It was interesting to see what Jim Cooper remembered about the big town of Greenfield where he was born in 1920. His folks were Roy and Carrie Cooper; they had NINE children! Jim was in the middle.
Jim told us that when he was born, the family lived in a 3-room house. When he was eight years old, his dad built on to the house and they then had a 3-bedroom house with a kitchen, a living room and a dining room. He never remembers his family NOT having a big garden. And they always had at least one milk cow, sometimes two.
'Class of 1930' picture
'Class of 1932' picture 'Class of 1936' picture
'Class of 1938' picture
'Class of 1941' picture
'Class of 1945' picture
Erma Jean graduated in 1947; she is on the alumni roles. But somehow didn't get her picture taken for the class picture.
'Class of 1947' picture
'Class of 1949' picture
'Class of 1950' picture
All the children graduated from Greenfield High School: Eva in 1927, Lillie in 1930, Carl in 1932, Alice in 1936, Jim in 1938, Larry in 1941, Betty Lee in 1945, Erma Jean in 1947 and Sue in 1950.
After Jim graduated he worked at his Uncle Linnie Cooper’s filling station that was located about 3 blocks north of the former bank and 1 block west of Main Street. Lawrence Knapp’s dad worked for Linnie Cooper. Jim talked about Lewis Gosnell and Howard Dennison; they were both blacksmiths in Greenfield.
He told about Walt Carlley having a restaurant in the former bank building in about the 30’s or 40’s. Jim remembered the ‘Little Store’ which was just across the street from the High School in the 1940’s. It was run by June Cotton Gwaltney whose husband was Bill. A lot of the high school kids would walk over to the store and get their lunch there.
looking north, Linnie Cooper’s garage was three blocks north and 1 block west
There was J.F. Awtrey who had the grocery store in Greenfield for several years. He was loved by everyone who knew him. If you walked north down Main Street from J.F. Awtrey’s Store, then you would go by John Ridenhour’s Barber Shop (he probably cut certain families hair for 4 generations).
Then you would pass Charley Hoar’s Hardware Store, then Tom Harrington’s Drug Store where you would find ‘snappy packs’ which was a cup of vanilla ice cream in one side and orange sherbet in the other side and a little flat wooden spoon in the top of the cup. It was just a nickel.
Still going north you would then see Walt Carlley’s Restaurant (pictured below when it was a bank) at the end of the street. Hank Meier had a beer joint, but Jim wasn't exactly sure where that was.
The Old Bank building with a carriage on top that the kids had put up there one Halloween.
Across the street from J.F. Awtrey’s was the Post Office, then Joe Taylor’s Produce was north of the Post Office. Jim told us that Bill Baker was the rural mail carrier who was married to Mary Stevenson. Alice Stevenson was the postmaster for several years. The Post Office was across the street from Awtrey’s Store. Joe Taylor’s Produce was north of the Post Office.
Joe Geeslin’s house is in the forefront. Looking north, because we are on the east side of the street, the buildings located would be the sites for the Post Office and Joe Taylor’s Produce.
Other people that Jim recalled were Sam Bran, Todd and Eva Lowe and Jewell Cotton who married Lee Walker. Jim worked at his uncle’s garage until 1942 when he entered the service.
|He said that the Army put you wherever they wanted you and
they put him in the Medics even though he couldn’t stand the
sight of blood.
When asked what part of Europe he served in, he said, “Which week?” He drove an ambulance in England, then France, then Belgium and finally in Germany before he got out of the service in 1945.
After Jim got out of the army, he traveled to Watonga on Saturday nights and drove (or walked) up and down main street (like people did back then) looking for his sweetheart. He found Ruby and they were married in 1947. Ruby was raised on a 12 acre farm one and a half miles east of Watonga. Her parents marketed bedding plants and fruits trees. She was so glad when her family moved to town when she was a little older because the walk to town was long.
Ruby had three brothers and one sister. Because her parents sold plants to the public, Ruby knew a lot of Watonga people. When Jim and Ruby got married, they lived in Greenfield for a short time before moving to Watonga.
When I asked Jim where they lived in Watonga,
he remarked, “Every street in town!”
Jim and Ruby explained that houses were hard to come by and as soon as a better house became available, they would take it. They lived in 7 different houses in Watonga before settling into the house on North Clarence Nash.
Ruby worked for the phone company operating a switchboard before working at Watonga Public Library where she worked for 31 years. She said her favorite part of that job was reading stories to the small children and inspiring them to learn to read. She was always fascinated with the amount of questions that children could think to ask!
Jim first worked at the Ford Dealership in Watonga which Hinkley Hanes owned. Then he went to work for Sandusky Chapman. He worked with Bill Blackwolf, Joe Corrigan, W. E. Poarch, Walter Hayes, Lamar and Shirley Carter. Another time he worked for Duff Norton’s Parts and Auto Shop which was the corner building (northwest) of the Main and Prouty intersection.
Because of all his years of working on automobiles, I asked Jim if he ever got frustrated with people not taking care of their cars. He answered, “No, because that was his job! And anyway, people back then took care of their automobiles because that was such a big investment.”
Jim and Ruby keep lots of pictures around of their two children, Carl and Karen and their grandchildren, Travis, Kevin, Shane, Steven and Lindsey.
Living Legends Series: