Sunday, January 12, 2014

East Nashville Back in the Day

by Debie Oeser Cox

I posted this, five years ago, to an East Nashville Google Group in response to a thread someone started "East Nashville, Back in the Day." You can join the group if you wish. Go to, find google groups and search for East Nashville. There are other postings with old memories in that thread and in others. This neighborhood listserv group will give you an idea of what a vibrant changing urban neighborhood is like in the 21st century. I am posting an edited version of what I wrote then.

I have lived in the East side of the Cumberland for all of my 56
years. Someone mentioned that East Nashville was a self contained
neighborhood. Most neighborhoods were, because so many people had to walk or
use the city bus for transportation. Grocery stores, pharmacies,
doctor’s offices, movie theaters, restaurants were in walking distance
in many areas. Barbers, beauty shops, gas stations, mechanical
garages, photographers, florists, if not in the neighborhood, were
located on the nearest thruway.

In the early 70’s Bob’s Sporting Goods was located where Marche’s is
now and between there and the library was a Sinclair gas station and
auto garage. On the so. west corner of Main at 10th was United Curb
Market and Mack Robinson’s garage was next door. Going back towards
town on Main St. there were several body shops, mechanical garages and
parts stores. There were taverns, restaurants, plumbers, building
contractors and electricians. On Woodland Street near the bridge was a
row of buildings that contained the world famous (it was on the sign)
Dusty Road Tavern, a barber shop and a drug store. Across the street
was the National Casket Company and E. B. Smith Chevrolet. Past the
interstate was a Genesco Commissary (a Genesco Factory was on Main at
5th) and across Woodland from St. Ann’s was an Esso station. Briggs
Bros. Paint was on the southeast corner of Woodland at 5th. There
were several doctor’s offices in houses across from the new East Park
center. First America Bank was on Woodland at 10th. In the Turnip
Truck building, was Tru-Value Motors used cars. My husband had Cox’s
Body Shop in that building for a few years in the 1970’s. He moved on
but the name stayed and Mr. Proctor had a body shop there after.
Across 10th on Woodland was Crowder’s Esso (now Dollar General).
Batter'd and Fried was the location of a coin laundry and Moss Bros.
Barber Shop. Abe Carney’s Shoe Shop was in this block, as was Sarah
Hamilton Interiors, Cumberland Hardware and the Corner Tavern, all on
the south side of Woodland. Also Lehning Bros. Grocers, where for
lunch you could order deli style sandwiches and miniature homemade
pies. The building where Margot’s was recently located, was occupied
for many years by Krech Motor Company. Just off Woodland behind
Lipstick Lounge was Eastland Florist.

On Gallatin Road between Ordway and Calvin was Fluty’s Gas Station,
Copley’s Barber Shop, J. P. Brown Drugs and Western Auto. In the next
block on the east side was Chapman’s Gulf and Goodyear. Across on the
west side of Gallatin was an A&P grocery, Hunter’s Custom Automotive,
and Wayne’s Barber Shop. Next block was Miller Hospital and there
were 15 or 20 doctors offices in the clinic building. There was a
restaurant called Te-Ko next to Eastland Funeral Home that was a good
meat & 3. H. G. Hill was across from the Neighborhood Walmart, later
moving to Gallatin at Eastland. Krispy-Kreme was also across from
Walmart. The building on the northeast corner of Gallatin at Douglas
was built for a Hank Williams, Jr. Barbecue Restaurant. There was a
Shoney’s where Nashville Auto-Diesel College is, and later a Shoney’s
in Inglewood near Inglewood Hardware. Dr.’s Strode and Crafton and
dentist Ken Minor was in the house that is now being renovated for Las
Maracas on Gallatin at Spain Ave. Taco Tico (Mexican) was on Gallatin
at Trinity Lane. Key Chrysler-Plymouth Dealership was located on
Gallatin at Thomas Ave. where Wendy’s restaurant is now. Sorry for
going on so long. I cheated, with a city directory.

another post I made in that same thread -
I remember doing a city directory look up for the area once when it was really back in the day - the 1940's era and there was an H.G. Hill store every mile and a half or so.  I have read that at one time there were more than 100 H. G. Hill stores in Middle Tennessee, the majority in Davidson County and Nashville.  It really was a time of communities being self-sufficient.  I was doing OK on my own with my trip down memory lane yesterday, until I got to Te-Ko's restaurant.  Because we also went to Taco Tico, we jokingly called the other Tico Taco.  I knew that wasn't right so I had to look it up.  And then . . . . 
Everyone shopped at Friedman's.  Do you remember Robert-Hall dept. store?  It was in Inglewood across from where the Swifty station is.  There was a big shoe store across from where Wendy's is now in Inglewood.  Did they have curb markets anywhere other than Nashville, mostly East Nashville?  You would drive up and someone would come out to the car and take your order, just like in the old curb order restaurants.  My daughters tell me if they are use that term with anyone other than a Nashville native the person has never heard of a curb market.

East Nashville has gone through a lot of changes over the 150 years that the neighborhood has been here.  My husband's family lived on Maxwell Ave. since 1955 and my family across Ellington Pkwy. on Pennock and Meridian St. since 1917. There were some really bad times and I thought the tornado in in the 90's would surely be a fatal blow.  Just the opposite of course.  East Nashville has improved more over the past 10 years than I could have imagined.  It's not the same place or the same people that I knew growing up in the 50's and 60's, but nothing stays the same.  When we moved to Inglewood in 1978 we were escaping East Nashville but trying to stay in the area because our parents still lived in East Nashville.  By the mid-90's we had no reason to stay and considered moving completely away from the area.  But it was home, and we are still here.  We hope the entire area will continue to be a wonderful, diverse, comfortable community.  (Some member of my family has lived in East Nashville since 1855.  My great-great grandfather, William Sanders Hunt, is found living in Edgefield, in the city directory for that year.)

The text above was originally posted by me, Debie Oeser Cox, to the East Nashville Google Group on Feb 26, 2009.!topic/east-nashville/BgwABTkNTpM