yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee
People of Action - 1969

From Lillye Younger, People of Action (Brewer Printing Company, Jackson, Tennessee, n.d.).  Special thanks to Constance Collett and the estate of the late Lillye Younger for permission to make this web page.

Lasting Impressions

By Lillye Younger

It was on the 4th of July, when the day was younger, that I met a person whose personality and kindness touched me so deeply it established many major concepts of my life.

The town of Trenton, Tennessee was brighter than a Persian scarf and percolating with activity as throngs of people crowded the streets to celebrate Independence Day.

Youngsters came barreling through the streets fresh as a meadow violet. I was ten years old. Dashing across the street in the company of other little girls my age, I fell and buried my knees in the gritty concrete. My companions escorted me to Dr. Will McCree's office where my wounds were treated and dressed.

With tear stained cheeks, intermingled with dirt, I searched for my aunt, Odell Washburn but instead ran up on another aunt, Mae Washburn who was accompanied by her boyfriend, Connie Maxwell of Parsons, Tennessee.

This nice young man knew immediately what to do for a wounded little girl. He whisked me over to the drug store and bought me an ice cream cone, which triggered an irresistible need for more. I devoured 12 ice cream cones throughout the day's celebration.

His generosity overwhelmed me. I soon forgot the sting of pain in my wounded knees.

Mr. "Childhood Idol" became a part of my life when he and my aunt were married on January 2, 1924. She was teaching school at Kenton, Tennessee.

They spent their first year of married life at Manchester, Tennessee later moving to Bruceton for a short period. The rolling hills of Decatur County escalated the couple to Parsons where they settled.

They opened the first Variety Store in Decatur County in 1927. It was located on Tennessee Avenue in a small building.

In 1929 the store moved into the present location at 105 Tennessee Avenue South. The name was changed in 1936 from Maxwell's Variety Store to Maxwell's Department Store at which time furniture, ready-to-wear and hardware were added.

After high school days and business college, I worked as bookkeeper at Maxwell's Department Store. Here I learned the language of the business world. The examples of honesty and fair dealing exemplified by the owners had made a lasting impression on me.

The business thrived because of hard work, long hours, and fair dealing exhibited by the owners. The slogan, "We Have Everything," has continued throughout the years.

Before its face lifting, the store was considered something like the "Old Country Store" and attracted out-of-town people from Jackson, Nashville, and Memphis. They spent hours browsing through the two story store. It has been widely known throughout this territory.

Mr. Maxwell's success stemmed back to his golden experience of early childhood when he grew up in his father, the late Ben Maxwell's mercantile business at Brodies Landing overlooking the Tennessee River. He began meeting steamboats when only a small lad. The night was never too cold, dark or snowy or the hour too late. With lantern in hand, he and his dad scurried down the bank to the landing where the toil of unloading merchandise from steamboat to store and warehouses began. Here he learned the art of business.

He graduated from Webb School at Bell Buckle, Tennessee and Bowling Green Business College at Bowling Green, Kentucky. Here he excelled in penmanship and was one of the best scribes in Decatur County.

 His health failed and he passed away on March 25, 1965. Mrs. Maxwell retired due to ill health and the business continues under the management of their only daughter, Mrs. Constance Maxwell Collett.

Mr. Maxwell was one of the most beloved Christian men in Decatur County. He was humble, unassuming and always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. A member of the First Methodist Church in Parsons he served as Chairman of the Official Board for a number of ears. His interest in Civic Affairs resulted in his serving as a member of the Parsons City Board for seven years. He had extensive land and real estate in Decatur County.

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