Monthly Archives: May 2015

Early Air Conditioner


Back before the now ubiquitous air conditioning units became common on business rooftops, these structures dominated.  This unit, which used to be on top of the Variety Printing building (formerly one of two downtown locations of Mack Ray Cafeteria…the other was on Commerce Street in the old Harry Mills Motors, across from WKPT), cooled the inside air by evaporation. Inside this louvered, wooden structure was a coiled pipe through which air was pumped.  Water was sprayed over the coil, thus cooling the air by evaporation.  Something akin to the effect you’d get from a wet t-shirt, if the only reason you were wearing a wet t-shirt was to cool off. And if you had a breeze of some sort.
At any rate, I would often get lightly sprinkled with water walking down the alley, if the breeze (mentioned before) was blowing the right direction.
Why was I in the alley?  Going around to Wallace News, of course.
Note the (ha!) stabilizing wires.  Such strength.

Borden Mills


Look at all the windows!  This E.G Kropp (Milwaukee) post card carries a Kingsport postmark for July, 1937.
It was mailed to Eccles, WV. The message, in a somewhat cramped script:

Hello! Honey! Read your last letter yesterday. We came to Norton last Friday. Sue, M.F. and my-self came to Kingsport Tuesday.  Sue & M.F. have (something, something…I’m working on it – the script is hard to read).  Will go  home Monday.  Will write a letter then. Love, Mama

Canal Street


Before the likes of George Carter and J. Fred Johnson strode the land, the area now hosting downtown Kingsport was a wetland, a marsh, a swamp.  A good place for hunting rabbits, it’s said.
Not a particularly good place to site a new town, so, two ditches were dug, one to the west and one to the east, to escort the water out of the downtown basin and off to somewhere else.
So here is Canal Street.  It’s actually a cut-and-cover culvert: the western ditch.  It comes out here:
This is on Reedy Creek, next to the old Irpco (sounds kind of like a burp, no?), which, in memory, is the old Coca-Cola bottling company on West Sullivan Street.