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Reminiscing: Celeste 1915

Many "Star" readers will recognize this as Celeste's Sanger Street in 1915 as one looks toward the east.

Ethyl Hanson of Wolfe City and her half-sister, Lee Steadman, spent awhile reminiscing on the scene and past Celeste as did Mrs. Gertie McMichael.

This photograph, made from a postcard, was submitted to the "Star" by Ethyl Hanson, of Wolfe City, half-sister to Lee Steadman.

Both of them and Gertie McMichael reminisced on past Celeste and described the picture.

On the north side of the street, (the left side of the picture) the first building you see is C. J. Barnard's Dry Goods. But right before this building, where the present phone company structure is now (northwest corner of North Third and Sanger Street, across from the bank), used to be the phone company that Mrs. McMichael's father, J. W. Ewing bought. Next to C. J. Barnard's is Norris Drugs, Hudson's Tailor Clothes, E. D. Bickham's Grocery, and then W. W. McMichael's Variety. This was Gertie's husband's store, which he opened in 1913. Gertie Ewing became Mrs. McMichael in 1915.

Next in the picture would be Thomas Grocery, Dyer Drug, Bob Kerr Grocery, and Eastwood's Barber Shop, and Buchanan and Luna, Later Buchanan and Lewis, Dry Goods Store.

On the south side of the street the Franklin Hotel, later owned by Tip Cunningham is pictured. Hanson also noted that later, Bob Mitchell had a car lot at the end of the street on the south side and also on the south side, starting at the east end, were Sam Gibson's Garage, Picture Show, and Steven's Restaurant.

Hanson's mother provided home canned pickles and other garden food for the restaurant until she died, when Hanson was fourteen years old. "Lee reared us all, a lot of people don't know that," Hanson said.

At the back of the picture in the center is the railroad tower where the switchman for the Katy and Santa Fe railroads was stationed. The Katy line had a depot and the Santa Fe had a depot.

"You had to ride the train anywhere you went," Mrs. McMichael said. "You rode one train into Greenville to do your shopping and another one back."

She said that one time there was a party given for the school kids by a teacher who happened to live in Greenville. When the party was over, they "had to take a cab to the depot and that train was just pulling out. Well, I was able to swing it, but about half the kids got left behind." Her mind today is just as lively as her youthful body must have been to swing onto a moving train.

Celeste had livery stable where the fire station is now (South Second Street). This cab service would carry passengers from one depot to the other as one of its services.

On the left forefront of the photograph a young man is leaning against a lamppost near his horse and buggy. He is Richard Porter, half-brother to Lee Steadman, who carried doctors about on their visits in that buggy.

Celeste had at least four doctors at one time, Dr. Cannon, Dr. Norris, Dr. Williams, and Dr. Harris.

One thing Mrs. McMichael noted about Celeste today is, "Now at least forty people live by themselves. We used to have families."

Mrs. McMichael reared ten children. She herself came to Celeste in 1906 from Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The following descriptions are taken from "Welcome to Celeste, Small Town, Big Heart," the book published in 1976 by the Historical Committee.

"In the 1920's Celeste hosted a traveling medicine show on downtown streets for one week in the summertime. Singing, dancing, joking, and clowning were mixed in with high powered liquid, selling in bottles and boxes of patent medicines guaranteed to cure everything from arthritis to the toothache. Admission was free and profits from the medicine sold kept the show going.

The old horse-drawn hearse was sold by Henslee Hardware Store in the 1950's and it was hauled to Hollywood and resold as a movie prop.

(January 21, 1983, The Celeste Star)

Note: The center of the picture postcard were horseless wagons and maybe some buggies. You can see the tracks. The main street would be muddy if it rained. There are several men on the street. They seem to be dress in coat and hat. Don't see any skirts! Behind the hotel is another "large" building.

Submitted by Sarah Swindell

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