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Some landmarks and people remain from 1930s Newport

Published: 6:21 PM, 09/27/2013 Last updated: 6:24 PM, 09/27/2013

Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

By Monday night September will only be a memory much like the waning moon yet bright orange pumpkins are rising in front of the Hicks Farm near our hometown in hopes of finding new homes for fall hauntings.

Gold Star Mothers Day is Sunday and a time to honor and remember all those mothers who have lost a son or daughter who were serving in the military. Wouldn’t it be great to compile a local list of these, say, at least from World War I about 1914 to present? What’s on the landscape this week that I’ve seen? You recall I reported seeing the closing of the Newport Mapco across the highway from Foust’s screen printing. On a return visit last Tuesday I saw  Duke Hicks plumbing of Chattanooga removing the three large fuel tanks and all piping. Mapco has hired the company to remove its facility. I still haven’t found out who owns the property and perhaps you can tell me? We also talked about the new book store to open in Arvis Keys’ Midway Center a hop down from the former Mapco. I found Teri (Keck) Vasileff at work among thousands of books. She found woodworker MIchael Holycross, who operates from what I know as the old Raines garage off Edwina Highway 73, to build book shelves. The shelves she has ordered will hold 26,000 books and be ready by opening day on Oct. 8.

I also got some inside news about the Newport festival Oct. 5&6 from Diana and Bill Hicks who help promote the local farmers market. Yes, the Big Tomato will appear in front of the courthouse. Holly Rowe has the imaginative job of being the tomato. The Rowes are egg sellers at the market so you can buy eggs and dance with a tomato, too. Professor Farmer Bill will be on hand to answer your questions and explain to me why all the stink bugs have suddenly shown up. I think you will be able to buy fall plants and shurbs.


Many houses in downtown


We continue touring with D. Quinton Parrott through downtown Newport today and in our time machine to the 1930s. As far as family background, Quinton refreshed my memory that he has one “little sister,” Mary Elizabeth Henry, married to retired optometrist Bill Henry. She laughed when I told her that Quinton told me the story about pushing her around Jones Hill in a baby buggy. They shared growing up together from about 1933 and lived with their parents in several rental homes.

With Polly Parrott station as the hub, his memory fanned out to recapture the landscape of the Great Depression years that evaporated when World War II started. By the way, Quinton was in the Navy and at the invasion of Normandy so you will want to hear this story. He briefly mentioned the ordeal and there are so few local men still alive who were there. But let’s return to the lumber mill and Spiegle Hill where there were three tenant houses. One of these became home to the Parrotts during the later 1920s. As I understand it, the hill is where Price Less Foods sits across the road from Hill Top church. From here the family moved to River View, at the rear of the Plain Talk in an area now occupied by Hardy apartments. During our two-hour chat he would interject some items at random such as a mention of Porter Wood. He was an Afro-American who lived off White Oak Avenue and had the unusual job of delivering cancelled Merchants & Planters Bank checks, returning these to the business, which wrote them. In this digital age can you imagine such a system? Quinton said his mother worked at the knitting mill across the street from the current Plain Talk location. Before we got into the two-story brick building built in the early 1920s it was the home of Ed Walker’s Ford dealership, Cocke County Motor Company. Quinton said that in the basement of the mill was a laundry operated by W.R. Nease, and he lived in a house next to the mill facing the railroad. Next to him lived Walter Shell Jr.’s parents. How well I recall Junior Shell and Charlie Lewis from the Rhyne Lumber days of the 1970s. The top paint brand they sold was Dutch Boy. Is it even around any longer?

I found the landscape description most interesting and would love to have some photos of the two-story frame house wedged between the motor company and Polly Parrott’s station. Quinton said he believed that the old Masters home was sold to a fellow who planned to move it across the street where the White Store was then located and now home to Movie Time Video. This gentleman was targeting a car lot owned by Cam Porter, retired Judge Ken Porter’s uncle and brother to attorney John Porter. “It never got moved and was torn down.” Quinton made some other comments on why this happened but I don’t want to mention them here.

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