Nearly every day my mother or my aunt took me “down the street,” by which they meant downtown. Murphy’s Five and Dime was usually on our itinerary. Another stop was the Corinne Shop, where the proprietor, Marie Hiltie, indulged me by calling me “Mrs. Jones” and pretending I was a grown-up.
On Saturday mornings my uncle would put me in the car and take me to Brown’s Creek to feed sugar cubes to the mules that worked in the mines. But my happiest moments were spent in the Citizen’s Drug. They would hoist me up to the soda fountain and let me mix my own fountain Coca-Colas with enough Coca-Cola syrup in each for a whole six pack of today’s Coke.
In the afternoons when classes ended at Welch High School, the store would fill with noisy teens having Cokes and Nabs. My aunt’s teacher friends would gather there, too, to visit and chat. To my child’s eyes, far the most glamorous denizens were several women who used to drift in for a Coke around mid-afternoon some days. They had flawless, heavily powdered complexions and brilliantly colored lipstick and nail polish. Much later I learned how they earned their living at a neighboring hotel.
Memories of Welch [WV], interviewed by Betty Dotson Lewis