‘Oneonta was a safe and kid-friendly place’

I had to write you a note of thanks for your observations and comments about funerals, specifically, the celebration service for Joe Fowler. Joe and Wrae are certainly names from my youth and young adulthood that are well-remembered.

Joe once allowed our pre-teen Sunday school class at Lester Memorial to sing for the entire period, bringing admonishments from adjoining classes later! I recall him as seeming to be a taller version of “Mr. Rogers.”

Fowler Hardware was one of my regular stops as a free-range kid in the late 1940s and early 1950s. I would work my way from Sellers Grocery up First Ave. (stopping to see the knives at Chambers Hardware); then the toys at Peck’s 5 & 10; pausing to wave to Morris Kanter (who was friends with my dad). I loved to look at the tools and paint samples at Fowler Hardware where Mr. Logan was straight-man to Punkin’ Alexander. ( Wrae watched with amused resignation!) Pricketts was usually my last stop. I enjoyed the store smell and Buddy Clowdus would allow me to plunder through the colorful shirts.

I think of those days and wonder at the freedom my parents allowed when I wanted to “go downtown.” Yet because of people like Coach Strickland, Clark McPherson, Mr. and Mrs. Bentley, and Joe and Wrae and many others, Oneonta was a safe and kid-friendly place. I wish I had known to thank them!

Jerry Battles

Columbia, Tenn.