It wasn’t long ago that every shop in Soso was in use and bursting with activity. Sitting at the crossroads of 3 major highways leading to Ellisville and Laurel at the south end, Taylorsville and Bay Springs at the north end, with the railroad track in between, Soso was perfectly situated to provide all of the living and farming necessities to the folks spread far and wide around the community.
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, farmers and homemakers alike visited the general mercantile store of William Green Rasberry, stopping to chat about local gossip, to ask about the price of cotton, or to say a quick hello to his wife, Virgie. Their daughter Betty, a favorite among the locals, was sure to be found nearby.
Stepping outside the door positioned on the corner of Rasberry’s Store, they would turn left to head toward the local barber shop to exchange tales of neighbors’ mishaps and fish too big to carry home. They’d discuss the latest neighborhood news taken straight from the source – the family who ran the local telephone switchboard. If you didn’t hear it at the barber shop, it probably wasn’t worth hearing at all.
They might take note of the travelers checking in to the local boarding house or hotel directly across the street, wondering where the travelers were from and if their business in town would be fruitful. Knight’s cafe, beneath the hotel, was a favorite spot for meeting newcomers.
The post office next door to the hotel held special meaning for the townspeople. As you know, it was the little post office that gave the town her unusual name.
Further down, the noise from the two cotton gins could be heard clearly over the sound of cars passing through. One gin, owned by William (Bill, or W.G., the locals called him), was located behind his store, near the railroad tracks. The Wade Cotton Gin was further south, near what would later become the Hilbun Poultry Feed Mill.
As they stepped back across the main road they’d hear the squeals and laughter of children at the Soso school, located at the south end of town near the church. Folks from all over Mississippi were spring-boarded from the doors of her classrooms, fondly remembering their time growing up in the little town.
Leaving the children to their play and studies, they might meet up with friends to discuss upcoming social gatherings or the latest church happenings.
The Masonic Lodge and Eastern Star, American Legion and of course, the Baptist Church, were an integral part of daily life for all of those living in and around the little town. Inside the doors of their various gathering places, the people of Soso came together to discuss any manner of topics of the day, but more importantly, to grow closer to each other in their mutual love of a simple life.
Continuing north they would find the little train depot, ready to greet any visitors that might arrive looking for a unique style of life found only in a town such as this.
Their last stop would be the grist mill, where they would collect their freshly ground corn before making the journey back home on the highways leading out of town.
Our journey, however, takes us back through the corner door of our namesake’s general mercantile shop.
The folks at Rasberry Greene
Photos of Soso, MS from “Say is this the USA” published by Erskine Caldwell & Margaret Bourke-White in 1941.
(Original captions included)
“If Tom McNair falls out of his barn, or if J.M. Oliver’s wife catches a fox in her cold-cellar, or if Judson Hendricks’ daughter marries the mail carrier, you will hear about it a lot sooner at the barbershop than you will in the newspaper.”
“You have never made much money, and you have to do without a lot of things other people have, but you would rather live where you are than move to town and work for twelve dollars a week in a shirt factory.”
“There is little use for the train to stop at all now, because it does not run as far as a man nowadays wants to go.”
“Grinding corn meal for people is not as dignified as working in the bank, but when they come in and talk to you about their troubles, you are glad you can afford to listen without having to charge them a fee.”