On Saturday night there was always the “Grand Ole Opry” with Roy Acuff and his Smokey Mountain Boys, Minnie Pearl, Hank Williams, Little Jimmy Dickens, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Homer and Jethro, Grandpa Jones, Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys, the Carter Sisters, and on and on.
At Mills Drug Store I could always be found at the comic book rack: Superman with Lois Lane, Batman and Robin, Dick Tracy, Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead.
Don’t forget the big sugar cookies at Cos Hamrick’s for a penny or the penny bag of candy that weighed about a pound. One sugar cookie now costs about a buck and a candy bar the same.
Try “dinner on the ground” after church. Sitting in the Sunday service with the windows open and catch the smell of fried chicken, et al. It took more than fortitude to sit there with patience waiting for the sermon to end.
It was a warm night in May 1944. I was nine years old (actually eight and a half). I was attending school in Union Mills, Alexander School as a matter of fact. For whatever reason my dad had taken me from my grandma and sent me there. Anyhow, I ran away from the school headed for grandma’s. A man who worked at the school picked me up as I was hitchhiking and took me to his house in Forest City. He had a son my age and that night he took us to the carnival. There he gave each of us a dollar and instructed us to meet him at ten PM. When he got out of sight I was gone. I went into town found the bus station, bought a hot dog and a ticket to Cliffside. About midnight, I got off the bus in Cliffside and before I could turn around I heard, “Ray Nanny what are you doing here this time of night?” It was a man sitting in a taxi in front of Mills Drug Store. I told him I was going to my grandma’s three miles out the Shelby road and I had twenty cents. He said that is exactly what I would charge you. Fifteen minutes later I was on my grandma’s front porch.
The taxi driver — Spur Campbell.
Having moved three miles out of town in the early 40s, Saturday was special. It meant I was going to TOWN. I would get me a hot wash-tub bath on Friday night, lay out my clean clothes Grandma had washed and ironed and get to bed early (about 7:30). When the alarm went off at 6:00 am or the rooster crowed, whichever came first, it was up, get dressed, slick down the hair and get to Quay Bridges or Irma Bridges house. There we load the car with milk, butter, and eggs and go peddlin’ in Cliffside. All over the hills to Lord only knows how many houses (Guffey, Padgett, Gambles, Sparks, Haynes, Goode) and so many more I can’t begin to remember. After the peddlin’ was done, we would go to the cafe by the barber shops for burgers and cokes. Then last but not least, I would go to the drug store where Doc’s wife Mae would treat me absolutely free with a double scoop of vanilla ice cream. For a boy of 7 or 8, nothing could have tasted better, even with it melting down the side of the cone and all over my hand. Truly finger licking good! I am sure that Mae Mills got a ton of positive points in the Lamb’s Book of Life for her kindness. May God bless the memories of Cliffside, and all who were involved in their making.