Fackler wrote amusing anecdotes about Danville in the 1940s

Published 1:43 pm Friday, January 25, 2019

Calvin Morgan Fackler’s articles appeared in the Danville newspapers frequently and were amusing, as well as apparently true. This article mentions several interesting characters in the 1940s under a headline “A Little of Everything:”

Alley named for Caesar

Caesar’s Alley, now Seventh Street, in Danville, was a haunt of celebrities, according to an article in The Advocate-Messenger.

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First and foremost it was Uncle Caesar Nichols from whom the boulevard took its name.

Caesar was “small and wore a rusty old, bell-crowned hat and was noted for his many marriages.” Some said he was married a half dozen times, but no one really knew.

He preached on occasion. He probably got his inspiration and theology from the Old First (Presbyterian) Church where he had once been sexton.

The contract for sexton read: “This Session agrees to pay Caesar Nichols for his service as sexton this year $32.50; and he is to be paid for all extra services.

“The regular services are one meeting on the sabbath, three days Sacramental occasions,Thanksgiving Day, meetings of Sessions and Congregational meetings (February 5, 1857).”

Another place records showed Caesar was to get 50 cents a cord for all the wood he split for the stoves.

As long as the old galleries remained, he was a regular attendant in the east one.

Charley Green

Uncle Charley Green was “a wisp of a man with a mop of white wool.”

He long afforded pleasure and amusement for his white friends. He was a gentleman of the old school, having been raised by Gen. Leslie Combs of Lexington.

He was fond of some of the things that the General was; and he had all the courtesy of his former master.

“One of the most plausible old rascals (meant affectionately) he loved his toddies. His good nature always expanded with his drinks.”

He lived on Fifth Street not far from what is Bob Lewis’ filling station. He was fond of singing when slightly drunk.

“I went a huntin’ the other day;

Twas in the month of May.

I took the dogs along,

To keep the girls away.”

As Charlie was weaving his unsteady course across Main at Fourth, someone asked how he was. He took his hat off with a profound bow, and answered: “Sober by the grace of God, sir,” then went along chuckling.

His wife, Mary, strongly disapproved of these lapses. It is said “she once caught him, while temporarily disabled and sleeping it off, and sewed him up in a sheet; then gave him a sobering switching.”

Dock Possum

“Dock Possum” was apparently another local character.

“Any fair day he could be seen popping out of the alley at Main Street, with his ungreased, screeching wheel-barrow which had a large cowbell attached.

“He seemed to be a drayman on the modest scale, though we never knew who employed him. Often the barrow was filled with an odd assortment of junk. He and the urchins of the town waged continual warfare. The fighting words were, “Doc, who stole that possum?’

“We never knew what the story was, but it always threw him into a frenzy. He carried a large ‘horse pistol’ which he would fire at his tormentors. It made a great deal of noise, but no one was ever wounded since it was loaded with paper wads only.”

Once at midnight, two of the gang, attracted by the light, looked out the window. He had a row of candles and things and was muttering as he stirred a large pot simmering on his stove.

“The word went out that he was ‘making medicine’ for he was supposed to be a ‘hoodoo’ doctor.

“Dr. Ray Flaig said that Dock had once been nurse for the Robinson boys, so whenever old John‘s circus came to town some of them would always call and give Dock a piece of money — usually gold.”