MULES AT R. A. FOUNTAIN •
NURSE NANNIE PAT
by Dr. Earl Trevathan
An interesting event in Fountain didn’t occur on a Saturday, but rather any day in the fall of the year. It was the arrival of the train cargo of mules from East Tennessee for R. A. Fountain stables. Unloading was a show to watch. Mules were a critical resource for farming in 1933, as tractors were expensive and rare. The draft animal was the mule. They were docile animals, easy to love as pets, and stronger than a horse. They were mares, and given names like Bet, Maud. Daisy, and Molly, to recall a few of our loved animals.
When the train unhitched the mule car on the sidetrack, there was no wasted time to proceed with unloading. I guess they had been fed hay and watered along the way. The unloading ramp was pushed into place and the car door rolled open. Mr. John Fountain, on his chestnut colored saddle horse, moved in place and led the fast moving and spirited mules, nearly jumping out of the train car, down the street and into the stable. There, water and hay awaited them.
Each mule, all black or dark brown, had a tag with a number glued on their rump. The number was for the papers on the mules. The farmers would gather around, leaning on the railing, giving good judgement as to which animal to purchase. Several hundred dollars, at least.
Yes, we had mules, but we also had a doctor. Dr. E. B. Beasley had his office just off Main Street. He operated his small clinic with a nurse, Nannie Pat Dozier. They made a team, and you could make your preference to see the doctor or Nannie Pat. That little black bag and the doctor would often be seen leaving the office, making a house call in town or in the country. Injuries and accidents made up many of those calls. We didn’t have OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) then. Home deliveries were a good part of Dr. Beasley’s practice.
Two blocks from Main Street was an important operation that the farming community depended on, Johnny Owens and his black smith shop. Any metal work and Johnny could do it. My daddy would get Johnny to do his horseshoe repairs, and I enjoyed watching him fire up that forge, pull out that red hot metal, and bang away. There is much more to cover in recalling life in a small southern town. I tried to limit this piece to the business area, knowing that there are few of us living who could recall what life was like through the eyes of a child 87 years ago.