Community

The History of the Old Browning Store

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By Mia Freneaux
 
Garnett Browning Pollard smiles and asks in her soft southern drawl if we'd like a Coke.  Vicki Carney and I have come to interview the 92 year old Central native about her father Ed Browning's store, located at the corner of Pride and Greenwell Springs Road in Baywood.  The family homestead, built by her father Marion Edward Browning ("Ed") and his wife Alice Watson Browning, was located catty-corner behind the store.  Before 1922, the store was located in Milldale.  It held a post office and supplied all the local citizenry with dry goods, salt, lard, flour, meal, tools, feed, anything they needed that they couldn't supply for themselves. The store had a huge ice box that held 2 150-pound blocks of ice. Later, it would include a gas station. Garnett remembered that Ed allowed his children only one Coke a day.
 
Baywood had the school, the store, the Brownings' house, a bungalow, the principal's house, the McMurry's house across Pride Road, and Aunt Marilyn Felder (one of the teachers) lived next door.  "There were 5 or 6 houses in the community," Garnett said.  Bethany Baptist Church was the only church in the community.  The only doctor, Dr. Tynes, was from Grangeville 5 miles away. "I learned to drive at the age of 12 on the gravel roads there," Garnett shared, "We had so much fun, swinging on tree branches (the tree is still there), swimming in the Amite River.  On Saturdays, Daddy Ed would take all of us into town to the Tivoli Theater across from Standard Oil.  After the movie, he would buy us Cokes and take us back home.  A real treat.  We used to listen to the radio too back then, all together as a family.  We'd listen to shows like 'The Shadow.'"  Fun also included going to the Beach Grove Dance Hall, located at Greenwell Springs and Sullivan Roads.  Garnett remembered Nelson Fairchild teaching her how to dance at the age of 12.  "The little ones would sit around the sides of the dance floor on the benches there.  The dance hall had a wooden floor, and screens on every side, and a porch.  They'd have a band, and the whole family would go."  The focus on family, church, and community was evident everywhere.
 
Next week, Memories of the Baywood School.  Thanks to Vicki for yet another adventure!
 
 The 1st Browning Store, with Ed Browning on the far right and his brother Pryor 2nd from the right, prior to 1922
 
 The 2nd Browning Store, with Garnett’s brother Alton on the roof
 
 The 3rd Browning Store, with Ed Browning in the foreground
 
 Garnett Browning Pollard and Vicki Carney look over old photos
 
 Marion Edward Browning and Alice Watson, possibly on their wedding.  She was 14.
 
 The old Browning Homestead 

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