Recollections of Life in Bethpage

as told by Christine Templeton Cage
Transcribed and Submitted by Sherry Falcon
© 1998

     I was born April 18, 1915, the oldest child of Ben and Willie Shrum TEMPLETON. I have two brothers, Roy, the oldest, and Frank, the youngest, two sisters, Pauline FISHBURN and Kathleen BRINKLEY who died at the age of 42. We were born in a four-room house on top of Mutton Hollow Hill. Daddy's sister, Aunt Matt, and his brother, Uncle John, lived with us. Nine people in a four-room house. When I started to school, I rode a pony to Bethpage School which was three miles from home. It was a four-room school with an auditorium with a big coal stove for heat, each room had a coal stove. It had a cloak room and a hall to hang your coats. The floors were oiled to keep down the dust. We had some stables in the back school yard to hitch our ponies.
     Some of the people living in the Mutton Hollow neighborhood were: starting with Lizzie and Yank CARTER, next Aunt Sara and Uncle Ike SHRUM, Bill and Nell SHRUM living with them. Then Uncle Hood SHRUM and Aunt Can and Uncle Hood's father, called Ped SHRUM. Then our family, Ben TEMPLETON, next Uncle Henry and Aunt Malinda, Alfred and Fannie SHRUM, then at the foot of the hill, Wes SHRUMS' family, then Sol SHRUM (Grandpa), Mutt and Esther STAMPS, then Harry STAMPS, then Maude and Howard GREGORY, and Uncle Kinney KEMP, Maude's father, then Uncle Ben SHRUM, who was married three times. Then Mr. DENVER and Mrs. Sue ROBERSON, then Amzi BELL, then John CAGE, who lived at the Claude SENTER place, then Louis JOHNSON. Now we are in what was called Old Bethpage. Starting with a house on the corner, now a church there, was Tom PARDUE'S house, then a blacksmith shop once run by the PRESLEYS, then Charlie KEMP, blacksmith, next, Hershel HUNTER'S Store, then a house where Mr. Knox DOSS lived, then Speedy NORMAN'S house, then his store. Then Hershel HUNTER'S house, next Burton COX'S house. Across the road from HUNTER'S house was the depot. Before you crossed the iron bridge was a sawmill. Up on the hill to the right was the MOORES, KING and Mary LASSITER.
     Now in New Bethpage was Oscar ARTERBURN house, then next Arterburn's Store, in front of the store was the school house. Next to the store, Harry NORMAN'S house, then Harry NORMAN'S garage. Next, Farmers and Merchant's Bank, now gone. Claude SENTER'S store on the right, then the switchboard. On the left was Bishop HINTON'S mill for grinding corn for meal--you would carry corn to be ground, it was called a turn of corn. Next on the left was Dr. WRIGHT, then Dr. ROARK his office was on the right side of the road also had a drug store. Then on the left was Sleepy HARRIS house, then on the right was Mary Lee HANNA'S house. Then up the road on the left was Joe EVAN'S house, next the cemetery and the Methodist Church.
     On the left side of the road was called the new part of the cemetery where Mother and Daddy, Uncle John and Aunt Matt are buried. On the right side, the older part of the cemetery.
     Now about Christmas and how we prepared for it. About the last of November, Mother and Aunt Matt would start saving eggs for the Christmas baking. No less than six cakes would be baked, each one with six layers each. Each one had thick icing made with coconut hand-grated, and raisins ground on a food chopper. They were made with butter and stayed moist for a week. Then a ham would be boiled outside in a black kettle. Families would visit each other for Christmas week until New Years. We also would have chicken and dressing and canned vegetables and canned fruit plus homemade pies.
     On Christmas Eve, we would get apples, oranges, some broken stick candy, and some chocolate candy in a box we set on the hearth by the fireplace and each one of the children would get one or two toys. The girls a doll and the boys a top and Frank, the youngest got a wagon and a few other toys purchased at Hunter's store. Also Daddy would buy 2 or 3 pounds of cheese and sometimes a stalk of bananas, and a can of oysters for soup.
     Sometimes when we got to school in the winter time, we had to stand by the stove to warm up before classes started. We wore long stockings with long underwear tucked down in the stockings to keep warm. We had a book satchel usually made of some kind of heavy material. Something like a pillowcase but sewed up at each end and a split in the middle so we could put our books in each end so it would balance the books when we put them across the pony.
      We carried our lunch wrapped in a newspaper. It usually consisted of sausage and biscuit, if in season, fried sugar pies, baked sweet potato and bacon and fried egg on a biscuit and sometimes Mother baked tea cakes. We would sit outside under a big maple tree and eat our lunch. In cold weather we would sit around the big coal stove in the auditorium. Sometimes we would carry eggs in a flour sack and take them to the store across from the school and buy some candy.
     When I was in the fifth or sixth grade, we finally got a school bus, a Model T Ford driven by Uncle Ben SHRUM. We had to walk to the bottom of the hill to meet the bus. I finished school at Bethpage which went to Junior High. Then, we rode the T- Model to Bethpage and had a bus driven by Caney CROWDER to Gallatin High. It was like a panel truck with seats built around the sides and planks across the middle. Sometimes the kids would pull the planks from under you and you would hit the floor of the old hard truck and everyone would laugh.
     Then to Gallatin High which was in the old Genesco building. After the first semester, we moved to the new high school in 1932. In 1933, I graduated in the middle of The Depression. My class ring cost $6.00 and my pictures cost $6.50. I often wonder how hard it was on my parents for my graduation. They were really proud of me and never complained. After graduation, I thought I needed to get a job and help my family out.
     It was hard to find any kind of a job during The Depression. With the help of Mr. Oscar ARTERBURN, he got me a job with what was then called General Shoe Corporation. I went to work for $0.25 an hour. I was working when the first Social Security cards were issued. F. D. R. was President. I had to stay in Gallatin as I had no way to get to work. I stayed with the George HARRISON family for $3.00 a week board. After I had worked for about a month, I bought my family a barrel of flour and other groceries which helped out.
     In the meantime, I met Wright THOMPSON. He was able to get a job at General Shoe. He went to work for $0.40 an hour. We decided to get married since we were both working. Our first house we rented for $7.00 a month from Harry STAMPS. Then later on, we decided to build a house on a lot on Daddy's place. We bought $300.00 worth of lumber and Wright's daddy and my daddy built the house. We were living there when Wright decided to buy a grocery store from Hershel HUNTER. We had the store for seventeen months when Wright was drafted to go into the Army. After he was discharged, he got a job with Henry Frank FERRELL. His next job was selling insurance which was then National Life.

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