Stories & Recollections of Etowah . . .
as told by ~ "Jerri" Norma Geraldine Whiteside Lambeth
b. 1944, Etowah Native
My full name,including my maiden name is way too much one mouth to have to pronounce, is Norma Geraldine Whiteside Lambeth. Norma Geraldine Whiteside was not a name I wanted to go by so I called myself Jerri and that took care of that. I was born in 1944. I am a native of Etowah. My mother was born here, my dad was actually from Sandy Plains, SC but moved up here when he was in High School.
I was asked to speak about the store in Etowah. In one of the books that I have, I found that the store my grandfather Whiteside had was previously owned by another family of which I did not write down their name. But they describe the store. The store had a large front to it. There were two gas pumps, maybe not originally, but I think the gas pumps, when my grandfather had it, were Esso, an old gasoline company. There were two pumps. I assume there was regular and high test at the time, I don’t know. The front, where you pulled up, was gravel. It had a cover so if it was raining you wouldn’t get wet. You came up a number of steps, there was a porch area you came into what, as some of you shopped there even after I was not here any longer, was like an old mercantile store. He had a meat section where he had an electric cutter to slice the big round things of bologna and liver sausage and all that kind of stuff and cheese. There was a produce section. I think most of the time he bought his produce from the people around. Then, of course, there was the milk section. Then he had material with thread, scissors, and stuff like that. Around the top, he had some shelves that were built high. I never understood why he put the toys so high because I really wanted to play with them. But I couldn’t get to them.
My parents went to high school together. They graduated from Etowah High School. Then my parents ran away and got married over the border into South Carolina. They moved then to Florida. My grandfather did not want my dad to go into the service. Of course, at that time everything was not good. He felt if he was down there working for the produce companies and such, he would miss the draft. Of course, he didn’t. And so my parents conceived me on Christmas Eve and came home four days later. My mother went to live with her parents who lived in Pleasant Grove. If you go over to Pleasant Grove, there is the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. My grandfather’s Gray house, is directly across the street behind some trees on the hill. It is one of 3 Gray houses that were there – my grandfather’s house, his brother’s house and their Uncle Os Gray, who lived at the corner where Cemetery Road goes over to the old cemetery like you are going up Jeter Mountain.
My grandfather Gray’s family was from Holland. He was Dutch. My mother’s side of the family is Dutch. His family actually goes back to Ichabod Gray born in 1791. He shows up here in the 1830 census. They lived over on River Road. A number of the family lived over there. My grandfather married who he called the little redhead girl because, even though he was born in 1888, he did spend part of his teenage years in South Carolina. I really don’t know why but that’s where he was at. He shows back in the census later. He met Myrtle Kilpatrick who lived on River Road during one of his summer trips up here. He told my cousin he was going to marry the little redheaded girl. Well, he finally did, not to what would be his father-in-law’s pleasure. Jim-Pat, what they called Mr. Kilpatrick, was not too pleased, so he said, “No, you can’t marry my daughter.” Well, that would then become my grandmother, I talk about her as my grandmother.
There were five girls in the family and her sister, Aunt Nita Justus, lived on the River Road. The house is still there. In fact, her grandson built homes up above called Justus, then there’s Florence Street and Geneva. My mother was named after her Aunt Geneva. So my mother was raised there. Years passed and my mother’s mother passed away, although my mother had a brother, Earl Gray, who lived here in Etowah. When we were talking where Coy Blythe built homes, that’s the uncle I was talking about. We had both places. We had here in Etowah and in Pleasant Grove. We also had brothers and sisters of all these people living in Little River, Horse Shoe and Pisgah Forest. So there were a whole lot of Gray’s and Kilpatrick’s. Funny thing in the Kilpatrick’s, the girls inherited. The youngest girl inherited the home place. So if my mother had stayed here, she would have eventually inherited that, but we didn’t.
Back to when my parents met. They came back. We lived with my grandparents in Pleasant Grove and would come over and visit my grandparents in Etowah. When my dad came out of the service, my grandfather above the store, where actually there is a duplex now on old 64 with a huge rock house, I would call it huge for that time period, that my Uncle Clyde Brannon built. My grandfather’s rock house is where the Gosset's live on School House Road. That house is the one I remember most. I remember being in it when my grandparents lived there. A number of years later, my aunt and uncle moved to California and my grandparents took over the rock house next to the store. There were cabins up above the store. There were 4 cabins. There was a street that went up to my aunt and uncle’s. We lived in one and the Orr family lived in the other, Harold and Evelyn Orr. There was a shared outhouse, but Jerri knew her grandparents had a bathroom. I never went to that outhouse because I would take off down the hill and go into the back door, because there were living quarters at that time behind the store, and shooed in on the covered back porch and went into the bathroom.
My grandma, she was not a very friendly grandma, she would get upset with me, but I knew that my grandpa really liked me and we called him pa, they were pa and ma, and so I would just waltz right out into the store and my grandfather would say, “Come here sugar,” and he would put me right up on the counter. I thought I was Shirley Temple and so I sang and danced for everybody. Let me tell you, this store had a lot of people in it because it was a meeting place where people met in the morning to catch the bus to go to Ecusta, and it was where they got off the bus when they got home. ‘Cause they did run a bus, and the guys would all come in and we would get the coke out of the big old coke machine, the thing with ice water In it. In the winter, there would always be coffee. They would sit down. There were always crackers out. My sister said there was a pickle barrel. I don’t remember that.
But it was a meeting place. Everybody knew my grandfather’s first name was Art. Actually, it was his middle name. His first name was William Arthur Whiteside, but everybody called him Mr. Whiteside. I never understood that until, moving back here 14 years ago, talking to people who knew my grandfather, and then I understood. My grandfather was a tall man. They also owned a store in Sandy Plains just like here. He also had a cotton farm. He raised cotton and had share croppers-that’s mainly where my dad grew up.
My dad had a sister; she was quite a bit older. When they moved up here my dad played basketball for Etowah High School. My dad was 6’1” which was tall at that time. We lived here until I started first grade. We lived in Etowah until then. My grandfather’s store was on what is now Old 64. At the time there was no new, it was a very winding road. You had to go that way to get to Brevard.
It was a neat place. The last time I saw it I would have been 11. We moved from Etowah to Hendersonville and lived on my mother’s uncle Daniel Kilpatrick’s back house on the golf course. We moved to Hendersonville and I actually started first grade at Valley Hill Elementary School which was a lot of fun because where we lived there was a group of kids up the street. We used to cut through the golf course to go to school in the morning and cut back through the golf course to come home in the afternoon. We’d collect golf balls and we had a green right out back of our house. They did have sprinklers at that time-this was in the 50’s-and we were actually known to go out and play on the green when the sprinklers came on, but we never got caught.
When I decided to move back here after my husband passed away, the person I bought the house from, we went to dinner, ‘cause I was going to buy the lawn mower and all the stuff to take care of this property now, we got to talking. I said, “Where are you moving?” He said, “We are moving to such and such golf course in Brevard.” I said, “I used to live next to a golf course.” He said, “Which one?” I said, “Hendersonville.” He said, “What street did you live on?” I said, “Steppe(sp?) Street.” He said, “Where on Steppe Street did you live?” I said, “At my mother’s uncle Daniel Kilpatrick’s back house.” He said, “What do you mean your mother’s uncle Daniel Kilpatrick?” I said, “You’re kidding.” And it was Robert Orr.
...more to follow