The other day when I was reflecting back to my years of growing up in Greenwood when most people walked wherever they needed to go as few people owned cars. Frank told me about a time he hitched hike to Fort Smith (this was a day and time when hitch hiking was safe) he said that he had walked almost to Rye Hill before a car came along. During the Great Depression my father-in-law moved his family to a farm on Chismville Road which is located pass the Jack Nolen Lake. Mr. Hughart, or Zadie as he was known throughout the County, was one of the last Village Blacksmiths. His shop was located just west of the Court House. I have been told by many that there were few horses that he couldn’t put new shoes on. After they moved to the farm he would walk into town each morning to work. Many days he walked back home without making one dime that day.
I think of the late Everett Chaney, a local barber better known as “Judge” whose house set just under the hill from the Old Rock School. His shop was located just behind the Farmers Bank that was located where Skinners Law Firm is now located. Every day he walked home for lunch. It was a Chaney tradition that dinner (lunch) was on the table right at twelve o’clock. Mrs. Chaney saw that her working husband had a good meal at noon time. She believed if the husband could make the living he should be well fed.
Another person I remember who walked home every day at noon was the late Elizabeth Rachels who worked many years at the Court House. She lived on what is now Gary Street. Her house was about a block west of the old Red Brick School. Her husband was disabled so he became the cook for the family. I can just see her walking home in all kinds of weather carrying a big black umbrella.
I can also see the late Mrs. Emma Lane, who lived on Main Street near the Red Brick School, walking down the street with her big black umbrella. I can’t remember ever seeing her walking anywhere without her umbrella. Mrs. Lane worked at the Cowne Mercantile owned by her son-in-law the late John Cowne. The store was located on the north side of the square near where the Osborn Agency is now located. Mrs. Lane preferred to be called “Madam Lane” as she was an elected Justice of the Peace. I believe she was the first female JP in the state.
What I remember most about the late W.N. Wilkinson was seeing him walking down Main Street to the Farmers Bank and how erect he was. He walked so straight and tall, always in a dark suit, white shirt and tie. Later his son, the late Means Wilkinson, came home to Greenwood after serving in the Navy during World War II and he, too, walked to work at the Farmers Bank. The thing about Means he never saw a stranger, or a person who, if he saw someone along Main Street out in their yard or on their porch but what he would stop for a short visit. I just wonder how long it took him to get to work each morning. He lived next door to the Methodist Church just a few blocks from the bank. I cannot remember a time when I saw Means that he didn’t have a smile. I am sure his walk to work each morning brightened a lot of people’s morning.
You know it is said that walking is the best exercise that one can do. It is too bad that we as Americans have reached the point where we jump into the car to go somewhere a block or two away. Kids don’t walk to school anymore. They either have a car or a parent takes them. When we lived at Trail’s End we walked three miles each way. Jim and Jane walked the walk longer than me and Pat. Did it hurt me? Only my feelings when Mama moved us to the farm. I think that is what is wrong with me today the fact Mama moved me a “CITY GIRL” to the country. I hope all who are able will get back to taking a walk and hollering greetings to the people you see along the way. How much sweeter life would be.