MEMORIES OF THE EARLY 1930s - The Ellzey Road into Vardaman
Monette Morgan Young (1915-2000)
It is hard for me to realize that Vardaman was only twenty-five years old when I started to high school there in 1930. It had the look of very old age.
As we traveled down the road from Ellzey, and just before we got to the road that led up to the Vardaman school house on the hill, there was a house sitting in middle of a lot. This was the Bro. Gammill home. He was a preacher, but he had no churches that I ever knew of. Once after I married he held a revival at Prospect Church, east of our old home in Reid. Mother and Daddy went to hear him. He had two daughters and a son. One daughter was Bera, older than me, and a daughter younger, and a son about my age who was in some of my classes. I don’t know where that family was from. Bro. Gammill had a sister who visited occasionally. She attended our church and we got to know her.
On toward the Vardaman business area, Uncle Dee Blue’s house was on the east side of the street, across and a little south of the Christian house. Just north of the Blue house, a small street ran east for a few hundred feet and then turned south. There was a house where it cornered and I believe that was the Bennett Morrow house. After it cornered, the street headed south and intersected the street where the R. E. Gilder Sr. and the R.E. Gilder Jr. houses were. It crossed that street just west of R.E. Gilder Sr.’s house and then went on south past Dr. Young’s house, then by the water tank and on further south to the highway.
Back on the main Ellzey to Vardaman road/street. Uncle Fill and Aunt Belle Young’s lot and John Walton’s lot were on the west side of the street next to each other. A vacant lot was across the street. That was the back lot of the Little Sam Scarbrough house which faced the Bob Gilder house on the next street over to the east.
Aunt Belle and Mrs. Walton sniped at each other occasionally. Aunt Belle’s yard came right near to Mrs. Walton’s living room windows which faced south directly toward Aunt Belle’s house. One day Aunt Belle had some large well-rooted hedges dug up and planted at the edge of her lot near Mrs. Walton’s windows. When Mrs. Walton complained that she couldn’t see, Aunt Belle said that was just what she wanted.
Mr. Walton had an automobile agency once. It was said that the Walton daughter Minnie was the first woman in town to drive a car and it was said that she went to Memphis with him and drove their own car back and he brought back a new one which some one had purchased. He probably never kept a showroom or any extra cars. Maybe he had just a list of models that he sold and went and got them when someone bought one. He had a store for so long in that shed-like place downtown just south of and attached to the hardware. I cannot recall if it was there when I was in school; but, if so, that shed-like building and the portico area could have been a small show room if he ever had one.
Aunt Belle’s house was one of those in town which some black folks considered haunted. Stories were told of rocking chairs in it which rocked by themselves. It never occurred to me to ask who of the dead they thought came back to visit the house, but T.W. Young, Fillmore Young's father, and Aunt Belle and Uncle Fill's daughter Clarice had both died there.
After we passed Aunt Belle’s house we would pass the Methodist pastor’s home and then the Methodist church.
Just south of the Methodist church on the west side of street was the Wylie house. They were Tennesseans. This was a big old brown-yellow house, the last one directly on the street before the Masonic Building.
There were Mr. and Mrs. Wylie and three daughters. And I believe there was a son somewhere. In my very early years Dulcie Wylie and a sister were there at home. These two young women dressed so stylishly. This was an era of smart and very elaborate dresses if a person could buy them. I cannot recall when the two Wylie girls moved away but the Wylie parents were still living there when I came to town. Soon they were gone, though, and the Skinners, also Tennesseans, came in from some other near location and bought and lived there.
Catty-cornered across the street from the Wylies was the Macon Moseley house. He was married to Nancy Cannon, a sister of Mrs. J. D. Edmondson. He was the son of one of Sarah Young Mosley’s sons. His house was on the SE corner of that main street and the street that went east from the main street to pass in front of Dr. Young’s house. Their three Mosley daughters were: Lorette, later married to Robert Williams; another daughter (can't remember her name), later married to Verner Williams (no relation to Robert); and Frances, later married to R.E. Gilder. Macon Mosely had a brother Howard and a sister Loda.
Just south of the Mosely house, across the “Dr. Young street”, was a house which maybe had never been painted. Here lived Mr. Ike Byars and two daughters. One was Ada. She would marry Jodie Ward, a half brother to Andrew and Lonnie Ward. Another was Jobera. She married and moved to Houston. The Byars would soon move to Memphis.
Then, after that Byars house and still on the east side of the main street, came the Baptist church.
I know now why the houses seemed so aged when I first saw Vardaman. Once they were built and had that first coat of paint, most were never repainted. In those days the grade of house paint used just gently and gradually washed away. It did not flake up and curl up. So the houses all just had a faded took, not a tattered took. The faded look gave them the aging look.
Christian, Blue, and Wylie House photos: Zilla Spencer
Gilder house photos: Jim Young
Methodist Church photo is from the VHP files.
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