January/February 2020, Froe Chips by Richard Stickney
I was raised on the Square. I was just a kid, but that world belonged to me. I knew every alley and every secret that men kept. I knew who went where and why.
I remember walking out of the Princess Theater when the sun would blind your eyes. A couple of hours of cowboys, popcorn, and Blue Davis telling you to get your feet off the seat. The magic of that place—the Aultman’s clock, that huge screen, those round lights, and the secret exits on the sides.
You could walk to the railroad station. They had a telegraph operator. I would watch the freight cars couple. I knew to stay clear of them but I didn’t. I watched how they worked. Four 1600 horse power engines. I climbed on to the engineer’s seat. I stayed there until I was discovered and was “asked to leave” in railroad language. That is where I learned to cuss.
I would hitch a ride on a freight car and jump off at the river. You would roll like a barrel in that railroad gravel. I would jump off at the crossing where the Sportsman club used to be and walk down to the mill. It was a working mill with a huge stone that ground corn. It had huge wooden gears that fascinated me.
You could walk across the dam and there were wooden boats tied to trees. Some with chains and locks and some with just ropes. You could follow the river upstream. There were people who lived in homemade shacks. You crossed under the trestle and made it to I-24. You could swim most of the way.
There is a point in the water, where you can feel the spirits of our fallen in the Civil War. You can see their forts and mounds. Thousands of men fought and died there. The river turns dark and you can feel them…you can feel them watching.
Best to get out of the water and walk to the dam past U.S. Hwy. 41. You can sneak up to the Country Club and get a shower. If someone tried to stop you, you just told them you were a guest. The son of the Governor of Alabama. They would feed you stuff like watermelon and call a cab for you to take you anywhere.
I have experience of this town. I know every nook and cranny and know the people. There is no place like Murfreesboro.
Richard Stickney III is the son of Richard Stickney Jr., and the grandson of the druggist Richard Stickney that operated a business on the square for more than 60 years. This is Richard’s first article with the RCHS Froe Chips. We hope he will write many more.
Photo compliments of the family of Richard Henry Stickney.