Friday, January 5, 2018

...when life was slow and oh, so mellow...

Macy was laid out in 1860 at the time the railroad arrived in the neighborhood. The community was originally known as Lincoln, but when it was discovered that there was already another Lincoln in Cass County, the name was changed in order to prevent confusion in the mail system. The namesake of Macy is David Macy, president of the Indianapolis, Peru and Chicago Railway. The post office at Macy has been in operation since 1880. - Wikipedia

              I was working, although not very hard, and Bill was standing across the counter, thinking about going home and getting something done. “Do you remember the free shows?” I asked. “Were they over here in this vacant lot?”

          There are many vacant lots in Macy; nevertheless, he knew which one I meant.

          “That’s where they were.” he said, “I remember one movie, is all. My sister and I didn’t get to go to it, so we crawled out her bedroom window and laid on the porch roof and watched it from home. Do you remember them?”

          “I remember one, a western, but they were all westerns, weren’t they?”

          “And they all had John Wayne in them.”

          I nodded agreement. “You could walk across the street to the drugstore and buy a Coke for a nickel. If you had an extra penny, you could get it in a Dixie cup and carry it back to the movie. The popcorn stand was right there at the corner of the store, wasn’t it?”

          “Yeah,” he said, “and the popcorn maker’s still over at the firehouse. Still works.”
Macy Christian Church Fellowship Hall - Used to be Karn Grocery

          Wow. I’m 57 and I still work, too, but barely. I can’t believe the popcorn machine does. I close my eyes and I remember how the popcorn smelled. Hot and buttery and—can you smell salt? In my memory, I can.

          My age was still single digits when we used to go to Macy to
watch the free shows. It seems to me as though they ran them two nights a week, though we probably didn’t go that often. In retrospect, I don’t know who “they” were, either. But I remember that Macy bustled. It had two churches right downtown, the drugstore, a hardware store where Mr. Case sold a wagon to my brothers and me. The wagon cost $9.00, but he gave it to us for a dollar less.
          There was a place across the street that sold and repaired televisions and maybe other appliances; I’m not sure. On the corner was Karn’s Grocery, where you got foodstuffs on one side and dry goods on the other and Mrs. Karn always smiled at you and called you by name. There was an elevator in town with piles of corncobs just begging to be played in. Someone threw one just right once and I got my first black eye. (It may have been my last, too—I’m a big coward.)
Macy Christian Church

          Doc Sennett had his practice back there on Sycamore Street. He’d give you shots and tell you to “look toward Akron” so you wouldn’t see the needle and kick up a fuss. I don’t remember them, but I heard from people who’ve lived here a long time that there was a bowling alley and a hotel. You could get your hair done at Loretta’s or Markie’s and stop by the café for lunch. You could get gas at the station on the corner or you could sit up on the cement wall there and horse around with your friends.

          Out at the edge of town there was an old building—I think it was a pickle-canning factory once—where kids ran wild and made a racket and had a good time. The railroad tracks ran behind it and there was a depot out there somewhere.


            I wrote the first part of this ten years ago, while I was working at the Macy post office for a while. I got to talk to people every day when they came and got their mail. I learned a lot about Macy and I wish I’d been there long enough to have learned more, because so many of those memories get lost in the shuffle of living and working and dying. I never finished it, and I wish I had, but maybe that's where you come in.

            Share your memories here, if you have the time or the inclination. Or if you know some “way back when” stories about any of the other little towns around here, write them up and we’ll share them here. Things like Deedsville’s free shows and what was that business in Tin Cup? The house in Gilead that used to be a hotel and why that stretch of houses over there is called Woolly Town.
            In the mean time, thanks to Bill Coahran for the conversation, and thanks to you all for visiting the Window. See you next week.


  1. I really enjoyed this. It brought back so many memories. I grew up (and still live) in Fort Wayne. No free movies, but my parents gave me and my sister 50 cents every Saturday to walk to the Rialto Theater with our friends. It cost 25 cents to watch the double features, and then we had a quarter to buy candy at the dime store and an ice cream cone on the way home.

  2. Thank you! My husband used to go to the movies in Louisville and watch Westerns every Saturday morning.

  3. It was said theatrical there was an underground passage under 19 between the old Ballee house and the Waite sisters' house in Gilead. That house still stands on the corner.

    1. I remember hearing about the passage and that it was part of the Underground Railroad. Later, when I tried to find documentation of it and couldn't, I forgot about it. Thanks for mentioning it!