When Ward Parker suggested Mr. Townley’s 1939 blue coupe as a poll
question, I hadn’t thought of him in many years. As little tykes, we
were run out of his store many times. In my memory he was a tall wiry
gentleman, dressed in a suit. Just another one of Alderson’s
The Townley family lived in Ronceverte, in a big house on Walnut Street
closed to where 219 turns left to cross the Greenbrier River. That is a
fact that I can verify for my aunt’s house was almost across the street
and I could see the Townley home when I visited her. The Townley’s also
had a store in Ronceverte and as the story goes, to give our Mr. Townley
something to do, they set him up in business in Alderson. At least
that’s what I was told. I always had the impression it also was to keep
him away from the main Townley family. They must have subsidized him for
I don’t ever remember many people going in there except us kids.
Mr. Townley’s store was narrow and long, and packed with cheap
merchandise. We used to go in and ask for stupid items such as, “striped
paint and left-handed monkey wrenches”. Then Mr. Townley would run us
out of the store. This went on for a while, almost a routine until he
changed up on us. When we would ask for these “items”, he started using
the phrase, “No, but I have a car load coming in tomorrow”. For us as
regulars, we stopped asking for theses items for it wasn’t fun any more.
Mr. Townley had got the best of us on that joke.
The front of Mr. Townley’s store was blue. The same color as his 39
coupe. This was no coincident. He periodically hand-painted his store,
and while he was at it; he painted his car at the same time. We used to
laugh at the fact he would use house paint on a car. The paint must have
been an inch thick after several paintings.
I don’t remember what happen to Mr. Townley. Did he die in Alderson? Did
he go back to Ronceverte? When did this occur? What kind of person was
he? Did he have friends? I don't know, and that’s the sad part.
Mr. Townley recollections:
Mr. Townley went to the Methodist Church and sang in
One sister is
remembered as being from Clifton Forge.
Another sister, would call
him weekly. There was no phone in his store so she'd call Lobbans Store
and they in turn would allow Mt T. to use theirs. His sister would harangue
him and give him all sorts of advice and his only remarks would be "yes,
sister, you're right".. for between 1/2 and one hour! When she hung up finally, he'd say, "woman don't know what she's talking
He lived in Miss Minnie Harwood's Boarding House.
[Thanks to John & Pearl McCurdy, and Bill Simmons]
More Townley recollections:
Another bit of info on Mr. Townley. He called the car "little blue
bird", but he pronounced it like "lil blu bud". If you bought a piece of
his cheap merchandise and it broke in the store, he would refund or
replace. But, if you were outside on the sidewalk, it was YOURS, tough
luck. I remember my mother would not buy thread, yarn, handkerchiefs or
anything like that from him, but she bought needles and buttons there
sometimes. I think the prices were old like the merchandise. I remember
some of the toys he had were stamped tin from Japan, and he sold me a
rubber water gun for a nickel that disintegrated when I walked out of
the store and squeezed it. My tough luck! So a few weeks later when we
were in the store, I sneaked over and squeezed several of them on
display, with the same results I had with the one he sold me. Served him