Memories of an Older Jefferson City

Sometimes I get so caught up in my daily life, I forget to remember! When I get into that mode, something usually happens to kick me back to those wonderful times, stored in my memory banks. Times when life was a little more leisurely, and not so fast paced, zooming by like a whirlwind. That’s just what happened this week, after viewing one of the enjoyable YouTube videos produced by David Skeen. While I can’t claim to remember everything, I do remember the Jefferson City that seemed like a miniature Knoxville. So, I am sharing again some of my memories, as “foggy” as they may be.

I remember the movie theater, enjoyed by all … until the new “Maloy Drive-in” came to town? We later enjoyed it as a skating rink, and then a dance floor. Remember “Leeper’s Hardware” store that became a Christmas wonderland in November? All the toys and gift items that filled the store, making it seem like Santa’s workshop? I can still feel the thrill of looking in the window and knowing Christmas was coming. It was always fun to walk by “Skeen Furniture Store”, looking in the window at the beautiful furniture. Remember The First National Bank with the walk up window. And also, “Miller’s Clothing Store”, “Draper and Darwin’s” and the “Dime Store”. I remember roaming the isles of the Dime Store looking at all the trinkets and opening the bottles of “toilet water” to smell the awful smells. And, what about “Park Belk’s” on the corner? Beautiful clothes, housewares and material with notions, were readily available, making it a must for shoppers. I always loved going into the store, looking at all the latest fashions.

“Bell’s Restaurant” was a favorite hangout for the high school set. I especially remember the tasty brownies, enjoyed by friends, after practice sessions at school. And every girl had hair and nails done at “The Primp Shop” for proms and special occasions. Just thinking about it brings back the unique smell upon opening the door. And…Talking about haircuts, do you remember “Tate’s Barber Shop” with shoe shines and the wonderful barber pole out front? I love barber poles. Where and why did they disappear? And did you dream and drool over the Chevys at “Tarr’s Chevrolet” on the corner? And the jewelry store … “Tinsley’s Jewelry Store.” Oh, the dreaming and shopping that took place there!

Of course there was a “Railroad Station.” I remember freight sitting on the docks, waiting to be picked up by buyers. And remember the feed stores? “Shipe and Catlett” provided many things, but my favorite memory is of baby chicks. Oh, the smell of the fresh shavings, and the baby chicks, fluffy and yellow, brought home in boxes with little air holes, to be put under the brooder and lights to grow. And, how about those feed sacks? Remember the beautiful fabrics they came in? And how about “The Spring Factory”? My mother remembers a “Minnis and Zirkle Merchandise Store” and a “White Store”. I remember “Franklin’s Grocery Store”. And … “Benton’s Restaurant” and Moody’s Restaurant. Let’s not forget the doctor’s offices and the pharmacies. I loved to go into “Tallent’s Pharmacy” because it was such a friendly place. I think the one on the lower street was called “The Jefferson Pharmacy” and had great ice cream. “Dr. Northern’s” dentist office and “Dr. Caldwell’s” medical office hold an array of memories for me, as well, but that’s a different article.

Jefferson City was definitely different in those days. It has been sad, over time, to see the deterioration of such a once vibrant place. Hopefully a renovation and revitalization will occur, as many envision. But … it will never bring back the Jefferson City of my memories. How about yours? No, but maybe it will be even better!

Source: K. P. Guessen