Octogenarian recalls life

“When I moved to Chelsea there were only three houses on this dead-end road we live on (SCR 335) and now there are 30-something,” said Charlene Moore.

After graduating from high school in Elmont, Miss., Charlene and friend Edith Thorne (now Mrs. Elzie Minor of Chelsea), came to Birmingham.

They lived with a relative of Edith’s until they found jobs, then moved into the Eva Comer Home for women.

While living at Eva Comer, she met a young man from Chelsea on a blind date.

“You know how somebody was always wanting you to go out with somebody,” she said. “Well, Herman and I got married in 1948.”

They moved to Chelsea, where community people helped build them a five-room house. “We didn’t have plumbing in our bathroom for a few years,” she said. “We had an outhouse.”

Exhibiting her usual joyful spirit, she laughed and added with mock-pride, “It had two holes!”

In summer they had an enclosed, outdoor shower.

Herman built a frame, mounted a big drum on it and put a spigot in one end. They carried water for baths and other household uses from a spring.

The young couple “started out with a hog and chickens.” But after butchering the first hog, they decided hog-raising wasn’t for them.

“And somebody stole our chickens,” Moore said. “We had bought a bunch of baby chicks and had them in a pen out back. We knew it wasn’t a possum that got them because there were no feathers around.”

They had better luck with plants, and gardened together until Herman came down with rheumatoid arthritis and had to give it up.

After his death in 2001, she continued to garden until just recently.

“I’ve had a great life,” Moore said. “God has been good to me. I have three wonderful daughters, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.”

When her children were small, there were only two stores in Chelsea, she said, Valerie’s (Weldon’s) and Mr. Chesser’s.

Valerie carried shoes and a lot of other things, but she doesn’t recall her selling clothes. The Moores usually ordered these from Sears.

Moore said she likes having all the places to shop in Chelsea today, but she had a little trouble adjusting to it. And she misses the drop-in visiting neighbors used to do when she first moved here 64 years ago.

Shelba Nivens can be reached by e-mail at ssnivens@bellsouth.net.