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Remembering Mountain City in another era

Mountain City was a bustling little town during my early years living on our small farm about three miles out as the crow flies. As a youngster, I was the epitome of excitement when my parents mentioned going to “town.” Saturday night was the usual time for us to climb into our 1932 B-Model Ford coupe with a rumble seat and head for Mountain City. That was usually after a hard day’s work and the little trip was a relief from the toil we endured during the early part of Saturday. Depending on the season there was a variety of chores that needed attention as well as growing crops during the summer months. Of course weekday trips to town were made if something we needed wasn’t available from S. L. Harbin Store or Dayton Fenner’s Store. Those stores were located on Highway 67 close to Pleasant Valley and Swift Hollow Road entrances and were much closer to where we lived than Mountain City. Those stores were well stocked from saltine crackers to stovepipe.
But the main reason for going to town on Saturday nights was to buy groceries and other items needed for the coming week. A secondary reason — or perhaps it was the main reason and buying supplies was a secondary reason — was to see family, friends and neighbors and catch up on all the latest news and happenings in the county.
Most stores and businesses stayed open until late, cars were bumper to bumper as around and around they went burning the 20 cents per gallon gasoline.
There was a time when the sidewalks of Mountain City had parking meters for the angled parking spaces on each side of the streets. While that was a way of attaining needed revenue for the town, some folks just didn’t like to pay to park. Anyway, the meters were finally taken out and I don’t remember when — perhaps the late 60s or early 70s.
Taking in the Western movie on our trip to town on Saturday was something I looked forward to as well as going to the drugstore for a cone of ice cream. There were plenty of things to attract a child’s attention then too. There were Radio Flyer wagons, tricycles and sleds in the wintertime. Boxing gloves, footballs, baseballs and Red Ryder air rifles come to my mind as well.

Christmas is coming soon. And when I think of Mountain City of yesteryear some of my most pleasant memories are of the Christmas Season in Mountain City. The Christmas lights were up, the downtown shops were aglow and there was an aura of good will in the folks in town on the day you picked to visit. The words “Merry Christmas” echoed through the crowd that came to town during that most holy season.
Now I live in Mountain City. While I now live only about three miles from my boyhood home on our little farm, it was a long time before I finally came to live and be a part of this historic and pleasant community. I haven’t traveled much. I’ve been to New York City and a few other cities and places, but I have never been anywhere I’d rather be than right here in good ole’ Mountain City, Tennessee.