It’s hard to believe that I’m 69 years old! I grew up in an idyllic time
in Augusta. It was an extremely happy, peaceful, wonderful time. I know
now that we didn’t have much in the way of monetary means, but we never
lacked for anything. Our mother and daddy worked hard and our
grandparents lived close by. I remember those days with fondness. I
remember the milkman, but I remember so much more.
I remember that we were awakened every morning by the sound of the
milkman who delivered our milk to the front porch of our home. Mama
would leave him a note and ask for three or four bottles of milk and
sometimes cream. Tom wore a gray shirt with Elsie the cow embroidered
on his shirt. His truck was white and had Borden’s and Elsie on the side.
I remember our post office in Augusta and I also remember our first
mailman was our dad. Daddy loved being the mailman. He talked to
everyone and sometimes was the only contact some of the older people
had. We walked with Daddy on his route many times during the summer.
If you go in the post office today, you’ll see Daddy’s mailbag and his hat.
Downtown Augusta was full of stores of every kind. Going downtown on
Saturday was an event. Everyone was there. People came from all over to
shop and visit.
We had four family department stores—Oakes, Rives, Harris’ and later
Cothern’s. I remember buying saddle oxfords at Oakes and my first pair of
hose at Rives. We had one children’s store—Mrs. Beasley’s; a lady’s
shop—Helen’s that became Aunt Tot’s shop; a jewelry store—Freeman’s,
where we bought charms for our bracelets; three drug stores—Berry’s,
Cannon’s, and Community; Western Auto Hardware Store and Harralson’s
Hardware which became Berry’s; two mercantile stores that sold feed,
fishing supplies, seeds, clothes, groceries--Peebles and Conner’s. East End Furniture owned by J.C. Branscum was on Main Street and sold
Furniture and mattresses. Western Auto also sold furniture.
On the second floor above Rives Department Store, there were legal
offices, a doctor office, a waiting room, a public bathroom—a little mini-
mall. The lawyers that I remember were WJ Dungan, Ford Smith, John D.
Eldridge, George Proctor, and Jim Daugherty. We used to go to Judge
Daugherty’s courtroom and listen to the cases.
I remember 10 grocery stores in Augusta at one time—Hunky Stone’s,
Peebles, Collier’s, Ligon’s, Hall’s, Wonder Market, Lee’s, Kroger’s,
Neighborhood Grocery, Carr’s. I remember trading coupons for candy and
buying comic books at Ligons.
We had four gas stations that I remember—Walter Hopper’s Esso Station;
Willis Walker’s Mobile Station; Edwin and Walter Jimerson’s; and George
Beard’s. We also had two five and dimes—Mitchell’s and Ben Franklin’s. I
bought my first “Silly Putty” and my “Slinky” at Mitchells. Ben Franklin’s
was next to Ligon’s. There were three barbershops—Tom Turner (Chuck
Joyner’s granddad) and Bunk Springer; Steele’s; and Mr. Stroud. I
remember sitting in Tom Turner’s chair with daddy. I remember going to
Katherine Darling’s beauty shop in McCrory when I was little because she
was kin to us. There was a Butane Store—Thermo Gas where Gregory’s
Farm Office is now. Later Bing Miller and Bill Miller were bookkeepers in
There was a pool hall which was a forbidden place for children. I did go in
the Devil’s Den (with Daddy) which was a hangout for the teenagers.
There was a dance floor and a juke box. I remember having a Sock Hop at
the Elementary School where we all danced in our socks. Later Cooper’s
Pie Shop became the hang out for teenagers and then the Dairy Skipper.
However, most of the time, we just drove around town. We did watch drag
races on Highway 33 North because there was not much traffic. Lover’s
Lane was not paved. It ran from the curve on Hwy 33 South to Highway
There were two cleaners downtown—Guy and Cecil Willis and Sam
Thompson. Mrs. Claude Willis (Dorothy, Martha Sue and AraNell’s mom)
baked pies and cakes for everyone. Her rum cake was famous. The café’s
were Fronabarger’s restaurant; Morgan Jones Donut Shop and Bakery;
The Pie Shoppe; Verna Scott’s Café; and Porter’s Café.
We had three car dealerships—Chaney-Eldridge Ford; George Beard
Chevrolet; Collier Motor Company. Rolfe and John Rolfe Eldridge owned
the International Harvester Dealership and also sold IH trucks from 1933 to
the mid 1950’s. The John Deere Dealership was owned by Charlie Phillips
and Owen Jennings and then Clyde Felts and Owen Jennings.
The Lura Theater was open every night and had matinees on Saturday and
Sunday. Daddy would give us a quarter and a penny and that would buy a
movie, popcorn and a coke. I saw “The Blob” when I was eight on
Saturday and we talked about it all day on Monday at school. I remember
seeing “The Birds” on Sunday afternoon. Mrs. Lura Malin would sell us
tickets at the front window. Ms. Margie Malin taught biology and also
helped at the theater after Mrs. Lura died. Mr. Billy Malin ran the
The phone company was on Main Street and the operators were Ruby
Henderson, Marion Lee Lunday and Mrs. Davis? Anne remembers
calling the operator and asking her to find Mama. She did. Bill remembers
that his phone number was 224. When we were little, the phone was a
brown box and we had to crank the handle once. Mrs. Ruby would say,
“Number please.” Rotary phones came to Augusta in the late 50’s. The
Bank of Augusta’s number was 1. Eldridge Supply was 18.
The Bank of Augusta was much smaller than it is now. It had marble
counters and bars on each teller’s window. Mr. Wade Sale was head
cashier and then Mr. Bill Mills. Dorothy Willis, Mryle Burrow, Maxine
Burrow, Dorothy Lee Jennings, and Bill Joyner worked there.
The Ice House was on Main Street next to Motor Inn. Cedric Scott worked
there at one time. I remember that we ordered a block of ice and then
asked them to grind it up for our ice cream makers.
Ice Cream was very special at our house. When the James Kreis family
moved to Augusta, they introduced us to cartons of chocolate, vanilla,
neopolitan ice cream that they brought back from the Weigel dairy in
Tennessee. There was a big“W” on each box. We kept their ice cream in
Granddaddy’s big freezer and we had ice cream all year. There was also a
little dairy bar owned by Donald and Sue Chaney (Where Coletta’s beauty
shop is). Daddy would buy a pint of ice cream or sometimes a quart. Later
the Chaney’s built the Dairy Skipper and we spent hours there. The
Chaney’s had two daughters—Jill and Belinda.
Several grocery stores delivered groceries but I remember Mr. Pepper who
was a farmer from Judsonia. He would come to Grandmama’s every week
with fresh produce. He also sold chocolate milk and that was treat for me.
We played outside until dark. We played kick the can, had play fights on
homemade forts. We played until we heard Dr. Frank call Michael and
Patricia home with his elk horn. In the summer we had swimming lessons
and then spent countless hours swimming, floating, and boating in the bay.
There were three medical clinics in Augusta—Dr. Maguire was on Main
Street. Dr. Dungan was on South third. Dr. Ferrari and Dr. Matthews came
in the late 50’s and their clinic was in a big house on Broadway and 2 nd .
Anne and I were born in the Dungan Clinic. There was only one dentist in
Augusta—Dr. Dodd (Holly’s dad). Holly’s aunt Mae Mae was his assistant.
I can only remember two policemen in Augusta—Tip Jernigan and Jones
Montegue. The Sheriffs I remember were Val Angelo, Jesse Pengergist
and Ed Hall.
We had some very talented people in Augusta. One lady in particular, that
I remember, was Mrs. Schole whose specialty was fine linens—all the
antique napkins and tablecloths were taken to her to clean and press. We
had four talented seamstresses, Mrs. King, Mrs. Ollie Preller and Gayne
Preller, and Crystal Dawson. They made clothes and also costumes for
our dance recitals or school plays. I remember Mrs. Crystal made a blue
long dress for me in the 5 th grade and I danced the minuet with Arthur
Kreis. When we were little we watched Aunt Kitty teach the teenagers
ballroom dancing. She was beautiful and we thought she was a movie star.
Mrs. Babbie Lovett also taught us ballroom dancing and Carma Jean Rives
taught us tap, ballet, and jazz. Mrs. Lillian Taylor taught piano. Recitals
were always at the end of the school year. We were a small town but we
sure had some extraordinary people.
Christmas in Augusta was magical. There were two Christmas trees on
opposite ends of the street and all the stores decorated. There was a
Christmas parade every year with floats decorated by every class. School
would let us out to decorate the floats and our parents helped. We
decorated with chicken wire and tissue. One year a float burned and the
school let the class out all day to rebuild it. I can still remember some of
the floats. One in particular-- the teenage girls were dressed up as dolls in
boxes. Mrs. Juanita was our music teacher at school. There was always a
Christmas pageant with the Christmas story. Costumes were made by our
parents or one of the seamstresses in town.
Our school teachers were all strict but kind. Some of the teachers moved
to Augusta to teach and met their husbands here. They lived in a boarding
house which had strict rules about courting. Our teachers lived here and
some taught our parents. They knew our families and that made all the
difference. I can still remember my classrooms. Some of our teachers
were Mrs. Louise Ferguson, Mrs. Midget Mills, Mrs. Ardis Berry, Mrs.
Williams, Mrs. Mathis, Mrs. Lawrence, Mrs. Katherine Griffin, Mrs. Fowler,
Mr. Burgess, Mrs. Emma Bowie, and Mrs. Katherine Smith. After lunch we
had a candy cart. Oh, to have a dime or nickel everyday to buy a
cinnamon red-hot sucker, taffy, pixie sticks, or a sugar daddy.
When we were teenagers we would go to the Community drugstore every
day after school. There was a soda fountain with stools, booths, and
tables. We ordered a vanilla coke or cherry coke and chips. Mr. Pint
Thompson and Vernon Massey were the pharmacists. Mrs. Lottie Benson
was behind the counter and took our orders. Mrs. Mabel Massey was
always there to greet and help. There were always men sitting at the
counter talking and drinking coffee. I often wondered why they didn’t work.
I remember going to church every Sunday. There was a Sunday School
Class for every age. Daddy taught 5 th and 6 th Grade boys. Vacation Bible
School was part of every summer. Churches were full and part of
everyone’s social time.
It’s true that “All Roads Lead to Augusta.” Whenever we meet people who
grew up here we hear the same thing, “It was a great place to grow up.” It
was a great place—still is.