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Memories of Milton

Home place
Fond Memories

By Bill Hardwick

I have fond memories of a place that we always refer to as "home".  I
recently visited there with great expectations of “viewing my childhood”.
A friend once wrote to me that...we poor adults spend our entire life
....desperately trying to recall a youth, one that we denied then....
and depend entirely upon now”.

During my visit I was saddened to see the facade was in poor disarray.
Many of the businesses that I once knew were closed, the doors and windows
boarded up and the people that I remembered were no longer visible.
The town seemed to have moved slightly east of the one that I remembered.
I almost felt a phobia of some sorts as I recalled the hustling, bustling
community with a mixture of automobiles and horse drawn wagons.
This was especially true on Saturdays when families would come into town
to purchase their weekly and monthly foods and wares.

The town used to be separated into four sections with North and South Main
Street split by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway's tracks running down the
middle, the outlying streets and small roads to the outskirts and a place
called “the country”.  I was fortunate to have traveled many of the streets
and roads.  I have even visited “the country”.  I have since told many of my
friends that...I may not be “country”...but I am associated to it.

Growing up in a small town has many advantages over the larger cities.  One
thing is that you can't get lost very easily.

At the edge of east Milton there was a sign that read “ 1300 people”. I
remember wondering why it was never changed when someone was born or
when  one of our loved ones died.  In my mind I often visit this place that is
called “home”.

I remember the old theater on, I think Heck's Street .... or was it
Smith's Street. The pressed glass windows in the doors.  You could pay 10
cents and enjoy a movie.  On Saturdays there would be a double feature with
Roy Rogers, Dale Evans with Trigger, Sunset Carson, Gene Autry and
Champion, Red Ryder, Hopalong Cassidy, Ken Maynard, Johnny Mack Brown, and
some old “codger” named Gabby Hayes.  You could see a serial that played
every Saturday and lasted 10 to 15 weeks.  I remember the theater and “Fat”
Tackett taking up tickets.  As the building became older it was closed and
the theater moved to a new building and was called the “Virginian Theatre”.

They evidently couldn't spell theater.  The old theater sat across the
alley from Fought Building and on up the street was the “Marylander”, a
soda shop that I often visited. “Shorty” Chambers had a radio repair
business just up the street.  He was the projectionist and quite a
character.  The library opened up in the old theater building and I
remember that for some reason “l didn't like that”.

Names flow through my mind as I pass the myriad of houses on North Main.
Mont Ward and his wife Julia would sit on the front porch in rocking
chairs and watch the traffic on Route 60 and the people walking by. Mont
was often referred to as “Judge”.  This was of course before the C&O
removed it's tracks and they rerouted Route 60 through the middle.  Across
the street was Bias' Filling Station.  Later Basil Bias moved the station to
South Main and later Dick, his son, took over.

The Justice Inn brings memories to mind, also.  The Burnside's ran it.  I
remember “Old Bill”.  He worked there and many times I would carry a bucket
to the back of the inn and for a dollar he would fill it with chicken.  When the Justice
Inn closed, I think that he worked for “Old” Doc Richmond and later
“Young” Doc Richmond.  This was at the Richmond Clinic.  Old Bill, who was
      black, lived in Huntington and traveled by Greyhound everyday.

I remember Ralph Fowble and his wife.  Ralph was a local plumber.  He seemed
a jolly old soul.  I remember how kind his wife was.  She had rheumatoid
arthritis and had difficulty getting around.  She would often send me to
the store to do her grocery shopping.

I know you will remember at the beginning of town was an old filling
station where “Pedro” Williams had the local taxi service or as it was
known, the “Milton Cab Company”.  Uncle Johnny drove for him for a while.
This was later taken over by Emzy Nichols and later moved eastward.
Duke Green had a meat market close to the old bank building.  He was of
course in competition with Butch Seager's Market close to the old post
office building.  There was John Davis' Restaurant in mid-town.  Who could
forget the Holley Brother's General Store with it's old oil wood floors
where you could buy groceries, boots, shoes, seeds, clothes...and
upstairs there was furniture and all kinds of hardware from flues and
pipes for your stoves, name it.  You could also be
entertained by the arguments that sometimes erupted between some of the
family members.

North Main Street

Jim Reese, with his son, had Reese's Market.  I would go there and talk
to Bob, his youngest son and pick up a couple of items. Kroger's was next
door to the old post office with Lonnie Robinson as it's manager.  Lonnie
and his mother lived on the same street that I did.  I used to go there and
buy “day old bread” for 10 cents a loaf...right before closing time.

T. T. “Tiff” Hinkle also had a store.  This was where my grandmother did
much of her shopping.  After Mr. Hinkle retired, Everette Cummings took
over the store and ran it for several years.  I remember that “Tiff” used
the outer south side of his store to store empty soda pop crates.  These
crates provided a front row seat just up the block to Samp Robert's Radio
and TV Repair Shop.  Mr. Roberts had a TV in the front window with a timer
on it and a speaker outside.  On many evenings around 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. we
would gather there to watch the TV shows.  This was the free outdoor movie
theater.  After the viewing we would return the crates from which they came
and sadly go home.

I guess everyone remembers “Blindman” Price.  Elmer Price's store was just
east of the Holley Brothers.  I remember how absolutely amazing it was that
he could tell the difference between a dollar bill, a five, a ten, my
goodness, a twenty.  Mr. Price tuned pianos as a sideline, of course his
wife had to drive him to your house.

Heck's Funeral Home was occasionally a place where friends and families
met. I remember Homer, to a small extent, but I mostly remember Warren
Sovine.  Next door was Laura Danford's Boutique.  This was a long
relationship of Heck and Danford.

Harshbarger Mill

Across Route 60 was, of course, Harshbarger Milling Company. I remember
going there just to look at the enormous weighing scale they had.  The
smell of grains and feed engulfed you and you could see spilled grain all
over the place.  You could also see a big rat once-in-a-while.

How about on the corner of South Main....Hinton and Bessie Richmond?
Hinton and his boys loved to hunt and had several hunting dogs.  Bessie was
most famous.  She always seemed like “the town crier”.  The Milton Fire
Department's Siren was located at Hecks.  No matter what time it would go
off...2 a.m. or 2 p.m., you could call Bessie and find out were the
fire was.

Happy Hall Lumber Company...Happy used to work in the mines and as the
      story goes the mine caved in and that is why he walked with a limp.  He
      always had a smile.

Tooten and Lettie Hudgins are people I remember also.  The West Virginian
was the name of their restaurant.  Tooten walked with a limp also.  I was
told that at one time he used to hobo around and while jumping freight
trains, the heavy door slammed on his foot and he lost his toes.  Story
goes that during the 1930s - 1940s when the C&O had a small passenger
station in the middle of town across from the old bank and Island Creek
Store, that many people would dress up and congregate at the depot.  Men in
suits and women in fancy dresses carrying parasols.  Tooten, being quite a
jokester, walked over and picked up a hammer and a spike and began driving it
through the end of his foot.  Since it was already missing it didn't hurt,
      but I am told that several women fainted.

You'll remember Sally Brown, I'm sure.  I ate many bowls of chili at her
      restaurant.  She was a long time character.

Blenko Glass

Raymond Doddridge comes to mind.  He lived just east of the High School on
South Main, and at least when he was mayor, he would dress up like Santa
Claus and walk the streets visiting the elderly and entertaining kids.

The two story brick, called the North School, where I first attended with
my first grade teacher Mildred Blake.  The North School is gone.  Also,
Central where I attended the third through fifth grade brings back
memories of the likes of Misses “Tot” Blackwood, Ms. Petry, and of course
Virginia Bias.  I know you will remember these names.  I spent the second
grade at West School,  just behind Milton High.  Sadly they have all passed

I often thought, growing up, that John's Creek was named after Uncle John.
Memorial Day, or as we knew it “Decoration Day” holds a place very dear to
my heritage.  The Neal Cemetery...and who could forget Tom Neal.
I wish that I had more time to write about the Fourth of July Celebrations
at the Ball Field...the “Battle of the Barrels” with the Milton Fire
Department Volunteers.  The “Greasy Pole” that they would put up each year
with a $5 dollar bill on top and watching the kids try to climb it.  The
"Greasy Pig” and all those booths that had games galore.

Of course there was the entertainment from Huntington and WSAZ.  WSAZ was
on Channel 5 at that time and later moved to Channel 3...before WCHS or
WHTN (WOWK)...we had one station.  I guess you would remember Dean
Sturm, Odie Crabtree, Ralph Shannon, Harry Mills and the Haylofters.  How
about Norma Lee Hoople (Did I spell that right).   “Big Foot” Charlie
Keaton. It seems like an old Gene Autry song “Ages and Ages Ago”.
Time seems unimportant as you visit.  What year was it?...Do we really
care...Can we really remember?

I wish that I could finish this but I have a deadline to meet.  Blenko
Glass was always on my shopping could go over there and climb
on their glass pile and find ashtrays and pieces that weren't too bad and
bring them home.  I still have some of my pieces.

J. Y. Lowe, A. D. Bradford, Don Cummings, Mr. Manning, Mrs. McClung “Big
John”, and of course Floyd Davis.  The “Pipe” on Mud River, the old covered
bridges, Mill Creek and "Raider's Mountain" where you could ride your bike
down hill for a great was just hard to pump back up.

A beautiful scene is the Mill Creek flow, when the hills and dales are
covered with snow”...

I guess you would remember Old Doc Farnsworth.  He treated the burns on my
arm.  Old Doc O. C. Campbell pulled a couple of teeth for me.

John's Creek was one of my favorite hangouts.  Johnny and Avelee were like
second parents to me.  I remember the “old” house at the roadside with the
water well where John had topped it with cement and placed marbles on
incrested with the name “Jack”.  Thanks to you I have that piece at my front

The old house burned down due to a faulty electrical connection at the
back of the refrigerator. John and Jack built the new home on the hill
where Jack and Bonnie now live.
Jack watched after me.  I always thought he was “cool”.
He was always a hard worker and I grew up respecting him a
great deal.  I still do.  He is one of my heroes.  He is a kind and wonderful

Old Covered Bridge
Submitted by Bill Hardwick, 02 Mar 2007

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