Interview Cherry and Nott Wheeler – July 24, 2007 OH# 375
Interviewed by Emily Weaver and Dr. Cameron McMillen
Transcribed by W. Ray
EW: This is Emily Weaver and I am with Dr. Cameron McMillen in the Wheeler Home with Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler and we are doing an oral history project with them on the Historic Neighborhood here in Cleveland. Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler, do you willingly participate in this oral history project?
EW: Thank you. Alright Dr. McMillen.
CM: I understand that this home has been in your family since it was built.
CM: Can you tell us a little about the history?
NW: When was it built 1906?
CW: They moved into it in 1904. I think it was started in ’03. Aunt Dorothy was born, and anyway, they moved into it in October after she was born in April. You may have her birth date down there, but I’m thinking it was 1904.
CM: And who lived in this house at that time?
NW: Her father, E.J. Nott, Nott’s Grandfather.
CM: E.J. Nott.
NW: He was (inaudible), it was Nott Ward. Harry Ward? They had a lumber, building and lumber place here on the south end of Main Street. Down there close to where the post office is.
CW: Where the cable company is now.
NW: And they were in the construction business. They built most of these houses up and down this street. This was built by my grandfather, E.J. Nott.
CM: And how many children did they have?
NW: Four girls or five?
CW: Five, one died.
NW: As a teenager.
CW: She was in – I had already told them, she was in school at II and C, they called it in those days, and got sick. Had malaria, and the people in Columbus, this was always Nana’s story, they didn’t know how to treat malaria. They didn’t have malaria over in that part of the state. And they sent her home on the train and she died on the train.
CM: And her name was….
CW: Now wait a minute now, I call…
CM: And the other girls were ….
CW: Marsha, Lida L-i-d-a, and Etta was the next one in line, and then Maurine M-a-u-r-I – we all called her Amy…
NW: And Dorothy.
CW: And Dorothy.
CM: Did any of the four surviving girls live in Cleveland then?
NW: Oh yes. They – they’re all dead now.
CW: All dead, yes, but they lived in Cleveland and married locally, and then the other one that left – the first, Lida’s husband died. She remarried and moved to Memphis, but they all lived here until adulthood.
EW: Where would they have lived in town?
CW: Well, going down this street, Daddy Nott built one, let’s see, two houses down there. I think there’s two houses between this one and the one he built. One for one daughter and one for the other. The two. And then Dorothy’s was the one across the street. He built all three of the girls. And this house was understood would go to Nott’s mother. And she lived in the country. Well, we lived in the country.
NW: And we had an aunt that lived down here.
CW: Yes, Aunt, that lived in the house that..I believe (inaudible). I’ll think of it in a minute.
NW: Aunt Inez.
CW: Aunt Inez.
NW: That’s all I know, Aunt Inez.
CW: Yes, but she, she lived in one of those houses. I guess closest to us. Let’s see, there is one house between us and where she lived.
CM: Did Dorothy live in the house that..
CW: No, Dorothy lived in the house that is second from the corner, next door to where Mickey and Anita Griffith live. And my son, when Aunt Dorothy died, my son bought the house. He didn’t want it to go out of the family and so, they kind of did some work on it and it is rented at the moment.
CM: Which sister lived across the street.
CW: That’s my mother.
CM: Your mother.
CW: But my sister of course lived with her when we first moved here. But she is not connected with this side of the family, except by me – and Nott.
CM: And did you grow up in this house?
NW: No, I lived in the country. We moved in here after we were married, when my grandmother died.
CW: ’62. Actually we moved in here in 1963, but she died in ’62.
NW: But we lived out on the Bogue west of town.
CM: Did you visit this house a lot growing up when your grandmother lived here?
NW: Oh yeah. Every time we came to town – we headquartered here. This room here used to be the den over there where the dining room is and the door coming in from the porch out there, what you call that thing?
CW: Conservatory, they always called it.
NW: The front door was here but we’d drive up in the carport and came in the door there.
CW: We closed up so there wouldn’t be there. But in those days they built a house with two parlors. The front parlor and the back parlor. The back parlor was the one the family used. The front parlor was like this one – this living room – nobody ever goes in there much. They did, but it was there. So when I started deciding how to redo this house, I decided, and see this was the old dining room, I decided to reverse it. Put the dining room over here so we wouldn’t have to go through all these and make a better traffic flow. So that’s kind of – we didn’t make too many changes. We didn’t make any structural changes.
NW: Well that bathroom there was a big bathroom.
CW: You had to walk through that room to get to the kitchen, through the bathroom. From that room to the kitchen. And I didn’t think that was a very good arrangement.
EW: That could cause some flow problems.
CW: You’re right. All kinds.
EW: It was a full bath?
NW: After my grandmother died we…
CW: In fact, the tub that was in here was one of those footed tubs. We moved it from over here to over to our house at the lake. And it’s still there. But I’m telling you, I got to where I couldn’t get up and down out of it. It was too deep you know. Anyway, it did end up over there.
EW: How wonderful. What are some of the memories you have of growing up in this house?
NW: I don’t have any.
CW: Oh, you do.
NW: If I do I don’t remember them.
EW: Special occasions?
NW: But we would come to town you know, we had headquarters here.
EW: Coming in and out. Free rein.
NW: Yes. We had kin folks on the street back in those days and we’d play.
EW: No restrictions on where you could go.
NW: Oh yes, we had a lot of restrictions.
CW: Whether they paid attention to them or not. But he grew up in the country. I just recently returned from a get-together with some of the group, you know, that grew up with. I just got into it. I got adopted into it when I married him. But they talk about as teenagers what they used to do you know. And this house was where all the dances were held.
EW: Oh dances.
NW: But the reason they came to this house, our aunt moved up here with her four children with my grandmother. And they were friends of her children and they were in and out of here. And we got it after all that was over you know.
EW: After it had calmed back down a little bit.
NW: Aunt Dorothy that lived down there that had the children moved up here with my Nana. She couldn’t afford to run this house, so it was left to my mother. And the other girls got other houses up and down the street here. But that is kind of how it was.
CW: A good bit of his fun activities growing up was in this house.
CM: What happened to Aunt Dorothy moved in with her four children?
CW: Husband committed suicide and she was left with four children and nothing. So she moved in with Nana. And lived here until she remarried. Of course her children were grown and graduated from high school and college before she, you know, remarried. She didn’t feel like she could do that. She wouldn’t go off and leave Nana.
NW: She didn’t have much choice. It was about the only place she had to come.
CW: Yes. She had four children to raise and Nana of course helped her. Of course I think all the family member helped with the children. We are real close to them.
EW: Oh sure.
CW: Bert is dead. That is the only male member of the family. And I have two pictures in there that he did. He was an artist. One is of an old store building out on the farm which is kind of…
NW: We had out on the Bogue Phalia.
CW: And then the others all you know, of course, are getting in the vicinity of the same age as we are. So they are retired and living in various and sundry places. The oldest one in that family met us in Jackson for this reunion that we had last week, so we maintain our ties.
EW: Very good. Ya’ll seem to have a very strong relationship with your homes.
You don’t let them go out.
CW: His famous remark is “I was born in this house and I’m going to die in this house.”
NW: Might be any day now.
EW: Oh goodness.
CW: Might be a pretty strong – that’s a pretty strong relationship, you’re right.
EW: Might I ask which room you were born in?
NW: I wouldn’t know.
CW: The north bedroom.
EW: There you go.
CW: Upstairs. The one on the other side.
NW: I don’t remember much of that.
EW: I know.
CW: The whole front of our house now upstairs is an office. His is in a little small room, and I’ve kind of taken over that north bedroom with the computer and stuff like that, so I’d be glad to show them to you. You know, the beds are made, but anyway….We still have three bedrooms and two more baths upstairs. We put in all new stuff. It’s not new anymore but it was then.
NW: And there’s a bed in there where your ….
CW: Yes, uh hmm, we can convert. I pick up the stuff that all my papers are lined up on the bed that I want to remember where they are.
EW: Oh sure. Very organized.
CM: Were the baths original to the house?
NW: No. There was one big bath here and one big bath above it. And now we have three baths upstairs and this little half bath.
CW: When we redid this house, I think I told you, you could stand at the front door and see the back yard. Now the uprights were still there. We did not change – move any walls. But we took out everything. The old plaster and all the old plumbing, and wiring and put in all new insulation and you know, that type of thing. But we had two children and they – one was in the second grade when we moved here, no – yes, the second grade, and I guess Beth was in about the fifth or sixth when we moved in this house. And we had to have – his mother – excuse me, go ahead.
NW: We had that back bath, bed, – bathroom back there. And the kids shared another bathroom up there, it was in the hall. And then we had our private bath in our room. That’s the reason we had to put so many baths in here.
CW: Yes, everybody had to have a place.
NW: The kids were the only ones that had to share.
CW: It worked out.
NW: They didn’t live here long enough to matter.
CM: When you all moved here – well, you all moved here in the ‘60’s, was the neighborhood pretty well – most of the houses here then.
NW: Oh yes.
CW: Everything was here.
CM: Do you remember when some of them were built when you were a child?
CW: No. Everything was built when we moved here. A lot of them, especially from here north had been renovated, restored.
NW: Most of them had been renovated.
CW: Most of them, you know. But they didn’t, most of them, they didn’t change a lot as far as the house is concerned. Of course we did take that porch off. And they have done some redoing on the outside, you know things. But all of those houses were here, in fact all of them that were here we had (inaudible).
NW: But our family owned a lot of them. There’s two back behind here that belongs to us. This house belonged to us. Across the street was her parents. Three of those houses down this road were owned by the family, two duplexes and a house down there, and another house down there on that side of the road that Aunt Dorothy lived in. So most of the houses along the street belonged to the family at one time or the other.
CM: When you said the house across the street, are you talking about the one Judson lives in or the one…
CW: Yes. That was my parents. We moved here in ’49. And we moved in that house over there. My father died on the golf course of a heart attack in ’62 and that really was another draw card for us to keep the house because my mother was a widow right across the street and she was able to live in that house almost to her – well, she was in the nursing home maybe two years. But if we hadn’t been here she couldn’t have done that as long as she did. That was good.
EW: Very good.
CM: I’m curious. I’ve lived in the house I live in, that your Aunt Dorothy owned.
CW: Oh, it was Dr. Ringold’s, you know where he lived?
CM: Yes. And do you know why she owned that house? Or did she ever live in that house?
CW: Not that I know of.
NW: They owned a good bit of property – rental houses all over town but I don’t know, she might have realized that was for sale.
CW: Because they lived, she and her husband lived down here in this house and he died. And unless they – I don’t know how that came about to be hers. But it was and I don’t know.
CM: And it was for a long time.
CW: A long time. Um hmm. It was – in fact, Aunt Dorothy was a wonderful person. I wish you could have known her because she really could have told you some things.
CM: And I’ve heard that from several people that said how wonderful she was.
CW: Oh yes she was something. But when she sold that house, she was 70 odd years old, I don’t remember exactly how old she was at the time, maybe even 80. I don’t remember. But she told me, “Can you believe that I am holding a note, a twenty year note on this house from these people that are buying it? Ain’t no way that I can live that long.” I said, “Well, don’t worry about it Dorothy, it’s yours till it happens you know.” I don’t even remember how or what, you know, what they did. It was sold and I guess they continued paying the note to the family till it was done, but she said, “Can you imagine a woman my age giving somebody a 20 year lease on a house or whatever it is?” But she was wonderful.
CM: And she did live to be 90 something didn’t she?
CM: 99. So she came close to 20 years.
CW: Close. Her daughter took her down to the reunion the last few years. A couple of years ago and that’s where she was. She died down there. But she almost made it to 100.
CM: Do you remember any stories about this neighborhood?
NW: I have already told you, I could hide my own Easter eggs. I don’t remember nothing.
CW: Yes. But I can’t help it. I was 18 years old when I came into the picture.
EW: You were talking before about a wedding that was held on the front.
CW: Nott’s mother married somewhere in the yard here. I’m not sure exactly.
EW: When was that?
CW: Oh gosh. She was 18 and she was born in 1894 so 1912 – 1914, somewhere in there.
EW: And you’ve got photographs of that wedding?
CW: I have a picture of her in her wedding dress and I have the write-up that was in the paper after the wedding. It’s in there.
CM: Did those things come with the house or have you just collected them?
CW: No. They came with the house, in the attic. And I, we have had a lot of stuff to go through. Nana kept – Nana never threw anything away. But we tried to retain everything that we felt like was significant, but I told my husband one day, I said, “We need to get up in that attic and clean that thing out.” Our daughter had been gone from here twenty years and the stuff that she put up there when she moved, business, you know, she thought she needed to keep awhile. They’re still there. And he said, “No.” He said, “I don’t want to deprive our children of the pleasure we had cleaning out that attic when Nana died.” I thought, “Uh huh.”
NW: We’re getting even now.
CW: We’re getting – right, we are going to get even. But anyway, we have passed the age of doing it probably.
EW: I understand.
CM: Are you all involved in any church?
CW: Our – Nott’s grandfather built this Methodist Church up here. I mean the company he worked for. He was on the board – the original board of that. And his name is on the cornerstone. So he built it, and I have a picture in there of one of the stained glass windows and it is in memory of Aunt Etta. He was a pillar of the church.
NW: We went to church in Pace when we lived on the bogue. But when we moved here we went to this church.
EW: Methodist Church.
NW: They had a Methodist Church out at Pace – it’s still there and – but when we moved to town we just moved to this church. It’s handy I can walk.
EW: Do you walk to church?
CW: He walks four miles a day.
EW: Good for you.
NW: I walk every morning. I walk every day.
EW: It’s nice and safe in this neighborhood to do that.
NW: Well you don’t feel uncomfortable.
EW: Has it always been like that?
NW: As far as I know.
CW: For us it has. Actually to me I think we are lucky. I mean our city is the…
NW: It’s the last, it’s the last one in the delta really.
CW: Its’ the last good one in the Delta.
NW: I don’t think any other town has a downtown anymore.
CW: Not much.
NW: Most of them are out at the mall or somewhere you know out on the highway.
CW: But everybody, regardless of their roots, thank goodness most of them, I’ll put it that way, are interested in keeping it like it is. I mean, it’s to everybody’s advantage, business people, to the people whose children go to school here. And we, you know, have had just good relationships, so we count our blessings for that.
EW: We heard some stories that the roads that crossed Jones Bayou, all of these roads weren’t here, the only way you could cross Jones Bayou was at Court Street or all the way down.
CW: Do you remember about the bridges over the bayou?
EW: Were there bridges?
CW: A foot bridge right back here.
NW: Down there where the road crosses back down there. That road hasn’t always been there.
CW: College. That bridge was built just, I think, right before we moved here. And we moved here in ’49 and they had just finished I think the construction of that.
EW: Really! And what would a footbridge be?
NW: You know – yay wide, just a walk across it. But there was a couple there. Could have been one north where the picture show was, but I don’t remember whether there was or not. But there was numerous ways to get across. You know it wasn’t many streets across.
CM: What picture shows were here then?
CM: What picture shows were here? What movie theatres.
CW: That’s where they put – they’re renovating it now. And then what was that other one? There was one across the street over there at the furniture store in that building now I think. The Ellis and the, shoot, I’ll think of it in a minute.
NW: It was down on the south end of town. It was close to, right coming up by the cable company. Okay, next to that cable company was where Nott Ward Lumber Company was. And then there is a furniture store in there, I don’t know if it’s still there or not. But there is a clothing store. Somewhere, one of those two had been a movie theatre.
CM: Would you go to the movie theatres when you came into town?
NW: On Saturday afternoon.
CW: They had a movie on Saturday afternoon. No Sunday afternoons.
EW: Downtown was kind of quiet on Sunday afternoons?
CW: Very much so. Everybody was supposed to be in church you know.
EW: That’s where the activity was.
CW: That’s right. The Ellis and the…
CW: Regent. I was going to say it starts with an R but I can’t – the Regent Theatre.
EW: So how would you get around? Did you walk or ride your bike?
CW: I drove a car. I was 18. They managed. They got where they needed to go.
EW: Oh yeah. But this would have been pretty close to the downtown.
CW: Oh yes. We walk downtown now.
NW: Yes. But we weren’t living here then.
NW: I was living in the country and she lived in Columbus. I don’t know what they did over there but we got around. I went to school at Pace, so we, you know…
EW: You graduated from Pace?
NW: I was the last. They closed the school up.
CW: He was in the last graduating class.
NW: We were the last graduating class.
EW: Wasn’t worth it to have anybody else.
CW: They put out all the important people.
EW: There you go.
NW: We had a big class. It had ten in it. ’35 I think had ten and we had ten in ’46 and then they didn’t have high school anymore.
EW: Pace is kind of closing down.
NW: Umm hmm.
CM: You said you had just been to a reunion? Was that people that you knew around here?
CW: Okay. Well, Betty Joe McCain she was. She married Carl Bullock. Alice James, Alice Wilson James. That was Aunt Dorothy’s oldest daughter.
NW: And she grew up in this house.
CM: That’s wonderful that ya’ll have kept up all these years.
CW: Carol Cable McDuffy. Her father was with Cleveland State Bank and was killed in an automobile accident.
NW: And her husband’s name was Duppie.
CW: Duppie. She and Nott were fraternity brothers at Mississippi State. Okay. Betty Jane Tatum. Her husband was Chester Robb.
CW: Chester is dead.
NW: We just buried him.
CW: Yes, we just buried him. And he, they grew up, okay. Let’s see, Billie is gone. She was deceased but Billie Brannon. She never married, but she was in the group. Ruthie McDearman.
NW: Her husband – Bernard – he was in that group (inaudible).
CW: Bernard, I mean her husband, and Nott were in this group with these girls. The girls were here and so was Nott but we just got taken into the group by marrying.
EW: A good move.
CW: Yes right. So let me see if I have them all. Oh, Nell Patterson Dedwylder. D-e-d-w-y-l-d-e-r.
EW: Related to the Dedwylder Building here in town?
CW: Yes. Her father-in-law.
EW: Okay, um hmm.
CM: And you are the only one that still lives here?
CW: Nell still lives here. And Brookie Kethley Dossett.
NW: Her father was president of Delta State.
CW: Her father was president of Delta State when I was out there. She lived on campus.
NW: She lives over at Beulah.
CW: How many is that?
CM: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and you make 9.
CW: I make nine. There were eight of us down there, so Billie being the one that passed away would be the ninth.. That’s it. But, I, you know, it’s kind of ironic, I get together with this group, and then I have another group that I graduated from high school with in Columbus that I get together with every October.
NW: That’s back in ’46.
CW: Yes. 1947. And actually there were twelve of us in this group. We had a high school sorority in those days.
CM: What was your high school sorority?
CW: Delta Beta Sigma.
CM: I’m a DBS.
CW: Oh are you? Well what about that! Yes! Okay! Sisterhood!
EW: I thought ya’ll were fixing to get up and do a dance.
CW: We might have hugged if we had been a little bit more familiar.
NW: I was waiting (inaudible) than this.
CW: No, no, no. These twelve went into the high school sorority in the 9th Grade together. And we have lost four out of this group, so there are only eight of us left. But we consider that kind of unusual. And we get together every October, somewhere. We’ve been here, we’ve been you know, to where the people live. They are scattered kind of all over the state. So anyway, but, we still do that. And of course, Columbus is my home where I grew up. That was it.
CM: National Sorority. I was a DBS in Forest City, Arkansas.
CM: Small world.
CW: Isn’t it though.
EW: You find your connections. That’s what they do.
CM: Do you have stories about things that happened in the south. Do you remember the wedding?
NW: So much happened I couldn’t remember anything.
CW: I don’t know exactly.
CM: What would you do for holidays? For Christmas, did you have Christmas in this house?
NW: We would come to town every winter. We’d have early Christmas at our house out in the country and then come to town and have Christmas, family Christmas up here. And eat dinner here.
CM: How would the house be decorated?
CM: How would the house be decorated?
CW: Aunt Dorothy now would put the big pot in the little pot when it came to Christmas.
EW: Big Christmas trees?
NW: Oh yes.
EW: How many ornaments?
CW: We – Nott, on his 40th birthday, Aunt Dorothy and Nana and I got together and we had a birthday party. Surprise birthday party for him.
NW: We didn’t have any more after that one.
CW: No, that was the last one. But, I mean, you wouldn’t believe what they did. I mean, they put it together. And they were – and we just had the best time. But, then on our – we did the same thing for our son and his wife in this house on their 40th birthday, along with his wife. They were both born in March, Marcie Walt, and David Walt. Well, actually, Marcie was not born there, but David Walt was. He and Nott Jr. have been best friends since four year old kindergarten. So we had, with Martha’s help, Martha Wheeler, my daughter-in-law’s help, we put together a surprise birthday party for those three. And it was hilarious. And they did not have a clue.
CM: What all did you do?
CW: Well, we just had – invited you know everybody that was connected to us. But anyway, we must have had fifty to sixty people over here. And we had a big collage pictures of all three of them in different places around here with you know, their progress over the years. And it, you know, that was about it. We just got together. But they were stunned. They didn’t have a clue.
NW: We had something my birthday or something. We came in here that I thought Nana had died, there was so many cars around here.
CW: That was your 40th birthday party. We had pulled into the driveway. We were going to come by here. The excuse was to get him here on that particular occasion. But Nana wanted him to come by so she could wish him a happy birthday. And she always gave him a little gift. And so that didn’t ring a bell with him or anything. So when we pulled in the driveway the cars were up and down both sides of this driveway and he said, “Do you reckon anything has happened to Nana?” And I said, “I don’t think so.” And about that time he saw Bobby Barbour and Mary Laurie Barbour walking up the walk. And he said, “Damn.” It all caved in on him at one time.
NW: I reckon I said something that started with S.
CW: No. But anyway, it was quite an affair. We had a good time. We, through the years this house has just lent itself. And see, we have a granddaughter that got married two years ago. It will be two years this October. And when she knew she was going to get married she was living in Memphis. She knew she was coming back to get married in this church. And she came by here and she said, “Gran, I have a real big favor to ask of you.” And I said, “What is that darling?” And she said, “I want to have my wedding reception in this house.” At this house. I said, “Sure.” You know, what do you, nothing else – but it was wonderful. We had a huge tent put up here, lights in all these trees around here, the white lights. We must have had close to three hundred people.
EW: I’m sure.
CW: You know, when she got ready to leave she gave me the – she put her arms around me and said, “Gran, this was everything I ever dreamed it would be.” So, you know, you just do what you – you know, down through the years special events kind of gravitated to this house.
NW: It was a real kind of party house all the time. All those girls growing up here they were steady having parties.
CW: They were all laughing last week when I was in Jackson, about how they used to have all these dances. And everybody came over here. “Nana, we’ll just move everything back and you know make room for all of them.” And they’d dance and everything you know. They didn’t have a place I don’t guess to do those things. So this is kind of where – this was the only house that had any young people in it. Most all of them had grown up.
CM: Did you ever swim in the swimming pool down at Denton’s?
CW: Not me.
NW: Oh yes.
CM: Where was that?
NW: Just in the back of the building.
CM: In the back of the building?
NW: Yes, you’d go through the building.
CM: Was it Denton’s then or was it, what was it then.
NW: It was still Denton’s.
CW: Yeah, it was Denton’s. They had a soda fountain and a place to get ice cream. Ice cream and that sort of stuff.
CM: Is the pool still there or did they fill it in?
NW: I don’t know. I don’t think so.
CW: I think it’s a parking lot. I think that parking lot that faces the alley. No, that would be on this side of the bayou. It was on the other side.
NW: It was on the other – it backed up to the bayou, the pool did.
CW: We don’t have a picture of that.
NW: But that was, you know I lived in the country then, I did come to town on Saturday.
EW: Would you stay the night?
NW: Not too much.
EW: Go back.
CM: How long did it take to get from Pace to here then?
NW: Well we lived back – when I was a youngster we lived down on the Bogue down close to the school house.
CW: Go down to Boyle and take a right and then you just go all the way to the Bogue. Gets to part of the place and then you just follow the Bogue. Our land is kind of all up and down the Bogue.
NW: If you go to the end of Fifth Avenue and go west on that road going out towards Laughlin’s Spur, we lived at the end of that road down there by the Bogue. There was a bridge down there. Cross the Bogue and go up the other side to Pace. I mean there was a road on both sides of the Bogue.
CW: I think the bridge is gone.
NW: The bridge (inaudible). One at Pace and down the Skene Road. But we, you know, we came down here weekends to get groceries and stuff. We had a country store for years too.
CW: We have a picture of it.
NW: That’s the one that Aunt Dorothy’s son, Bart, drew by memory.
NW: He worked out there one summer. We had a lot of fun with him out there. He didn’t know a damn thing about farming. And all our people out there working were always pulling tricks on him and stuff. Stuff he didn’t know what was going on.
EW: Is that where you farm today?
NW: Yes, we still farm it.
EW: Oh yes.
CM: Was the grocery store – did you ever go – the grocery store over on Leflore? Do you remember it?
NW: On Leflore?
CM: Over by the bayou.
NW: There was no grocery store on Leflore to our knowledge.
EW: Just a little store that (inaudible).
CW: This is the sketch that he did of the old store building.
EW: Oh! That’s cool. He did that rather well. It must have left an impression on him.
CW: Yes. Oh, it left an impression.
CM: What was it – that was your family store?
CW: Yes. Um hmm. It was right next to the house, I mean, there was a little area between it that was a driveway where the house was. It’s not there any more.
NW: It was a commissary with groceries, clothing, etc, and people would come get their food from there.
CW: But they, a lot of you know, employees on the farms didn’t have transportation to town, so they had these little stores all over the area to give them a place to buy food.
EW: Would the Peavine have come through?
NW: It didn’t come that far out. It came from Boyle to Skene up by where Jim’s Store is, used to be, on Highway 8 and then Pace and Rosedale. It came to Skene and helped the Pace…
EW: Did you ever ride it?
NW: Not to my memory. By the time I grew up we did have cars and we’d come to town by car.
CM: Can you think of something else you’d like to add?
EW: Well, we know that this was the gathering spot, were there any places that you just knew you didn’t want to go to those people’s houses; they were old and crochety, they were mean; anybody you just stayed away from?
NW: I didn’t know anything about that.
CW: I wasn’t here then.
EW: Okay. What about any fences? Any fenced in yards? Any places like that you remember?
CW: I think they were mostly all fenced in. Everybody’s got fences, even now. Our property goes all the way back to the next street. And of course we’ve got those duplex apartments back here, so I’m sure, and we’ve got an old fence, looks like an original. I told my husband the other day, “That fence is going to fall over. You need to get somebody in here and get it propped back up.” He said, “Well, it’s just one post.” I said, “Well, I don’t care, it’s still going down.” But it’s still like that right now.
NW: It’s no need in reminding me.
CW: I’ll keep reminding you. Yeah. But no, everybody just got to have a fenced in yard. Everybody had a dog. Everybody had children. You know, and uh…
EW: Kind of looked out for each other.
CW: But our grandchildren loved the back yard, I mean, this house. It was big. They could play on the stairway. They could go out in the backyard and play and we could feel comfortable that they wouldn’t get in the streets.
NW: All of my group enjoyed sliding down the stairway.
CW: Yeah right.
NW: On the railing.
EW: Did he get in trouble for doing it?
NW: No, cause he expected us to.
EW: What about roads? Do you remember when the road in front of your home was paved or was it already paved?
CW: This road? It’s always been paved as far back as I can remember. From my time on it. This was the real part of town at that time. All this other extended area was not there.
NW: This area back in here was cotton. And until just a few years ago, a big rain would just flood all that part of town. This street right here goes straight west and one block after – two blocks west there – Harry Church had a house there, and they were good friends of our family and then all that land going back southwest from there was cotton fields.
CW: And the park.
EW: Fireman’s Park?
CW: Fireman’s Park was a cotton field when we moved in ’49. All that was cotton.
NW: Between you and me there was (inaudible) those houses down in there. And there was a low land. We finally got pumps enough to keep it fairly pumped out now. It still floods back in there. The streets will.
EW: I live back in there. It’ll flood.
CW: Oh, okay.
NW: It really would flood back in the ‘40’s, 30’s and ‘40’s.
CW: One flood we had, the first – a friend of mine, Mary Laurie Barbour she is, Mary Laurie Turner, she and her sister had the bookstore up there, but she and I were real good friends in college. And we brought, Nott brought a boat, a fishing boat into town to get to Mary Laurie’s house. The water was that deep you know. That is the only time I remember it being that bad. But it didn’t get into the house. It was just lapping at their steps. But it was deep enough to put a rowboat in there.
EW: That’s way up.
CW: Sure is. But we don’t have that here.
EW: So y’all have seen Cleveland grow.
CW: Oh yes.
EW: Expansion. Do y’all like how you’ve seen it grow?
CW: Yes, I do. I don’t know whether he does or not.
NW: It never really worried me one way or the other.
CW: It doesn’t affect us.
NW: Many businesses have come in and gone out, but I have enjoyed having some new places to have some shopping. I never thought about not wanting to have it. It was a real nice little town. It’s still a nice town. But I think the nicest in the Delta.
CW: We are very blessed.
CM: And what do you think made Cleveland end up being the nicest in the Delta.
NW: Now this isn’t supposed to be in this story, but you asked me. The railroad. Blacks lived on that side of the railroad, whites lived on this side of the railroad. And it kept things separate and when the integration started it still was separated by the railroad. Now it’s changed, but not at a rate that I think will hurt anything particularly, but they didn’t integrate as much as other towns did or as quickly. I think that makes a difference.
CW: We have some really good black leaders. Jimmy Williams, has the Country Platter Restaurant. He is just an example. But, you know, we just feel like it’s the cooperation between the two has made it what it is. Because there was never any real brick throwing animosity at all.
EW: Because ya’ll lived kind of close (inaudible).
CW: We live close. I know my husband was out of town when Martin Luther King was killed. And he called back here and our son was, I don’t know, still in high school I guess, (inaudible), anyway, he told us to lock all the doors, try to keep a watch out. We didn’t know what was happening because there were some fires and stuff going on, you know. He told Nott Jr. to get a shotgun. They’re both hunters. Nott Jr. was a national champion trap shooter. But anyway, to get a gun, and take it upstairs and put it in his bedroom. The north bedroom. So after I got through talking to Nott, I hung up and told Nott Jr. and he looked at me and he said, “I already have.” So he already had the gun. We didn’t need it you know. You know it was a situation that I felt like the town understood and could feel an affinity for them. So anyway, that’s what I feel like has made us what we are. The closeness – I have some good black friends. Gwendolyn Thomas, she’s a wonderful person. I met her when she first moved here. She and her husband were, how would you call it then – they were attorney’s for the state. Employed by the state to take care of those who could not afford attorneys. They were legal aides. And I was working in Judge Bizzell’s office up at the courthouse and that’s where I got to know Gwen. And was just real super person. I’ve known her through the years and so glad that she’s done so well. She’s just an outstanding person, and so is he.
CW: I served the Library Board for many years and when we had a vacancy I asked Evelyn Johnson to serve. She said, “Oh, I don’t know.” It never had a black on there before. And I said, “Evelyn, you could do such a wonderful job.” “Please,” I begged her. And she did. She stayed on it for a number of years. And she was wonderful. But we – I don’t have an email but we correspond back and forth every Christmas. I still get a Christmas card from her and I still give her a Christmas card. I have always intended when I would be going back to Columbus, stopping in Starksville and calling her and say, “Let’s do lunch.” You know. But so far I haven’t done it.
CM: The Golden Triangle Sewing Center, I believe is the name of it. And it’s (inaudible). And she’s got a web site.
CW: Okay. Well, I’ll have to call her.
CM: I think if you just put Fabric Store – Starkville, it comes up.
CW: Okay. That type of thing is why we have been as successful as we have. Keeping Cleveland viable. We have good people on both sides. We have bad people on both sides. It happens.
NW: Do ya’ll have anything you need to ask me?
EW: We need to go ahead and ask.
CW: He needs to go back to the farm.
EW: Are there things you need to do today? Honestly, I think that we have about wrapped it up.
CM: Unless, can you think of any stories about the house or the family?
NW: I can hardly remember my name.
CM: We really do appreciate your time.
NW: I got some stuff I need to pick up and take back to the farm. I enjoyed visiting with you.
EW: I know. Thank you very much.
END OF DOCUMENT