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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Riverview Oral Histories #16: Mrs. Shirley Burnette Powers

PHOTO AT LEFT: In the 1952 Douglass Annual, Mrs. Shirley Burnette Powers is in the second row, on the right hand side.

MRS. SHIRLEY POWERS: First, I want to thank Mr. Calvin Sneed for giving me the opportunity to write about my history in Kingsport, TN as I can remember it. My name is Shirley Burnette Powers. My husband is Wallace Powers. We live in Chattanooga, TN. We have three grown Children who live and work in other states, Denise, Ben and Cindy Powers. My parents were Mr. & Mrs.William (Jack)(Lena) Burnette. I am one of eight children. We lived in the area of Kingsport, down below the Kingsport Press, where my father worked for 44 years. The name of the street is Roller Street. My fathers parents lived down there, Mr. & Mrs. Will (Lucy) Burnette. My Mothers parents, Mr. & Mrs Claude (Mattie) Ray and the other families, to name a few who were our neighbors then were, Mr. & Mrs. Henry (Viola) Summers, and children, Mrs. Della Lee and Children, Mrs. Viola Summers mother. We lovedto play all day together, when we could. My grandparents and the other families mentioned, moved to Riverview about the same time. One day in 1941, my daddy's brother, Mr. Herman Burnette, who worked for the Kingsport Times told my sister, Gwen, (Mrs. Gwendolyn Norwood) now, she was the oldest and I was next to the oldest, that he was going to take us to Riverview the next day to see where we were going to move and live. It was truly one of the highlights of my life. First I was thrilled to see the Playground right in front of the Apartment where we were going to live and thrilled again at the large apartment we were going to move in. Our next door neighbors were Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Cartwright. They lived in Apartment 53 and we lived in Apartment 54. We had the largest Apartments. Later, when the Cartwright family moved out of their apartment, we moved in. We had more bedrooms and our brother, Mr. Major Burnette had his own room. My other brother, passed away when we lived on Roller Street at 9 months old. His name was Winford Burnette. The other sisters were Mrs. Phyllis Jackson, Mrs. Annette Johnson, Mrs. Jackie Hicks, & Mrs. Deborah Malone. Some things were already mentioned, which I will not repeat. We loved Wednesdays in Riverview because the "Picture Man" would come in the evening and show movies, where the Playground was. We always had a wonderful time on the Playground and when it was time to go to school, we walked, and did not mind the snow or rain. We had no other way to get to school. I remember Fred & Mandy's store and Luke & Mary's store going to and from school, we would sometimes be able to stop, if we had some money. We would all share with each other. In Riverview we loved going to Mr. Collins' store, Edges Place owned by Rev. Edge, one of my pastors at the Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church and the Midway Grill, owned by Mr. Paul Taylor. When they built the swimming pool in Riverview that was a plus, because we could not attend the other pool in the city. I remember our parents allowing us to go to Clay Hill, now it is Bays Mountain, to pick blackberries. My mother made blackberry pies, dumplings and she also canned blackberry jam and jelly, which were all delicious. My favorite teacher in school was Mrs. Scoggins. I thought it was real special when we moved from Riverview, to 953 Maple Street, she and her family lived across the street from us. Even though we had second hand books, we were taught well by our teachers because they cared about us. I won a financial award from a speaking contest. I won first place and because of my grade average, I received a scholorship to attend Knoxville College. I graduated from Douglass High School in 1952. Because of the typing skills I learned at Douglass, I was able to get a job as a typist at the Church on campus typing the bulletin every week. I graduated from college and began my work career by teaching in the Chattanooga School system as my first job. I loved the way all parents and teachers were concerned about the students. I said all this to say, with the help of all parents and teachers who were concerned about us, you can always make it if you try. In our neighborhood you were corrected by all adults, not just your parents. This helped you to become a better person. I was a member of Douglass High Band. The first Band. The Director was Mr. Shannon, I played the french horn. One unusual thing about our uniforms was that all the girls in the band wore skirts instead of pants. We were proud of our Director and our Band and the whole town was proud. We had a Bible teacher who taught a Bible class in all the Schools. I was in a play in High School with my cousin, Mr. Lawrence Ervin and Mr.Hugh Hord. I don't remember the name of the play but it was one of the best. I can remember how we had to practice and practice at each others house, because we had the lead parts. Now as I look back over that experience, it proves that you can do what ever you decide you want to do. I did not think we could do what we did. Don't pass up an opportunity to learn and gain experiences. I worked at the MidwayGrill, the swimming pool, the Central Baptist Church Nursery with Mrs. Betsy Sneed, the Director. She was Horace Sneed's mother, and other places, which helped me with my needs in high school and college along with my parents being there always. We were grateful to have a public Library in Riverview. Mrs. Helen Hickman was the Director. We always look forward to the summer, when school was out. The Churches would schedule Vacation Bible School, one week after the other. We attended from 9 AM to 12:00. Trips were sponsored to Trammell's Farm sometimes afterwards. Mr. Sam Trammell's parents had a farm near Kingsport, and we loved to go there. Mr. Sam Trammell was Mr. & Mrs. Cartwright's nephew. So he and his family were close to us also and we all grew up together. Mr. & Mrs. Sam Trammel owns Hardricks & Sons Funeral Home now in Chattanooga, TN. Mrs. Gertrude Trammell is the Director. Along with my Parents, the Church and School had the greatest impact on my life. We went to Sunday School and Church every Sunday unless we were sick. Everybody did.. We attended all services and activities on Sunday, including evening services. We sang in the Youth Choirs. We learned our Easter and Christmas speeches and were excited when it was time to say them. I will always remember what going to church meant to me. Another wonderful experience for us was our Church and others sponsored trips to Chattanooga, Tn to go to Lincoln Park. We would look forward to it, because we could not believe there was a Park that had all the rides and activities, and it was owned and run by Blacks. I have so many memories I would love to share, but most of all I always thanked my parents and everyone who had a part in making an impression on my life. Again, thank you Mr. Sneed for this opportunity. May God Bless you.