Reliving a lifetime of change with a Johnson County nativeIn this column I will rely on my memory a lot. It has been many years since I was a lad excited about going to “town.” We usually traveled to Mountain City on Saturday evening after a week on the small farm where I grew up, so it’s pretty clear in my mind the way Mountain City was in those days when a dollar was a dollar.
I want to take a stroll down the streets of Mountain City and try to remember some of the businesses and shops that lined the streets of our fair town as well as something unique about it.
I know that many of the residents of Johnson County who are as old or older than I am already know much or all of the information I remember about the town, but the younger folks (and I hope some young people read my column) and folks who are newcomers probably don’t.
One of the things that stands out in my memory was the parking meters. Yes, Mountain City once had parking meters. Back then folks would come to town to buy provisions for the coming week. Other than shopping, it was a time of gathering with family and friends and watching the people go up and down the sidewalk. So the meters were kept pretty well supplied with dimes and nickels so the time wouldn’t run out. If someone forgot and received a ticket there was often a great deal of grumbling about the matter. I suppose the town received a good deal of revenue from the meters, but later they were removed.
Tree lined streets are also a part of my memory of Mountain City. Stately trees with whitewashed trunks were once a part of down town and in my youth they were full-grown so they must have been there many years.
A highlight of my week was going to town and taking in a movie at the Strand Theatre that was to the right on West Main Street looking west or the Taylor Theatre that was located on the left of West Main. Most of the time, westerns were the genre of the day on Saturday.
A number of stars graced the silver screen such as Tom Mix, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Lash LaRue, Whip Wilson, Tim Holt, Audie Murphy, Tim McCoy Ken Maynard just to name a few.
A hamburger or hot dog was certainly something to look forward to during our weekly trip to Mountain City. But I guess second in my fond memories of Mountain City was going down to Ramsey’s Variety Store and checking out their very good selection of comic books (also called funny books).
My favorites featured the superheros and as with the movies the westerns. Popular then were Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, Aquaman, The Green Hornet, and many others. I usually bought one or two at ten cents each.
Also on Main Street stood the Grayson Hotel. At the time there were no motels in or near Mountain City, so the Grayson Hotel was the place to stay for travelers and visitors. There were of course boarding houses and I believe there was a Waugh’s Hotel as well.
Some of the businesses I remember being on West Main Street were Farmers State Bank, Arney’s Grill, Western Auto, Ramsey’s Variety Store, Smithey’s, City Shoe Shop, Peoples Drug Store, Courtesy Drug Store, Edgar Adams Grocery (located in the basement of the Grayson Hotel), Sammons Grocery, and more.
At that time there were several white frame homes on West Main Street as well.
As I wrote at the outset of this column, It has been many years since I was a youngster in Mountain City, but many things about the town then are vivid in my memory.
For some who read this column, my memories may bring back their memories of Mountain City and for others it might give them some idea of how it used to be in our county seat.