Whittle: How 'bout those nicknames?

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Feeling "Froggy?"

Do you know ol' "Stew Ball," dating back to Woodbury High School days?

How about "Crazy Legs" Davenport? Do you know her given name?

Have you ever been arrested by "Butch" Jones (not to be confused with UT Football Coach Butch Jones)? 

Did you ever pitch a baseball to a famous Auburntown slugger named "Red" Gaither?

"Hand Shake" Stockton was the grand pappy I never knew. He died before I was born. That partly explains my lifelong fascination with "nicknames."

His given name was "Harve," but I've always taken pride in knowing that Grandfather Stockton was known as "Hand Shake" for his honesty.

"If your grandfather ever shook hands on a business deal, you didn't need a piece of paper," described his daughter, Ruby Lee "Liza Jane" Stockton Whittle, my late mother who had a zillion nicknames down through life.

More about a well-known Cannon County man, now deceased, with the nickname of "Froggy."

"I never heard anyone greet him as Ellis Thomas," accounted Woodbury Mayor Harold "Stew Ball" Patrick. 

"If they wanted to get his attention at the food store, they called out for 'Froggy,'" "Stew Ball" noted.

The mayor was discussing the late prominent Bradyville dairy farmer Ellis "Froggy" Thomas, father of Murfreesboro lawyer Russ Thomas and Dell Thomas Harrell, wife of Woodbury Vice Mayor Charlie Harrell.

The nickname "Stew Ball" goes back to what Mayor Patrick labeled the "golden years" of the 1950s, when he was a "car hop" at the locally famous Woodbury Square's "Pat's Drive-In" located across the street from the Cannon County Courthouse.

"Drive-in owner Jacky Francis started calling me 'Stew Ball' and it stuck," the mayor traced down Memory Lane. "When I had an extra nickel, I'd put it in the jukebox, always playing the same song, with the name 'Stew Ball' in it as performed by Peter, Paul & Mary. 'Stew Ball' followed me all through high school days. My generation is now reportedly in our 'golden years.' My 'golden years' were the 1950s with its great jukebox music."

The mayor toted his nickname well past high school.

"Jimmy Brandon (the late) was known as 'Mouse' back in school," Mayor Patrick shared. "When I was in the bank where Jimmy worked, I'd holler out 'Mouse" and he'd yell back across the bank lobby, 'Stew Ball!' I miss my friend 'Mouse' to this day."

If you ever spent the night in the calaboose, you may know "Butch" Jones up close and personal. In a former life, "Butch" was known as Truman Jones, longtime sheriff of Rutherford County.

"I don't know who gave me the name 'Butch,' but I'd guess it was my two aunts," shared "Butch," who was named "Truman" after his father, the late Truman Jones Sr.

Truman's wife Jackie still calls her husband "Butch."

Did you ever have a flat tire fixed in Murfreesboro by Glen Mitchell?

"My best friend Glen, was named after his father, Glen Mitchell," shared "Butch" Jones. "They started calling him 'Bud' because his father was known as Glen Mitchell. He's now known as 'Bud' Mitchell, who is famous today for having Bud's Tire business in Murfreesboro and his volunteer work with the Kittrell Volunteer Fire Department."

Many prayers have recently been lifted on behalf of "Bud" Mitchell … I'm certain God knows him as either "Bud" or Glen, who was recently seriously injured in a motorcycle crash.

Nicknames run in Helen "Crazy Legs" Davenport's family, starting with her late husband, Robert "Hoppy" Davenport, a well-known elected office holder for decades in the Cannon County Courthouse.

"As a boy, Hoppy got his nickname from a relative, who saw a boy in movie who was called 'Hoppy,' and she thought he looked just like my Hoppy," "Crazy Legs" shared.

Helen, who was named to the Cannon Courier's "Cannon County Sports Hall of Fame" earlier this year, got the nickname "Crazy Legs" from a competing coach from Manchester when she was an all-star high-scoring forward on the Woodbury High School's girls basketball team back in 1957 to 1960.

"The coach named L.D. Carden was the first one to refer to that 'forward for Woodbury, with the 'crazy legs' that you never knew which was she was going to go on the basketball court,'" 'Crazy Legs' bounced her basketball memories back across the decades.

"Crazy Legs" average scoring more than 28 points per game in her high school playing days for the Lionettes under legendary coach James A. Harris.

(The late justice of the peace) Robert Hawkins "Red" Gaither was a legendary "Auburntown Town Team" baseball player. If you played against that team in the 1950s, you played against the Gaither boys, including slugger "Red" Gaither, brother to legendary Cannon/Rutherford educator Jerry Gaither, now retired in Murfreesboro.

"No one knew Red's given name," Jerry noted. "We just called him 'Red'. I had a bunch of brothers, and we all played on the town team."”

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Dan Whittle
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October 17, 2013 at 12:57pm
Pat's Drive-in was never on the Courthouse Square.
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