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End of an era in Newport for Stephanie's Hallmark that closed

©2013 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL
Stephanie Hillard, at left, and Linda Moyers finish packing the last
items from the Newport Hallmark shop, which closed on Sept. 30 at
Western Plaza.
Published: 8:10 PM, 10/04/2013 Last updated: 8:25 PM, 10/04/2013
 

Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

The first weekend festivals begin this month in Newport and it seems days are dryer in our hometown and shorter giving growers like the Hick families less time to roll in the fat orange pumpkins.

Quietly, with few customers coming by, Stephanie’s Hallmark closed at Western Plaza on Monday. Stephanie Hillard and husband Joe, helped by employee Linda Moyers, packed up the last boxes of greeting cards and assorted gifts and prepared to close the doors for the last time. “I don’t know what I’m going to do this Christmas,” she said. For every year it was a time to introduce new Hallmark ornaments, Christmas cards, and gifts. She explained that her parents in England are elderly and her retirement gives her flexibility to travel to see them more often. Her career with Hallmark began in the early 1980s in Morristown where she lives. By 1994 she was at the Hallmark store in Newport in the mid 1990s where the former Walmart center was in Newport Plaza. Sonny and Rita Denton operated that store. From there she moved to Western Plaza. “I’ve enjoyed the people here, truly, truly have enjoyed them.” You may have known some of the other Hallmark employees: Carolyn Bryant, and Peggy Cody. Linda Moyers, who is married to Keith Moyers, started at Hallmark in 2007. She used to manage the Sears catalog store in East Broadway center in the early 1970s. Some of the familiar folks who worked with her then were Loraine Jenkins, Argil Britt and Jim Etherton. I am sure there were others. We will miss the unique Hallmark store created by Stephanie and serving us for a couple of decades.

 

Airmail box attracts viewers

 

You recall the photo in September made along Highway 411 in Sevier County showing the airmail postal box about 10 feet off the ground and then below it the e-mail box? A similar photo appeared in the Plain Talk in the 1970s and I believe it was made by Shirley Elliott, staff reporter. Last week a letter arrived from Jeff T. Sims who owns/operates Sims Tractor & Implement Company off Newport Highway in Sevier County. Jeff noticed the photo in “Just Plain Talk” and explains that the mailboxes belong to his parents, Fern and Robert Sims, Jeff and his brother, Garry Sims. Garry placed the original high-up airmail box. That was 40 years ago. Then about 10 years ago as the Internet became more dominant, he put up his e-mail box. “The mailboxes have gotten a lot of attention over the years from visitors and locals alike,” wrote Jeff. He showed the photo and my column to Robert, who is 88, and Fern, who is 87 and they enjoyed it and that makes me happy. Garry’s wife, Margurite, gave me a little more information about the family. She works at Tennessee State Bank. Jeff’s wife, Dr. Nancy Sims, is at New Center School. After 35 years as a crane operator Garry has retired to fulltime farming.

 

A view from Woodlawn

 

It was the first full day of fall and 80-degres when I returned to Quinton Parrott’s home and we picked up on our discussion of 1930s Newport. To help me follow his explanation we rode to Woodlawn Avenue and up River View. He pointed to the corner lot at Jefferson Ave. and said this was the site of the Peter Jake Susong home that burned several years after his untimely death. On the other side of Jefferson where David and Tina Pierson now live there used to be a large two-story home. This was the home of Lyle Moore Sr., and I am not sure what become of it. I failed to mention that as we drove from Iris to College and around by Newport Grammar, Quinton pointed to the abandoned Victorian style home. It was an apartment building, Hill Top Apartments and the first place that Quinton and Wilda lived after they were married. Back to the end of Jefferson now.  And it is a dangerous end because if you cross River View and fail to stop, as one driver did a few years ago, you crash down a steep embankment. That driver was killed. Too bad the house that used to be where the Parrotts lived was not still standing at the end of Jefferson. There was a trail from the house down the embankment to an alley that is now Jefferson Ave. intersecting East Broadway. We’ll be driving around from River View in a few minutes as we coasted past the Jan Carpenter home towards White Oak. Quinton said Porter Wood lived to his, the passenger’s right, and we turned down hill past the dogwood park turning deeper reds to Giles Auto at Broadway. I turned right and drove in front of East Tenn. Tire, stopping as Quinton pointed towards the railroad tracks and where the knitting mill was located. As we glanced east He said Lynn Allen’s two-story block building contemporary to the Plain Talk was wedged between Roy Dunn’s plumbing shop (Now the Learning Express/dance studio), and Cam Porter’s garage.

 

Many car dealerships

 

Cam Porter was a good mechanic and car trader. Later the property was leased to White Store. My memory only goes back to 1972 when Free Service Tire and Bull Durham were there. “Cam had the Plymouth dealership.” After WW II ended, Polly bought the first car from Cam, a four-door white 1947 Plymouth. I commented to Quinton that my Mom had a gray1947 Plymouth in the 1950s. Polly paid Cam $780 for the new car. Where Park’s Dry Cleaner is was another service station, owned by Paul Rhodes Sr. He later became the Olds agent in town. I was astonished to finally see a photo of Polly’s service stationed that opened about 1933. Better than this was to see a portion of the two-story house that existed next to our building. It housed Ed Walker’s Ford dealership. Behind Gene and Polly’s service station was at least one frame house. This is the “cathouse” Quinton referred to and I mistakenly thought was in the line of four houses facing East Broadway and between Polly’s station and Woodlawn. The old post office was not built until later in the 1930s. We went through the alley way behind the Bryant building and beside Broadway Body Shop. 

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