Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hawkinsville, My Home Town, Another Look

In Hawkinsville, Saturdays were almost like school in a different location. Every store—grocery, furniture, hardware, clothing and drug store—had teens working on Saturdays to fill the void needed for clerks. All the country folks came to town that day, ready to spend their money or charge things until they could pay for them later.
Many stores had benches for the customers to sit and visit a spell. For grocery clerks, that could spell danger when they were carrying groceries out to the cars and trucks for the customers. Conversation and laughter outside on the benches was raucous and snuff and tobacco spit was flying, literally causing the clerks to tap dance their way through the maze.
Betty Jo Hadden worked at Ben Silver’s Clothing store. Little Ernie Mashburn and Tony Anderson were busy dipping ice cream cones at Goode’s Drugs. (On the left below is a picture of Goodes Drugs and Soda Fountain during the 1950s. On the right are four classmates from HHS, L-R, Jill Joiner, Billy Shepherd, Lottye Reynolds, and Sayde Fowler, regulars at the soda fountain.)
The Cabero boys were working at Hawkinsville Fruit & Candy Store, something to do with the fact their father was a working partner in the business. Bo or Hans Mayer could be seen walking around town with a cigar box which doubled as a temporary collection box. ( On a recent trip down memory lane, Bo Mayer, right, and her son, Ronnie, showing a striking resemblance to his late father, Hans Mayer enjoyed a visit at the Steak House Restaurant in Hawkinsville.)

In Massee’s Furniture, some of the outstanding athletes from the Red Devils were moving furniture and appliances from the store to customer’s homes. ( Members of the 1954 and 1953 State Champs at Hawkinsville all had to work on Saturdays in the fabulous fifties. L-R, Melvin Borum, Eddie Dunn and David Nelson.)
Near Massee’s Furniture was a very popular business owned by Eddie and Ruby Dunn. Their sons, Edward and Dennis were bussing the counter and keeping the hamburger-satisfied customers moving. The brothers told this writer that the secret to the delicious hamburgers was a mixture of beef and sausage. Coca Colas in the small bottles were good by themselves. The name of the restaurant was the Green Grill.
Every day, Mother would leave my three brothers and me 35 cents each to buy our lunch in town; there was no lunchroom in those days. A typical lunch hour for me would include a fast run to town when school let out for noon break. My first stop would be the aforementioned Green Grill with an order for two of those great hamburgers and a coke—total cost, two bits. After wolfing those down, I had just enough time to survey the counter in Jones Bakery where the PlantersFirst Bank now is located. My big decision was whether to buy 2 donuts or 2 cinnamon rolls, or one of each. Either of the two would set me back the other dime which Mother left me. My nourishing meal was taken care of, leaving me just enough time to trot at a fast pace back to school.
A couple more grocery stores occupied the other end of Commerce Street and Jackson—Sims and A & P, later to become Lancaster’s and Fowlers. Directly across the street was a clothing store operated by a Jewish man named Jack Robbins. Daddy always bought his felt hats in the United Department Store owned by Mister Robbins, a short, strange-looking man with eyes that were magnified by his need for glasses. He was one of several merchants in town who were Jewish, including Ben and Minnie Silver, Myer and Goldie Freed, Hans and Bo Mayer, Sam Sommers, the pecan man, and Sam Dobkins.
Two of the more enjoyable stores for me, as a child, were the ten cent store owned by Freed and his wife. The name of the business was Crests Five & Dime. Almost directly across the street was a competitor named Wynn’s Ten Cent Store. Oh, the things that a young boy could buy in one of those stores—toy cars and trucks, tops, Yo Yos, cap guns, and kites were among some of the things I have purchased for a nickel or a dime during those years. They must have done very well with the small change stores, because memory serves me that a third five and dime named McConnell’s Ten Cent Store opened later.
There were multiple numbers of stores for many things. Altogether, there were about eight or nine grocery stores, at least three furniture stores, several drug stores, and any kind of gasoline station one chose for a favorite.
(Shown below is Bill Goode one of the owners of the Chevy dealers in the city by the muddy riverduring the 1950s.)
The Chevy dealership was owned by Willie Pate and Bill Goode.
The Oldsmobile dealership was owned by Louie Blount, and the Buick dealership was Glenn and Thomas Herrington.
The Way Brothers had a dealership back then also. They were the Plymouth-Dodge dealers.
(An ardent salesman in nhis time, Sam Way ran a promotion giving away anew Plymouth amd it was won by Mrs. Virginia Cobb.
Today, in stark contrast to so many other bygone dealers, Way Brothers has Ford and Chevy dealerships, fierce competitors for a century.
Someone owned a Hudson dealership, and the last Studebaker I recall was a black, sharp-looking one driven by Judge Sloan. (Below is a picture of Billy Judge Sloan a NASCAR fan still. He owned the last Studebaker after they ceased manufacturing them in America.)
There was no shortage of liquor stores in the city by the muddy river either. It was kind of strange that Hawkinsville was the only town that seemed to be “wet.” Little did it matter though because “bootleggers,” a nickname given to those who sold bonded liquor without a license, could still be found. Some even made moonshine and sold it by the fruit jar.
I had a brother seven years older than me who was “bad to drink” as they said in those days. I took it upon myself to keep tabs on him by following his car on my bicycle and watching where he went.
(Looking very much like my old bike, "Paint," it freed me up to travel many miles with very little restriction.)
Mother didn’t want him to drink, and I loved playing spy for my mother. It almost got me killed once. A local saloon named Marchman’s Beer Joint or something like that was a place he went into on one occasion. Sitting astride my trusty bike, “Paint,” I took up a position where I could peek inside without him seeing me. After seeing him swigging on a bottle of beer, I took off for our house to report in to my mother. The problem happened when Mother challenged him about his whereabouts after he got home. In full denial, my brother said she was mistaken. My mother revealed her source quicker than you can shake a stick. I was ratted out! Immediately, I made a dead run for the front door with him in hot pursuit. I was saved that day by another brother, a non-drinking one, just younger that the one I had spied on. He jumped out of a chair and threatened to ‘bust his head open if he touched me. Whew! I was almost a goner. I decided maybe it wasn’t the best idea to spy on my beer-swizzling brother again.

Batts Drugs had a championship soda fountain in those days, and a would-be Miss America dipping ice cream and making shakes. Although Pansy Lollis was several years older than my buddies and me, we loved to go in and flirt with her. She just laughed at us and tried to keep us away from the comic book section too long.
(bove picture is current owner of Batts Drugstore, Ben Cravey sitting on Santa's lap seeking an early Christmas present. There is no soda fountain today.)


Anonymous said...

Another good report on old Hawkinsville. Some how I just don't remember Dobkins. But I do remember the 'spy report' and the chase that ensued and also know who the 'rescuer' was.

Keep pounding the keyboard, I'm enjoying it.


Anonymous said...

In this post, there is a picture of Bill Goode. I can never hear this name that I don't think of the time he and his wife took a few of his Sunday School class to Cordele to the first football game I ever saw. My buddy back then, Robert Ingram was a member of that class and ask me to go along with them. Some how I missed eating before I left home and got a headache from that. While at the game I ate a hotdog and that didn't settle right on my stomach. I didn't get to feeling any better.
After the game we loaded up in his nice car to go back to Hawkinsville. It was really cold and they took an old army blanket out of the trunk to cover us boys in the back seat. My stomach was still quezzie but we boys finally dropped off to sleep under the warm blanket. All of a sudden I got car sick and UP CHUCKED all over the place, on myself, the blanket, and his nice car. I was embarrassed to death but they were so nice to me. He stopped the car and they got me and everything cleaned up and we finally continued our trip home.

For years I couldn't look at him without feeling embarrassed.

the crow