7/27/2008

Memory Side Trip


Our neighbor has a large old-fashioned pink crape myrtle tree that stands at least twelve feet tall next to the side of their house.
I see it through the french doors of our family room. When I see it I remember my grandmother's house ar 2308 E. 7th Street in Charlotte, NC. - not as the asphalt parking lot it is now - as it was when I was growing up.


The Rosemont sub-divison opened in 1920 and widow Ellie Hall Keasler and her new husband Jack Baer bought the first house to be built in Rosemont. It was a brown shingle bungalow style home right at the turn around for the street-car line. The location made it a wonderful commuting location from downtown Charlotte. There were sidewalks and a walkway divided the front yard into two halves. Granny planted an old fashioned pink crape myrtle in the middle of each half. They thrived - for more than seventy years - until they were destroyed - making way for the asphalt parking lot for a lawyers' office in Mrs. Bland's large two story house next door. Its a familiar story as cities change.

By the 1940s those crape myrtle trees were tall and full and I loved to play in their shade. There were no street cars by that time but Seventh Street was busy with cars and often Army convoys transporting truck loads of soldiers off to somewhere.


No one knows anymore that John Brown, Granny's sister Cora's husband - a street car conductor - was shot there - on Seventh Street at the street car turn around - in the early 1930s. He was preparing to head back to the street car barn - his work done for the day - when two toughs jumped onto the car, struggled with him for his coins jingling in his money changer, and killed him. Mama's cousin Buck told me, "Uncle John was a bull-headed, cantankerous man - he fought them - he had a bullet wound in his hand. If he hadn't fought maybe they would not have killed him."


Genealogy gave me the story. When I was tracing down details I talked to a man who told me, " I remember it. - I lived about a block away and I heard the shots that night. I was just a kid - about nine years old. They killed those guys." I looked it up. Yes, they did - in the electric chair.


Aunt Cora was dead by the time I found out the details of the story. When it happened she was left a widow with six children. How did she manage? Mama did not want to talk about it then, maybe not now either.


That's how stories are lost.


FFunny, I should remember it.


Crape myrtles and dogwoods are my favorite trees.

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