Dave Cooley – LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Sun, 17 Feb 2019 15:51:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.3 https://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png Dave Cooley – LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com 32 32 My Favorite School Teacher https://likethedew.com/2017/01/06/my-favorite-school-teacher/ https://likethedew.com/2017/01/06/my-favorite-school-teacher/#respond Fri, 06 Jan 2017 23:03:50 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=66054

Apple on teacher's desk - old, sepia, scratches

There is no higher calling than helping young people find their way because you care about them and their futures. There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the good of young people is the highest creed. Reward follows service.

Kathleen Cleaveland gave most of her adult life to her students at Hendersonville High School and she served them extremely well. There are many of her former students who will testify to the fact that she gave generously of her talents to all who came her way. Making an impression follows making a difference. Without question, Kathleen Cleaveland made a difference in the lives of so many young people. I know because I was one of them who benefited greatly from her caring.

What a legacy! Life and work together are a journey, not a destination. She taught students that you earn what you get out of life and that you do not benefit from looking for the easy way out. An education is earned; it is not a gratuity.

I was privileged to know Kathleen Cleaveland better than most of her students knew her. She took a special interest in me, and I am very thankful that she did. I became a pretty good typist and was not too shabby at shorthand as a result of being in her classes. Bookkeeping was a different story. I needed the bookkeeping credit to graduate from high school. She kept me after class to tell me that she would pass me in bookkeeping if I promised never to try to keep anyone’s books. I have kept that promise to this day!

She had no relatives other than a cousin who lived with her on Main Street next door to the Waverly Boarding House where she had lived for years before buying the modest house next door to the Waverly. When her cousin died, she sold the house and was planning to move to a senior-citizens’ living facility in the area. About that time she fell and broke a hip. Having done so meant she would be forced sooner or later to move into an assisted living facility. She suffered terribly from arthritis and wore oversized nurses shoes all of the time to ease the pain in her feet. She took a lot of Bayer aspirin. I recall an oversized bottle of Bayer aspirin that was always in a handy place for her use. This was about the only relief available during her time.

I had just accepted the position as head of the chamber of commerce in Jacksonville, Florida, and was making plans to move there. Miss Cleaveland had retired from teaching sometime before her fall that resulted in the broken hip. I was visiting her at her new home and quickly decided that she was somewhat depressed and really did not want to be where she was. Probably on a whim or an effort to brighten her day a bit, I said to her, “Why don’t you come to Jacksonville with me,” not thinking in my wildest imagination that she would take me up on it. Well, she did take me up on the offer. We set about the job of looking for an assisted-living facility in Jacksonville that would take her on short notice. This was 1964, and there were not many assisted-living facilities anywhere.

While living in Jacksonville, she almost died a couple of times. On one occasion, she was in the hospital and in a bed in the hallway. She was not in a room. I kept asking the doctor, nurses, and anyone who would listen to me when they were going to get Miss Cleaveland a room. The doctor finally took me off to the side and told me that my friend did not have long to live and that they were not going to put her in a room. This upset me to the point that I grabbed the doctor, shook him hard and told him that she was going to live and I expected him to get a room for her right now. In just a few minutes after our confrontation he did exactly that – he got her a room. She lived another twelve years afterwards.

One experience we had at the assisted-living facility in Jacksonville is one for the books and certainly one that I have never forgotten. I had taken my daughter and three sons to visit Miss Cleaveland since it always pepped her up to see my children. She had never been married. During our visit, two of my sons became restless as very young boys will do, so I took them down the hall. My son, John, who was more curious about things than most boys, spied a fire red contraption which was affixed to the wall in the hall and which had a fairly long handle on it. John looked up at it and asked what it was while pulling the handle at the same time. He had immediately set off the fire alarm. As a result, several fire trucks with sirens going full blast arrived at the facility in minutes. One can imagine how red-faced I was telling the firemen that my son had set the alarm off.

When I moved to Memphis in the fall of 1968 to become president of its chamber of commerce, it was understood that Miss Cleaveland was going with us, so before moving, I started working on finding her a suitable place to live there. We were fortunate in that one of the chamber’s board members owned an assisted-living home within walking distance of the neighborhood in which my family and I were to live. We contracted for space for her there. Miss Cleaveland liked her new surroundings very much. Several afternoons a week after school, my daughter, Ann, would go to the nursing home and read to our friend. She was very appreciative of what Ann did for her. Occasionally, we had her in our home. From time to time, we would take her for a ride in the country.

A year or so later, Miss Cleaveland became concerned that she might be slipping into senility or that she had mild dementia as it is referred to today. She came up with the bright idea of teaching herself Spanish so as to avoid senility. I purchased Spanish books for her and we would test her every now and then to determine if she was learning the language. She was a good student and made good progress.

Either being pulled in her bed by a nurse or facility worker or maybe falling again, she re-broke the hip that was fractured in Hendersonville. She did not do too well after that and died in September 1972. We took her remains back to Jacksonville, her birthplace, for burial.

Kathleen Douglas Cleaveland was born January 13, 1893. She was a graduate of Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee, did graduate work at San Diego State College, and taught at Rider College. Her first pay at Hendersonville High School was $150 per month. In 2010 I had the privilege of proposing her for membership in the HHS Hall of Fame. She was elected by acclamation.

A lion’s share of the credit for anything I have accomplished in my lifetime belongs to her. She was one of the very best and most loyal friends I have ever had. Kathleen Cleaveland was my favorite school teacher.

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The King of Main Street https://likethedew.com/2016/11/16/the-king-of-main-street/ https://likethedew.com/2016/11/16/the-king-of-main-street/#comments Wed, 16 Nov 2016 10:13:09 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=65646

Every town has its characters. But these “individualists” are usually formed by the character of the town itself.

Sinclair Lewis’ great eponymous novel explored the hopeful adventures of would-be nonconformist George Babbitt, who fails to escape his everyday identity as a real-estate salesman, Rotary Club president, country club and lodge member, and proud wearer of the Booster pin of Zenith, his fictional midsize city. Lewis won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930 — the first American to take the honor — helped in large part by Babbitt, a book touted as the most thorough documentation of community development ever.

Walter B. Smith — The King of Main Street
Walter B. Smith — The King of Main Street

My hometown had its “Babbitt” in the character of Walter B. Smith – “W as in water, B as in bull, and S as in sunshine” he would say, over and over, to tourists fleeing the summer heat of Florida and lower South Carolina. (Fact is, the green benches on Hendersonville’s Main Street were copied from their original counterparts in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Walter relished meeting visitors arriving via Greyhound bus or Southern Railway’s Carolina Special. “Welcome to the little town of Hendersonville, of which I own about one-third,” was his stock greeting. Sooner or later, you’d bump into him on Main Street as he worked the benches and high-back rocking chairs in front of the Skyland Hotel. Sometimes he gave members of his impromptu audience a sunflower similar to the one in the lapel of his rumpled, weather beaten coat. On a special day, he might have orchids for the ladies, taking great pains to describe the delicate blooms’ origins in his “Laurel Park hothouse.” Truth be known, they were castaways from a local wholesale florist who discarded sub-par, blemished specimens. It’s also been said he snitched them from the garden of C. Few, the town’s postmaster who grew beautiful flowers.

Holding a large map, Walter liked to inform outsiders needing directions that the “new super highway would generally follow the route of the old Buncombe Turnpike … now known as Howard Gap Road in Henderson County.” I looked at Walter’s map several times, and sure enough, his interpretation of Interstate Highway 26 was correct.

Walter was descended from an upper-middle-class family. It was rumored that he was once married and had sired one or more children, none of whom ever showed up during the time I knew him. Stories of and about Walter are numerous. Luckily he’s no longer around to question their authenticity.

Walter on his float as King of the North Carolina Apple Festival
Walter on his float as King of the North Carolina Apple Festival

One year, he ran for King of the North Carolina Apple Festival opposite young merchant Howard Kiss. It was an old-time fruit-jar election: contestants attached their photos to the jars and placed them in prominent high-traffic places, and passersby voted by pushing money through slits in the lid.

This little fundraiser hadn’t amounted to much until the year Walter became a candidate — and was elected by a landslide. Victorious, he came to the chamber-of-commerce office, which doubled as Apple Festival headquarters in the mid-1950s, and demanded that he be fitted for a robe and crown. He also wanted his own, separate float in the festival’s Labor Day parade, instead of riding alongside the Apple Queen (a request never again granted after Walter’s win).

For a long time, Walter and Mrs. Brach of the Brach Candy Company fortune were an item around town. Some said she had more “loose wires” than Smith had. Notions of their mental states aside, he didn’t own an automobile before he took up with her, and he didn’t have one after she ditched him, either.

Walter with heavyweight boxing champ Jack Dempsey
Walter with heavyweight boxing champ Jack Dempsey

Walter’s other high-profile friends included boxer Jack Dempsey, the reigning world heavyweight champ from the ’20s who trained in Hendersonville. But he wasn’t necessarily reverential of fame. Years later, he got an idea to have Flat Rock’s most famous resident Carl Sandburg photographed next to the Thomas Wolfe angel statue in Oakdale Cemetery. “That old goat could wave his hand and get the town more publicity in a minute than the chamber of commerce could in a year,” grumbled Walter, dismissing, with one well-crafted quip, the man who was America’s most populist poet, Lincoln’s most prolific biographer, and, perhaps not coincidentally, the owner of a prizewinning goat-dairy herd.

Walter Smith was not a common man. He wasn’t just an individualist or an eccentric. He was born to be seen and heard. When not handing out orchids to the ladies, he’d pin one on the seat of his pants and saunter down Main Street. He liked to pull a dog chain behind him that was not connected to any dog.

When Jane Wyman (then married to Ronald Reagan) came to town to promote the sale of WWII war bonds, Walter found his way on stage to bestow an enormous corsage upon the actress. To jazz bandleader Jan Garber, he once presented a deed to the lot of the musician’s choice in Laurel Park — a sincere if not legally sound act.

Walter with our high school cheerleaders
Walter with our high school cheerleaders

There had been months of speculation about a new industrial plant for a major well-known industry looking at the possibilities of locating in Hendersonville. News sources and those of us working with company representatives were tight-lipped about it. We had been told that a leak could damage the town’s chances.  Finally, the day came for the announcement to take place in the ballroom of the Skyland Hotel. I was  working with company reps to bring some of their equipment into the ballroom when Walter showed up decked out in his “Sunday Finery” carrying a bouquet of flowers. When he came into full view I noticed that there was a General Electric logo in its center. I felt like wringing his neck, but decided, hopefully, that he would not be noticed. This did not happen. When the time came to open the ballroom doors so invited guests could enter for the company’s announcement there stood Walter with his bouquet in hand welcoming the GE officials and others one by one.

I’ve thought of Walter many times over the years while going from town to town in my career as a chamber-of-commerce executive. It was sort of a game, and a fun one, to try to find another Walter in the towns I served. He might not look the same or say quite the same things, but there was always at least one character in each place that I could dub my Walter Smith, even if the original could only be found back in Hendersonville.

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The Mayor’s Club https://likethedew.com/2016/11/06/the-mayors-club/ https://likethedew.com/2016/11/06/the-mayors-club/#comments Sun, 06 Nov 2016 20:08:04 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=65515

I grew up like the Reverend Billy Graham, who would say, “I did not know I was poor back then until someone told me that I was poor.” The country was still in the Great Depression throughout the 1930s, and we weren’t the only family that faced hardship. And there was a perk to being from “the other side of the tracks:” I was privileged to receive a real treat every Saturday morning – for I was a member of The Mayor’s Club.

His Honor, the Mayor, Albert.V. Edwards with the Hendersonville Police (circa 1950)
His Honor the Mayor, Albert.V. Edwards with the Hendersonville Police (circa 1950)

The mayor was a pretty important person in our little town of about 6,000 people. His job was full time. He was in charge of the police and fire departments, the tax collection department, the water works and all other facets of the city’s operation. He was very proud of what he often referred to as “our wonderful little town.”

There were no special requirements for membership. All one had to do was to show up at the city hall at about 8 o’clock on Saturday morning and go to the top floor by elevator which was the jail area. There was a large meeting room where the boys where greeted by “His Honor, the Mayor, A.V. Edwards.” This is the way we all greeted him, and he seemed to appreciate it.

First off, “His Honor” would make a short talk about things that should be important to young boys. We would then go to the empty rooms (cells) in the jail area and remove our clothes for the purpose of taking a shower. It was the same shower room used by those men who were in jail for some reason or other. A few times there would be one or two “jailbirds” as we called them, taking their showers while we were there as the mayor’s guests. We struck up conversations with them. They seemed to enjoy having someone to talk with.

Main Street Hendersonville (circa 1940)
Main Street Hendersonville (circa 1940)

After our shower, we would dress and return to the meeting room where we spent some time learning to know one another better. Soon, a giant of a black man came from the kitchen that was just off of the meeting room with a large tray loaded with cinnamon buns, doughnuts, cookies, orange juice, cold drinks and whatever else the mayor had asked the bakery, food stores and others to provide for the meeting with his boys.

He was good at getting things for us to eat and drink. We would eat, talk to one another and cut up a bit until the mayor called for our attention, made another little talk, offered up a prayer and gave each one of us a ticket to the State Theater where most of us would stay all day watching the serials, a cowboy movie and the advertisements that went with them.

This was one of my boyhood loves. Most of us could hardly wait until we got to the movie. We called them “shoot ‘em ups.” We stayed most of the day and watched everything two or three times. By the time I left the theater, I had pretty well memorized the dialogue, which I would repeat to any of the boys in our neighborhood that had not gone to the Saturday movie and enjoyed the privileges of the Mayor’s Club.

Left to right, brother Art, Dave Cooley, Cousin Ray Neil Riddle. The car was a 1935 Plymouth with "free-wheeling"
Left to right: my Brother Art, me, Cousin Ray Neil Riddle on a 1935 “free-wheeling” Plymouth. taken about the time we were in the Mayor’s Club.

We boys in the neighborhood would repeat many of the things we saw and learned at the movie as we went about playing “Cowboys and Indians.” My favorite cowboys were Hopalong Cassidy, Johnny Mack Brown and Buck Jones.

I liked Lash La Rue a lot too, particularly when he would do unbelievable things with his bullwhip. He came to Hendersonville once and appeared on stage of the theater doing tricks with his bullwhip. I had an opportunity to talk with him. I saw him again in Spartanburg some years later.

Looking back today on this experience. I am grateful to have had it. I met a lot of young people who were “poor as church mice,” far poorer than I was. We laughed and talked together and many of us became fast friends over the years. Bill Ponder was a member of the group. He and I went into the Marine Corps at the same time during the Korean War. Paul Smith was another member that I liked a lot. He died at age 89.

“His Honor, Mayor Edwards” was a good man. He loved his town. He worked hard and long at his job and he cared about the plight of young people. He was one of a kind, and there has not, to my knowledge, ever been another mayor quite like him. As my grandmother would say: “When they made Al Edwards, they threw away the pattern.” He certainly made a lasting impression on me.

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Carl Sandburg: Insights and Echoes https://likethedew.com/2016/10/26/carl-sandburg-insights-and-echoes/ https://likethedew.com/2016/10/26/carl-sandburg-insights-and-echoes/#comments Thu, 27 Oct 2016 00:20:08 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=65375
Carl and Lilian "Paula" Sandburg by Edward Steichen
Carl and Lilian “Paula” Sandburg.

 

In 1945, Carl Sandburg and his wife, Lillian, moved to the Hendersonville area from a small farm on the shores of Lake Michigan. A lot of people in the area wondered why this famous man had chosen our little community as his new home.

He had paid what was thought to be an astounding price of $45,000 for 248 acres of land that included a three-story main house, a barn complex and several outbuildings. Mr. Sandburg reportedly said he felt he’d bought an entire “village.” Mrs. Sandburg, a breeder of champion milk goats told friends that they had bought “a million acres of sky.” The estate was once owned by C.G. Memminger, the first secretary of the Confederacy. I wonder if Mr. Sandburg, the greatest Lincoln authority knew this or, if he did, found it somewhat ironic.

 

 

 

 

I collected his garbage.

I was required to read some of his writings in high school, but the first time I came face to face with Carl Sandburg was an early morning at his home in Flat Rock. I had, along with John Shepherd, an older friend, established the first rural garbage collection service in Hendersonville. I was a junior in high school. Sandburg was a customer.

“Come on in”, he said, as I went  to his kitchen door to pick up his garbage. I opened the screen door to his kitchen and went in. There were wads of paper on the floor in the small room just off the kitchen.

“Please put those scraps in with your trash son and then we will have a ‘Goat milk cocktail.”, he said. I did what he requested and have thought at least a hundred times or more “What if I had put those scraps into a separate sack and saved them for posterity? There’s no telling what they would be worth today. Maybe the fact that I was a  high school youngster at the time caused me to think trash was trash. It did not occur to me that there could be any value in what was picked up from the floor.

Connemara Farms Grade A Goat Milk cap from the Connemara National Historic site taken by DanaI’ve wondered why “The Great One” even took notice of me and offered a kid picking up his trash a goat milk cocktail.  It could have been because of his own recollections of being a lowly school janitor in 1899 when he was supporting himself at Lombard College in his hometown of Galesburg, Illinois.

Or maybe he wanted to see if I could handle the challenge of drinking goat’s milk.
His wife raised prize-winning goats. This is the connection with the goat milk cocktail. I can say, first-hand, that a goat milk cocktail is no reward for good deeds. Goat milk smells to high heaven and tastes awful. But, it was an honor to sit for a brief moment with the man recognized internationally as the greatest authority ever on Abraham Lincoln. And although I am a professed “died in the wool yellow dog democrat”, Abe Lincoln was my hero.

Visitors annually near Lincoln’s birthday.

Upon becoming head of the town’s chamber of commerce, I would receive an inquiry every year near the date of Lincoln’s birthday from some national or international media representatives about Sandburg and Connemara Farms where he lived.  Always one of the TV networks or nationally circulated magazines would send someone and sometimes a crew to Hendersonville for three or four days to do a story that would be shown on the network on Lincoln’s birthday.

Edward R. Murrow comes to town.

A particular year that I remember to this day is when CBS sent Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly to do a piece on Sandburg for showing in prime news time on the network. I was able to meet with both of them on more than one occasion while they were in town. I even had the opportunity to help their crew with lighting, props and other needs for their shooting. Mr. Sandburg was in his best form while they were here. He played the guitar and sung for them. He had them in his kitchen for a Goat Milk Cocktail.

It sure was impressive for me to be “a fly on the wall” during their conversations and the shooting of the film that would eventually be used. I attended a seminar in Washington many years later than this particular visit with Sandburg. The leader of the seminar was Fred W. Friendly. I recalled to him that afternoon and the treat it was to have been with Murrow and him at Sand burg’s home. He remembered that particular time and recalled it fondly saying “It was one of the best shows I ever did and it was enjoyable too.”

Wisdom from a LIFE magazine photographer.

Another time that stands out in my memory is when a LIFE Magazine photographer came to Hendersonville to do a photo essay on Mr. Sandburg. I spent two full days with him in my role as chamber of commerce executive – taking him to various places all over the county. Sandburg was set up to address the student body at Flat Rock High School. I was with the photographer back stage. When Sandburg took the stage the photographer began shooting. He must have taken 100 shots or more. And, that was when what you shot was what you got. There were no digital cameras back then.

On the photographer’s last day here, I picked him up at Sand burg’s home and drove him to the airport. On the way there, I asked him what his secret was as a LIFE photographer and how was it that he and other LIFE photographers I had observed were so good with the camera. Without batting an eye, the photographer answered: “Take a lot of them.”

Carl Sandburg with daughter Janet in front of Connemara farm's barn by June Glenn, Jr.
Carl Sandburg with daughter Janet in front of Connemara farm’s barn

No curtains on the windows.

I asked Mr. Sandburg one day why there were no curtains on the windows in his home. He told me very quickly Why: “Windows are to frame the beauty outside while curtains spoil that beauty.”

Technology vs. Sandburg.

The first remote controlled floor model TV I saw was at Connemara. It had been given to Carl Sandburg by his good friend, the president of Zenith Corporation.  I was told that Mr. Sandburg gracefully accepted his friend’s gift, although he was not a big fan of television. He believed it to be “a thief of time.”

Rotary Club speech.

Probably my last time seeing and observing Sandburg was when he was scheduled to be the speaker at the local Rotary Club luncheon. Beverly Middleton, the Chamber president, was a neighbor of Sand burg’s. He was very happy and excited about getting the poet to appear before his club members and offer a speech. Sandburg came with guitar in hand. “Bevo” as Middleton was called, gave a flowery and overly generous introduction. Sandburg rose from his chair, picked up his guitar, walked quietly to the podium, hit a couple of cords on his guitar and sung a short song. He then spoke for about five minutes and offered another short tune or two on his guitar. Much to the amazement and disappointment of the audience, Sandburg then sat down. He had finished! It could be recorded as probably the shortest presentation by anyone in the history of the local Rotary Club. Bevo was embarrassed.

Carl Sandburg playing the guitar with grandkids Paula, John and Carl
Carl Sandburg playing the guitar with grandkids Paula, John and Carl

Autograph for my daughter Ann.

Sandburg’s secretary, Mrs Johansen,  was my across-the-street neighbor. I ask her if she would take the poet’s first volume on Lincoln that I had purchased and ask him to autograph it for my Daughter. He did it willingly for his secretary and told her I could pick it up the next time I came to collect the garbage.  My daughter treasures his autograph to this day. The inscription reads ”Happy days for Dave Cooley’s beautiful daughter, Ann, and a bountiful life – Carl Sandburg.”

This and that about “The Great One.”

Wick Andrews, a native of Flat Rock tells the story of his father and other gentlemen having frequent “social times” with Sandburg. They would drink single malt scotch and “sing into the night”. I was told that Sandburg loved these get-togethers and and encouraged them at every opportunity.

Louise Bailey, a county historian frequently referenced her time with Sandburg. Copying his manuscript of “Remembrance Rock” while using her “Two finger – hunt and peck system” on his manual typewriter was a favorite of hers.

Sandburg was very proud of the Connemara Farms square dance team started by one of his farm’s Supervisors , Frank Mintz. He was considerably more proud of the team and its members when they won the square dance contest at the 1948 North Carolina Apple Festival and was invited to spend a week in his native, Chicago, as guests of Rock Island Railroad, during the Chicago Railroad Fair.

Bill Sharpe, editor of STATE MAGAZINE visited Sandburg once during Spring. He received permission from Sandburg to photograph him with his wife’s goats and at several other locations on the grounds of Connemara Farm. One picture stood out in the mind of Editor Sharpe. It was Sandburg feeding a goat with a baby bottle of milk. The picture was picked up by the Associated Press Wire Service and ran in more than a hundred daily newspapers across the country. Great publicity for Hendersonville that money could not buy.

My regular visits to Connemara.

I go to Connemara three or four times a year now. It is owned by the National Park Service. The Park Service continues to care for descendants of Mrs. Sand burg’s original Goat herd. The times I have been in the house that is very modest in its appearance, remind me of the great man and his Lincoln works. I can almost hear him saying, “Let’s have a goat milk cocktail son.”

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Mules are smarter https://likethedew.com/2016/10/14/mules-are-smarter/ https://likethedew.com/2016/10/14/mules-are-smarter/#comments Fri, 14 Oct 2016 13:05:03 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=65279

Funny mule by ©YiorgosGR – licensed by LikeTheDew.com at iStockPhoto.com

A friend told me the other day that “mules are so smart you can’t help but wish they could run for congress. This buddy of mine knows a lot about a lot of things. This particular day he was recalling the glory days of those noble creatures – the mule – now all but forgotten.

He was telling me about how he and another friend were about to cross a bridge and the mule in their charge refused to cross the bridge. It turned out that the bridge was unsafe. This action has unlocked stories and memories of some other mule lovers we know about.

A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and female horse. Many folks have commented on the wisdom, patience, sure-footiness, agility and loving cussedness of the creature. They say a mule is less obstinate, faster and more intelligent than a donkey. Mules also tend to be curious by nature. A mule generally will not let its rider or leader put it in harms way.

One friend harked back to the mule trading days at the Jockey Lot behind Skin Drake’s general store on Main Street in Hendersonville, NC while others recounted mule tales of their own.

Robert Pace, store owner and somewhat of an historian in nearby Saluda had a story that dealt primarily with the grace of the ungainly looking animal. “My daddy would let me ride Buddie to see my girlfriend or sometimes to church.” he said.” My girlfriend lived across the creek two or three miles from town. The afternoon I was going to see her, it came up a big rain and turned dark as a sack of black cats.” Together they set out and soon reached the creek.

The bridge was under water. But earlier, a big tree had blown across the creek. Robert said: “ I trimmed off the limbs on the upper side and fixed some steps on the butt end so I could walk across and told Buddie that he would have to swim. I unfastened one side of the bridle so he would have a long leash. I got up on the log to the side to kind of guide Buddie. So, I set out not looking back. Gradually the leash tightened in my hand. Just as a big flash of lightening lit the sky, I looked back to see how Buddie was doing. And, there was Buddie walking the log as I had done and doing it just fine.”

Amish farmers who reject tractors and other modern technology for religious reasons use teams of mules to pull plows and other farm equipment. They use horses with their buggies on the road.

It has been guardians to safety that mules have really shone their worth. My grandfather George Connell tells the story that he, my grandmother and I were on our way home from a family picnic at Teneriffe where my grandfather’s brother, Graham Connell, was caretaker. We were in one of his wagons drawn by two beautiful mules when a thunder storm came up.

We were on Kanuga Road the way we went home from Uncle Graham’s. Most times we walked both ways which would have been about 12 miles from where we lived at 120 West Allen Street in Hendersonville.

Suddenly the mules stopped and started backing the wagon. They had backed about 50 yards when a big tree came crashing down in front of us. So, mules could not only sense hazards they couldn’t see, and they could not only walk water soaked longs across raging streams , but they even knew when something bad was about to happen.

In times like these we are living in and a land like ours that has almost given up on people, let us not forget that there is still time to return to mule breeding.

When do we start?

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Remembering Atlanta https://likethedew.com/2016/09/07/remembering-atlanta/ https://likethedew.com/2016/09/07/remembering-atlanta/#comments Wed, 07 Sep 2016 22:51:48 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=64945 th grade at Christ School in Arden, a private school that was to cost $600 including room and board. My Dad was operating a grocery store, meat market and café in Fletcher, NC. I would have done almost anything that summer not to have to deal with killing cows and pigs and helping prepare them for sale in my Dad’s grocery store. I had that experience once, and that was enough.]]>
The original Varsity, Atlanta, 1941
The original Varsity (GSU Library)

My “Old Maid Aunt” Naomi, prided herself on being “the only woman used car dealer in Atlanta.” Her car lot was on Lucky Street on the way to downtown Atlanta from where she lived on Piedmont Avenue. Seemed like thousands of cars passed her place daily – or hourly.

It was the summer of 1943 and I was a 14-year old. World War II was in full swing. I was scheduled to go into 8th grade at Christ School in Arden, a private school that was to cost $600 including room and board. My Dad was operating a grocery store, meat market and café in Fletcher, NC. I would have done almost anything that summer not to have to deal with killing cows and pigs and helping prepare them for sale in my Dad’s grocery store. I had that experience once, and that was enough.

I talked my friend Ken Johnson into going to Atlanta with me for the summer. We spent our first night in town in the Winecoff Hotel before calling my Aunt Naomi hoping to move in with her at no cost. She lived in a condominium that she owned on Piedmont Avenue just across the street from Piedmont Park and just around the corner from the baseball stadium where the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Baseball League played their games. It was easy access to downtown Atlanta – a super location.

Piedmont and Tenth Street in the 1940’s (Georgia State University Library)
Piedmont and Tenth Street in the 1940’s (GSU Library)

Aunt Naomi agreed to let us stay with her until we found jobs and could afford to get a room for the two of us in a boarding house. I soon got a job as a soda jerk at Rhodes Center Pharmacy, and Ken got a job there as cashier. We were making $15 to $25 a week between us – not much more than that I am sure. Rhodes Center Pharmacy was directly across the street from the Governor’s mansion.

Sometimes there would be a cow grazing on the grass in the front yard of the Mansion. Gene Talmadge, the famous Georgia governor [aka: racist, segregationist, dictator, demagogue], was in office for the third time. I think Ole Gene was using the “cow-grazing thing” to attract attention to his latest run for governor of Georgia. It was political season for governor in Atlanta. Ellis Arnold was running against Talmadge, a great Georgia politician during his time. Either of them would do almost anything to gain attention.

Ken and I would take turns sleeping on my aunt’s couch. The other slept on the floor. After a while my aunt asked us to move out. I think we were cramping her style a bit with her several boyfriends. We found a boarding house just down the street for $7.50 per week. We would split this cost until we added a young war veteran that had lost a foot. He would take his false foot off at night and place it on the dresser. One afternoon Ken and I picked some flowers from the front yard of the boarding house, filled our roommate’s false foot with water and put the flowers in it. The veteran did not think this prank too funny and soon left our company for other quarters.

Eugene Talmadge In Governor Eugene Talmadge, Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal found one of its most vigorous opponents. In Talmadge's first two terms as governor (1933-37), Georgia state government subverted many of the early New Deal programs.
Governor Eugene Talmadge (Atlanta History Center)

On the Fourth of July, there was a “speaking and watermelon slicing” for the governor’s race, in a little town just down the road from where we were working. All day long a parade of people passed our place of work going to the event, including a group of Ku Klux Klansmen. Some of them were riding motorcycles and other vehicles. One marching group was carrying rifles. When Ken and I got off work, we decided to attend the event. There were hundreds of people there. I can see it as well today as then. Ole Gene, on the bed of a flatbed truck with a portable sound system, wearing red suspenders gleaming in the sun, the black shock of his hair hanging down almost to his chin, and him looking at the crowd and pronouncing:

“THE PEOPLE OF GEORGIA HAVE THREE FRIENDS — JESUS CHRIST — GENE TALMADGE — AND THE SEARS ROEBUCK CATALOG… IN THAT ORDER!” We went to several of his “speakings” and he would bring this saying into his speech at every one of them.

Next my buddy Ken and I went to the Biltmore Hotel where Ellis Arnold had his headquarters. We walked in like we owned the place. We were welcomed, too. We had a few drinks and some eats, and fortunately we found our way back to my aunt’s place on Piedmont without any difficulty.

1940s view of the Cracker’s baseball game at Atlanta’s Ponce de Leon Park from the Atlanta History Center
Ponce de Leon Park home of the Atlanta Crackers (Atlanta History Center)

We went from time to time to “The Crackers” baseball games just around the corner from my aunt’s condo. There was a second-rate movie house up the street where one could go for 50 cents and stay all day if desired. We made friends with the ushers. They would give us all of the popcorn we could eat and sometimes a soft drink. Man that was living! Something we did from time to time was to buy a 15-cent ticket on the trolley and ride it for hours, getting a transfer to another station at each station we came to. During that time there was a trolley that ran from the Piedmont Park area all the way to Five Points, Downtown. That seemed to be a long way to us, but was always a fun ride. We observed a lot of different people – young, old and in between.

There was another time when Bob Hope was playing in a park, but not Piedmont. It had a big stage with a screen to baffle the sound in the back of it. I can’t remember the name of the place, but Ken and I went to Bob Hope’s hotel after the show and talked the guard into letting us into his living room. Much to our surprise, there he was there with three or four additional people. We were just kids and talking with one of the greatest comedians of all times! And you know, he was very nice to us — attentive too! Evidentially, Bob Hope was that way with most all of the people who came into contact with him. I saw him many years later – about 1969 – when he played the Mid-South Fair in Memphis. He was very nice then too.

Margaret Mitchell Square, Atlanta, Georgia from Georgia State University Library
Margaret Mitchell Square (GSU Library)

One of my prized remembrances of our summer in Atlanta is the time one of my aunt’s boyfriends, a Mr. Hall, was teaching me to drive and took me to work at Rhodes Center Pharmacy. As we were pulling up to the curb for me to get out and go to work, I bumped a young black boy who was stepping off the curb. It scared the living daylights out of me. I turned to Mr. Hall and asked him what I should do. He quickly said, “Don’t do a dammed thing. Just sit here in the car and be quiet.”

The young boy did not move after I hit him. Mr. Hall got out of the car, went to the little boy, shook him a time or two, helped him up from the pavement, brushed him off, and said something to him. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out some cash and handed it to the boy who took it and ran away happy. Mr. Hall then got back in the car. I got out and thanked him for bringing me to work. I never heard anything about the incident and never saw Mr. Hall again. Since Mr. Hall was one of my aunt’s several boy friends, I suspected that he either owned or had put some money into her used car business on Lucky Street.

1940s view of Atlanta Municipal Airport. Known today as Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, it is the busiest airport in the world (Atlanta History Center)
1940s view of Atlanta Municipal Airport. Known today as Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, it is the busiest airport in the world (Atlanta History Center)

The summer of 1943 still holds a lot of remembrances for me. One very big comparison of that time and now is the Atlanta International Airport, one of the most beautiful and busiest airports in the world. At that time it was made up of a group of Quonset huts. There were not nearly as many airplanes coming in and out of the airport as there are today. Times have changed dramatically since that happy summer of 1943.

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“The good old days” – Romney Style https://likethedew.com/2012/09/12/the-good-old-days-romney-style/ https://likethedew.com/2012/09/12/the-good-old-days-romney-style/#comments Wed, 12 Sep 2012 20:38:39 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=42113 I was a 6th grader at Claxton School in Asheville when my daddy took me to the shoe store to buy my winter shoes. Most of us young boys went barefoot in the summer. When we came out of the shoe store my daddy recognized a man walking down the street past the shoe store. Daddy said: “There goes a Republican son.” I watched him until he was out of sight. It was the first Republican I had ever seen.

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I was a 6th grader at Claxton School in Asheville when my daddy took me to the shoe store to buy my winter shoes. Most of us young boys went barefoot in the summer. When we came out of the shoe store my daddy recognized a man walking down the street past the shoe store. Daddy said: “There goes a Republican son.” I watched him until he was out of sight. It was the first Republican I had ever seen.

It was in 1895 that George Vanderbilt put Asheville on the map when he built what is still the largest private residence in America. We went there several times on Claxton School tours. I thought it was really something special to see a swimming pool and a real bowling alley in the basement of a house. Bathrooms did not have sinks. There were servants to draw water for baths and pamper Vanderbilt’s guest in every imaginable way.

In those days, people who had money had lots of it. Those who didn’t were poor. And, there were an awful lot of poor people. There was not a thriving middle class as we know it today.

If it were possible for us to take a trip back to “the good old days” of say 100 years ago, most of us would come away horrified. For example if a working man died without life insurance, his wife might have to put her children in an orphanage if she had no family to fall back on. Even with family, the death of a parent was the cause of many a child leaving school to go to work. Children were not protected by child labor laws. If a child was injured on the job, his employer was under no obligation to take care of him. But, he could definitely be fired because he could no longer work.

Back home there was no welfare or social services for mom to fall back on. There was no Head Start for the younger children while she worked. There were no school lunch programs. If your parents did not have food to send along, you didn’t eat. If you were lucky enough to finish high school, college was a dream often reserved for the well to do.

As you became older, life became more difficult. There was no Social Security Plan and no Medicare. Companies were not expected to provide pension plans. This kind of thing was not the problem then it would be now because people did not live as long. If you got to 60, you were lucky. My father died at 57. My mother died at 61.

If you got sick and needed to be in a hospital, you might just decide to stay at home and die. Hospitals were not the clean, well equipped places they are today. There was no such thing as unemployment benefits and you could be fired for no reason.

If any of this is starting to ring a bell in your mind. Good for you! You have been slowly introduced to the Republican Plan for rejuvenating the economy; it comes down to a reversal of just about all of the social legislation of the 20th century.

Tax cuts would be paid by cutting or eliminating most of the programs mentioned here – the programs that gave America a flourishing middle class for almost a century. The wealthy would go back to the luxuries afforded by the Vanderbilt’s, Carnegies, Romney’s and others. And, then there would be the rest of us. This is what Romney wants. Do we want him?

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See the Papers https://likethedew.com/2009/03/29/see-the-papers/ https://likethedew.com/2009/03/29/see-the-papers/#respond Sun, 29 Mar 2009 18:53:39 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=516 This site offers an interactive map to see the current front page of most major newspapers by clicking on a town.

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This site offers an interactive map to see the current front page of most major newspapers by clicking on a town. Click here to view.

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