May 29, 2007
Interviewers: Louise Bagby, Roma Sailors, and Jim McGehee
Oral History Session Germantown Historic Commission under the auspices of the Germantown Library
Flora Warren describes her life as the daughter of James “Archie” Warren, minister of the Germantown Presbyterian Church, and his wife Nellie Warren, her life growing up in Germantown with her parents, two sisters, and her career with The Cotton Council.
Flora resides at 2467 Arthur Road, Germantown, TN. She was born August 4, 1921, in the manse in DeKalb, MS where her father was a minister. Her father was James “Archie” Warren of DeKalb, MS and her mother was the former Nellie Thompson born in Ackerman, MS. Her parents met at French Camp, MS, a girl’s school, and were attracted to each other and later married. “Daddy” had a church in Phillip, MS in the Delta, and then Collins, MS. In 1932, during the Depression, the family moved to Germantown as times were hard, and “Daddy” had to support his family. The salary was a little bit better here, but still not very much.
When they moved to Germantown, the Presbyterian Church building was not in good shape, as it needed repairs and painting. Flora remembers going over each Sunday morning after her father had started the fire in the stove and dusting the soot from the pews that the stove had shed. She recalls the congregation as harmonious and loving. The one stained-glass window in memoriam of R.R. Evans was in the back of the choir loft. There were two rooms in the back, also, a beginner’s room and a classroom.
The family lived in the manse which was a wonderful place to grow up. It had a big floored attic and a gramophone where they would go to play and listen to music. She remembers two songs they listened to, “Ukulele Lady” and “My Sweetie Turned Me Down.”
After church on Sundays, they usually had a guest for dinner. Mama would cook a beef roast or fried chicken. Sunday afternoons were quiet with Mama reading us stories out of the Christian Observer.
Flora remembers the Oakley store burning. Brother Wiley and family from the Methodist church came up to our house as they were afraid the fire might come down the street. Daddy was always good friends with the Methodist preachers, and they kidded each other that they would exchange sermons. Rev. Warren was pastor of Germantown Presbyterian for 29 years. Their first home of their own was built on Arthur Road where Flora resides today. Her mother was thrilled with it and referred to it as “all this and heaven too.”
Flora remembered her teachers, Ms. Nettie Pounds, and Ms. Pearl Scruggs. Ms. Pearl was strict and wanted you to do everything she wanted you to, while Ms. Pounds was a little easier on her children. In the 7th grade, Flora studied hard and got the best grades in the class. In high school, Ms. Harrison was her favorite teacher. Ms. Campbell was the librarian and Mr. Ralph Hunt was the principal. Flora graduated in 1938 and still keeps in touch with members of that class. They have had meetings every 10 years and keep up with each other.
There were three doctors in town, Dr. Yancey, Dr. Arthur, and Dr. See. Dr. Clark lived at Forest Hill and had a tennis court where they all learned to play.
Germantown was small and everyone knew everyone. We were all friends. The night before Thanksgiving, the churches would all meet together and have a service.
Flora taught one year at Bartlett middle school. She then found a career with the Cotton Council where she worked 29 years. It was a worthwhile job with the nicest people and she “enjoyed every minute of it.” The Board gave her a resolution of appreciation when she retired and her boss, Sonny, said he couldn’t have done it without Ms. Warren.
Flora’s father was the most positive influence in her life. He raised us “by example” and we always wanted to make him happy. He was always encouraging. He loved everyone and everyone loved him. We never felt deprived as a family. We made it “by” on a little money. We always had good food and a good place to stay. Mother made all our clothes.
Flora said she knew Adelaide Sullivan Dean her whole life. She also said that everyone would go to the Depot in the summer when they would throw out the mail. The most familiar landmarks are gone. Germantown doesn’t have the closeness now. When the “old” Germantown people get together, it’s wonderful. “I feel blessed to know all the people I have known.