yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee

Chalk Lowery

W. V. Barry

June 18, 1943 Lexington Progress

My Column by Progress editor and publisher, W. V. Barry

An outstanding citizen of Henderson county, who was contemporaneous for several years with the person of the late Col. Addie J. Wheatley, was none other than Chalk Lowery, whose residence was at Reagan, and his occupation unknown except to drink what liquor he could get, chew tobacco galore, and occasionally lugging to Lexington a bundle of long canes cut in Cane Creek bottom, one of the most famous corn growing sections of Henderson County.

Chalk lived in a little hut at Reagan, and one of his most enjoyable experiences was when Mrs. Adam Powers gave him a cup or two of the good coffee for which she was famous, and possibly a good meal with it.

Chalk had his bad traits, but like all others, some good ones, too, one of them being his fidelity to friends, such as Judge Barham, former Circuit Judge, before that a business man at Parsons, and still living in Jackson, one of the best of the Chalk Lowery stores happened in Parsons where the then Mr. Barham was running a drug store.

One day a group of men was gathered around the stove about half way down the length of the room when they saw Chalk coming, wearing his usual grin and inevitable derby hat, caved in as usual, and some one in the crowd remarked, "We're going to have some fun with Chalk." So when he walked up, after saying howdy, some one in the crowd remarked, "Somebody put a burr under my saddle at preaching Sunday night," and turning to Chalk, said, "Chalk, I have it pretty straight that you did it," to which Chalk replied just as humbly as could be: "Why, Mr. Jennings, (and his name was not Jennings), you and me have always been good friends, and you know I wouldn't do nothing like that." Jennings persisted and Chalk again begged pardon for something he had not done. Mr. Barham walked down to the opening between the two counters and said, "Chalk, I am your friend, and I don't believe you did anything of the kind." Whereupon Chalk leaned across the opening between himself, thrust his big fingers in the collar of Mr. Jennings, and gave a jerk before he could be stopped--and that was the most peculiar thing in the mental make-up of Chalk Lowery, for he was an abject coward until merely given verbal support, which he did not need, when he would begin to lay out those around him, as happened one time at Jackson, when a gang had him backed up against a wall, until Lem Stanford came by, looked over the heads the crowd and called out, "Hey there Chalk," when things begin to happen, and no telling how many struck the earth before Chalk joined his friend.

Another story about Chalk: Frank McClanahan opened up a saloon down at the left before reaching Shady Hill from this side, and of course, Chalk heard about it and soon paid Mr. McClanahan a visit--and by the way, Mr. Clanahan, not being familiar with Chalk's reputation, sold him two quarts of white liquor on credit. After a while, a man who had witnessed the sale took Frank to one side and told him that fellow Lowery wouldn't pay anything, and then Frank went after Chalk--but not until Chalk had time to answer his purpose, which was to substitute two quarts of water for two quarts of white liquor, and when Frank demanded return of his whisky, Chalk seemingly obliged him, and Frank poured this supposed liquor back into the barrel. Before the episode was ended, when Frank was landing an abuse on Chalk and making dire threats against him, Chalk replied, "Yes, and I'll prosecute you for watering your damned whisky."

Nobody really had anything against Chalk, and it was my pleasure, as it was others, to do him a little favor, which in my case, was to make notice about him and his fishing poles in the Progress, but he always offered me a nickel or a dime, which, of course, I did not take. And by the way, before I quit the name Reagan, do you know that Reagan, a Texan, happened to be Postmaster General of the Southern Confederacy.

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