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Life At The Corner Has Changed
Written by Judy H. Green May 14, 1986
Fifty years can bring a lot of change.
Guy Thompson has been in business on the same corner for over 50 years and has
seen Corinth’s south end change from a teeming business district to the quieter,
less congested area it is today.
His used car business at the corner of Tate and Franklin Streets has been there
since 1957 when he went out of the mule business.
It was just a matter of changing one type of horse power for another.
“Yes, the tractor took the mule business. It was a good business we had. I
really enjoyed it. Back then there were a lot more people in the south end of
town in business. The Security Bank even had to build an extra bank down here to
take care of the business,” he said.
The bank was where Frank Berry’s office is now on Fillmore. The building still
has the iron bar work. North’s Hardware was already established and Automotive
Parts was there. Mathis Drugstore and Cage was on the corner with heavy trade.
Rubel’s and Kroger’s were two other larger stores in the south end. Thompson
said there were four grocery stores in all, just to serve that section.
Thompson went into partnership with his mother-in-law, Mrs. J.R. Talley, when he
and his wife, Mamie Talley Thompson came to Corinth in 1934. “I think it was the
year Roosevelt took office,” he said.
Thompson was born and raised in Tupelo and moved to Selmer, Tennessee. He and
his wife married in 1929. In the fall the Depression came on.
“The Depression in Alcorn County meant people swapping goods for services. I
remember some of the prices were, oh, 50 cents for an 8 lb. bucket of lard. You
could get a bushel of potatoes for 50 cents. Cotton was a little better than
four cents a pound. But, nobody could make any money, so the 50 cents was just
as hard to come by. A fellow couldn’t get a job except in the family,” Thompson
During the heyday of the mule business the lot was always crowded. The barn was
packed full in fall and winter.
There was no Highway 45 back then. Franklin Street was not opened up either.
Tate Street was a main through street, he said, in describing how the area
W.C. Adams had a plank fence around his building from the railroad to below
where the old health department office building is (currently Patterson Funeral
Home). Thompson said when he came to Corinth the building now housing Chadco was
standing, but vacant.
All these years he had rented from the Williams family, beginning with Dr.
Fayette’s father, F.C. Williams.
To conduct his mule business, Thompson said he would ride the passenger train to
Jackson, Tennessee then on to Cairo, Illinois to the stockyards.
“The Doodlebug ran from Jackson all the way to Cairo. We trucked the mules back
and we also shipped by train to the stockyards here. The Corinth stockyards
belonged to the railroad and were down where Bell Gas is located now,” he said.
Thompson was the first to hold a cattle auction in Corinth. “It was on Bunch
Street at what we knew then as the Old Stave Mill, near the railroad tracks.
D.C. Isbell ran a meat market there. They shipped out cured hams. Sample had one
there too. It was pretty big business at one time. It took up the area that
includes the location of the Calvary Pentecostal Church.” Thompson said.
Through the years from mules to used cars, Thompson said one of his best
employees has been John Bowers. “He worked for me 17 years in the mule
business,” Thompson said.
In the used car business Thompson found himself traveling to Murry, Kentucky and
Paris, Tennessee to auto auctions. The best seller he’s known has been the 1957
General Motors Chevrolet.
“I’ve farmed, been in the cattle business, mule business and the used car
business but what it all boils down to is I’m a trader.
“And, you know, traders can’t keep a thing. Otherwise, I’d be rich. I’ve owned a
lot of property over the years, but there’s a price on everything,” he said.
“I remember when I joined the Baptist Church, old Bro. Hill asked me what my
occupation was, I said I was a mule dealer. Bro. Hill said he’d baptized a whole
lot of people in his time but he never had baptized a mule dealer,” Thompson
For a man who’s seen life’s passing parade at his doorstep, how does he sum it
“Well, the high prices of fuel and tractors and supplies have hurt the farmers.
It’s a whole new ballgame from the time all you had to do was feed and water a
“The government is loaning money and farmers are having to borrow too much and
spend too much. You can’t borrow in high times and have to pay it back in low
times. The combination just won’t work.”
“Corinth’s really grown, but I can’t say why. Things are so bad off. We’ve got a
lot of folks out of work here right now.
“Things are changing,” he said, “I used to know everybody in our church. Now
there’re as many as 25 percent that I can’t even call their names.”
Thompson and his wife have three children. Their daughter, Ann, is a faculty
member with the city school system. One son, Bobby, lives in Maine, a retired
military man. Dan is in Greenwood, in the car business.
“As, I see it, kids today need a good education to make it. They need training
in the church and should never, never fool with drugs or fool around with
anybody who does,” Thompson advised.
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