Tennessee Records Repository

Decatur Co. TN

Allye Ragsdale

From Lillye Younger, People of Action (Brewer Printing Company, Jackson, Tennessee, n.d.).

This People of Action, issued circa 1969, reproduced newspaper clippings about people in Decatur County. Most items probably were written in the mid 1960s. Most, but not all, of the items were written by Lillye Younger herself and most, but not all, appeared in the Jackson Sun. The photographs, which in the book were poorly reproduced from clippings, have not been scanned.

Special thanks to Constance Collett and the estate of Lillye Younger for permission to make these web pages.

Thanks to www.tnyesterday.com for contributing this transcription.

By Lillye Younger, Sun Correspondent

Ill Health Doesn't Hinder Enjoyment Of Every Day

PARSONS, Tenn. — "Miss Allye" Ragsdale is 75 years old, weighs 86 pounds, has had nine operations and has not been out of the hospital in recent years more than six months at a time Yet she is one of Parson's most energetic residents

"One of the greatest joys in my life is working in my yard and flowers," says Mrs. Ragsdale, who lives alone and does all her housework and cooking.

She keeps an immaculate lawn and has lovely flowers throughout the summer season. She is a member of the Fidelis Garden Club and has a lifetime membership in the Parsons Book Club. She also is a member of the Order of Eastern Star.

"I think the Order of the Eastern Star is the grandest organization outside of the church," she said. A member for 15 years, she has served every office in the organization and was a Grand Committee member in 1953.

Mrs. Ragsdale takes her infirmities with a good attitude. "Madison General Hospital is like a second home to me," she says. "The nurses tease me and say I go home for a visit."

She spends much of her time crocheting, knitting and hooking rugs. She has hooked 10 rugs within the past 10 years. Last Christmas she knit and sold 200 pairs of house shoes. She has made 25 Afghans besides crochet bedspreads.

Mrs. Ragsdale was born April 9 1890, at Bunches Chapel, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ephram Arnold. "There were nine of us in the family," she explains. "I had four brothers and four sisters; however, only three of us are living. We lived on a farm and learned quite young what it meant to work."

Mrs. Ragsdale recalls her days attending a little country school around the turn of the century. "My teachers were Ollie Hill, Landon White, Jack Allen and Elvin Kennedy. School terms were about four months in those days.

"It was quite different from today the boys and girls were segregated. Our teacher would ring a bell for time hooks and the boys lined up on one aide and the girls on the other. We marched in and were seated across the room from each other.

"We had recess at 10 a.m. and at 2 p.m. which lasted for 30 minutes. The boys and girls together played tag, baseball, farmer in the dell and the like.

"Our drinking water came from a spring and we used a cedar water bucket and dipper. Everyone drank out of the same dipper. We carried our lunch in large tin buckets.

"We didn't have loaf bread in those days, but we carried biscuit, cornbread, ham, boiled eggs and sweet potatoes. My two brothers and I carried our lunch together in a big tin bucket. The lid was as big as a dinner plate.

'The girls wore long dresses with aprons over them and our hose were hand-knit in natural color. We wore high-top shoes in winter and went barefooted in summer. School was quite different in those days, but we learned a lot."

Mrs. Ragsdale joined the Bunches Chapel Baptist Church at the age of 14. Her mother died in 1904 and she then moved to Parsons and lived with an aunt, Mrs. Emmie Long, and worked at a telephone company.

In 1910 she accepted work as chief operator for the Brownsville Telephone Company.

"We had a time clock with a lever we checked long distance calls on," she recalls. "When the customer started to talk, I would pull the lever down, and the clock printed the minutes talked to the second. When the conversation was completed, I putted another lever which gave the total time."

It was in Brownsville that she met John S. Ragsdale who was working as a telegraph operator. They were married in 1912 and had two sons.

Thomas Ragsdale is general superintendent of Ohio River Company of Joliet, Ill., and Dr. Jack Ragsdale is a dentist at Canton, Ill.

"Miss Allye" also worked at Lexington, Perryville and Huntingdon. Her last job was a switchboard operator in Parsons. She cut the last wire converting the service to dial system April 25, 1953.

About this scientific age, she comments:

"I think if our government would spend more time trying to keep peaceful race relations than in the effort to reach the moon, our country would be much better. This is the most important issue at the present time."

In regard to young people of today, "Miss Allye" says, "They are not any worse than they were when I was young. They have more places to go and more freedom. People are broader minded today than they were back in the early 1900s."

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