At the request of the Brownwood Paranormal Society, the Examiner conducted a seance Monday night. We wanted to know what a few of Brownwood’s pioneers thought about Brownwood, civic pride, and the progress that has been made on the boulevards and avenues that share their surnames.
Ghost of Lillie Kimble ashamed of what her street has become.
“It used to be a nice place to raise a family” the appirition gently stated in a soft, mournful tone. “I remember children playing in the road, thier gleeful laughter warbling in the wind. Now look at my street. Houses falling down, paint peeling off, it’s an eyesore of the highest magnitude.”
While urban decay is common throughout the United States, the ghost of Ms. Kimble states that her street has fallen from her good graces sooner than she had hoped.
“People used to come to me and ask me for advice in their trials and tribulations and I always lent an ear. Now you don’t see anyone talking to anyone anymore. The sense of community has faded almost as quickly as the seal coat on my thoroughfare. I used to help deliver babies in the community and everyone knew me. I never met a stranger, and if I couldn’t help them, I knew my family at Little Zion could.”
Kimble shook her head and despondently gazed towards the horizon.
“I get the newspaper up here, you know. My name is always in the paper and I keep having to tell Saint Peter that it’s not me going back down there getting in trouble with the police. They just keep arresting people on my street. Lillie Kimble drug arrest. Lillie Kimble assault. It sullys my good name. They might as well just rename it back to Morgan Street for all I care. Even the park by my street seems to always be up to no good.”
Without warning, the ghost of Cecil Holman chimed in. “Ms. Lillie, at least the park near your street still has a pool. They up and closed mine. At least my good friend Bennie (Houston) still has his community center.”
W.W Chandler smugly pleased that local businesses thrive on his street.
“You know, I was the first postmaster.” the ghost of Chandler stated, in an authoritative and almost self-important tone. “I also opened the first business in Brown County.” The ghost went on “I was also the first County Commissioner, and later the first County Judge”.
We were impressed that one man had done so many things for our community and our county, but we wanted to know what he thought about the street that bears his name. We explained that we awoke him from his eternal slumber for a reason. “I was also the first County Treasurer, and the first member of the County Board of Appeals..” droned the visage.
The ghost of W.W Chandler was frankly annoying us at this point. We asked him one more time what he thought about his street. “Well, there are many businesses on that street. I should know businesses. I started the first one.” When asked what his favorite businesses were, the wispy former Confederate stated that he enjoyed the Verizon building, and he would have opened up the first telephone line, had he lived long enough to do so. He also expressed interest in Steve’s Market and Deli. “I would have opened up the first deli if we had delis back then. You know, I’ve heard they have a really good reuben but I’m a ghost and I can’t pick the sandwich up. It doesn’t stop me from trying though. Next time you hear a creak in the floorboard, I’m probably trying to have lunch again. I was the first person to have lunch in Brown County.”
We quickly sent him back to his grave, tired of hearing him yammer on. We thought we would stay in the downtown area, and speak to Greenleaf Fisk.
Greenleaf Fisk concerned about re-paving work, changing trends in men’s grooming.
The ghost of Greenleaf Fisk was a rather jovial fellow, a welcomed change from Chandler. Fisk proudly asked us which of the two streets named in his honor we would like to discuss. We told him that Greenleaf street really wasn’t as important as Fisk street. With a reserved sigh, Fisk opined. “Prater Equipment will take too long to repave my namesake. They always take forever on projects they bid for. I can hear it now, residents using my name as a slur. “That damnable Fisk and his street are quite perpetually in a state of flux, I do declare.””
“Stop laughing at my hair!” yelled Fisk, rebuking us for our quite obvious amusement. “This used to be a distinguished look!”
Fisk, the first educator in Brown County, was interested in reading past articles from the Examiner, especially ones regarding Brookesmith. “I never did like the man, to be quite frank. It serves him right that all he got was a memorial street and a little town smack dab in the middle of nowhere.” We asked Fisk what he meant by memorial street. The capuchin monkey Fisk stated in a matter of fact way that we should just speak to his friend. With a wave of his arms, fellow New Yorker Andrew Carnagie appeared.
Andrew Carnagie is displeased with the library.
“I’d never even been to Brownwood” the ghost of 19th century industrialist and monopoly kingpin Andrew Carnagie said. “.. but I knew that Greenleaf Fisk had moved there from Albany, and New Yorkers tend to stick together. He wanted a nice library to compliment the school system. I had a beautiful building donated to Brownwood, a repository of knowledge. It was nice that they named the street after me, too. I’d like to go see my library. Fisk tells me that they wanted to rename my wide thoroughfare after Brooke Smith, but residents protested and legally, it’s still my road.”
We had to regretfully inform Mr. Carnagie that his library was torn down and replaced, citing structural damage. “I can only hope the new library is half as delightful as the old one.”
Strolling down Carnagie Avenue, we could feel the tension in the air. We stopped and pointed out the new, ‘modern’ Brownwood Library. “Back in my day, people had a sense of decor. This looks like a warehouse. Why, this looks like one of my old warehouses. And my name isn’t on it?”
The ghost gave the library a cold, hateful gaze before fading into the warm night sky.
Join us next week as the Coggin Brothers lament the destruction of their namesake theater, Stephen F Austin on industrial growth, and Albert Sidney Johnson on how come no businesses want to establish themselves on his lane.