I recently wrote that I’d get in touch with our fire department and see what information I could borrow to pass along.
Just a few days ago, I called out here on Pearl Drive to see if they had anything I could use about our old-time volunteer firemen. To my surprise they had some old pictures and the one I chose to be printed first is alongside this article.
The photo was taken in 1925, which was 60 years before our firemen volunteers were put on salary by the city. Let me know if you recognize anyone and we’ll get it in the paper. I’ll bet you someone knows the little boy standing on the running board of the fire truck.
And let me tell you about all the bewilderment at our local grocery stores back in the early 1940s.
I worked at Fred Weaver’s on East Broadway along with Claude McConky, Glen Manis and, of course, Fred himself. He and all the other grocers bought most vegetables and some fruit by the bushel because most farmers measured their produce and sold it in a “bushel basket.” Remember this is a measure of volume. There are 8 gallons in a bushel, so our grocers sold it by the gallon.
Tennessee Valley Authority came in with the construction of Fort Loudoun Dam and nearly overnight the east 1st and 2nd Avenues north of Broadway filled with construction workers living in the houses brought up the river on barges by TVA from a dam in Alabama. They unloaded the houses onto big tractor trailer trucks along the river bank right around the mouth of Muddy Creek and brought them into town here on east side.
The houses were then picked up by cranes and set onto the footers and foundations already poured in place on those city lots. With that kind of speed, that’s why they seemed to come almost overnight.
Being nearby, Fred’s grocery trade increased very much. But this is where the confusion came from. Those folks bought by the pound and had no idea what a gallon was and — by the same token — most of us grocery clerks had no idea the number of pounds in a gallon. Nothing weighed the same.
As an example, there are 60 pounds of Irish potatoes in a bushel (7 1/2 pounds per gallon) and 50 pounds of sweet potatoes in a bushel (6 1/4 pounds per gallon). So in order to sell to our customers without being so confusing to them, we clerks had to learn how many pounds of each item were in a gallon and divide it out to price it as so much per pound. It really gets kind of farfetched when you’re selling turnip greens. There is only 1 pound and 14 ounces in a gallon of greens. See what I mean?
But as time went by, it got better and easier for everyone and I guess in the long run it turned for the best for all of us. We still buy and sell by the pound. And as TVA says today, all they did in these river valleys was for the greater good. Do you reckon?
Do you remember Dr. Padget and his nurse, Ms. Nell Crowe? I can remember them coming to our house to treat me or other family members who were sick. Their office was upstairs above the Rexall and you could walk in at anytime during the day if you needed to or call for them to come to your house if necessary.
Over my days of his service, he found two or three things wrong with me and took great care of me. Even if you just happened to meet Ms. Nell in town somewhere after a recent trip to their office, she would ask how you’re doing and if you are OK. They were great folks and cared for your health.
I can’t remember what year he resigned from working but I can recall him leaving and how much I hated to hear that. They were both truly good and dedicated to their profession.
If you look back on some of the other people we had in town — our school teachers, policemen, church pastors, merchants, football coaches and just plain neighbors — they were so good to us kids. Nearly all of the adults set good examples of how to behave for us kids.
I don’t know what happened nor how but things sure have changed a lot since then, ain’t they?