Bull Frogs & Arched Doorways

Historical photos provided

Street cars such as this opened up developments like Dilworth and Elizabeth. Fighting between Plaza Midwood developer Paul Chatham and streetcar line owner Edward Dilworth Latta shaped Plaza Midwood’s development.

By Charles M. Paty, Jr.

This is a series of articles on the Plaza Midwood Neighborhood and its early years as well as some personal stories relating to the neighborhood. You may wonder about the title, but if you continue to read you will discover the connection between Plaza Midwood, Bull Frogs and Arched Doorways.

I was four years old and it was 1928. It was a great year for me. We had just moved from Oakland Avenue in the Elizabeth section to 14 Kenwood Avenue. The house numbers in this area had been assigned in a haphazard fashion, probably by the developer. That house today is 1927 Kenwood and it and all other houses on Kenwood were renumbered in 1931 as were many others in the area.

By 1928, the area had been under development for about 15 years, but there were still large areas yet undeveloped. The area on each side of Belvedere from the Plaza out to the Charlotte Country Club consisted mostly of unpaved streets with curbs only. There was a sprinkling of houses here and there and lots of open spaces.

Within a year or two, I had developed some great little friends. We spent much of the day playing with Tootsy Toys and other little vehicles in our back yards. The Tootsy Toy cars were much in demand because they were scale models of autos of the day and were well made of cast metal. They were small, about 3 or 4 inches in length. Since they had replaceable rubber tires smaller than a dime, we were constantly losing them in the dirt.

My father raised squabs and rabbits. Squabs are pigeons for those not familiar with the term. By this time, the depression was in full swing and these were part of our table fare. Playing with my friends on Kenwood and the surrounding streets was difficult because the streets were not paved and were rutted and very rough. At this age, we were still on tricycles and the street condition required that we remain in our yards. During the summer months, the city would oil the unpaved streets to keep down the dust. This of course proved to be a nightmare for the mothers, as the children would run into the street and track the oil into the house. No one had wall to wall carpet, so it was not as bad as it would be today. The good news about summer was the “Ice Wagon”. A horse (maybe a mule) would come down the street once a week to deliver ice to all the homes. We had ice boxes and each house would have a rectangular sign hung on the front of the house indicating the amount of ice required in pounds, 25, 50 or 75. The wagon would stop at each house and the iceman would chip off the requested amount and haul it around to the back. The lady of the house would let him in and he placed it in the ice box. During that time, we scrambled into the back of the wagon to get chips of ice to suck until the iceman returned. The old horse never moved although it was not tied.

No one thought anything about letting a “strange” man into their house to bring the ice. No trouble ever developed.

Back to top

Part Two

Between the ages of 7 to 10, my little friends and I began to range far and wide. We had several great areas of exploration. One was the north side of Belvedere from Chambwood to Truman Road where there were no houses or street development. There was just a large field with a few small trees, some of which were fruit trees. This was where I tasted my first green persimmon and if you have ever tasted a green one, you don’t go back for seconds. It was also the place where I stepped barefooted on my first ripe persimmon (with a bee on it). Last instructions from my mother before going to bed at night were, “wash your feet and say your prayers”. For those of you who have moved here from out of state, it wasn’t that we didn’t have shoes, we just wanted to go barefooted. Sometimes during the summer, I would go all week without putting on my shoes.

Another favorite place to play was in the “Van Landingham Creek”. This creek was fed by a spring on the Van Landingham estate and ran down between Tippah and Nassau Blvd. In those days, it was clear as a bell and contained bull-frogs, crawfish, snails, tadpoles, turtles and other aquatic creatures. In the summer, I could lie in my bed up on Kenwood and hear the “CHER-ROOM CHER-ROOM” of the bull-frogs at night. The creek ran clear and we dammed it to create little ponds to splash in. The banks of the creek contained beautiful blue clay from which we crafted many little pots and animals to take home to our parents. We didn’t know about firing, so they all crumbled over time. Many a time, on a hot summer day, we scooped up water in our hands and drank it. Today that would probably be suicidal because of contamination.

At that time, Nassau did not continue through from Chestnut to Belvedere. In fact, we played in a huge oak tree that stood at about 1921 Nassau. The lower limbs were close to the ground and we could climb up very high. Several kids fell out of this tree and broke an arm. In due time, it was cut down to make way for development of the 1900 block of Nassau.

Speaking of creeks, we also played in Briar Creek [or a branch of Briar Creek] where it runs under Belvedere at the bottom of the hill. Now this was a really big creek in our minds. There were fish in it which I believe were Yellow Perch. A scooped out area right below Belvedere provided a small swimming hole probably not more than 3 or 4 feet deep. We could splash around and get in a few strokes before hitting the other side. No bathing suits, just the clothes we were wearing. In the summer, they would almost dry off by the time we walked home. In those days, the creek was crystal clear.

During the early 30’s, my parents played bridge in the evenings with Mr and Mrs Buck who lived across the street at 1922 Kenwood. One time while visiting with the Bucks, I was shown their ARCOLA furnace. This was a hot water furnace that was common in a number of houses in the neighborhood. It sat in a small room on the ground floor next to the kitchen and transferred heat to each room via hot water registers. Of course it also heated hot water for other purposes. The bridge games were usually pretty serious, so I was instructed to be quiet and not speak unless I was spoken to. I would play with my little cars around the living room while they played bridge. After an hour, Dad would call up the drug store (at the intersection of Plaza and Parkwood) and order a round of fountain Cokes to be delivered. In about 10 minutes, a young man would bicycle up to the house balancing a tray with 5 cokes which cost 5¢ each. Tip for such service was 10¢. These events took place around 1932.

Kenwood Ave. in the 30’s was a street of residents with varied occupations. All of the houses were occupied by married couples and their families. The men worked at a variety of jobs and the women all stayed at home. With the exception of a couple of car salesmen, most families had one car. A few had no car. This was pretty typical of all of the streets in the area known today as Plaza Midwood. The most luxurious car on the street was a Lincoln sedan owned by Mr Oliver at 2017 Kenwood. Mr Oliver was a sales executive with the Lincoln division of the Ford Motor Co. and, of course, drove a new Lincoln every year. Mr and Mrs Oliver also had the largest family and supplied the neighborhood children with numerous playmates.

Almost all blocks in the neighborhood contained alleys. These were laid out as part of the original development plans and were a feature in the area. Their purpose was to provide a right of way for power and telephone lines which ran behind the houses so they would not be an unsightly mar on the front of the property. They also provided a convenient means of trash and garbage collection as the trucks actually went through these alleys and picked up behind each house. More importantly for us children, it provided a place for us to play.

Back to top

Part Three

This aerial view of the Plaza, Belle Terre, Nassau and Thurmond in 1948 shows the future site of Holy Trinity Lutheran and post war infill housing.Most of our routine shopping was done at the south end of the Plaza, in the Central Ave. business district. In 1929, the principal businesses were: Lomax & Russell (grocer), Joe Klouse (meats), Pender (grocer chain), D.C. Staton (grocer), Great A & P Tea Co. (grocer chain), R.F. Brawley (pressing club or dry cleaner), S.B. Seegers (barber), Plaza Drug Co. (drug store and soda fountain), Standard Oil Co. (service station). These were on the south side of Central within one block between Pecan and Thomas Avenue. Note that there was no shortage of grocery stores. During the 30’s, nothing seemed to change. Most things remained the same because of the depression.

Mr. Seegars was our mailman for about 10 or 12 years and he knew everyone on his route including the dogs and their names. Mail by the way, was delivered twice a day. Today, we are lucky to see the same “mailperson” twice.

I attended Elizabeth School when I started to school in 1930. This was the closest elementary school other than the Plaza Road School which was then outside of the city limits. City kids could not attend county schools or vice versa. My father dropped me at school on his way to work and I usually walked home or occasionally took the trolley at the corner of Central Ave. and 7th Street. We’ll talk about the trolley another day.

The walk home from school was a major event. It started by several of us gathering in Independence Park behind the school and playing on the swings and sliding board. Following a few minutes of that, we headed out onto 7th Street. Have you ever followed several 8 to 10 year olds when they were walking to a specific place some distance away? They play, throw rocks, drift off on side trips, stop, talk and just dilly dally around taking an enormous amount of time to cover a very short distance!

Our procession continued to Clement Ave. and then to the Seaboard Air Line RR tracks near Central Ave. Getting across the RR tracks was a time consuming process. If we heard a train coming, we would of course wait until it passed so we could wave at the engineer. In those days, there was a large water tank standing there and the engine [steam, that is] would often stop for a resupply of water. There were also several side tracks along there and a freight train might pull off to let a passenger train pass. Passenger trains in those days would roll through there at about 50 mph, throwing up rocks and dust as they passed by. All of this was exciting and great fun.

The train show over, we passed on up through the Cole property which was another show. We watched them pour molten iron into molds to make parts for use on the Cole farm implements. Further on, we saw the painting and assembly of these as finished products. All of this was part of our education.

When we finally made it to the top of the hill on Central Avenue, we were in dire need of refreshments. These could be obtained at the soda fountain of Plaza Drug or at several grocery stores or service stations. After obtaining liquids and possibly some sweets, we headed for home.

Bedtime for most of us in grammar grades was 9 pm, but our objective was to stay out and play at least until dark. In the summer, dark came late and we were able to get in a little extra play time. Street lights were at a premium and were located only at the street corners. A number of us would end up playing under a streetlight as hundreds of bats flew around the lamp and swooped down on us as we played. I don’t see bats in our neighborhood any more. The bats are gone and the mosquitoes love it. Too soon, from a block away, we would hear our Mothers calling us home to bed.

Just like today, summers were great fun for the kids. Another thing I don’t see today are June Bugs. They were gentle, slow flying bugs that did not sting or bite. We had them in great abundance and a favorite pastime was to catch one and tie a light piece of thread to a leg. It would fly off like a kite. This was a cruel way to treat the June Bugs but most parents required that the June Bugs be released in a short while.

To Be Continued.

Part Four

In December 1941, I was carrying the Charlotte News (afternoon paper) on Tippah, Firth Ct, Kenwood, Ashland, Winter, Chatham, Belvedere and three or four houses on the Plaza. The route consisted of 86 subscribers and on 6 December, I had delivered the Saturday heavy edition. The Saturday paper was large because they did not produce a Sunday paper and all of the advertising and funnies, etc. were included in the Saturday edition. In those days, we delivered from our bikes, carrying the papers in large cotton bags slung over our shoulders or on the handle bars. By the time I finished my route, my tail was dragging.

On this Sunday, Dad mentioned that he would like to take us to lunch at Honey’s Resturant on the corner of Morehead and South Tryon. He often ate lunch there and we would go there for some of our evening meals. Mr Honey was a neighbor who lived at 2026 Belvedere.

Following lunch, we came home and I flopped down in the living room to listen to some music on the radio. Mother and Dad went back to their bedroom to take a nap. We had not been home long when the broadcast was interrupted by a bulletin: AN AIR ATTACK HAD TAKEN PLACE AT PEARL HARBOR. I thought, where in the world is Pearl Harbor? These sorts of news items were coming over the airways frequently because the War was raging in other parts of the world, but we were not involved. As the minutes went by, more bulletins came in and we learned that Pearl Harbor was a US Naval Base and had been attacked by Japanese aircraft. We were at war.

I ran back to the bedroom and woke Mother and Dad. They were as shocked as I was. Shortly, Dad said “lets drive downtown and buy an EXTRA”. We jumped into our new 1941 Hudson and headed for the Square. Dad and I were stunned and we talked about the implications. I started talking about joining up. He drove around several blocks trying to find a newsboy selling extras. In the course of doing that, he, a careful driver, ran a red light and was given a ticket.

On the way home, we talked more about my going into service. Upon arriving home, I turned up the heat of the conversation about enlisting. As I was only 17 at the time, Mother was furious and said, “no way”. The news continued to come in and it was more bad news. Our conversations continued on into the late hours. At some point, I gained permission to “try” to enlist in the Navy. Mother said they would not take me. Dad was also skeptical.

The next morning on his way to work, Dad dropped me at the US Navy recruiting office downtown. It was 7:00 am and I thought that I would be the only one there at that hour. Well, not so. There must have been 100 men in the line, waiting. I managed to wiggle my way into being accepted and I left home 11 December 1941. In exactly 30 days, I was on board the USS NORTH CAROLINA and headed for 3 years and 10 months of action in the Pacific. I had one leave home during my service.

Monday afternoon, following my enlistment, I called the Charlotte News and informed them that I would not be carrying the paper that afternoon or anytime soon. I never heard who they found to carry the route or if it was carried that day. I still have my subscribers list for my route dated 11-29-41.

It is amazing how ones life can change so dramatically in an instant. At that time, I was in the 11th grade at Central High School and was struggling to get my head straight for college, but had no idea what I wanted to do. I had never formally dated a girl. I guess this was pretty mild stuff by today’s standards.

Over the following months and years, others who lived within a few blocks of my home (1927 Kenwood) had also joined one of the the services.

Dick Boward – 1923 Kenwood, US Navy
Henry Creighton – 1808 Tippah, US Navy
Neil Forney – 1801 Tippah, US Navy
Bobby Graham – 1808 Belvedere, US Army Air Corp
Gordon Hollar – 2021 Kenwood, US Navy
Ruth Kilgo – 1717 Belvedere, US Navy (Waves)
Stiles Markey – 2100 Midwood, US Navy
Clifford McRorie – 1805 Kenwood, US Navy
Johnny Osborne – 1809 Kensington, US Army, Killed in Action at
Battle of the Bulge
Ted Sellers – (brothers) 2121 Winter, US Navy
Bill Sellers – (brothers) 2121 Winter, US Navy
Gene Yandle – 1937 Tippah, service unknown
Donald Young – 2021 Ashland, service unknown

My father became a block Civil Defense Warden. He was to assist in case of an emergency caused by an air raid. Our world had turned upside down, never to be the same again.

Back to top

Part Five

Did you know there is a gold mine in Plaza Midwood? “A gold mine in Plaza Midwood!” You don’t believe it? Well, it is true. It was located on the property currently owned and occupied by Mrs JEANNE ADAMS DEARMON BATES. On a Tuesday in July, Karen Boyen and I paid a visit to this most interesting neighbor. Mrs. Bates lives in a big two story house at 1721 DeArmon Drive (formerly 1648 Gold Hill Ave), set back from the street on a lot that runs all the way through to Truman. In 1937, she married BEN DEARMON, son of Dr and Mrs JOHN M DEARMON. The house was built in 1908 by DR. JOHN M DEARMON who named it EASTERN RETREAT. At that time, it faced Lawyers Road (Central Ave), and sat far back on top of this small hill which was very much outside the city limits. There was a circular driveway that ran from Gold Hill Ave. up to the house. Morningside, DeArmon, Roland and Truman were not streets at that time. All that area was farm land. Several years later, their driveway was made into a street and it was called Gold Hill Avenue. This portion is now the one block of Morningside Drive that is on the north side of Central Ave. At that time, Mrs John DeArmon named the streets on each side of the house, West Side Ave (later Truman) and East Side Ave (later DeArmon).

Jeanne Bates told us some interesting things about the house and the family. The family land consisted of 35 acres and Dr. DeArmon chose the highest point on this tract to place his house and to raise his family which, in time, consisted of 13 children. Dr DeArmon’s tract of land ran from Central to Logie to Belvedere to Club. To help house his large family, he built a second building for the boys.. This was a sort of dormitory, detached from the house, that provided sleeping quarters. Following the death of Dr DeArmon and his wife, the family redirected the entrance to the house toward DeArmon Drive instead of Central Ave. The name of East Side Ave had been changed to DeArmon Drive in honor of Dr DeArmon. Mrs Bates first husband, BEN DEARMON, was the 12th child in the DeArmon family. He was born in the bedroom upstairs above the parlor. Following their marriage, Jeanne and Ben built a house on Central Ave and remained in the area. One of his sisters, HELEN DEARMON, was born in the parlor downstairs and was later married in that same room… Several other children and descendants built houses on old Gold Hill Ave (now Morningside Drive). One of the houses (1620 Morningside) has just recently been torn down. It contained two rock chimneys built from the same type of rocks that were used in the DeArmon home place.

Dr. John DeArmon was a medical doctor who practiced in Mint Hill and was the only Doctor there until he was joined in his practice by Dr Whitley. The original office building in Mint Hill used by Dr DeArmon still stands and is now a museum called “Doctors Museum”. His house-calls were originally made by horse and buggy, but he is believed to have had a Ford by the time he moved to what is now DeArmon Dr. Dr. DeArmon was born in a house on DeArmon Road near Prosperity. This house is still standing. Following his move to his home off Central Avenue, he farmed the 35 acres of land there. Jeanne remembered that the land that is now Morningside Drive on the south side of Central, was a cotton field.

1721 DeArmon DriveJeanne informed us that the beautiful rock chimney in the old home place was built from rocks that were gathered on the property. They most likely came from the Gold Mine, a short distance away. The home place yard is still full of large rocks.

Jeanne’s niece, AMY DEARMON, still lives in the vicinity at 1823 DeArmon Dr. And , there are several other long term residents still living on DeArmon. They are the PRINCIPES at 1700, the BAIRDS at 1701, the WYLIES at 1800 and the MILLS at 1815.

A sad part of the DeArmon family history is the story of Mrs Myrtle DeArmon Starrette who was a sister in law of Mrs Bates and daughter of Dr and Mrs John DeArmon. She was killed as she stepped off the curb at the intersection of Pecan and Central Ave. where she was run over by a bus. She had been grocery shopping at the A & P. Store on Central.

Back to top

Part Six

Most everyone in the neighborhood has seen the big, two story white house (2100 Plaza) on the corner of Plaza and Belvedere. To learn more about this house and the family who lived there, I interviewed Ruth Kilgo Hall. Ruth is a grandchild of Bishop John Kilgo who built the house in 1910. It was designed by C C Hook, a leading architect in Charlotte.

After John C Kilgo Jr and Ruth Robinson married and Ruth was born, they lived with the Robinson Grandparents on Elizabeth Avenue where the Music building for Central Piedmont College is now located. In 1922, Ruth was baptised in the Bishop Kilgo house by her grandfather who died just a few months later. Just behind the big house was a 2 room servants quarters which was enlarged in 1924 by the Bishop’s son, John C Kilgo Jr. The brick house at 1717 Belvedere was built around the two room servants quarters. In 1924, the John C Kilgo Jr family moved to the 1717 Belvedere home and Ruth grew up in that house. Bishop Kilgo’s widow lived alone in the 2100 Plaza home until her death in 1946 at age 93. Ruth’s father started Kilgo Motor Freight back in the 1920s, hauling dynamite to West Virginia and Ohio. The company prospered and remained his principal occupation until he sold the business in 1958.

Ruth remembered the Trolley turning right from the Plaza onto Mecklenburg Avenue and continuing on to the Charlotte Country Club. The motorman was a Mr Beaver and the trolley was a four wheel type. She remembered Jim Armstrong who was the Charlotte City Manager and lived next door at 1725 Belvedere. The Henderson School of Dance was in the second block at 1801 Belvedere, the home of E W Henderson. She also remembered the Dick Youngs who lived at 2021 Ashland Avenue. Dick was a reporter for the Charlotte News.

On the Plaza, she remembered Ralph and his sister, Dean Van Lindingham. Also, Mr H M Victor who lived at 1610 Plaza and ran the Union National Bank, the parent company of todays First Union National Bank.

Ruth first went to Elizabeth Elementary School, skipped the 3rd grade and finished in 5 years, attended Piedmont Junior High and Central High School when Dr Garinger was the principal. She also attended and graduated with honors from Queens College in 1943.

Following her graduation from Queens, Ruth enrolled as a Navy Wave Officer candidate in 1943. She was sent to Smith College in Massachusetts for training, graduated and became an Ensign in the Waves. She was trained as a meteorologist and followed that vocation in the Navy. Some of her duty was spent in North Carolina at the New Bern Naval Air Station where she handled weather forecasts for the lighter-than-air squadron stationed there. Following the end of World War II, she was discharged from the Navy, returned to Charlotte and married Ray E Hall. They lived in the old Bishop Kilgo home for a few months before moving to Chapel Hill where Ray pursued his degree and she took graduate courses. Upon Ray’s graduation from UNC in 1949, they returned to Charlotte to live briefly at 2100 Plaza. They purchased the brick house next door at 2108 Plaza where they raised their 4 children and still live today.

Neighbors in the Plaza Midwood area formed a new Methodist church which they named for Bishop John C Kilgo Sr. The church met at the Midwood Elementary School, then at the T T Allison home at 2101 Belvedere. Several years later, the house was torn down and the present brick sanctuary was built in it’s place.

Ruth puts in a full days work everyday – she is still “trucking”. She has worked in the trucking industry all her life, having started as a teenager working at her fathers business, Kilgo Motor Freight. Today, she is employed at John Guignard Co.

An added note: When John C Kilgo Jr returned from overseas following World War I , he briefly worked assembling cars at the Anderson Automobile Co. in Rock Hill SC. His mother said she wanted to buy a car built by her son so she purchased car #357 which remained in the Kilgo family for many years. Some years later it was donated to a young man who wanted to restore it. Ruth K Hall still has the original title. The car is now on display in a museum at Myrtle Beach SC.

Back to top

Part Seven

An imposing building once stood on the north side of Central Avenue, just east of the railroad tracks. This was the home of the Charlotte Casket Company which manufactured wooden caskets, robes, suits, dresses, linings and boxes. All related to the funeral business. The company was established in 1899 and the plant was located at 1317 Central Avenue.

I had a friend whose grandfather, a Mr Wiley, was the superintendent at the plant. Mr Wiley lived across the street from the plant about a block away. One day while we were walking home from Elizabeth school, my friend said he needed to see his grandfather; so, we went into the building. The first thing that really got my attention was the lobby area which was a show room for casket samples and displays of their other products such as the clothes they manufactured. This display appeared very strange to me. I had never seen so many open caskets and I was afraid to go over and look into them. The room was not very well lit which added to the macabre atmosphere.

Shortly, my friend came out of his grandfather’s office and asked if I would like to take a tour of the plant. With some trepidation, I agreed. This turned out to be a most interesting experience. On the first floor there was a huge woodworking operation with dozens of machines cutting and carving out the various pieces that were required to manufacture a quality casket. These pieces consisted of elaborately carved corners, lid pieces, sides and bottoms. All of this machinery ran off of an extensive pulley and belt system powered by a steam engine in the back of the plant. The finished pieces were sent up to the second floor to be glued and assembled. The second floor was filled with many employees who clamped together all the pieces with hot glue for overnight drying. The caskets were then assembled as completed, unfinished boxes which were then sent up to the third floor to the sewing room. On this floor, many women sat at sewing machines making the linings, pillows etc for the caskets. Following installation by the women of all of the interior portions of the casket, it was then complete and ready for sale and shipping.

As we came down from the third floor, we went out in back of the plant to see the boiler room and the coal fired steam engine that powered this whole operation. My eyes really flew open then! This engine was huge! It was probably 25 feet long with a flywheel that looked to be 10 feet in diameter. It was like standing next to a steam locomotive. It ran all day long and was the only source of power for all of the machinery in the plant. A fireman and an engineer were on duty at all times to keep the engine running at a constant speed. A large steam whistle stood on top of the boiler room and the engineer would sound it at starting time in the morning and quitting time in the afternoon. The sound of this whistle could be heard all over the Plaza Midwood area.

Back to top

Part Eight

As the children of Plaza Midwood became older, their interest changed. Little girls startedCars line the Central Avenue business district ca 1940, visible is the Second Harris Food store (Harris Teeter). The first Harris store was located downtown. playing hopscotch, house, and school. Little boys started playing team sports. Speaking of team sports, our regular baseball and football field was the block encircled by Kenwood, Kensington, Fulton and Randall St. This was a field of broom sage with very few trees and bushes. There were only three houses in the block and they faced Fulton Avenue. One house in particular was a problem for us. It was the house on the corner of Kensington and Fulton at what was then 1843 Fulton, and which was replaced by a brick duplex and renumbered 1839 Fulton. The house in question was the home of Mr. John L. Alexander who was a farmer and had probably farmed the whole block at one time. He was up in years and, at that time, only had a garden and a few chickens in his back yard. The house was an old farm house that stood about 3 feet off of the ground and the chickens roamed around under the house. Our problem was that when we played baseball or football, our balls would fly over his fence on occasion and land in his garden. We hardly ever saw him, so we were afraid of him, and everyone was reluctant to go through the gate into his yard. On rare occasions, he would yell at us to stay out of his garden, but other than that he did not interfere.

Our ball field also contained some resources valuable to the neighborhood kids. Rabbit Tobacco grew here in great abundance. We smoked it and chewed it, but I don’t think it was very appealing. In fact it probably caused me to never take up cigarette smoking. Does it still grow in that area? Sassafras grew here also. The root of the Sassafras plant is what makes the tea. We would dig it up and take it home to our mothers who made Sassafras tea for us. There were also a few persimmon trees which were great when they were ripe, but would turn your mouth wrong side out if green.

One of the more interesting features of our neighborhood was the trolley. It was created back in 1910 as part of the original effort to develop this area. The first Plaza trolley was planned to come up Central Avenue from the Seaboard Railroad tracks and turn north onto the Plaza. It would run out the Plaza to Mecklenburg Avenue, there turn right and proceed out to the Charlotte Country Club. At that point, it was to turn onto Belvedere, return to the Plaza, thereby making a loop. The route on Belvedere was dropped some years later. By the time we moved into the neighborhood [1928], the tracks followed the Central Avenue and Plaza portion. The tracks ran one block out Mecklenburg, but the trolley stopped at the end of the Plaza divide. You could still see where they had paved over the right of way down the middle of Belvedere.

It was a fun thing even back then. My earliest memory of the trolley is my Mother taking me “downtown.” By the way, it was downtown then and not uptown. We would leave the house at 1927 Kenwood and walk through the back yard of 1518 Tippah (which was the Reid house) to Chestnut. We then followed the hill up Chestnut to the Plaza. Upon reaching the Plaza, we looked to the North end to see if the trolley was there. If it was, then we knew it would only be a few minutes until it started back down, running on the grass strip between the two lanes of the Plaza. It had been sitting there a few minutes upon completion of its last run, while the motorman walked over to the drug store for a fountain Coke. We could see him walk back to the trolley from our view at Chestnut. Shortly, he arrived at our stop and we boarded, dropping in $.07. You could purchase tickets from the motorman — four for a quarter.

Upon boarding, the motorman would start the trolley in motion. Since he had a pretty straight and level run and little or no automobile traffic, he would wind her up pretty good. At least, it felt like we were moving pretty fast. When we arrived at the intersection of Plaza and Central, it turned west onto Central. We then proceeded on down to the intersection of Central and Hawthorne Lane. At this point, we departed the Plaza trolley, picked up a transfer as we left, and proceeded across the intersection to wait on the Belmont trolley that would come under the railroad trestle on what is now Hawthorne Lane. At that point, we boarded that trolley (which was larger) and headed downtown to the Square. The $.07 fare had carried us all the way to the Square.

If, upon arriving at Chestnut and Plaza, we saw no trolley waiting or coming, then we assumed that it was still coming up Central. I would put my ear down on the track and I could hear it as it approached Plaza from Hawthorne. It would get louder as it turned onto the Plaza and I would tell Mother that it was about to come into view. Another fun thing was to place a coin, usually a penny, on the track as it passed going North to the end. I would retrieve the flattened coin after the trolley passed and we would board it when it returned South in a few minutes. The amazing thing to me is that it didn’t seem to take any longer to get to town then than it does today in your own car. We continued to use the trolley until the day it was discontinued in the mid 1930’s.