Remembering South Trade to the tracks

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, January 28, 2016

Gulf Station on Trade St., downtown Tryon, 1940s. (Photo from the collection of David Widdicombe)

Gulf Station on Trade St., downtown Tryon, 1940s. (Photo from the collection of David Widdicombe)

The new storefronts replacing the combined former Tryon Federal offices represent Missildine’s Drug, the Exclusive Ladies Shoppe and Foodland Grocery, as related in a recent column. Continuing down South Trade Street, Arledge Hardware and the post office were next.

Arledge Hardware was owned by Hosea “Hose” Arledge and carried a full line of hardware, including hunting and fishing equipment. There were a few empty nail kegs in the back of the store to accommodate guys with time to kill, but most of the customers had to get back to work. Hose always had time to talk hunting or fishing, though, because son Thurston would wait on the customers—except when he was serving in the legislature, of course.

Perhaps after Missildine’s, the post office was the next busiest place in town. The postmaster was Isham Henderson, and the clerks included George Cooksey, Clara Edwards, Broadus Flynn and Joe Anderson. With two mail trains each day they were expected to put the mail up into the boxes promptly. And Mr. Vining had to get the last press run of the day’s Bulletin off the press, folded, inserted, labeled, and up there in time to get it put up with the morning mail. George Carson loaded the mail sacks into the open rumble seat of his ’34 Ford roadster and hauled them back and forth across the tracks.

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Next was Appalachian Weavers, retail outlet for Mountain Industries with some two dozen large handlooms (Openroad Coffee was in there before they moved to Columbus) and Ralph Lawrence’s Valhalla Handweavers out in the Valley. Some of Ralph’s looms wove woolen neckties, and I bought one of each color and wore one to school every day of my senior year (1946-47) at Tryon High.

Next was Farthing & Covington grocery, already mentioned in November column.

Next was Tryon Bank & Trust, where my favorite teller was Iris Jackson, and now home to Billy McFarland law firm.

Next was the Tryon Theater, artificially cooled in summer by something called “Air Conditioning.” Our houses, even our cars, are so equipped today, but it was unusual back then. I never got to see the Saturday serial shows because I was working at the Bulletin office. Nor did I get to attend on Sundays because we are Baptists: I did not get to see very many movies!

Next was George Cathey’s Blue Ridge Weavers. He may have managed it for Francis P. Bacon, don’t know. Anyway, it was a place frequented by ladies for fine gifts—except that Mr. Cathey stocked model airplane kits and all the makings! So I was in there at every opportunity provided by my limited spending money.

I don’t remember what was in the next little building, recently home to the late Bill’s Jewelry store.

Last was Dick Burnette’s Gulf Service Station. In those days, the drug stores and gas stations took turns being open on Sundays. Owen’s and Missildine’s merely alternated, but there were several gas stations, so Dick was open maybe once a month on Sunday. Dick always wore a clean uniform and bow tie. He took good care of his customer’s cars, many in there every week for at least a wash job.

I remember a Model A Ford that looked and ran like new. There is nothing that sounds quite like a Model A Ford. Anyway, I had wondered in a long-ago column what happened to that car, and Howard Greene told me: it then belonged to a company rep who lived in Hendersonville. That man later told me that he had turned down $30,000 for it!