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Memories From The Past

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Train Stations Memories

Kenny Stallard

     My mother was from Collins, Georgia.  Collins is in Tattanal County, about 90 miles inland from Savannah.  When I was young, we would visit my grandfather and grandmother, usually in the summer.  These visits were made by train, it being much quicker and easier than bus travel during WW II.

     Train stations were usually brick on the outside and a lot of gray marble on the inside with oak benches similar in look and arrangement to pews in a church.  Kingsport’s train station was similar to most during this time, separate restrooms and separate drinking fountains for whites and coloreds.

     For a young boy not yet in school, there was a fascination in seeing a label above a drinking fountain that said, “Colored”.

     No matter how hard I tried, due to my mother’s diligence I was never able to get a drink from a “Colored” fountain.  To this day, I don’t know what color the water was.

     After boarding the old CC&O in Kingsport, we were bound for Spartanburg, S.C. where we would have a short lay-over before transferring to The Atlantic Seaboard Line for the remainder of our trip to Collins.

     One of my most vivid memories from a pre-school age was arriving in the waiting room at Spartanburg.

     After getting off the train and my mother checking to be sure our luggage was taken off also and placed on the luggage wagon for transfer for our next leg of travel, we went into the waiting room to find a bench while waiting for the arrival of our train.

     First things first, I needed a drink of water.  There on the wall were two drinking fountains, “Colored” and “White”.  Making a bee-line to the “Colored” fountain, I was sure I would finally get to know the color of the water.  Not to be.  Just as my hand rested on the lever to turn the fountain on, my other arm received a sever jolt as I was jerked over to the “White” fountain.  Foiled again.

     Moving into the crowded seating area we found a bench with only one occupant at the other end of the bench from us.  Here is the image that remains even to today.

     The other occupant of our bench was a passed-out drunk.  Not just an ordinary passed-out drunk.  This drunk had class.  He was dressed in a suit and tie.  His suit was of a medium green, probably gabardine as this was a suit material of choice during this time period.  His shirt was white and his tie was a red and black pattern.  The thing that made all this memorable, is that he was chewing tobacco or dipping snuff.  Ambeer from his chew was seeping from one corner of his mouth and flowing down his chin to drip on his shirt and tie, leaving a large brown streak across his chest.

     And momma thought I was messy.

    

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