The streets of Hazard were belly deep in mud and had not been paved. We had large rocks placed at the crossings and one jumped from one to the other. Absolutely, this is true. Miss Bess Owen (Mrs. P. L. Johnson) was on her way to church. She had on her new blue coat with fur trim when she missed the rock, falling in and sticking with one shoulder until she was pulled out. Miss Bess recovered, but her coat never did. She sent it to a Lexington cleaners, but the stains remained.
A story was published in the Knoxville Journal. A man was standing on the court house steps repeatedly popping a black snake whip. The reporter said, “Excuse me sir, why are you doing this?” He replied, “Stranger, if you will watch that mud hole you will see a fine span of mules appear in a few minutes.”
Hardesty’s was a women’s clothing store that was located in the building that would later be home to Watsons next to Taxi Alley. At one time it was Lykins IGA. Hardesty’s was truly a fashion store for both ladies and gentlemen. “Pete” Hardesty was semi-blonde, well-dressed, well-poised and well-liked. He was also a good businessman. Mrs. Hardesty was an attractive brunette who was a good buyer and a vivacious person. Her windows and display showed her artistic ability. Mrs. Hardesty’s mother, Mrs. Harp, helped in the store and was a gracious person. Sarah Ware, sister of former Hazard Fire Chief Justin Ware, was a clerk there. Mrs. Sally Cantor was the alteration lady. Percy Lane was Pete’s helper in the men’s side and later Gertrude Ihrig was employed at Hardesty’s. High prices now? Mrs. Hardesty sold plenty of street dresses at $124 and hand made hats were $35. A prominent Hazard lady still has her buttons from her blue wool going-away dress purchased there.
Above Hardesty’s was the Kismet Tea Room, along with the offices of Dr. R.L. Collins, Dr. Green Cook and Dr. J. D. Grant. Dr. Grant’s wife had a large shepherd dog that went everywhere she did and was very friendly. She was the sister of the funny movie star and Broadway actor, Edward Everett Horton, who once visited Hazard.
Listen to the subject of our story, Mrs. P. L. Johnson (Bess) as she recited a poem by James Whitcomb Riley during the WSGS Radio Day a few years ago. Click here to listen ...Let us know if you listened to the audio. Post your comments below.