|MEMORIES OF MILTON
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
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
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, pitchforks...you name it. You could also be
entertained by the arguments that sometimes erupted between some of the