Made in America and in our neighborhood

The Southside neighborhood area was one which produced many items that were durable, and were meant to serve a given purpose at the time. Several of these items are still around and are useful in one way or another. I think it is unique that our villages of 800 or so houses and the accompanying support businesses have contributed so much to the region and the nation. Let me explain with just a few examples.

I have a 30” cannon shell made of oak wood! The Harris Lumber Company manufactured it during the early months of World War II. An attractive and functional item, it was made under contract for the U.S. Government as a training tool for our soldiers to learn to handle and load the cannons of war. These were shipped all over the United States. The company building still stands on East Maple Street in our general neighborhood.

Parrot-Summers Hardware, which is still in business on Buffalo Street, was a wholesaler of many, many items. They apparently sold items under their own name as well as name brand items. We have a shaving straight razor with the Hardware name imprinted on the blade.

Nearby, but outside our neighborhood area, was the small company, Kleensmoke Pipe Company. They made a screw-off bowl pipe in at least two versions, which I have. The small building still stands in an alley near Boone Street in downtown Johnson City.

The Interstate Foundry was located on the north side of what is now State of Franklin Road across from the university McDonald’s. The ghostly buildings still stand. Tree Street resident Wanda Buda’s father was employed there and had a lamp in the shape of a sailing ship, one of many different items made there.

The Johnson City Foundry stood on what is now the ETSU parking lot, west of the university McDonald’s. They made large, custom-made beams, trusses, fire hydrants and even small “frying pan” advertising ashtrays of which I have two.

The locally famous white cake recipe of Mrs. Frank Thomas of West Pine Street is still around and in use. It appeared on the Red Band Flour bag made by ourlocal Model Mill (General Mills) which now stands empty on the 500 block of West Walnut Street.

The Home Run Nut Company, make of Home Run Peanut Butter, started in the kitchen and an adjoining room in back of W.A. “Big Bill” Richardson’s home at 503 West Locust Street. It grew to a larger company in my grandfather Harrison’s store building on Tacoma Avenue (East Fairview Avenue now) and then back to our neighborhood at 800 Spring Street. I am told that from there it was bought and incorporated into a snack-food company in Bristol, VA. I have an original jar with label.

So you see, our neighborhood contributed many commercial products for everyday use in the United States.


Posted on June 6th, 2008 by Ken Harrison in Featured, History

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1. Lyn - June 14, 2010

I remember foundry when I went to ETSU in the ’70’s, i have a photo(slide) of one of the men working with the door open. it was a very warm fall day.

2. Michael Booher - July 28, 2010

I Have the same cannon shell.My grandfather worked at Harris.Mike July 28 2010