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Stirring up memories

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Group keeps up with Perrowville community

By John Barnhart

    A book written by Mary Ellen Gallaher two years ago, called “Nobody’s Home,” sparked memories for a number of people who grew up in the Perrowville community in the 1930s and 1940s.

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    Gallaher was born in December, 1936,  the youngest child of Eugene and Mary Lee Gallaher, who operated Gallaher’s Store. Gallaher’s was a country store that served what was then a farming community. The book, a personal memoir, was self published and sold through the Bedford Museum. The people who shared her memories began meeting for lunch every other month.
    “We were very rich when you think of your childhood,” Gallaher commented to the 23 people who gathered for the group’s August meeting.
    Gallaher’s was the only store in the community. It was a general store that sold everything from groceries to clothing. It was also a community center where the men would gather to play checkers and cards and, weather permitting, pitch horseshoes outside. It was the only store in the community and  people  from  a five  mile  radius came there. Going to the store and going to church comprised the community’s social life.
    There was also baseball. Perrowville once had an adult recreational baseball team called the Riff Raffs.
    These people grew up in a different world.
    It was a time when Dr. Peronneau Brown made house calls, driving in a Model T Ford wherever he was needed. Mary Lee Gallaher rode with him on a calls when he needed to go to a house that was hard to find.
    Many calls were for the home delivery of a baby. Dr. Brown delivered a number of babies and a lot of boys, including one of Mary Ellen’s brothers, Peronneau Gallaher, were named after him.
    It was a time when the mailman would stop at Gallaher’s for a break while making the rounds and Mary Lee Gallaher always had a piece of pie or cake, and coffee, ready for him.
    At one time, Gallaher’s had the only telephone in Perrowville and people who needed to make a phone call — to Dr. Brown, for instance — went to the store. Later, Perrowville was served by a party line and the people at the lunch recalled that this meant everybody knew everybody else’s business.
    It was a time when children just played outside without any adult-organized activities. They made up their own fun, playing in the woods and in the creek. Their parents never worried about somebody grabbing them. They were always in groups, and there were always a couple of hound dogs with them.
    Unsupervised groups of children didn’t create problems because a misbehaving child was disciplined by the nearest adult that witnessed the bad behavior. Everybody knew who the children were, and who their parents were.
    Mary Ellen’s oldest brother, Eugene Gallaher, and his wife Nancy, regularly go to the lunches and the night before the Aug. 15 lunch had been a special day for them.
    “Yesterday was 65 years ago I first saw her,” Eugene commented.
    They celebrate two anniversaries each year. One is their wedding anniversary and one is the anniversary of the day they met.
    The Perrowville Group normally meets for lunch the third Thursday of every other month at Bull’s Steakhouse from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Their next meeting will be on Oct. 17. The group’s December meeting will be early, on Dec. 5, due to the Christmas holiday.
    If you want to read Mary Ellen Gallaher’s book, “Nobody’s Home,” you’re out of luck. Gallaher only did one printing of the book and has no plans to have it printed again.