"Good Morning Earlington:
The Sebree Avenue and East Main of Our Past"
In her early beginnings Earlington was considered as the county seat of Hopkins County, and Sebree Avenue was designed as a double wide street to accommodate extra traffic of wagons and carriages as well as the up and coming new form of transportation-- the automobile. As it happened, no courthouse was ever built there, and the street became a boulevard where hundreds of beautiful flowers grew in her two-block, grassy center. Still numerous businesses continued to thrive and her handsome depot bustled with the constant coming and going of passengers. Then there came a time when coal mines began to close, and men were forced to move their families elsewhere to earn a living wage. Trains no longer dropped off their passengers, and the depot was torn down because the city did not feel she could afford to keep it up even with the one dollar a year lease offered her. The Company Store burned. Another more devastating fire followed which destroyed not only lives but also the Post Office, Tom’s Restaurant, a beauty shop and one of the last, old landmarks-- the Victory Building. Although few buildings are left from one hundred years ago, the inhabitants of Earlington remain resilient.
These are the larger local changes that affect us as a town. Those that remain in my mind are those that altered my own day-to-day life. Often times our lives are played out in the few square feet of where we live. I live on East Main--a mere three blocks from the railroad tracks to a dead end. In a very short time, this street has changed into one I barely recognize. The most tragic loss was that of my mother-in-law and father-in-law who lived next door. My favorite neighbor and faithful friend Eleanor developed Alzheimer’s and now exists in her own world in a Dawson rest home even while her husband Bob has passed away. Ollie Hicks, a Trover Clinic fixture for many years, succumbed after a long, hard fight. Warren and Alice Hightower so much a part of the workings of the city and its education system have also passed. The Mike McCormick home across the street has been razed by the city, and Mrs. Hardesty’s old homestead sold after her death sits empty. Mrs. Kathleen Trover Davis has been often troubled by ill health and confined at home. Last year next door to the Christian church a wonderful family the Cherry’s joined our neighborhood, and the street was again entertained with baby bubbles and the proud anecdotes of grandmothers, but, alas, this family was transferred to Cincinnati. So went the story of Mable Smith in the Fitch home. Mable lost her husband Bob and moved back to Dawson... a finer neighbor one never had.
Somewhere lost in old newspaper files must be those stories of a more simple time of laughing children playing an entire game of badminton in the street without moving for a single car, Mrs. Ed Rule taking her prize roses to anyone in the neighborhood who was "out of sorts," Mrs. Hardesty out of the school lunchroom but pouring tea to new neighbors, Judge Wyatt regaling his stories to old men on his porch, Mrs. Bassett bragging about her students, Dr. & Mrs. Stevens passing out cookies, Mike McCormick walking home every evening from Polly’s Market, Betty Lane circling the block untold times learning to drive. To me, the passing of each of these were the most important events of the past century. But now, in 2000, we simply call them a part of history and we in Earlington, as in all the world, strive to be better than we were then.
This is not to say that we do not recognize or are not proud of what we have on East Main today. A new post office "gussies up" the corner opposite the Christian Church and many of our homes are in the process of being remodeled. I again have new neighbors on both sides, one of whom is my mom Louise Cothran. So I make a new year’s wish that each neighbor in our town work together to make Earlington NOT what she was but what she surely can one day become.
Ann Gipson 12-13-2001