By Joyce Caughron Rhodes
I can look around Wynnburg today and see few families and homes. There is not even a store to buy a cold drink. This triggered my memory to a busier time and place, say in the 1950ís to the Sixties and Seventies. During that time, we had Five Grocery Stores, a Cotton Gin, a Saw Mill, a Drive-in Theater, a Blacksmith Shop and a School. We had many people in and around Wynnburg. It wasnít anything for 20 to 30 kids to meet in front of Wynnburg Grocery to catch the buses early in the mornings or returning home from a busy day at school. During the early part of the Fifties, we didnít have TVís or Central air and people would be sitting on their porch swings, enjoying chit chatting with each other and watching the neighbors as they walked passed. The boys would gather on the school property in Wynnburg, after school, to play baseball. Some thought they might end up in the big league and they probably were that good, but didnít get the chance.
My husband, Harold ìHarryî Lee Rhodes, could and should write a book about all the things that went on when we owned The Wynnburg Grocery or even before then. He purchased the store in Jan. 1958 and sold it, Aug. 1972 Harry Lee really loved the grocery store. I think most of it was due to the people, his customers and all the travelers who stopped by. He was always playing tricks on everyone.
One of the things that stand out in my mind was a couple of tricks he played on Mr. Joe Carter, (by the way, he lived to be 110 years old.) He told him, “Mr. Charlie Roberson is really hard of hearing and you have to talk real loud to him, the next time he comes in the store.” In the meantime, he told Mr. Charlie Roberson, “When Mr. Joe Carter comes in the store, be sure to talk loud because his hearing is really bad.” Soon, they were both in the store at the same time. They started shouting at each other, really loud. Walter Throgmorton was standing in the corner, trying his best not to laugh. He knew the trick Harry Lee had played on them. Finally, Mr. Charlie left the store and Mr. Joe Carter said, ìThat fellow canít hear anything.
I believe his hearing is worst than mine.î They both could hear fine. Another trick with Mr. Carter happened when he and his wife, Varina stopped by the store on their way to Bluebank Park. It was a beautiful sunny day and Harry Lee wanted to know if I would like to ride to the lake. He wanted to get out of the store for awhile, so he left his helper in charge and away we went. It just so happened that we also went to Bluebank Park. As we drove up he noticed Mr. Joe and Mrs. Varina parked by the Round House. Harry Lee said, ìGive me your sunglasses and that old hat.î He put these on, while I turned my face away, so they wouldnít recognize me. He said to Mr. Carter, in a very northern accent, ìSay, can you tell me where Reelfoot Lake is? î Mr. Carter replied, ìFellow, itís right here!î We drove back to the store without the Carters seeing me laugh. Later, Mr. Carter came back into the store, telling Harry Lee, ìSome northerner drove up to me at the lake, wanting to know where Reelfoot Lake was?î Harry Lee said, ìDid he have on an old hat and sunglasses? î Mr. Carter looked at Harry Lee and said, ìThat was you? I thought that he favored you, but I knew I had just left you here in the store, and he let out one of his famous laughs.