Washington and Walthall

Mamie and Sara on their corner, 1943.

“We had a lot of funny neighbors who would come to visit on our porch. Mimi McGehee was a tiny little lady who was deaf as a post and reminded you of a little chicken or bird. She was a distant relative, I think, and she never shut up and couldn’t hear anything that was said. One time Bama got tired of shouting at her and behind her back said, ‘Oh, shut your mouth and go on, Mimi,’ and we were all laughing, but poor Mimi did not know why.

“Mrs. Telfair (we called her Bert) lived a block down the street on Walthall Street. She would come to see us pretty often, and they told us that the reason she talked like she did was that she was a Yankee.

The Telfair House,Walthall and Church Street, now Bella Flora.

“Then there were the Carters, who also lived on Walthall. Tulliah was a secretary at Lawrence Printing Company and she always came to see us at night and usually knew all the current gossip. One night when we were on the porch and had seen a local gentleman pick up his lady friend, who had parked in front of the house, Tulliah suggested that we put a note in the car, letting them know that we had seen them. Then we sat there giggling waiting for them to return.

Lawrence Printing Company, when it was located on Market Street. Could that be the mischievious Tulliah Carter? Photo courtesy of Lawrence Printing, with thanks to George Ellis.

“Linnie Carter was a maiden lady who worked at Colvard’s Bakery. Mr. Colvard, a small man, had his eye on her and dressed up one night in a Boy Scout uniform and came down to her house to spy on her.”

When stories like these pop up in the memoir, I could just kick myself for not pestering Sara for the endings. What happened when the “gentleman” returned with his “lady friend?” Were the Evans girls and Tulliah peeking from behind the vines, doubled up with laughter? Did he ever figure out who placed the note? Did he mend his wicked ways? Good grief, Sara, what happened? You have left us hanging forever. And the little baker in his Boy Scout uniform? What was that all about? So many questions, not many answers, but always entertaining Greenwood lore. Do other towns have quirky characters like these, or is the genetic mix here just conducive to loopiness? You’ll meet many more of the downtown neighbers over the next few days, so hang on.

Ed. note: Colvard’s Bakery was located in the 400 block of Howard Street, where Fred’s was for many years and the Russell Thomas Antiques Annex is now. Lynnie (census spelling) Carter and Tulliah Carter were sisters, listed in the Holmes County 1920 census as aged 25 and 12, respectively, which means Lynnie would have been in her late ’30s at this time, and Tulliah in her late 20s. I have found a Tulliah Carter in the marriage listings for Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1945, so perhaps she moved on to a long, happy life in that state.

Lawrence Printing Company, at the time of this story, was located in the 200 block of Market Street, so Tulliah likely walked to work each day. They have a fascinating website at http://www.laprico.net with archival photos of the old locations.

About sec040121

Hello....I'm in possession of a priceless collection of memoirs and memorabilia left by my mother, Sara Evans Criss. She was a native and lifelong (88 years!) devotee of our small town, who covered this peculiar and volatile corner of the world for 30 years as the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Greenwood bureau chief, a job that started out with debutantes and high school football and wound up spang in the midst of one of the twentieth century's most enduring social upheavals. This blog is dedicated to her memory and the legacy she left behind, both for her family and her community.
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