Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Then and Now, Graham Road

My family has lived in East Tennessee many years. In fact, except for the first couple years of marriage, I have lived on the same road all my life. It's old family property that was given to my maternal great-grandparents, George and Ida Graham, by the McDonald family.

George (Pappy) and Ida (Mommie) had seven children. Ethel, Alice, Lester, Trewhitt, Ruth, Georgia and Granville. Granville worked for the Home Stores, a chain of small markets owned by the McDonald family. He was killed in a work-related accident on December 23, 1933 and Mr. McDonald gave Pappy sixty two acres as a death settlement. Granville was a young man of 25 years and his death hurt his family very much.
My great-grandmother, Ida Emerling Graham standing in front of her home on Graham Road.  

Now the road I live on is called Graham Road, named after my great-grandparents, but over seventy-five years ago, there was just a little wagon trail meandering through the sixty-two acres. No houses, no electric lines, no city water.  Pappy divided sixty acres between his remaining six children and kept two acres for himself.  There was a tiny little house on his two acres and he and Mommie lived there until he built their house. 

Ida Emerling Graham

These pictures were taken sometime in the early 1950s. Pappy died when I was just a baby, so I have no memories of him, but I do have memories of visiting Mommie. I remember Pappy's garden spot and the well, with its windlass, bucket, dipper and fresh cold water.  Behind their home was a grapevine, an outbuilding, and behind the outbuilding was the outhouse. I have about a 5 second memory of staying with Mommie. She was babysitting me and I remember standing on a short stool in her kitchen, watching her throw a piece of wood in her cookstove. After she threw it in she put her arms around me and gently got me off the stool.

George Graham in front of the house he built on Graham Road. The little dirt road that runs alongside the house went to his neighbor's, Lorenzo Newman.

Eventually, all but one of George and Ida's children sold their land. Their youngest daughter, Ruth Graham Burchard, my Mamaw, lived on Graham Road until she went to Heaven six months after my Papaw, in 1985.  The ten acres given to my grandmother was increased as surrounding property became available and now Ruth's daughters, and a few grandchildren and great-grandchildren, live on Graham Road.

Graham Road was a quiet little country road when I was growing up. Hardly any cars passed our house and when one did, we ran to the front window to see who it was! We fell asleep at night listening to the call of whipporwills and awakened to the sound of Bessie, my grandparent's milk cow, mooing in the pasture between our homes.   My brothers and I would play all day, stopping only to drink a glass of KoolAid, or to sit on the porch and read or daydream. I can remember Momma telling us to be quiet, not to holler or talk loud,  when a funeral was taking place in the cemetary nearby.  

Until the early 1980s, Graham Road began at Back Valley Road at it's west end and ended about four miles to the east at State Highway 27. I can remember at least a dozen or more homes scattered on the four miles of curves, steep hills and dark hollows.  Graham Road had grown from a short, rough wagon trail to a four-mile paved road in less than 50 years.  

My great-grandmother Ida finally came to live with her youngest daughter Ruth, my Mamaw. Her old home was sold and my Daddy's brother, my Uncle Buddy,  lived there with his family for a few years.  Again, Pappy's garden spot flourished and the little old house was filled with family and laughter.  

It is said that you can't stop progress. Progress came to Graham Road in the early 1980s in the form of State Highway 111. 

 My great-grandparents property was purchased by the State of Tennessee.  Their homeplace....home, garden spot, outbuilding, outhouse and grapevine.... was torn down, covered with earth and rock, and eventually asphalt.  Thousands of cars and trucks have traveled this road since it was opened over 25 years ago.

 I took these pictures standing on the off ramp of Highway 111, where my great-grandparent's house, garden spot, outbuilding, outhouse and grapevine used to be.   

Same place, different time.

Graham Road was rerouted during the construction of Highway 111. No longer does it lead from Back Valley Road to Highway 27. It's only a little over a mile long now. 

There have been a lot of changes in the past 78 years. Looking at these pictures, it's hard to believe it's the same place. I miss the quietness of the old Graham Road. The whipporwills left a long time ago and now if we ran to the front window every time a car passed, we'd be running to the window all day. Who would have ever thought that a mile long road, that ends at a deadend, would be so busy? 

I have chosen a few more pictures from my Momma's picture box that I'll be posting in the next few weeks. I hope to do more Then and Now pictures, so I hope you'll come back to visit with me.