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Picturing the Past 78: Flying with Uncle Billy

Posted Tuesday, September 14, 2010, at 1:36 PM

William "Uncle Billy" Bartlett, right, stands with pilot Jerry Hill after taking his first airplane flight as a 95th birthday present. (T-G file photo)
This wasn't just any plane ride.

On the morning of May 7, 1952, William "Uncle Billy" Bartlett took to the air for the first time and the Times-Gazette was there to picture his big moment. Seems Uncle Billy's 95th birthday wish was to ride in an airplane, and the gift came courtesy of his son, Perry Bartlett.

This photo was apparently taken after Uncle Billy's flight. He said he "felt like I could fly all day," said it was "the best ride" he'd ever had and wanted another for his 96th birthday.

Piloting "Uncle Billy" was Jerry Hill of Shelbyville, who is listed in the original photo caption as a "computer" with what was then known as the Tennessee Highway Department.

Also going on in Shelbyville in early May 1952:

* The Saddle Restaurant, on North Main in the building that housed El Mexico until earlier this summer, was closed for two weeks to install air conditioning.

* Remember International brand trucks and vans? George Crenshaw & Co., a farm implement dealership on Madison Street in the building still existing next to First Christian Church, was advertising International Metro vans. I can remember seeing old International brand trucks still on the road not so many years ago.

* Yearwood Motors, in what's now the old part of the Times-Gazette building, was advertising Dodge trucks.

* Guy's Market was around for years on South Cannon Boulevard. But a Guy's ad in early 1952 lists its address as 702 Lewis Ave. Where was that? There's no building on Lewis Avenue that looks like it was ever used as a business -- except the greenhouse behind Mary's Flowers, which is at 702 Adams Dr.

Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog and in Wednesday's print edition of the Times-Gazette. Your contributions are welcome.

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

Guy's Market was at one time at the intersection of Lewis and Cannon where the Kangaroo is now. I remember riding my bike from Colinal Ave. down to the store alot. Later it moved on up Cannon at the intersection of Riverview Dr.

-- Posted by nanato5 on Tue, Sep 14, 2010, at 5:16 PM

nanato5 I thought that I remembered it being there at one time but I was hesitant to say so in case I was wrong. That is the location where the Phillips 66 station was later located.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Sep 14, 2010, at 5:19 PM

I like that Uncle Billy dressed up for his ride........

-- Posted by Bjaj1 on Tue, Sep 14, 2010, at 9:19 PM

If you want to see a picture of a snazzy '58 (I think it is a '58) IH pickup, watch the Symbicort ad.

-- Posted by Tyger on Wed, Sep 15, 2010, at 8:55 PM

Are you 100% sure that the man standing next to Uncle Billy is the pilot because he sure does look like my father, Lance Thomas. Who turned this picture in? I don't really remember Uncle Billy but I remember his son Uncle Perry and his wife Aunt Susie.

-- Posted by anotheropion on Thu, Sep 16, 2010, at 7:27 AM

anotheropion now that you mention it the other man in the picture does look a lot like Lance Thomas, but I can not be sure.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Sep 16, 2010, at 8:21 AM

To anotheropion, this photo was made by a Times-Gazette reporter and printed from the original negative in our files. The identifications are as printed in the May 7, 1952 newspaper.

-- Posted by David Melson on Thu, Sep 16, 2010, at 2:47 PM

leeii, how did you know Lance Thomas? Uncle Billy was kin on my mother's side of the family, the Harts and I don't know why my daddy would have been there but I'm almost positive that is him or that pilot was his twin.

-- Posted by anotheropion on Thu, Sep 16, 2010, at 4:42 PM

anotheropion if I am not mistaken and you are who I think you are then in the early 50s you lived on Madison Street between Whitthorne and Evans, and I lived just around the corner on Whitthorne. I think that Bobby and Billy lived close to you and may have been some kin, but I am not sure about that.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Sep 16, 2010, at 7:11 PM

leeiii, you are absolutely correct and Bobby and Billy are my 1st cousins. Their mother and my mother were sisters.

-- Posted by anotheropion on Thu, Sep 16, 2010, at 8:53 PM

The pilot looks like Jerry Hill to me. I along with a couple of other high school guys worked for Hiram Neese and Jerry Hill on the Highway Dept. survey crew in the summer of 1956. We surveyed highway 41-A for the passing lanes on Davis hill and the others up and down that stretch of road. I remember killing several rattle snakes among that road. I believe that is Jerry Hill in the picture with Uncle Billy.

-- Posted by Farmer Bill on Thu, Sep 23, 2010, at 11:54 AM

As a newbie to the blog, I don't want to stick my neck out to far, but wasn't Guy's market located on the corner of Cannon and Pickle St. at one time?

-- Posted by Oldbbguy on Thu, Sep 23, 2010, at 7:25 PM

Oldbbguy, Yes it was but that was later from when it was at the intersection of Cannon Boulevard and Lewis Avenue.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Sep 23, 2010, at 7:45 PM

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