- [S104] Cocke County, Tennessee, and its People, Cocke County Heritage Book Committee, (Walsworth Publishing, 1992), 14.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 7 Jan 2011.
Brownie & Carolyn after combined 100+ years labor
Author: David Popiel
At mid-January it seems the snow has dominated the landscape for most of the month in our hometown closing schools, making travel difficult, and causing us to ponder what the Groundhog will see on February 2 for his annual spring forecast.
Last Monday began with a snowfall of such intensity you would have to go back to the blizzard of 1993 to find this large amount of snow, falling on top of an earlier snow. Despite this, E-911 Director Kathy Cody said there were no emergency or critical problems the morning of Jan. 10. I drove around shooting photos and chatting with folks clearing off snow from parking lots and driveways. Snow and ice makes everything more difficult, as I watched the buggy tenders at Food City trying to push the carts up hill in snow. We've gotten calls and letters praising our city, county and state road workers because other counties are struggling. George Webb, who lives west of Newport off Highway 25/70 talked with me about keeping roads salted and scraped. He said he learned that the Newport DOT has maintained a good stockpile of salt. During or chat, I learned he is a disabled veteran of the 1982 Grenada invasion when he was a marine and got hurt in a fuel truck crash. Most businesses were open but not all employees were able to make it to work. Business people like Charles Gilland, who dropped by last Tuesday, said car sales are slower because potential buyers can't get out. He is also finding it more difficult to buy good used vehicles to resell.
Some folks no longer have to worry about getting to work or opening their business. James Furniture is no longer open so Brownie and Carolyn Lichlyter were at home enjoying the snowscape from their home off Upper Rinehart Road. You recall we were talking with them about the store closing in Just Plain Talk last weekend. Brownie had worked 62 years with Homer James and then as the sole operator of the furniture/appliance store off East Broadway. I learned some history of the building from Leon Bryant, who was visiting there in early January. He also told me that show has put a hold on the planned demolition of old storage buildings at the former Cosby Highway Bryant & Pack Lumber Company. The active lumber business now run by Danny Jenkins has moved to off Knoxville Hwy. behind the Newport Utilities operations center. Let's talk more about James Furniture.
By the 1950s, brothers Ophas and Charlie Bryant continued adding to the two-story building that exists today as James Furniture. It was packed with General Electric products and many small appliances and televisions. It was the beginning of the TV era. As electric lines were strung into the various hollows and communities, it was a great opportunity to sell these new electric washers, ranges, televisions, and other appliances. "We would load up a truck and send it out the road where they put in the lines and sold right out of the truck," said Brownie. "Imagine doing that today!" One of the most popular items on the floor was the Gate City chrome dinette set that sold from $29.95 and up. GE's lineup was also popular with ranges priced at $129 and $99 and up for dryers. Many of you have seen, or do have in your bedrooms, the five-piece cedar sets that sold for $495. "We sold a lot of cotton mattresses for $14.95 and coil springs, too," said Brownie. When he and Homer went out to deliver, they just placed a sign in the door that stated: "Be back in one hour." By the 1960s, James Furniture and many other retailers such as Freeman's, Driskill's, Furniture Palace were booming. James Furniture had 14 employees some of whom included Troy Pierce, Burnette and Junior Cummings, Bobby James, Derry James, Jimmy James, who was a brother to Homer and worked as the service manager. Later, Charlie Walker joined the staff.
Walmart was not even on the horizon and Roses ruled the national southern retail market. The Newport businesses sold radios, toasters, lamps, mixers, electric skillets and many more new electric-powered inventions waiting to be bought. For Newport Utilities it was the golden age and no doubt brought a smile to then NUB Manager Jim Franks.
Brownie has a tale or two to tell. "We sold a lady in Bybee a wringer washer on credit. She was supposed to sell her tobacco crop and then pay for it." When she failed to show up, Brownie located her and asked for payment. "She blinked her eyes and said 'Just to tell you the truth, I don't have any tobacco.'" Carolyn said that Brownie was always an easy-going fellow and very likeable. They sold to the parents, then their children and finally the grandchildren. One of his many long-time customers was Jo Ann Stuart. She trusted Brownie so much she would call and tell him to "send me a range." Stuart told her granddaughter that she didn't have to go look at the appliances because she had known the James Furniture folks for 50 years and trusted their judgment.
Carolyn has been the quieter behind-the-scenes bookkeeper and has been married to Brownie for more than 27 years. The former Carolyn Ball grew up at Indian Creek in Jefferson County. She was the daughter of Jim and Bonnie Kate (Rainwater) Ball, who had four children. Some of you may recall the A&P Store across from Driskill & Lynch. Carolyn's Uncle Clyde Rainwater ran the A&P. The other siblings are Martha Stevick, of Loudon; Jim Ball, of Dandridge; and Elward Ball, of Morristown. Carolyn attended NGS and graduated from Cocker County High School in 1949 then attended business college in Greeneville. She worked shortly for Jefferson Farm Bureau and joined Merchants & Planters Bank in 1953 when she was hired by bank manager B. R. Carmichael. During her last years she worked with the late Bob Chasteen and retired in 1993. Carolyn and Brownie (James C. Paul Lichlyter) were married August 6, 1983 after being lifelong friends. Brownie's first wife, Dorothy Holt, a sister to the late VFW Commander Jack Holt, died of cancer in 1981, the same year that my mentor and Plain Talk Publisher Arthur Petrey died. The lichlyters had two children: David and Marty. David, of Rutledge, is married to Connie and they have a son, Andy. Marty is married to CCHS math teacher Mitzi. Their children are Morgan, Miranda and Brittany.
Carolyn and Brownie have no children but enjoy their large close families. She told me that when she joined M&P, way before Jim Robinson arrived as bank manager, Lee Kite was a bookkeeper. After her retirement she joined Brownie at James Furniture. Now, you recall that Homer James died in 1986 and Derry James stepped in. Derry currently lives in Knoxville. About 1990, the Lichlyters bought out Derry's interest. I called Paul James on Wed. to clarify some kinships. Paul, who turns 93, on Feb. 1, said he became a silent partner with Homer and they soon had two stores in Newport in the late 1940s. Brownie was working at the Tannery and Paul asked him to join them in the furniture business. Paul also comes from a large family, 10 children of which he, Oscar, Jimmy, and Joyce Cox survive.
With the store closed, Brownie and Carolyn will now be able to do more things they want to do. Some of Brownie's time goes to seeing that his black angus cattle are taken care of. The Lichlyters are pleased to have worked with so many employees and already miss their customers.
- [S112] Census, 1940.
Name: Carolyn Ball
Titles & Terms:
Event Year: 1940
Event Place: Civil District 5, Jefferson, Tennessee, United States
Marital Status: Single
Race (Standardized): White
Relationship to Head of Household (Original):
Relationship to Head of Household (Standardized): Daughter
Estimated Birth Year: 1932
Residence in 1935: Same Place
Enumeration District Number: 45-10
Family Number: 65
Sheet Number and Letter: 4B
Line Number: 78
NARA Publication Number: T627
NARA Roll Number: 3908
Digital Folder Number: 005461350
Image Number: 00299
Household Gender Age Birthplace
Head James Ball M 36 Tennessee
Wife Bonnie Ball F 36 Tennessee
Son Edward Ball M 11 Tennessee
Daughter Carolyn Ball F 8 Tennessee
Son James Ball M 5 Tennessee
Daughter Martha Ball F 2 Tennessee
- [S58] Marriage Certificate.
Name: James Ball
Titles and Terms:
Event Type: Marriage
Event Date: 28 Aug 1926
Event Place: Greene, Tennessee, United States
Birth Year (Estimated):
Father's Titles and Terms:
Mother's Titles and Terms:
Spouse's Name: Bonnie Kate Rainwater
Spouse's Titles and Terms:
Spouse's Birth Year (Estimated):
Spouse's Father's Name:
Spouse's Father's Titles and Terms:
Spouse's Mother's Name:
Spouse's Mother's Titles and Terms:
Reference ID: 129
GS Film number: 1012445
Digital Folder Number: 004486578
Image Number: 00557
- [S58] Marriage Certificate.
Groom's Name Bride's First Name Bride's Maiden Name County Date of Marriage File #
LICHLYTER JAMES C CAROLYN B [NOT GIVEN] COCKE 08-06-1983 32507