Skipping Down East Main

Mar 08, 2022 at 05:52 am by cghattas


Idyllic childhoods are few and far between. I claim mine, not because of wealth, status, or pedigree, but because I was raised by godly parents in an old house on East Main Street. My East Main saga began in 1968, when my paternal grandmother needed to move from Franklin to come and live with us. Dad, who worked for TVA, looked for a place that would give her some privacy in our noisy household of five children, of which I was youngest.

We found the perfect house at 407 East Main Street.

The move was a blur for me, as I had a nice case of the mumps at the time, but I do remember the house. It had been owned by the Reeves family, who had a beauty parlor in the front. My bathroom had stalls in it when we first moved in.

As we transitioned from a “normal” house to an antebellum home, I’m sure the original owners were turning in their graves. Five kids, each with a record player and unique interests in music, filled the house with constant activity, noise, and sibling conflicts. Grandmother, safely ensconced in her own separate living area, complete with kitchen, living room, and bedroom, somehow enjoyed the quiet life of her later years.

How she did that, I’m not sure, as we were instructed, upon returning from school each day to yell through her door, “Grandmother, I’m home!” Our parents both worked, once I was in school, so she was our overseer until their return. Born in 1889, Mary Dixie Bearden Brown was from another era for children of the 60s and 70s, but she was much loved and revered. I loved playing card games with her, like Authors or Old Maid. She helped me see life through her eyes of growing up in the post-Civil War era and through the Depression.

I thank God for having lived in a multi-generational home.

Along with my grandmother, my parents were instrumental in making our East Main Street house a home. Despite falling plaster, seven layers of wallpaper, and high gas bills, our house was a well-lived-in space, filled with love, laughter, and faith.

Living downtown meant we could walk to church, the grocery store, the library, and, even some of us, to school. Even with five children, my mother, Helen Brown, was never late for anything. For me, that was exemplified in her ability to walk very briskly. Following her to the Linebaugh Library, where she worked, or First Baptist Church, where we worshipped, meant I had to be fast on my feet to keep up.

Mama taught me to skip down Main Street.

Knowing we’d never get where we were going quickly enough without some spring in my step, my mother taught me how to skip. She did it by example, and I have many a memory of skipping to H.G. Hills grocery or church with her. We passed houses that were no longer in their glory days, but still a huge part of our lives and history. We knew who lived in them as our neighbors and friends, from Mrs. Roberts across the street, to Mrs. Eagan next door, to Dr. Dill, the Pittards, and Pattersons.

Main Street memories are many and marvelous, made with parents, siblings, and friends. I still have an urge to skip each time I walk her shaded walks. Thanks, Mom.

 

Carol B. Ghattas is a writer, speaker, and active blogger. Subscribe to her blog, lifeinexile.net, or follow her on Facebook or Instagram. Connect with her at lifeinexile.net.



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