Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Marietta Magical Mystery Tour

As I mentioned we went on the Marietta Trolley History Tour last week. It was an excellent tour. We enjoyed it all. The accommodations on the trolley were comfortable, the driver was good, and Brad the narrator knew his stuff and told it with enthusiasm.

HOWEVER!!! This is roughly the same route, told mostly from what I witnessed during my time of life on that part of earth.

We are heading south on one-way Church Street folks.

Behind us a few stores, the brick building with the big glass front for years was the W.P. Stephens Lumber Company, which when I was a teenager was ran by the Tomlin family. A Tomlin family ran the lumber company on South Cobb Drive at the Underpass (Atlanta Road)… the same family? Sorry, I am not privy to that.

To the right we where the candy striped barber pole is used to be my uncle Herbert Hunter’s barber shop.

Across the street, where the First Baptist Church stands – the upper portion was occupied by McKinney Tire and Service Station. The lower portion was an old house that Doctor Mussaura’s office, I think he specialized in sports medicine. One time he told on me and some others that he saw leave a pool hall during school hours.

Now, see that alley on the right? On the left of the alley was Hunt’s Economy Ice Cream Parlor, which had delicious chili burgers and hotdogs. On the right of the alley was a leather and shoe repair shop which I think was about the longest opened store in the downtown area with the same business operating that I know of.

Now, we are at the corners of Church Street, North Park Square, West Park Square, and Mill Street. On the left is Shillings Restaurant. In my youth it was Shillings Hardware. As you walked in the store the first thing you saw was a free scale to step on get your weight, which we always did and behind the scale was a glass display case showing some very fine knives – the kind of all chrome knives that had fancy cases or handles – the practical kind and the kind that would be a must to have if you liked to stab people regularly.

On the West Park Square end, the first store was Miller’s, I think the name of it was. It was a clothing and material store. I liked for my parents to do business there to see the clerk write up a ticket, put the cash and ticket in a little container, put it in a pneumatic tube and ZAP! It would go through the tubes to a little office up top someplace, the in a few minutes you could here it the containing coming back at full speed with your change. Now it is a Dance and Ballet school.

The store on the corner of Mill Street and Church Street when I was young was the A&P. I think it is now the same as most other stores on Church Street, an antique store.

On down near the railroad tracks is a Thailand restaurant. It was for many years Veach’s Wholesale Grocery. My father-in-law was the manager of Veach’s. When he retired the business closed down.

See the coffee shop and dog shop across the street? That used to be B & N Auto Parts that was owned by the Northcutt Family. The head of the family when I was growing up was Ben Northcutt. I think Ben was the B and of course the N too. One of their teenage family members was a friend of mine.

(crossing the tracks) See the locomotive engine painted black? That engine was built by Glover Machine Works, south of Marietta. It used to be within Glover’s complex – behind the main building, with a high brick wall that separated it and woods. Then it was covered with red rust. As a boy I lived just a few blocks away and on Sundays sometimes I would climb over the wall and get in the locomotive and pretend it was a space ship and I would shoot at imaginary space ships attacking me from all sides – that was before STAR WARS, but after Buck Rogers.

My father’s first paying job was at Glover Machine Works. His father, my grandfather, worked at Glover’s for many years, and is the reason the Hunter family moved to Marietta.

See the little block house on the right? The vitamin store. That used to be the headquarters for a taxi company. As a boy, one time after a movie I walked inside to get out of the rain and to get a taxi home and saw that their dispatcher was Blind Charley.

Blind Charley would be a good dispatcher back then. He knew everybody, every business, and every street. He was an old man and very poor. He lived with his sister. Sometimes as a boy I used to visit him in his old unpainted shack and he would tell me stories of the Hunter brothers. I wished I had good retention back then.

I remember in the back of their shack was a line hooked on to the back porch that led to the outhouse. Not only was it a guide for Blind Charley to get to the outhouse but it was also a good clothes line.

When Charlie died he was buried in the pauper’s cemetery in an unmarked grave. Then the potter’s field of Marietta was near Barnes Mill Road. The I-75 went through the area the old cemetery was at and the poor people’s bodies are gone. Poof!

(Turning left on the Marietta Parkway). On the right is the First Methodist Church. It is just TOO big in my opinion. See the little drive by the playground that goes through the parking lot? That is Haley Street. That is where my family lived before I was born.

On the left is a carwash or whatever that is. Years ago it was Kirk’s Supermarket. I worked there as a sack carry out boy.

Now, just about across from the old Kirk’s Supermarket we are turning right on Trammell Street. The building on the right was Hole Proof Hosiery. I think my mother worked there for a while when she first came to Marietta. Across the street from Hole Proof – was at one time Kennesaw Cigar Company. The Kennesaw Cigar Company was a small house, slightly bigger than a shed, attached to a larger house of what might have been a mill house for workers at Hole Proof one time. The little shed/house had a sign that said Kennesaw Cigar Company. Before we were old enough to drive we sometimes walked by there on the way home from school. Usually and elderly gentleman and two elderly ladies were sitting out on the porch, if the weather was nice. One day we walked up and asked the man about the Cigar Company. He said it was still in operation and he still got orders from time to time.

He pulled out his keys and walked down the steps, unlocked the door of the shed/house, which was probably about the size of a small bedroom. There was a large bench and a press-like machine that rolled the tobacco leaves into cigars. Some big leaves were hanging from the ceiling. Over in one corner was a box full of empty Kennesaw Cigar Boxes. He gave us each one and we went on our way.

Up Trammell Street further on the left is the Trammell House. The Trammell House was built by my first cousin, 4 times removed, Col. Leander Newton Trammell (1830-1900). Cousin Trammell was a lawyer, state representative, and was the head of the Georgia Railway Commission. He was well known politician of his day and had a great deal of influence.

Leander N. Trammell’s grandson, Niles Trammell (1894-?) who mostly grew up on Trammell Street, became president of NBC Radio Network. Before Niles was president of NBC, as a budding executive, he signed up the radio comedy series Amos & Andy. If you have listened to or watched some Amos & Andy episodes you probably heard one of the cast say their hometown is Marietta, Georgia. I don’t know, but I suspect Marietta, Georgia, was Niles Trammell’s input.

Niles was at the stern of NBC when they started the new form of broadcasting Television.

The present owners, Rachel and Douglas, have worked very hard researching and renovating the house back to when Leander Trammell owned it.

The next house on Trammell Street was for many years Irene Jones Foster’s house, Anna’s grandmother.

Now, we turn left on Wright Street, go down one block and turn left onto Reynolds Street. As we approach Powder Springs Street we see almost directing across is the Marietta Parkway.

To the right, a slope of hill with a fence around it is the Confederate Cemetery. Back in about 1947 when I was in the first grade our school system was a segregated system. The whites and blacks went to separate schools. On Confederate Memorial Day all the white kids would march with their schools and classes to this Confederate Cemetery. And each kid was given a little Confederate Flag to stick in the grave of a soldier. I guess we did that each all seven years of grammar school.

On National Memorial Day the black kids were marched to the National Cemetery and each put a small U.S. with 49 stars Flag with into a grave.

What I was building up to was that when I was in the first grade I think my older sister was in the 5th or 6th grade. Our Mama gave her strict orders to keep an eye on me and not let me got out of her sight and to walk me home afterwards. We lived about 4 blocks away in the Clay Homes.

There were hundreds of little white kids running around. My sister lost me or I lost her. She looked all over for me and I was nowhere to be found. She walked home very upset thinking how upset our parents would be. She dreaded telling them I was lost. But, when she got home, there I was. Evidently, I knew my own way home.

(Now we are on a small segment of the Marietta Parkway approaching a RR bridge). A green sign near the sidewalk going under the bridge states it is the “Richard Hunter Memorial Bridge”. Folks, This bridge is the Dick Hunter Memorial Bridge. It was named after my uncle who was mayor of Marietta back in the ‘60s. In my opinion, it is truly a Hunter Bridge. See that grassy bank on the northeast side? There was a house there years ago, in 1941. I was born in that house. And from the point I was born, you could see the house on Waterman Street that my father was born in – or you could see it, if it was still there. They bulldozed it away, the same as they did the house I was born in.

And another fact is that my cousin, once removed, also with the last name of Hunter, while he was in high school hung a big banner across the under part of the bridge, stating something like “WELCOME TO HELL!!!” – I think it was meant to greet the opposing football team coming in town by bus. But I think instead, it greeted the Marietta Police and the officials of the Southern Railway Company – which they in turn, greeted him.

(Turning right on Atlanta Street). The part of Marietta Parkway we just spent a block on used to be two streets there. One was Reynolds Street, which Anna’s mother’s family lived and the other was Goss Street. Goss Street had two businesses on it, Crain Garage, which one time was owned by my uncle Spencer Crain, and the other business was Romeo Hudgins Welding. Romeo was a my Little League coach for two years. He and Pepper Martin were the coaches. Pepper had announced the Marietta football games over WFOM-AM and had a radio show some evenings where he would spin relaxing music to dine by. Pepper Martin’s son was my son’s music director of Sprayberry High School Band.

Across the tracks from Goss Street were West Atlanta Street and a railroad water tower.

Back on Atlanta Street, going up a slight slope there were a few houses, which has been bulldozed away long ago.

One of the houses had a family of WWII Poland refugees living in it. They had a boy and girl that went to Waterman Street School. One day, I remember it was raining; the principal, Miss Whitehead came to our class room, and called me out. I probably thought, “What did I do this time?” She asked me if I knew where the new boy and girl from Poland lived on Atlanta Street. I told her I did. I knew where a lot of people lived. I am by nature a nosey person. She told me they haven’t been to school in a couple of days and did I know why? I told her no, I never spoken to them.

She asked me would I mind walking to their house and knock on the door and see if they are still living there. I did. I don’t know why she picked me for that job. I was probably between eight and ten years old. Did she not want to get wet?

Nobody came to the door. I walked back in the rain and reported it to Miss Whitehead.

Incidentally, another Polish refugee family lived on the corner of Atlanta and Goss Streets.

On up the slight grade beside the railroad tracks were some big red and rocky drops off that was fun to play climb on.

The grade starts going down. It passed Clay Street and a couple of houses. You passed a house with a goldfish pond out front – that belong to a Marietta postman, I found out his name but forgot. And next door to the postman was Crestview Baptist Church which I belonged to and I think still do. I still get their letters.

Next to Crestview Church, was a little grocery on the corner of Atlanta Street and East Dixie Avenue. The little store was named Hicks Grocery. It was owned and operated by a little hyper woman by the name of Regina Hicks. Her brother Dudley was the butcher – I’m not sure if he was part owner or not.

(crossing over the RR tracks and turning north on West Atlanta Street). This is the Marietta City Cemetery. (Turning in). It is here that Mary Phagan is buried. She was the one murdered in Atlanta at a pencil factory and Leo Frank was hung by vigilantes. He was already convicted and serving time in a prison in Milledgeville when the men broke into prison and carried him to Marietta and hung him… many books have been written about this ugly episode in our history.

The men who organized and orchestrated the lynch mob were the elite leaders of Marietta. One of the Clay family members was involved. I mentioned that because his grave is just a stone’s throw from Mary’s grave.

Look around the cemetery. You will see many names that streets are named after. A lot of history is in this cemetery.

When we were young “The Lady in Black” would come to the cemetery every day and sit by her sister’s grave. She lived in Atlanta. When she died the officials found a lot of cash in her apartment and also a lot of cats.

A friend of mine lived on Hedges Street, which is a street with mostly duplexes that borders the south side of the cemetery. He and I spent many hours sitting in the cemetery talking about life, girls, books, etc. We sat not far from Mary Phagan’s grave. Many tourists coming to see Mary’s grave would walk by us and not see us, or see us and be startled.

(going back up Atlanta Street).

On that sidewalk, about there folks, one time I was riding my bike home from school in the rain and slipped in a mud that slid into my path and lights out. The next thing I remember I woke up and was over a man’s shoulder and he was toting me up the steps of our house on Manget Street and my mother screaming. I found out later that a taxi cab driver for Vickery Taxi Company seen my lying there out cold. He recognized me and knew here I lived and picked me up and my bike and carried me home.

That would not happen today.

Over to the right, on the corner of Frazier Street is the Clay home. Did you know it has the same floor plan as the Trammell House? When we used to walk home from school, one of my friends Tony H. use to delight in taking a dump in their front yard behind a bushy tree.

(at Waverly Way and Atlanta Street). The building to the right was Marietta Lighting and years before that it was Sears Roebuck. When it was Sears I lived in the Clay Homes, just about a block behind the building. One day my mother was ironing and listening to WFOM-AM radio, to kids tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas. Then she heard my voice talking to Santa.. It was unmistakably my voice. I was about 3 or 4 years old. She thought I was in front yard playing with Carol Joe Clayton.

The alley that ran between the old Sears/Marietta Lighting building and the next building, which I think was a Western Auto, led down to Waddell Street in front of Steele Grocery Store. I discovered gravity. I discovered on my tricycle, if I was going down a hill, if I raised both feet I would go faster because the of gravity…. Well, I don’t remember if I actually understood Newton’s laws on gravity, but I did understand the implication. One time I was going speeding down the hill on the tricycle and WHAM! I was hit by a car. A lady in her car hit me – no fault of her own. It knocked me out. The first knock out of several in my formative years.

I survived. And of course the lady broke no law. So, alls well that ends well.

The next building was the Marietta provision Company, which was a butcher company owned by my future uncle-in-law's family. One time after a football game we went through their garbage cans on the side and found some cow bones. Jimmy Pat Presley pretended to be ran over, lying on the side of the road with the big cow bone sticking out of his pants. It caused quiet a ruckus.

To the left most of the building is gone, but it used to be City Hall. Upstairs was the T.A.C (Teenage Canteen) and the rear side of the building was Marietta Fire Station #1.

In our preteen years after school sometimes we would go to the T.A.C. and try to play pool – most times the lady and her husband who ran it would run us out for not being teenagers. Then, sometimes, we would walk around to the back to look at the giant majestic red fire engines.

My senior year in high school the T.A.C. was moved to Henderson Street, next to the YWCA. I think it had a octagon shape. Somehow it just wasn’t the same. The creaky old wooden floors of the old T.A.C. was just more homey than the plastic looking new T.AC.

(At the corner of Anderson Street and Atlanta Street) See the big building with the big high columns. That is now Marietta’s Art Museum. It was in my youth the Post Office. Anna’s uncle worked there. Many days after school we would go there and go through the garbage cans out behind the building on the Marietta Journal side, looking for envelopes with other-than-normal stamps on envelopes.

Across the street is the Roy Barnes law offices. Kind of tacky - right. The law office was at one time the First Methodist Church Annex. As a kid, under 6, my playmates and I played in the building as they were building it in the evening when the workers left for the day. Roy Barnes was Governor of Georgia.

Where the parking lot is was the First Methodist Church.

(crossing Anderson Street) the first little building on the right used to be the Greyhound Bus Station.. A couple store fronts down, up stairs was WBIE Radio, which was a new radio in town. I don’t think it came until I was in high school. It was owned and controlled by James Wilder who drove a white and blue 54 Ford. The Ford had emergency lights on it – every crime, every major wreck, was covered by the James Wilder. Future rock and roll star Billy Joe Royal and his band would play live about 5pm on certain weekdays.

Across the street on the left side was up until the early 50s the Marietta Police Station with my Daddy as the chief.

Then the next block was the Cobb County Courthouse – which has been torn down many years. I have heard a lot of people say they miss seeing the old courthouse, but none saying they were glad to see it go.


This is all of the Marietta Magical Mystery Tour I can handle today.

This could go on and on. I might pick up where I left off someday.

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Blogger kenju said...

You mean there's MORE??? LOL

Good post, Eddie. I think I know about as much as anyone can about Marietta, without having lived there.

I got hit by a car, too, when I was 7. Did you ever find out what happened to the Polish family?

4:47 AM  
Blogger ET said...

Thanks for reading that endless trivia!
No, I never found out what happened to the Polish people. I can only speculate. Marietta was a small rural community then... maybe they felt they just didn't fit in, so maybe they moved to Atlanta where there it was likely to have a large segment of Polish refugees.

4:57 AM  
Blogger John said...

"welcome to hell" - you always have to brag about my criminal past :)

I did get some good fish sticks and mac & cheese at the City Jail..... so it wasn't all bad.


5:37 AM  
Anonymous Johnny said...

Thanks for the 1950's to 1960's tour thru Marietta. Brings back a lot of old memories.

6:09 AM  
Blogger ET said...

Your crime and punishment = my claim to fame.

By the way, were you locked in the old granite jailhouse? That was probably bulldozed before you made your grand entrance through the steel doors.

6:11 AM  
Blogger ET said...

I'm glad it stirred your memory case.
I had planned for it to be a quick whistle stop tour but almost each corner had a memory and it was hard for me to shut myself up.... although I did leave a lot out.
It ended up being 7 or 8 regular pages long, then, I added the pictures, so that probably added a couple of more pages.

6:14 AM  
Blogger deborah wilson said...

God Eddie, this is a good *tour* post, I'll have to copy it for for reference. So many of the things you know about, I don't. Funny how a few years can make a big difference as to one's historical memory and/or perception of a city. To me, Marietta has always been magical, I hope that the city and its people can continue to prosper.

3:17 PM  
Blogger ET said...


Thanks! It is magical and Mystic to me!

3:46 PM  
Anonymous TalentAgent said...

WOW! Did I ever read some of my past. Was interesting to read about the old WBIE Radio Station.
I worked there, and remember well those high and very long stairs!

8:04 PM  
Blogger Eddie said...

I'm glad I could help.

5:23 AM  
Anonymous Denise Wilder Stinson said...

Eddie, I know I'm 2 years behind in posting a comment, but I've been researching the internet as much as I can to find any kind of posts, articles, etc., about my grandfather, James Wilder (who owned WBIE).

I am interested to know who TalentAgent is that also commented about the radio station as I am also looking for people who used to work there. And yes, I can remember the stairs as well, and how fascinated I was by the teletype printer that spit out the news. Thank you for making my day after reading that you remember my grandfather's name!

11:33 PM  
Blogger Eddie said...

Denis, I forgot what I origally posted on your father but I used to admire him a lot, he was like a one man show. He drove something like a 55 light blue and white
Ford and he was always covering traffic accidents and doing a long radio show. I think I heard that he someties slept on the floor at the studio. He lived on Toliver Street, behind us on Richard Street.

2:20 AM  
Blogger rdanlord said...

Next door to the alley way where WBIE was, my dad's office of R.Dan Lord - Land Surveyor was upstairs in the red brick two story building on the caddy-corner, across from what was then the post office. his office was there from '62 to'68, when he moved it about the time RFK was assasinated. That office building had the coldest air conditioning I have ever experienced.

1:53 PM  

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