Hattie’s View: The village-hood

By Ellen Coffey

With exception of two elderly Grandpas there were no men on our block. The young fathers and husbands were all deployed.

We lived on the 1100 block of Greene Street, at Lower Main, in downtown Columbia.  

Mom, baby brother Len and I, were surviving with the help of neighbors during Dads Naval assignment in WWII. 

The State Farmers Market straddled the median of the wide Lower Assembly Street. 

Horses, mules, pulled produce wagons up to the curb and stake bodied trucks filled the stalls with watermelons, cantaloupes, fruits and fresh flowers.

The produce vendors knew us kids by name. We often salvaged discarded, bruised, culled veggies and fruits for the families on our block. 

The Watson and Chavis families were our upper next door neighbors.

Granny Chavis cooked for many of us most of the time because she had the biggest pots. haha

My mom, a child of the depression era, never wasted anything. She even recycled the same hambone cooking it until it fell to pieces.

The eleven hundred block of Greene Street was more than a  neighborhood, it was our village-hood. 

It was as if a guardian spirit was assigned to our community.

Families of military were on both sides of the street. As I recall most families were related in one way or another. We even had a few Rosie the Riveters on our block 

Those women joined the manufacturing and industrial workforce filling spots previously held by men now in uniform. 

My mom, by adding a bed, turned our living room into a nice cozy living space for a military wife stranded near the base. 

It seems each family on our block converted a spare room to rent to another military wife of a soldier deployed from Fort Jackson. We enjoyed our new friends.

If they weren’t kin, they were soon assimilated into a family status. 

Our house was third from the corner nearest the state farmers market.

Dad’s older sister, Lessie, and her family, lived on the corner in a gray two story house.  

Her hubby, was a WWI veteran.

His name, Buford Barfield,  is on the World War I soldier’s monument in Olympia.

The Coleman’s, lived in the second house. 

Dad’s sister, Carrie and family lived next door, on the lower side.

All in all there were more than a dozen of us preschooler kids, several toddlers and two infants on our street. We were under the watchful eyes of the neighborhood pseudo Moms.

Greene Street Methodist Church, on the corner, provided daily events and snacks for the children.

On the upper corner of Main and Greene Streets was a grocer, butcher, laundry, drugstore and ice cream parlor. Coffee, chocolate, sugar, nylons, leather and other misc. items were available only with ration coupon books.

To accommodate us the grocer and the laundry ran tabs for our families, sometimes holding ration books hostage, so none of us slept on dirty sheets or went to bed hungry.

I feel blessed to have lived during that era. Those were good times with good folks in our village-hood.

While I’m thankful for all of today’s advantages, cell phone technology and all the wonderful things that come from Facebook posts, etc., I tire of nasty tweets and phony face book posts.

I admit I often think of those folks who became our extended family during those bygone days, Y’all.

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