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How it used to be in Mountain City

By:  Jack Swift

Johnson County Historian


Several folks who have commented on my column over the last 14 years have told me that they enjoy the columns about the way it used to be in Mountain City when they were young. In other words, they like to travel back on the road of time and reminisce about their younger days. While my memory has faded to some extent, I still remember some things about the town. So I thought I would share with my readers some of the things I remember from times of yesteryear. I think most of those who lived out in the county in that day traveled to town at least once a week and perhaps more.
Saturday night was the busiest time when Johnson County folks turned out in large numbers to visit friends, family and neighbors on the sidewalks. Of course, auto traffic volume was much greater then too.
Like many families, we rounded out a days work and looked forward to the relief of cooler nights and a visit to “town”. There are several places of business that I remember from days gone by. During green bean season, the bean market that I remember most was located on Depot Street below where Tri-State Growers is now. Then there was The Trading Post at the north end of Depot Street. The Muse Hardware was at the intersection of Church and Main Streets. At that time you could purchase about anything related to farming there — even Farmall tractors. Mr. Claude Cress was on hand to repair tractors when necessary. Across the street from Muse Hardware is a building that once housed a pharmacy on the ground level as well as a dentist office and other offices upstairs. I have found that many folks don’t know that there once was a restaurant or grill in the basement of the building. There was a set of steps leading to the business on the east side of the building. Ramsey’s Variety Store that has since been razed was on that street as was Smithey’s Store. If I remember right, there were some white-frame homes on up Main Street from there. I remember when trees lined both sides of Main Street.
On North Church Street beginning at the traffic light there were a small grocery store on the left and a doctor’s office. Dr. Bundy’s office was on the other side of the street. From there were a number of homes on both sides of the street. Blackburn’s Supermarket was a prominent business downtown in those days. Also, looking right on West Main Street was Grayson Hotel and the second of the three courthouses Johnson County has built. There were others of course. Perhaps I’ll mention more at a later date.