BROOKS STEAK HOUSE

Those of us of a certain age remember Brooks Steak House that was located across from Fairgrounds on S Highland. There were the family dinners or that special date night. Then there were. The  “dress up “ occasions fraternity banquets/dances, wedding receptions and an assortment of other parties in one of the party rooms. Great memories and wonderful food.

One afternoon I was visiting Doris Freeman ( Cuz Tuny) and we were talking about restaurants that have called Jackson home. Cuz who had worked for years in advertising. She had had the opportunity to write copy for many of the restaurant’s ads. In the process she got  to know the owners and managers of the restaurants. Somehow we got off on Brooks Douglas and his wife Eva and the many restaurants they ran over the years.

“You never know a person’s back story”Cuz said “for example the Douglas’s love story.”

She went on to tell me one day she was at Brooks’s getting a late lunch and talking to Eva. “I could not help myself, not that I am nosey or anything,a I had to ask her how she and Brooks met.”Cuz just laughed ( I just loved her laugh)

Cuz went on to tell me what she was told. 

Eva was born in Budapest, Hungary . She attended private schools in London, England. In 1944, at the age of 16 and in her first year of college she met Brooks  who was in the Navy  stationed in London during WW11. They met at a Red Cross USO. They  were married on July 30, 1946.

Cuz said as Eva told the story she had a sparkle in her eyes.Eva went on to tell her about the good times and the challenges she had in her life. 

“ I had an extra long lunch that day and I enjoyed every minute of it  Cuz said “but when I left I had so much admiration for this wife, mother and businesswoman. See you never know until you ask.”

As we continued to talk  she tried to remember all the restaurants the Douglas owned, invested in or managed  over the years. Her list included  Brooks Steak House, The Hut, The Fox, The Thunderbird Restaurant and the Dixie Creame Drive-In.

Brooks Douglas died in 1985 and Eva retired and moved to Destin. Eva passed away in 2019.I have several notebooks full of Cuz Tuny’s stories. I thank my lucky stars I had a creative writing teacher at NYU that taught us to treat and write interviews like we were writing a screen play. He told us to include every sign, laugh, every emotion our subject expressed and we as a writer experienced. The older I get the more I appreciate that advice and my many notebooks of notes and interviews.

SKETTER’s

Remember the Cucumber Dressings and the hats Skeeter gave out to kids.. what was your favorite dish ?Mr Charles ( Skeeter) and Mrs Eva Alexander were loved I am glad they got to retire to Bradenton Fl and enjoy their retirement. I remember Leila Frankland, published the famous Skeeter’s Cucumber Dressing Leila’s Legacy cookbook in 1975. I make it occasionally leaving out the green food coloring.. what was the name of the beauty shop in the lower level?located on N. Highland where Catfish restaurant is now.

NANDO JONES

One afternoon I went to visit with Gay and Wes Forsythe at Nando Jones for  history on the store and Mr. Nando. Like many of you shopping at Nando Jones  was a pleasant memory of growing up and coming to “town”. 

My grandfather and Mr. Nando were friends. The fact my grandfather  was only 5ft 4  he got his work clothes and shoes in the boys dept. at Nando’s. Going to visit Mr. Nando was a fascinating journey.Gay pointed out to me on many occasions that she had picked out several “Sunday” dresses for me. She would laugh because she and the ladies would pick out a pink dress and convince Granddaddy to buy it.I hated pink dresses and she knew it. 

Let me give you a bit of history .

William Nando Jones actually began his dry goods career on the south side of West Lafayette, working in the retail store owned by A. Frank.

With a small loan, Nando and his partner Louis Altfeld bought some overalls and bow ties and moved into the first of his storied brick buildings that would become a city landmark in 1937. 

Built in the mid-1800s, the building closest to Shannon Street began its history as a savings and loan – and a “recreational” lodge.There were a lot of those lodges on the top floors where illegal gambling and drinking went on.

Poker and beer were the gathering cry of many a businessman who met in secrecy on the upper floor of the first of the four buildings erected that would later become Nando Jones.

When they were expanding the store Wes said they  found a lot of pictures of people gambling upstairs in 109 West Lafayette St. 

Nando’s was known not only the assortment of merchandise but the sizes. Ladies underwear up to size 4x and men’s overalls to size 54.

Gay worked in the store forever she could remember helping in the Shoe  Department at age 6. She met her husband Wes at the store when he started work at Nando’s when he was in college at Union.  (Wes was born on June 1, 1931. He graduated from Peabody High School in Trenton where he was a star football player. He then went to college at Pearl River on a football scholarship. He joined the United States Marine Corps and served during the Korean War. He then came back and graduated from Union University with a degree in Business Administration.) He married Gay Jones Forsythe in 1955.

Gay would tell people her Dad sat up a crib in the office after she had her baby so she could get back to work as the bookkeeper as soon as possible. “Our children and grandchildren have worked at “Nando’s .It was just part of their lives.”  Gay told me

When the storm came through in 2003 the store could not be rebuilt. “It’s was heartbreaking,”Gay told me . “We tried to build back three times, but something happened every time.”

They opened up at the old Liberty building on Airways but it was not the same.

The city purchased the Nando Jones buildings and other properties running along West Lafayette from Shannon Street east to North Highland, plus the Hopper Smith building for $486,500, according to Paul George, principal planner for the Jackson Planning Department.

Now we have the memories of Nando Jones the man and the store. Gay died in 2016 and Wes this year they were such special individuals and were a part of Jackson’s history.

This photo was taken about 1926 of the old Altfeld and Jones Dry Goods store that became Nando Jones when Louis Alfeld died and William Nando Jones bought his share of the store. William Nando Jones is pictured on the far left. Louis Altfeld is in the far right

.look at the hats

-fact sheet i gave Ned Hunter for his article in 2005About the Nando Jones buildings* William Nando Jones started working in dry goods as a teenager for A. Frank.* Frank’s store was located on the south side of West Lafayette, directly across from where Jones would eventually open his own store with his partner Louis Altfeld.* Nando Jones and Altfeld bought the first of four buildings on the north side of West Lafayette in 1937.* The buildings were constructed from handmade brick.* Animal hair or hay was used to keep the sand in the bricks together.* The building closest to Shannon Street is the oldest of the Jones buildings.* Originally a savings and loan, it was built sometime in the mid-1880s.* There is an underground walkway from the building going under West Lafayette running north to south.* The buildings were first destroyed by arson in 1864 during the Civil War.
* Nando Jones was in business with Louis Altfeld from 1926-1943.* The business was then called Altfeld and Jones.* Jones later bought Altfeld’s interest in the business from Altfeld’s family after Altfeld’s death.Ps. – The first building bought by Jones and Altfeld in 1937 was 111 W. Lafayette. They then purchased Ollie Only’s Pool Hall on their east side in 1967. Jones later acquired both the former Walker Grocery store at 113 W. Lafayette and the old Kroger building at 115 W. Lafayette.* William Nando Jones died in 1991. (1902-1991)yes, I talked mr Paige, who had the contract to destroy the building, out of a brick in exchange for the history of the building.

THE HUT

Yep.  What looks like a carnival midway of competing signs from a plywood building growing like Kudzu at the corner of Campbell and Highway 45, that’s The Hut as first By then Mike had moved The Hut across the street.  J. T. brought Georgia Nickias to the Hut, who with her brother Johnny had been creating baked goods at the Fox Restaurant downtown

imagined and built.  It stood where the Pronto Pup was later built.  The Hut was takeout pit BBQ with carhops would bring it to your car if you preferred.

Mike Tucker had created, what turned out to be a legend of food memories for many.  The

 idea was simple, Hicksville’s crossroad was half way between New Orleans and Chicago, a perfect place to stop to eat.  Mike also began building a motel to house the weary travelers.  In later 1949 or early 1950, with construction costs above estimates forpigx  the motel, he decided to sell the Hut to J. T. Hamilton.

Added in 1960’s the 3 Pigs

The Ghosts of 117-119 East Lafayette

Ghost of 117-119 Lafayette

d n english 

The year was 1887 Ruby was reporting to her first job at Jackson Telephone and Telegraph located at 117 East Lafayette.

As she walked up the stairs she thought how proud her parents would be today. Since she had completed her course work two years ago but could not start work because she had to take care of her sick parents.   She lost both her parents first her father a year ago then three months ago  her mother passed away. After they passed she moved to an apartment in the home of a lady on East Main her rent was 2.00 per week and .50 a week for a sack lunch for 5 days.. She was happy with the fact her commute to work a short walk or a trolly ride.

 This was  her first day of work she felt excited but also melancholy thinking about her parents. 

She took a deep breath as she walked up the stairs. She passed down the hall and heard laughter and conversation coming out of the cotton office at the front of the building. She stopped adjusting  her bonnet before opening the door to her new office.

As she opened the door two men stood up to greet her and allow her to sit in the chair in front of what  would be her desk. On one side of the office was the Telegraph pad and behind her desk was the switchboard. 

Ruby had already been through a refresher course on being a telegraph  operator and how to use the switchboard. The fact was she was also be the bookkeeper for the office her plate was full. The salary was $7.50 a week which was very good for a 24  year old  lady.

Her work hours were 7am to 6 pm Monday through Friday and 7am til 12 pm on Sat. The office and the switchboard would be maned by a gentleman at night , a lady would work on Saturday 12-7pm. Then on Sunday they would alternate the noon to 7pm shift when she worked Sunday she got an extra .50. At this time there were less than a hundred customers but they knew this customer base  would grow.  After the gentlemen got through going over the details of the job they left. 

After a month  on the job Ruby was pleased with her new life and job. On this Tuesday morning Ruby sat at the switchboard having completing a call. There was a knock on the door and it opened to reveal a very handsome man with an apple in his hand.

“Hello my name is Adam I work down the hall at the Cotton Exchange and I wanted to bring the beautiful new telephone operator an apple.”he said

Ruby blushed and said. “Thank you and I am Ruby.”

After that meeting they became fast friends. As time went on they would take lunch together and he would walk her home on occasion. Soon they were attending church, going on carriage rides , and enjoying time together and with friends.

Their time was spent talking , laughing and just enjoying each other’s company.

So it was a surprise on that Monday morning when Ruby got to work and Adam was not at work. The gentleman that was in his office told Ruby Adam had been called to Memphis but he had left Ruby a letter.

Ruby thanked him and went down to her office to start work.

When she got there her day started off in blur she placed the letter in her drawer. In her heart she knew this day would come after all she was older than Adam and she was just a simple girl making her way in the world. Adam on the other hand came from a wealthy family and  was so very handsome.

That night when she got home she read the letter . It was so sweet Adam was declaring his love for her and assuring her he would be back in Jackson soon. 

Days turned into weeks and Ruby had not heard another word from Adam. On this day she decided to go for a walk and clear her mind. As Ruby was crossing Main St. she had not been paying attention. The trolly was on top of her instead of stepping back she kept going and was run over. By the time they got her to the Doctor it was to late she was dead.

 The day of the funeral Adam arrived back his office where on his desk were all the letters he had written Ruby. No one took them to her . While he was standing in his office someone came by and saw him. That is how he found out about her accident. He rushed to the church only to meet the funeral procession headed to Riverside Cemetery.

After the service he waited as they covered the casket and placed the flowers and the ring box on the grave.

No matter what his friends and family said he would not leave Ruby. Three days later they found Adam dead laying by Ruby’s grave. In his hands were the letters he had written Ruby. It was obvious he had been reading them to Ruby.

It was a week later that someone reported hearing voices on the second floor of the Lafayette building and no one was there. Over the years the couple have been seen in the hall but when people  turn around the couple are no where to be seen. Even after all the renovations that have been done on the building the couple have been spotted and heard giggling. The employees of Penny’s swore they saw and heard them. TLM employees have reported shadows on the second floor and in the basement. The elevator will start and stop with no one in it or on the upper or lower floors to have sent it on the way. The explanation Ruby and Adam are in the building where they had fallen in love their happy place. Do not worry they will not hurt you they just want to be happy together forever.

117- 119 East Lafayette

117-119 East Lafayette  Downtown Jackson Tn.

d n English

The building at 117-119 East Lafayette was built around 1840 as a wooden structure with a stairway to create two rental spaces,

The lower floor each side was rental spaces while the upstairs were set aside for offices and boarding rooms. In the 1860’s the  downtown buildings watched as the troops marched into town. Many  stores were looted causing the owners as well as the rest of the city  to repair the damage.

In the 1870’s 117 was operated as a Saloon with boarding rooms upstairs. While 119 was a general merchandise store with offices on the second floor. In the 1880’s the entire building was bricked. The  bricks were made from the clay from the construction sites around town.

By 1884 the corner of Liberty and Lafayette was full of activity. The store at 119 was White and Co. they sold everything from Beaver hats to plows . On the Liberty side was Hartmus Cotton Yard.Horse drawn wagons would come into town during cotton picking time and drop off a bale of cotton. The grader would determine if the company would buy the crop from the farmer. If it the crop was purchased the remaining bales would be loaded on  wagons and would be  taken to the port to be shipped to Memphis .

At 119 was a Saloon on the bottom floor on the second floor was Hartmus’s cotton buyer’s office and the Jackson Telephone and Telegraph office. The telephone  office had one operator to run the switchboard that serviced the 50 telephone customers and the Telegraph terminal . 

The turn of the century saw  changes in Jackson and to this property. The telephone exchange was now Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph with two switchboards and several operators to accommodate the many customers. The party lines were buzzing. Downstairs  at 117 was Klein and Co featuring this new concept “ready to wear”. At 119 was home of one of  Jackson’s first bowling alley.

In 1910 gone was the Bowling alley replaced by C. N. Whitlow

General Merchandise . At 117 was the talk of the ladies of Jackson finally a Ladies Fine Hat Shop. Gone was the telephone operators the company had changed hands and had grown so they needed more space.

 In the 1920 Jackson had grown more and more travelers were making this Hub City their destination. Downtown was welcoming National chain stores  one the first was J.C. Penny which was first located at 109 E Lafayette.

At 117-119 several stores including W.C Diffee Gents Clothing, and Singer Sewing Machine  were located here. 

Then in the 1930’s J.C Penny’s purchased the building  at 117-119 and completed remodeled the store making it one large building filing  the entire building including the basement with merchandise

It is no telling how many boys and girls whose parents shopped at J C Penny’s to make sure their children had the  new styles for the first day of school. Also a must  were the new Boy and Girl Scout Uniforms  for their first Scout meeting or   was  their first experience of getting their feet measured for new shoes. J C Penny along with other downtown stores were the place to shop in Madison Co. 

Then in the late 50’s and early 60’s more stores and the Mall opened North of downtown. Times were changing downtown started seeing more and more business moving. J C Penny’s was offered one of the anchor spot in the new Mall so they sold their building downtown and moved. 

Various businesses appeared at 117-119 E Lafayette none successful. Then came the building’s  hero. TLM purchased the building and restored her to the beauty she is today. Thank you TLM.

Now I have a question, I remember the tubes that took the sales ticket and money to the main office.BUT what I do not remember was there an elevator in Penny’s?

I have many wonderful memories of shopping at Penny’s with Grandmother and being amazed by the window dressings on holidays. 

I have received many of your memories and I thank you for them keeping them coming.

The next story will be the ghost story of the loving couple that still call this building home.

UT EXPERIMENTAL STATION

 UT Experimental Station

d n english

My first memories of “The Station” were with my Grandfather English. My “Pop” was one of these men if he did not know the answer to something he would find the as he would say the “expert”.

Let me explain Pop was born in 1895 he dropped out of school at 13 to help support his family. As he would tell me “ I  never stop learning” and he didn’t. 

On this day we were are at the Station to find out what to do to make the field good for growing okra where cotton had been. Pop had heard Winter Garden was going to start buying more vegetables for their frozen food line. He was always thinking ahead. What he learned from that visit, after they tested the soil and  later came out to the farm was how to “feed the land”.

By the time he started growing okra for sale he had 5  acres of top producing crop. I know this because  at 13 it was my job to weigh the pickers bags of okra and calculate their pay each day.

I was so excited when he decided to drop the crop after 2 years since so many others were growing okra. ( the phrase stop while you are ahead is what he told me)

 I know it was only a few weeks of summer but I preferred working in the air condition grocery store he owned …no snakes there.

The history of the U T Experimental Station starts in 1907 when the Tennessee General Assembly passed the act that created the Agricultural Research Centers across the state. The goal was to educate farmers on how to best use their land.

The first properties purchased in Madison Co. was three tracks of land . 85 acres from A M Alexander,57 acres from John L. Pearson and 47 acres from W J Ross. Over the years additional lands were purchased totaling 647 acres. The property is bound on the south by Hwy 70 East 45 bypass north railroad tract west by Forked Deer River. 

The original buildings were started in 1908. There was the main building ,the barns, storage buildings, and houses for some of the employees. This was a working farm, animals needed tended , crops planted ,tests , experiments and research so it was a 7/24 operation.

In the early days there was a round auditorium was built from funds paid by attendees of the annual Farmers and Homemakers Institutes. The Institutes were attended by families from all over West Tennessee. The local hotels and boarding houses were filled to capacity when the sessions were held.

Until the 1960’s the 4H camps were held here then moved to the the Milan campus. 

As early as 1957 UT started updating and adding state of the art laboratories. Gone are the barns and the animals replaced by many new buildings and departments. Over the next 10 years more greenhouses ,laboratories and housing was added. The one thing they could count on was Mother Nature and the Forked Deer River to provide the researchers with challenges. They definitely learned and continuing learning about drainage and flooding on this property.

In 1987 updating of the  facility was started and finished in 1989. The main building now not only holds classes on agriculture, but seminars on various subjects and political gatherings.

Some of the new expanded departments in the new buildings around the property are Ornamental plants ,Forestry,Environmental Science,Bio system engineering ,Entomology and  Plant pathology,Vegetable production and pathology, Landscaping Systems  and several other programs.

In 1999 when the tornados came through many of the buildings and some of the housing were damaged or destroyed. It was just a minor set back soon it was up and running better than ever.

Each year the center becomes a Gardners dream with all the exhibits and experts on hand to give advice and showcase the knowledge   the West Tennessee Education and Research Center provides. This special session also makes people comfortable in asking for help and advice all year round. 

UNION STATION JACKSON TN

Union Station

–  Significance: The Union Station, built in the 1870s, is a typical example of the small town railroad station which is rapidly disappearing from the American scene. It literally emphasized the union of the two railroads by being located between the two merging lines. Its dual waiting rooms served their respective railroads.

gm&o & ic’s union station jackson tn 1958 

gm&o’s & illinois central’s union station jackson tn june 1958 before the station would soon close after gm&o last st louis to mobile passneger train , the gulf coast rebel would make it’s final run oct 14 1958, & the ic’s passnger train’s the city of miami & the seminole would start using their old freight house on sycamore st as a passsenger station later towards the end of 1958, sation was torn down in nov. 1975 after a small fire

American Creosote plant

AMERICAN CREOSOTE PLANT

What is creosote?

Creosote-treated wood has either a thick black mixture of coal tar chemicals on the wood or the clear to yellowish greasy resin of the creosote bush. Many railroad ties are treated with creosote or pentachlorophenol. Creosote-treated wood can leach chemicals that may dissolve in water, move through soil and contaminate groundwater. Creosote can also be taken up by plants and animals and is considered a probable human carcinogen. Creosote-treated wood may only be used in commercial applications; there are no residential uses for creosote-treated wood.

The 60-acre American Creosote Works, Inc. (Jackson Plant) Superfund Site is located southwest of Jackson, Tennessee and includes numerous lagoons and other low-lying areas. The site is bordered by the Seaboard Railroad to the south, the Forked Deer River to the southwest, Central Creek to the north and west, and Industrial facilities to the east. The site’s broader surroundings include industrial, commercial and residential areas.

The site includes an area where a wood-treating facility operated from the early 1930s to late 1981. Several public and private wells are located within a three-mile radius of the site, including a city well field less than two miles east of the site.

From the early 1930s to 1981, a wood-treating facility operated at the site. Operations included discharging untreated process wastewater directly into the south fork of the Forked Deer River until 1973, when the operation built a levee around the facility to contain wastewater and surface water runoff. During construction, operations stored process water and sludge in pits on site that often overflowed into the main process area and the river during heavy rains and flooding. In 1974, the facility installed a wastewater treatment system

The 60-acre site is located immediately southwest of downtown Jackson, Tennessee. The site includes numerous lagoons and other low-lying areas. The Seaboard Railroad borders the site to the south, the Forked Deer River borders the site to the southwest, Central Creek borders the site to the north and west and industrial land use borders the site to the east. The site’s broader surroundings include industrial, commercial and residential land uses. Several public and private wells are located within a three-mile radius of the site, including a city well field less than two miles east of the site. From the early 1930s until 1981, a wood treating facility operated at the site. Operations included discharging untreated process wastewater directly into the south fork of the Forked Deer River until 1973, when the operation built a levee around the facility to contain wastewater and surface water runoff. During construction, operations stored process water and sludge in pits on site that often overflowed into the main process area and the river during heavy rains and flooding. In 1974, the facility installed a wastewater treatment system. In 1986, EPA listed the site on the NPL. The site can support industrial land uses. In 2004, Jackson Energy Authority acquired the site property and currently uses it for equipment storage. Fencing surrounds the site to control access.

Dement began placing fill material on site again in 2015. The EPA is currently working with the property owner Meadow Street Properties, LLC operated by Dement Construction Company, LLC to determine the analytical characterization of the fill material Dement placed to determine the next steps to ensure protection of human health and the environment