Remembering Dr. Emery and the Village Book Shoppe

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, May 26, 2016

Dr. Joseph Emery asked me to serve as historian for Polk County’s Second Wind Hall of Fame back when he served his last term as its president. It was at its board meetings that I really came to appreciate Dr. Emery’s skills at running meetings, directing planning and accomplishing goals.

He did this gently, thoughtfully, and without ever raising that wonderfully resonant voice, so admirably suited for his calling to preach the Gospel. I never heard him preach, but he sure could put words together beautifully when he led in public prayer. I always felt that he was talking with Someone that he knew very well.

I must mention another fond farewell: The Village Book Shoppe is no more as of the end of May. The lovely young Gina Malone was my editor at the Tryon Daily Bulletin before she opened the Book Shoppe and started her family. She watched over her little girls in a lower room of the store, Ellyn playing with her dolls and Abigail an infant. I have watched them grow up; Ellyn is now in college and Abigail in Polk County High School.

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I checked with Hub Arledge for some details of his block of Trade Street. We’ve decided we need to get together for this, so most of it will have to wait. His mother was born Zella Ballew. Arledge Printers built on the site of Ballew’s grocery store. My boyhood memory of that block is pretty sketchy now, so I sought Hub’s assistance. Hub is more than a decade younger than I, but he still feels that I am one of the few with whom he can discuss “old Tryon.”

Hub corroborated my recollection of two gas stations and added a third. I remember a Chevy dealership on the corner, succeeded by Pierce-Wilson Ford; Hub does not remember a Chevy place, but supplied a Kuhn Ford dealership intervening before Stott expanded to cover one side of the street and part of the other. I remembered a house being in there someplace, and he said that was where the Ballews lived.

Since I am postponing what was on the street, I will tell what was behind and above it when I was a boy. There was a rail siding built over coal bins, and later fuel oil tanks, for Tom Costa’s Tryon Fuel Supply.

In a much earlier column, I described how fortuitous the location was for saving labor: the rail cars had merely to open their doors on the bottom and the coal fell by gravity into the big bins. Then Tom Steadman had merely to back his dump truck under the bin and open a door to let the coal fall into the truck. When he came to my house, he had merely to stick a metal chute through my basement window, attach it to the truck bed, and raise it to dump the coal into my house.

Ah, but I had to shovel the coal into a coal skuttle and carry it upstairs for our heater. I often fantasized that had Tom delivered it to our attic, I could have let gravity feed the coal to the stove. Guess I read too many Tom Swift books!

The land up there is now the domain of the Saluda Forge, which owner Bill Crowell moved there years ago. Bill has long been a friend of ours, and I’m sure he, too, will never forget losing to Fran in the first and only Chili Cook-off Contest in the history of Columbus. We cherish the little wrought iron table he made, and for which his late wife Kathleen painted the tiles for the top, to be given as first prize. The table sits by Fran’s favorite chair and holds her early morning coffee cup between sips.