Turner, 95, recalls early life in Chelsea

Published 4:57 pm Monday, May 16, 2011

By SHELBA NIVENS / Community Columnist

When Eunice Turner, 95, was a child, her family raised most of their food or bought it from a “Rolling Store” man.

Today, she has a choice of three large grocery stores in Chelsea — Winn-Dixie, super Walmart and the newly-opened Publix.

Two rolling stores stopped at the Simmons home — one from Vandiver and one from Wilsonville.

They were old pickups with homemade sheds, she recalled. “We bought our flour, sugar and coffee from them. We had things like chickens, cows and hogs.”

She recalled three stores in early Chelsea where her family bought horse feed and fertilizer.

These general stores were Weldons, Chessers and Cranes, which was later Blackerbys, she said.

Eunice Turner, 95, left in small photograph, recalls childhood with sisters. (Contributed)

They stood in a row at the corner of what is now Shelby County 47 and 39, before Mr. Blackerby moved his store into a building across the road, where Sherry‘s beauty shop is now located.

The post office was in the Blackerby store.

Today, Chelsea’s modern City Hall overlooks these historic buildings, a reminder of Chelsea’s rapid growth.

Eunice Turner’s parents were Beatrice Brasher and Tolbert Simmons.

They had four girls, Eunice, Addie Lee (Turner), Mary (Teasdale) and Ellen. The family lived on Bear Creek Road, she said, adding, “Now there’s a big subdivision there.”

Her daddy carried the family in a wagon to church at the Methodist church, which was located on the hill across from the present Chelsea Church of God parking lot. After he died, and the church “died,” she said, her mother started taking them to Liberty Baptist.

Mrs. Turner is now the oldest member in the Chelsea Church of God.

Her grandfather Robert Simmons’ house was “near The Narrows,” Turner said. “I remember when the highway (old 280) was built under the trestle. It went through Granddaddy’s house and yard.”

Her Granddaddy Simmons came to the Chelsea area from Tennessee, she said, bringing with him five boys: Elbert, Mark, Roy, Herbert and Tolbert.

Turner said she was 9 years old when her father Tolbert died, leaving her mother with four young girls, the youngest only fifteen-months.

Eunice Simmons married Floyd Turner, the widowed father of five children, Lugene (Denver Brasher), Evelyn (Roy Grantham), Charles (Juanell Davis), Jackie (Marlin Brasher) and Brenda Sears. Eunice gave birth to two children, Floyd Turner, Jr. and a baby, which died.When asked how she has stayed so young-looking and spry, she said, “I am blessed.”

Shelba Nivens can be reached by email at Shelbasn@juno.com.