“Miss Pattie McGlathery lived down the street on Walthall Street with her mother. Mrs. Telfair said that after her mother died, Miss Pattie set her place at the dinner table every day. After hearing this I was sure that Mrs. McGlathery’s ghost must be there to eat with Miss Pattie. They are both buried in the old Greenwood Cemetery. Miss Pattie was an aunt of Dr. Sam Brister, who was Cathy and Mary Carol’s pediatrician.
“In the summer we ‘played out’ nearly every night. All of the houses were right on the street with very little front yards. We would sit on the steps or in the swing in Big’s front yard and watch people go by. Sometimes boys from Itta Bena or Minter City or other small nearby towns would ride by and stop to talk to us. Everything seemed so safe then, and there were always a lot of people out riding or walking at night. We would go up to Howard Street to the Double Dip, an ice cream place, and get ice cream and try to see who we might see. There were several pool rooms on Howard Street where the men and boys hung out and played pool or dominoes or cards, and there were always boys standing around on the street, so after we were old enough to ride in cars the girls would cruise down Howard Street to see who was standing around.
“All the drugstores had soda fountains and car hops, boys who brought the tray of drinks to your car, so whenever we had a nickel to spare we would stop by the drugstore and get a cherry Coke or lime Coke and flirt with the carhops. Sometimes we would go inside and sit in one of the booths and put a nickel in the nickelodeon to hear our favorite song. The boys who worked behind the soda fountain were called soda jerks. Nearly every boy at some time or other made his spending money behind a soda fountain.”
Having not raised children here in Greenwood, I have no idea where kids cruise now, although I’m fairly sure they still do it somewhere. For Sara (who didn’t even learn to drive a car until she was grown, but always managed to snag a ride), it was Howard Street, dotted with drug store soda fountains and ice cream parlors. For my generation, it was Park Avenue and the gravel lot around Lackey’s. The downtown soda fountains disappeared first, followed by the drug stores themselves, and Lackey’s went down many, many years ago. With gas at $3.50 a gallon and ice cream being something you buy at Walmart from the freezer case, where are the young riders?
One more note, a happy one: Sara never lost her fascination with soda jerks. After stringing along a lot of Greenwood boys, she married the counterman from Finlay’s Drugstore in Greenville, who gave her free sodas in exchange for her typing up his menus. Way to go, Daddy.