Charlotte Bennett Wells is the 100th Charter Member of the Linden Heritage Foundation. When Charlotte was asked why she joined the Foundation, she wrote a wonderful response and gave us permission to publish it.
“My face lights up with a smile each time I think of growing up in Linden. I have wonderful childhood memories of how I loved going to town and being in the stores where everyone knew me and cared about me.
It was a great feeling being free and safe at the same time — free to spend as much time playing around with friends in our yards or in town, and knowing that you were safe from harm. The people were just like one big family, always looking out for each other.
I lived two blocks from the Courthouse, which was a very busy place. Cars were parked all around it, and men gathered there to sit and talk away the afternoons. Sometimes they would chew tobacco and spit, and we would have to jump out of the way passing by.
The town got so busy once that they installed parking meters all around. I remember this because I got a parking ticket while I was shopping.
At Christmas I would look out my window at the Courthouse and see the beautiful Christmas lights. One Christmas they put up all blue lights and I thought they were a sight from heaven. Even though I was just a little girl I can still remember them clearly. It was a wonderful time.
One Christmas Shep Lovelace had fresh cut Christmas trees downtown in a store window. They were flocked with different colored snow and it was the first time I had ever seen a flocked pink tree. You could go in to purchase one from the display, or you could cut your own at his Christmas Tree farm.
The stores downtown were so accommodating, even with the smallest of gifts. At Christmas they had their special wrapping papers and ribbons. Allen Bros. always had green paper with green ribbon and Benny’s Dress Shop had pink ribbon roses on each present. They took extra pride in how the gifts looked!
We all took pride in our little town. We had no need to shop out of town because we had all we needed there. We even had doctors that would make house calls. Dr. Taylor would come with his bag, check on the whole family, and even leave our medicines. We just thought that this was what they wanted to do – can you imagine this now?
We had a Volunteer Fire Department. Every man was willing to help at any time. I remember my Mother telling me my Daddy was on the fire truck while I was being born. I couldn’t understand why she thought that was bad – now that was dedication.
We even had special delivery for groceries. Just call Finley-Morris and give them your list, no matter how long or short, and you could charge the groceries. Our houses were always unlocked and they would deliver it promptly — and even put it in the refrigerator. That was the kind of town we had. People that cared about helping others.
After school we would meet at Lone Skelton’s Drug Store and have a coke float. In the summer we would go swimming at Charlie’s where we were always watched carefully by him. We were safe there and loved being at Charlie’s. We danced at night by putting a dime in an old juke box. We laughed a lot — such good memories.
The Ritz Theatre was busy, especially on the weekends. You could buy a ticket for 9 cents if you were under 14 years old, and popcorn and coke for 5 cents each. We would spend the whole afternoon there watching a good ole western movie with Roy Rogers or Gene Autry. And if your boyfriend came to sit by you, you would hold hands and never take your eyes off the movie. That was the age of innocence.
We loved our band and football games. Our pep rallies were a big deal, every Thursday night. The band marched from Linden High down to the Courthouse. The town would gather around to cheer the players on as we played the Aggie War Hymn, and we usually won our games with so much support.
All the time we were busy going about our business, taking most things for granted. We had our water tower looking over us and providing us with delicious water. If you should forget where you were – you’d just look up and see “Linden” proudly printed above. It took care of us for so many years – now it’s time for us to give it the recognition it deserves!”
Charlotte Bennett Wells, Class of 1958
Resident of Atlanta