May 17 – Before there was a bridge at Tecumseh, there was a ferry. Ed Hodo ran it. His wife’s name was Elsie. Before the ferry went in, my uncle Harry Ebrite (my mother’s brother) had the mail route from West Plains to Gainesville. His sister Vernie helped him, and they traveled by mule and wagon. As they crossed the North Fork River at Tecumseh, several times they got washed away, but they hung on to their mailbag dearly and always delivered the mail. Those were treacherous times.
I was born in 1922, and my mother boarded the workers who worked to build the Tecumseh Bridge. I was a toddler, and while Mama cooked their meals, they would carry me around to entertain me out in our big front yard.
Our house had a big upstairs, and Mama would put down pallets for them to sleep on – maybe an old straw bed or feather bed that she put on the floor. The wheat straw beds had to be fluffed up before you went to bed, but by the time you lay down they were flat again.
I don’t think we had real mattresses back then. But back in the 1930s, the government made cotton mattresses. They had a factory in Gainesville down by where the old Church of Christ building stood (and later became the thrift store). At one time I owned the old building where the mattresses were made. Later I sold it and 1 1/4 acres to the Church of Christ.
My step-grandmother, Ollie Sowards (the late Cuma Robbins’ mother), was one who worked in that mattress factory. They took mattress ticking – that’s what they called the striped denim they made the mattress cases with (and they called it strip-ped, with two syllables, not one) – and they stuffed cotton in there. They stuffed and stuffed and stuffed and packed that old mattress ticking. Then, with a big darning needle, they punched through the whole mattress and brought the string back up and tied knots to hold it all together.
And now I’ll head back home after that stroll down Memory Lane.
My daughter Kris has bought some flowers and plants to set out in my yard, which I will certainly enjoy later.
Joan Rackley Young called from Fort Walton Beach, Florida. She was a good friend of my daughter Karen during their high school days, and as I do, she grieves over Karen’s death in February.
Joan’s parents, Fred and Mamie Alcorn Rackley, bought the Hardenville store many years ago. Lue Crawford had built the store building, which still stands on Highway 160, and moved the business there from George Harden’s home at Tecumseh. (I always thought it was interesting that he didn’t rename it the Crawfordville store when he moved the business from Harden’s home to its current location.) Lue’s wife, the former Gail Robbins, managed the store while Lue did the freighting from Springfield.