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Picturing the Past 99: South Side Square

Posted Tuesday, February 8, 2011, at 1:35 PM

Shelbyville Times-Gazette carriers just off the southwest side of the square in October 1950. Behind them is the square's south side. From left are Davis Trolinger, Freddie Prosser, Charles Eddlemon, Joe Wayne Reed, Charles Williamson and Lillard Brown. (T-G file photo)
This photo was shot as part of a newspaper promotion, but the background shows a good chunk of the Shelbyville square as it appeared in October 1950.

Take a look and you'll see, at far right, a "Billiards" sign for a basement-level pool room. Look at the side of that building today and you'll see a green-painted area with an old awning and the steps leading to where the pool room was. Look at "114 South Spring St." on Google Street View.

Most of the signs are easily visible, but who owned the store with the partially-hidden "radio television sales service" in the background? It's on the other side of the Hale's Shoes sign, so it couldn't have been part of Ed Craig Furniture's line.

Whoever ran that store was probably doing a lot of business at the time: Middle Tennessee had just gotten its first TV signal a few days earlier. Channel 4, then known as WSM-TV, signed on Sept. 30, 1950.

And there were two drug stores within a few doors of each other: Note the Rexall sign and, partially hidden behind the Bedford Theater sign, Fly's Drug Store.

Behind the carriers is a Bell Telephone truck. Were they painted the putrid green color in 1950 that Bell vehicles carried in the 1960s?

The bicycle Charles Eddlemon (third from left) is on looks different from the others, with its smaller tires. Is it actually a motorized scooter?

OFF THE AIR: People who were around in the late 1940s and early 1950s have mentioned Teddy Barnes, who worked on the old WHAL-1400 at that time and later hosted a TV dance party-type show in rock music's early days on the old WSIX-TV in Nashville.

According to The Elk Valley Times, Barnes, 82, died Jan. 28 at a Fayetteville health care facility. He later worked in the insurance business in Nashville for years before "retiring" to his native Lincoln County, where he spent many years as morning drive host on WYTM-FM until within the past couple of years.

He once boasted to a Tullahoma newspaper reporter that he still played his music --- country oldies -- off vinyl discs even when CDs and MP3s had become common.

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

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FlaDon I sure would like to see a picture of your restored Whizzer. I will bet that it is a beauty. You and Bo have both stirred my memories of a day long gone by. I can remember that there was a boy in our neighborhood who had an extra appendage on his thumb and he could operate both levers at the same time. As best as I can remember I think one was for compression and I think that the other was for gas. Somewhere around the early 50s Whizzer put out motor bike that looked similar to a miniature motorcycle. Bill Kingree was the first in our school to have one and he rode it to school every day. It was a beauty and we all envyed him for his Whizzer.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 5:35 PM

Charles Eddlemon is riding an "off-brand" scooter which his Dad tried to peddle at his Allis- Chalmers Dealership on Depot Street....It was larger than a Doodlebug and he had a sidecar..One day he rode Vincent Burleson ( who was kinda chubby) in the sidecar who got stuck and it took four of us to pull him out....Charles is a retired Instructor from the Univ of Memphis...Bo, I have a restored 1948 Whizzer which is identical to the one I bought from Harold Overcast in around 1951 for $15.00...His Dad bought it new from Ralph Tittsworth..There were many of them around then on companion Schwinns and some on other bicycles...Mine is valued around $4-5K today...

-- Posted by FlaDon on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 3:56 PM

Does anyone remember the Whizzer motors that were added to many bicycles?

-- Posted by bomelson on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 2:15 PM

I remember going to Hale's shoe store to buy Buster Brown shoes. They had an X-ray machine that you put your feet in and thru a green glow you would see the outline of your toes,just to make sure your shoes fit. Don't recall any warning sign about harmful rays from the machine.

-- Posted by eyeavol on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 1:54 PM

David, One of the most "fun" things about studying Shelbyville history is trying to figure out what stores were where and when. For others like me, I'm listing by numerical address all the business on the southside of the square as published in the 1952 City Directory. Knowing that the photo in this blog was taken in October, 1950, there is a chance a few changes took place before the 1952 publication, but most are the same.

Beginning at the southeast corner at the intersection of S. Main and Depot:

101--Fly's Drug Store

101 1/2--Dixie Beauty Shop

103--Capitol Billiard Parlors

105--A.R. Johnson & Co. (a dry goods store)

107--The Fair Store (clothing)

109--Joe Katz Dept. Store


115--Robinson-McGill Hardware Co.

117--Bedford Theatre

119--Standard Drug Co. (a Rexall store)

121--Nina's (ladies ready to wear)

123--McDonald Furniture Co.

125--Henning Jewelers

127--Hale's Shoe Store

131--Ed Craig Furniture Co.

In the 1949 phone book, Henning Jewelers isn't listed and McDonald Furniture included the 123 and 125 space.

Records show Ed Craig Furniture was a Philco dealer, and that Buchanan Furniture, over on the east side of the square, was a Zenith dealer, but there is no mention of McDonald's being involved in the radio and embryonic TV sales.

Apparently, The Fair Store, did not exist as of the 1949 phone book, but is listed in 1952.

Apropos of nothing: Looking at the old yellow pages is quite revealing. In thumbing through the 1949 book, I noticed that Sam Melson and Thomas Cartwright, two highly successful contractors and businessmen at the peak of their careers, have display ads promoting their "Floor Surfacing and Sanding" businesses.

David, also notice in the extreme left of the photo, the barber pole for the barber shop in the basement of the Gunter Building.

-- Posted by marnold1118 on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 8:36 AM

I like it that apart from the Cushman scooter, all of the bikes have fat tires -- and coaster brakes, a single gear ratio, and a basket in front of the handlebars. They were probably Schwinn or Huffy bikes. Murray Ohio started its Tennessee bike factory in 1956. You didn't have to have a paper route -- baskets were also useful for school books, baseball gloves, groceries, the younger kids in the family, etc. This was not a very safety-conscious era.

My cousins Raford and Henry Hulan got "skinny-wheel" bikes in the spring of 1952 -- maybe they were Christmas presents -- anyway, I had to have one too, and we ordered it through Western Auto. It was a 3-speed BSA -- pretty radical to have an imported (British) bike then. I don't believe it could take a basket, that would get in the way of the hand brakes and gearshift. Mine was the only one in Hopkinsville, KY, where we lived at the time. It was still pretty clunky, compared with a modern ten-speed -- but it was the first step away from the kind in this photo.

-- Posted by razyn on Tue, Feb 8, 2011, at 5:31 PM

Thanks David. In response to a couple of your questions I remember Fly's Drug Store actually being on the Southeast corner of the square. The telephone vehicles were painted Olive Drab much like Military vehicles except that they had a shine to them. Yes, Charles Eddlemon rode what we called a "motor scooter" on his route but I can not tell you the name of the manufacturer. I am pretty sure that it was a Cushman but I can not say so with any certainty. I have tried to place that "radio television sales service" business in my mind's eye but I am coming up with a blank.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Feb 8, 2011, at 4:42 PM

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