Brundidge celebrates Older Americans

Published 10:56 pm Friday, May 18, 2012

Brundidge native John Shipman took the participants at the Robert E. Barr Nutrition Center in Brundidge on a trip down memory lane Thursday.  The trip was actually down memory Main Street and was a celebration event of Older Americans Month.

Shipman began his “trip” on North Main Street and made “story” stops at place after place all the way down South Main. The participants nodded in remembrance of the McEachern house, which Shipman said was the most beautiful home that has ever been in Brundidge.

He talked of sawmills, cotton gins, hardware stores, car dealerships, grocery stores and mercantile stores, furniture stores and drug stores that were once part of the busy, bustling town of Brundidge.

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But mostly, he sprinkled his talk with names of the “characters” who added spice to the lives of those who called Brundidge home back in the “good ol’ days.”

“Remember Robert E. Barr’s store where you could by baloney and G.E. appliances, both without any money?” Shipman asked and the participants responded with knowing chuckles. “But when you made your payments, you’d better keep the receipt because sometimes he didn’t.”

Shipman reminded everyone of Tupper Lightfoot for whom the Brundidge public library is named.

“Mr. Tupper gave away everything he had to help others,” he said. “He helped young people, black and white, go to college. He paid hospital bills for people and loaned and gave away tons of books.”

Shipman brought back memories of the City Café, O.K. Ramage Clothing Store and groceries delivered by Lovie Patterson.

“And remember Mister Ford himself, Perry Owens?” he asked and most people did. “And who can forget Mrs. Anderson’s grease burgers?” and everyone said, ‘oh, yes,’ at the remembrance of the ‘best hamburger that’s ever been in a bun.’

“We had a passenger train that stopped in Brundidge and I rode the train to Ariton for 25 cents,” Shipman said. “It was a thrill for me to see the Pea River.”

Shipman told how the people of the community leaned on each other and how the entire town was like a big family.

“If somebody saw you doing something you weren’t supposed to do, they would tell on you,” he said, laughing.

Being somewhat of jokester, Shipman told of the time he was called to task by Cecil Nicholson who owned a grocery store on the backside of town.

“Brundidge had just gotten an airport and I told Mrs. Nicholson that President Johnson had to make an emergency landing there the day before and had spent the night with James Caldwell, who was the mayor.”

Nicholson called Shipman and told him to get to the store and straighten his wife out because she was calling people all over town and telling them the President had spent the night with the mayor.”

Shipman started working at the Brundidge Peanut Company when he was 11 years old.

“When I got old enough to play football I wanted to play but I needed to work,” he said. “Mr. William said that since I wouldn’t play on Saturday, I could come in and work then. Every week, I got my check and he paid me just like he always had. That’s the kind of people that I grew up with and that’s why I love Brundidge with my whole heart.”

The Robert E. Barr Nutrition Center participants all agreed that they each have reasons to love the town they call home. “There’s no place like home,” they said in unison.