By: Jack Swift
Perhaps many folks take a lot for granted when we think of the way it used to be in Mountain City and Johnson County in general. But like me, folks who are older can remember a whole lot of how it was over the span or our lives until the present. I daresay some of the things I’m writing about this week will call back some memories of yesteryear for those who have been around awhile.
Going to Mountain City (town) for many folks and their families who lived a fair distance from town wasn’t conducive to being in Mountain City often. But most of them came to town at least once a week (usually on Saturday night) to buy food and other items used in the household or on the farm.
Folks who lived outside Mountain City used the visit to town as a time to talk to neighbors and relatives. The streets were filled with cars going round and round. The sidewalks were crowded on Saturday nights with people catching up on the latest news. There were parking meters then along the sidewalks. Stores stayed open late on Saturday nights. The Taylor Theater was usually featuring a western movie.
Even before the Supermarkets we have now, there was Blackburn’s Supermarket located at the corner of North Church and East Main Streets where Food Country’s parking lot is now. The store was up against the sidewalk on both streets. There was a huge basement under Blackburn’s Supermarket that once housed the Tomahawk Newspaper and print shop. One of the oldest buildings in Mountain City is diagonally across the street from where Blackburns was. A long staircase leads to the second story of the building that has housed a number of offices in the past. A Rexall Drug Store was once in the first floor. I can remember when a restaurant was down a flight of steps into the basement of the building on the South Church Street side of the building. I don’t recall the name. Perhaps someone else does.
While some folks lived a distance from town, they often could be found at the local store. Almost every community had a local store. It was only a few months ago that many country stores were mentioned by folks who emailed, sent letters or called to tell me of the stores that were in their neighborhoods when they were growing up. But with almost a carnival atmosphere, downtown Mountain City was the place to be on Saturday nights. Most if not all stores were open, taking advantage of the crowds trade while it was there.
From a personal standpoint, I was delighted when we went to town on Saturday nights. It was usually on a day that a good deal of work was done. So, after toiling in the fields in the hot sun all day, it was time to have some good times. Anyway, it’s as I remember those days. Perhaps you do too.