Lewisburg, Mason Co KY 1950s
There’s something about the location of your birth that never leaves you. I was born on a hot July day at Lewisburg, Mason Co, Kentucky. The house I was born in belonged to my Downing grandparents. For almost 40 years, I returned to and lived in that house. Granddad died in 1945, Grandma in 1958, Dad in 1968 and my wife and I bought the house. Consequently, my memories of Lewisburg covered a period from the early 1940s to almost 1980 and beyond.
Lewisburg was once a thriving little village of 250 plus. It was a great place to grow up. Russell Muse Jr, Richard ( Dickie ) Breeze, Gene Brammer and myself made up a group called the RARs ( Raggedy A** Rascals ). Charley Frank Lee, proprietor of Lee’s General Store hung the moniker on us. In later years the name was applied to a uchere tournament held each year at the store. I grew up in the last big white house on the left before you crossed the bridge going toward Flemingsburg. The old two care garage would later become Bill’s Delicatessen ( now Jollys ) Bill was dad. He opened the store in the early 60s. He and Mom ran it until his death in 1968. This was my Downing grandparents house. Built by her parents in the late 1890s. I actually lived with my parents, sister and brother in Maysville. But Lewisburg was where I spent my time on the weekends and during the summer. On Friday afternoons, during the school year, I went to the corner of Lexington Street and Forest Avenue. Shorty Breeze worked at Walds and would pick me up on the way home. Dad and Mom would come and get me on Sunday.
We knew just about everybody in the village, and, of course they knew us.
Elmer and Ella Uline lived next door. Mr Uline worked at Carnation in Maysville.
Mr and Mrs Royse lived in the next house and the King Brothers lived in the house near the curve. They never had any electric in the house. They would buy groceries at Dodd’s store and pay with those old time “ over sized “ dollar bills. The old coal yard was next door. Between the coal yard and Lee’s store was the foundation of an old building. Many years ago it was a poolroom. Dad worked at the poolroom at one time. Up on the hill was the Berlin house. The Lee’s lived upstairs over the store. Mrs Lena, Charley Frank, Charley Burns, Barbara and Bud.
Across the road from our house was an old double. Mr. Harry McElfresh lived in one side and Mr Jim Alexander lived in the other side. Next door to them was a big old building that once was an auto repair shop. Next was a double white, connected building that set back from the road. Bill and Minnie Roe lived in one side and Elmer and Ollie Dodd lived in the other side. Minnie and Ollie were sisters. Elmer and Ollie ran the grocery store and sold gas. Elmer called me “ the bologna kid “. Grandma would give me a ten or fifteen cents and I’d go to the store, buy that amount of bologna and sit on the bench out front and eat it. Next to the store was an alley that went back to a couple of barns. Bob and Laura Crosby lived in a little white house next to the alley. Next to them was Jack Hutchison’s Garage. Jack did all kinds of repairs and drove a school bus.
Old man Davey Branch lived in a trailer behind the garage. Davey was the father of Earline Breeze. Russell and Mary Muse lived in the next house and Mr and Mrs Flem Brammer lived in the big white house in the curve. Both the Muses and the Brammers raised a bunch of boys. Mary Sally Brammer was the only girl in both households. Russell Muse was a painter and Flem Brammer traded cattle. Both had sons named Howard. Howard Muse became Maysville Chief of Police and Howard Brammer became a relator. He also owned the White Light, great little hamburgers like today’s White Castles. A lot of his brothers and Mary Sally all worked there, as did my mother at one time.
Lee’s General Store was a thriving business. It was also “ the local hangout” for men and boys alike. Charley Frank Lee was the operator. Charley Frank, his two children ( Barbara and Charley Burns ) his brother Bud and his mother ( Ms Rose ) all lived in the apartment above the store. Empty pop bottles were worth a penny, a pack of Marvel cigarettes was a dime, pop was a nickle. RC Cola and Moon Pies. Yum Yum. Gas probably sold from 19 to 25 cents a gallon. After supper in the evening local farmers would begin gathering at the store to loaf and play euchre in the back of the store. Usually in attendance were Gus Tolle, Ed Brannen, Russell Muse, and other locals. Jr. Muse and I were allowed to play some evenings. If you won, you kept on playing, if you lost you got up and others took your place. At exactly 9 p.m. Charley Frank “pulled the plug”. Everybody got up and went home.
From Lee’s Store, headed toward Maysville, the next house was Jack and Sudie Mae Hutchison. Jack ran the garage and Sudie Mae worked at Brownings in Maysville. They had two girls. The next house was the Breezes. Shorty and Earline.
They had 3 boys: Tom, Dick and Billy. Across the road the first house was old man Muses’ house. He was Russell’s father. The next house was Owen Tolle, then a garage and a little house which was Alma McClain. Ms McClain was an educator in Maysville and Mason County schools. The next house, going down the lane toward the creek, was Izola Ledford followed by the Brewer home. Ray Brewer sold cars in Maysville. All the way down at the end of the lane was a big white house. Wid and Mary Owens lived in it. At one time they owned the Dairy Queen in Aberdeen.
Up the hill toward Maysville there was a store just below the fire house which was run by the Poes. First time I saw a T.V. It was Saturday night wrestling.
Mr. Rudy ran the skating rink. Link Catron owned the bar on top of the hill. Later, after Link died, his wife Ruth ran it for several years.
My father developed Eastern Hills sub-division on what had been the family farm. My grandfather Downing bought the 87 acres for $3,500. I have the cancelled check.
Most of the folks I have mentioned are gone. Route 11 now bypasses Lewisburg but of course so has time.
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