By Lois B. Mays

Charlton County Herald, September 11, 1985

Children growing up in the village of Folkston, Georgia several decades ago find that their childhood was experienced at a much different pace then than youngsters enjoy in the 1980s. It was a time of walking instead of driving; a time of cow pens and chicken yards only a block from the county courthouse instead of the business and professional district, and a time of watching with total frustration as a home was destroyed by fire, instead of relying on the protection of a volunteer fire department.

1Mrs. Doris Wright Askew, daughter of Elijah Hawley and Jennie Mills Wright, remembers there were no paved streets in Folkston. “When Main Street was paved, they first had to cover a well that was located in the middle of the road in front of Stapleton’s Pharmacy,” she said. “There were no sidewalks either and we walked to church and to visit our friends,” she recalled, “but when we spent the day at the home of our aunts and uncles and at Mount Zion Baptist Church where my grandfather preached, the horse and wagon was our transportation.”

Much of Mrs. Askew’s “growing-up years” were spent, along with her brothers, Carroll and Wilbur, in what was at that time a Folkston landmark, a large two story home and grounds that covered the area at the corner of Love and Second streets, where the Clark’s Amoco Station, doctor’s office and Hopkins’ law office is located. “There were fruit trees of pear and Satsuma oranges near the house. There were also wonderful grape vines about where Mr. Hopkins’ office is now and a chicken pen and a barn for the cow I had to milk twice a day. Before I ate breakfast in the mornings, I had to milk Daisy and at five o’clock every afternoon, no matter where else I wanted to be, I had to do the same thing. My mother knew exactly how much milk Daisy produced and if I stopped milking before I should, she sent me right back to the barn to finish the job,” Mrs. Askew laughed.

The cow gave such a generous supply of cream and milk that Mrs. Jennie Wright sold a gallon of buttermilk (at ten cents a gallon) twice a week to Mrs. W.E. Banks for her restaurant on Main Street. It was little Doris Wright’s task to deliver the buttermilk, but she didn’t mind as she was paid two pennies for this. After delivering the buttermilk, she “went shopping” and visited two general merchandise stores, looked through their glass cases of penny candies, and took her time deciding just what to buy. At each store she spent one penny, getting two pieces of sweets for a cent.

“We really enjoyed our neighbors, especially the E.B. Stapleton and R.A. Boyd families,” Mrs. Askew recalled. “We didn’t need a clock at our house for we could see Mr. Stapleton or Mr. Boyd going to work and know what time it was. At exactly 7 o’clock in the mornings and at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, Mr. Stapleton passed our home on is way to work at his drug store. And at 12 noon he walked by going home for lunch. He lived just one block from us. Mr. Boyd who also lived nearby was a telegrapher for the railroad and was just as punctual going to his job.

“I had an especially happy childhood,” Mrs. Askew remembered, “and had many friends that I grew up with. One of my favorites was Hattie Mizell, daughter of Sheriff and Mrs. W.H. Mizell, who lived in the two-story house at the corner of First and Palm Streets. We went to school together, attended Sunday School twice on Sundays, at the Baptist Church in the mornings and at the Methodist Church in the afternoons, and played for hours together, but there was one fascinating activity we shared that I remember vividly. Since the building of a new house was a rare event we delighted in watching every phase of the construction. Hattie and I spent many hours on her front porch, watching carpenters, roofers and painters at work on the large Mizell home where Mrs. Helen Sarbacher lives. Then when the house was completed we watched as the furniture was delivered. We sat at the other end of the porch and watched as Guy Dean built his home, which was later the H.J. Mays place where Dick and Jack grew up.”

Mrs. Askew’s family resided at one time near the Marward Bedell home place and lived through the devastating experience of losing their home and possessions by fire. The house had just been painted and new wallpaper was in place. Mrs. Wright had put a pot of vegetables on the stove to simmer and walked down the street to visit a neighbor. But the protective paper Mrs. Wright had put on the freshly painted wall near the stove caught fire and burned the home down. “We didn’t have a fire department at that time so we lost everything,” said Mrs. Askew. She added that “The new piano in the parlor was not paid for at the time of the fire and Daddy made payments on it for months afterwards.”

Hawley Wright, Mrs. Askew’s father, was a garage mechanic and constructed the Stokes Motors building on West Main Street. It was sold during the depression to Louie Roberts who operated it for several years. Mrs. Askew recalls that when her father purchased the materials for the building he bought the tin panels for the front, that had been impressed with the shape of rows of bricks. He had painted this red, “but he never did find time to use a small brush and white paint to paint between the bricks,” she said. “I look at that building each time I drive on West Main Street, it reminds me so much of my father,” she said thoughtfully.

Her father also owned the first electric light plant in Folkston, selling electric power to the city. Located near the site of the present Folkston Gas Company office, the plant’s power was turned off at about 11 o’clock each evening and turned on again the next morning.

In 1923 Doris Wright married James Willis Askew and they moved to Miami Beach where he worked for the fire department. Their children are Peggy Joyce Etzler, Virginia Ann Wrench, Barbara June Hires and Jimmy Dale Spurlock. Since his retirement Mr. and Mrs. Askew have returned to their home town and they find their greatest pleasure is living near their baby daughter, Dale and their grandchildren. Another pleasure is turning the pages of the photograph albums and looking at early scenes of Folkston, pictures of a little village just beginning to grow up into a town.

Charlton  County Archives