmer, as was their dad, Moody Arnold.

-- Posted by marnold1118 on Wed, Jun 9, 2010, at 9:10 AM

I've changed the order of Woosley Knitting Mill names in the fourth paragraph of the blog to reflect readers' information. Apparently we just corrected a 59-year-old typo.

-- Posted by David Melson on Wed, Jun 9, 2010, at 9:39 AM

razyn, I do not remember being around Robert after Jr. High. I think that he may have gone off to Castle Heights, or BGA, or some other prep school.

I can very well remember when they lived on East Franklin Street.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Jun 9, 2010, at 9:53 AM

" but I think he also worked in some capacity for Dixie Home Feeds/Dixie Grain Co., but I don't know when, or for how long."

Thanks marnold1118, that statement probably finished tying the bow on my question. In the back of my mind there was just the tiniest thought that Gallagher was an auto mechanic, but now I would guess that he probably worked in the maintenance dept. of Dixie Grain as a maintenance mechanic. Thanks again.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Wed, Jun 9, 2010, at 10:12 AM

Thanks for the photo of Woosley Knitting Mill. My dear aunt Turley Hudson is in the picture and I remember when she received the TV. She lived most of her life on Railroad Ave. and was a faithful member of the Church of Christ.

I also remember playing pool with Bill Rhodes, Hu's older brother. I must be getting old!

-- Posted by jsutton on Wed, Jun 9, 2010, at 3:37 PM

I played on the merry-go-round at Southside school as well. I wore what we called granny dresses alot back then and knee high socks. We would get it turning just as fast as we could. Also Mr. McBride would use a stop watch to see who was the fastest at racing each other. Wonder what ever happened to the old merry-go-round.

-- Posted by AmericanWoman on Wed, Jun 9, 2010, at 4:42 PM

Speaking of merry go rounds, every school playground had one. Are there any on the school grounds in Tennessee now. I live in Plano, Texas, and they were removed from all playgrounds because of the danger of injury to children. I think that is so sad, because that is something that was always a part of the school grounds as were the slides and swings.

-- Posted by cookie on Thu, Jun 10, 2010, at 7:56 AM

cookie, In my memory of things that go round and round I have to mention the "Flying Jenny". Several of the homes in rural areas with children had the customary "tree swing", and they also had a "Flying Jenny" which was a long oak board with a hole bored in the middle (balance point). A fence post was buried in the ground with a strong metal rod sticking up out of it. The board was fitted down over the rod and you had a "Flying Jenny" which served two purposes. It could either be a teeter-totter, or it could be a merry-go-round, and they were hard to stay on as a merry-go-round. Good memories.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Jun 10, 2010, at 8:10 AM

~Cookie Southside STILL has a merry go round, just not that uber cool one!!

-- Posted by cherylrichardson on Thu, Jun 10, 2010, at 10:19 AM

leeiii....just to add to your knowledge of merry-go-rounds and Flying Jennys....you might like to know that here in New Orleans the carousels (merry-go-rounds) are referred to as "Flying Horses"..No one seems to know why...They just say the horses appear to be "flying" around and around. That's my trivia note of the day.

-- Posted by steadyeddie on Thu, Jun 10, 2010, at 4:27 PM


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