Thinking Out Loud and Old-Timers
Herald Dispatch, January 12, 1966
Written by: Charles Collett
Submitted by: Robert Kingrey
So far, the snow prophets have had a bad season. My friend Jesse Stuart, Greenup County’s gift to the literary world, put on a great one-man television performance Sunday night, which should help improve the image of the so-called poverty of Appalachia, if repeated in other parts of the nation. The story of his home at W. Hollow, only a few miles from Ironton, was typical of life in the Hanging Rock Iron Region at the turn of this century. The outstanding difference, as most senior citizens remember it, was that Jesse abandoned the ox cart and hitched his wagon to a star for higher education. The Tri- State has many reasons to be proud of Jesse Stuart.
Old-Timers reading about the New Pork transportation strike perhaps recall when Ironton was like New York. The streetcar strike here was in 1902, a short time after the first trolley cars operated November 1, 1896. The car barn was in West Ironton, now the location of the Orchard Street floodgate on Second Street. The electric power station was at Third and Vernon, now the VanHoose Furniture store.
The streetcar motormen, at that time who stand out in memory, were Robert Mahaffey, John L. Sullivan, and Jim Watson. T.T. Johnson was superintendent. He was father of several sons, and Sam the oldest, went to work as a strikebreaker operating a car between Etna Street and Coal Grove.
The second morning of the strike, when the car left the barn, a picket line was on Misfit Bridge at the Elm Street railroad crossing where the cars had to stop. Another group of strike sympathizers soaped the track at Second and Elm causing the car to stall. At that point Sam, the motorman was taken off the car by the crowd and tossed into the horse watering trough on the near by corner. My dad was news correspondent for the Cincinnati Enquirer and I drove with him in a horse and buggy to the car barn to get the story.
Others who perhaps remember the “ducking” are Miss Cecelia Matthews, then a school girl who lived a block from where the excitement occurred; George P. Mahl, who lived in W. Ironton and perhaps others.