Thursday, March 15, 2007

Uncle Zeke Takes An Excursion to Orlando

by David Parmer

P. N. Blake, who wrote the Buzzardtown News as Uncle Zeke for the Braxton Democrat, was ever the booster of local businesses. Every chance he had to “brag up” the businesses of Orlando he did so in his own inimitable style. In September of 1925, Uncle Zeke took an excursion to the little town of Orlando in order to enlighten the readers of his column to the various businesses in Orlando. The following is his narrative of his trip to Orlando during its heyday as a railroad town.

“The other day I took my pencil and my notebook and sauntered off up to the town of Orlando to view the landscape o’er and find out what I could. On my arrival I entered the store of C. M. Knight and found several customers sitting on the counter while another was trying to buy a nickel’s worth of Brown’s Mule. Mr. Knight is doing well in the mercantile business and has a good trade. Both he and his clerk, Mr. Bob Heater, are very courteous and treat customers right.

Next I went to Dick Skinner’s restaurant and found Dick as busy as a bee serving customers. Dick has long been on the bachelor’s list, but says he is going to get a wife if she costs him a dollar. Then I visited J. W. Conrad’s store and found a good business conducted there. Then I passed into E. J. Fretwell’s restaurant and, believe me, I could not leave without a delicious piece of pie and a cone of ice cream. John is doing well. A few steps brought me into Charley Skinner’s mammoth store, and, to my surprise, Charley is selling like five hundred. Lee Skinner is doing well in the mercantile business at the forks of the road just above town. I went into the post office to get my mail and P. A. Moran, the efficient postmaster, always meets you with a smile and howdy-do, and he seems so sorry if there is no mail for you that he almost wants to give you somebody else’s mail. Pete is all right though.

Then I dropped down to the Mc Cord restaurant, seated myself on a chair and began to peruse the Saturday Evening Post. Suddenly my proboscis caught the irresistible odor of the cooking of meat, beans, roasting ears and such like, and my appetite got whetted to such a pitch that I could not help calling for an old-fashioned dinner, to which I sure did justice. Say folks! If you want a good meal you can get it at the McCord restaurant.

Business is a little slack with M. V. Moran, the undertaker, at present, but he hopes it will be better after a while. Alva Barnett and Claud Mick, mail carriers on routes one and two, claim business is good for them. They get rid of all the material they start out with on their routes.

Lee Morrison is giving all his attention in his art studio. Lee is making good in the picture business. E. L. Skinner’s barber shop is running full time. Lloyd knows to handle the whisker sickle, and if you want a slick shave while you wait call on Billy the barber. The Dolan Hotel still continues to serve the public, and if you want good hospitality give them a call.

G. H. Allman, B & O operator, is always on duty when he isn’t off. You can always depend on him and all helpers. Rev. Keller is trying to knock the devil out of the ungodly with Gospel truths, May he accomplish his aim. Wade Mick, the miller, is doing a grinding business in the northwest end of the town. It keeps Tom Godfrey, the blacksmith, busy mending the commandments which someone about town is continually breaking. Benjamin Franklin Riffle, the world’s greatest wizard and fortune teller, can be found at his office at all hours. I must say that Orlando is O. K. and some day may be as big as Buzzardtown.”

Uncle Zeke

Charley Knight's store is at the top, right. Center left, today's warehouse, in 1925 housed Mike Moran's farm implements store, the post office and a restaurant and below that, Bill Conrad's store. Bottom right is the B&O station.

Also, "Brown Mule" mentioned by Uncle Zeke was a brand of tobacco. See the illustration to the right.

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