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Kingsport's Addie Pearson looks for the positive in every situation

Suzi McKee • Dec 27, 2018 at 4:30 PM

In 1931, the United States was in the midst of a depression that would impact the lives of those who lived through it for many years to come. After the stock market crash of 1929, unemployment hovered around 16 percent and the outlook for many families was grim to say the least. Gas was 10 cents a gallon, bread was 8 cents a loaf, and people paid 11 cents for a pound of hamburger meat. Herbert Hoover was president, and this was the year that "The Star-Spangled Banner" was adopted as our national anthem.

While the nation suffered and many worried about their futures, Leonard and Emma Brickey welcomed their second child, Addie, to their little family in Edison, Tennessee, on July 28, 1931.

During this time in our nation’s history, families had no television, no electricity, no telephone and no indoor plumbing.

“We listened to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio,” Miss Addie began, “and found a few programs on the weekend that helped to entertain our family.”

With no shopping centers in existence or department stores few and far between, the family made their own clothes, quilts and canned food for long winter nights. That may be why her favorite hobbies today are knitting, crocheting and making bracelets. A “rolling store” came through Edison and that’s where the family sold chickens, butter and eggs and bought sugar and coffee.

“I remember that my mama had only one dress,” Miss Addie continued, “and we used feed sacks to make the clothes that we wore every day and to church.” At first the family had to walk everywhere they went and then Mr. Brickey bought a Model T with a rumble seat that allowed the family to go farther distances and be more comfortable. “That rumble seat was sure a lot of fun,” Miss Addie added. “It bounced us kids around and made the trips that we made much more enjoyable.”

Addie met Sam Pearson and they were married on Feb. 10, 1948. He had served his country in the Navy and after securing a job in Kingsport, the couple moved here and began their life of service to the Kingsport community. Miss Addie had always been interested in cosmetology, and after attending and graduating from Kingsport Beauty School, she opened her own shop and began taking care of the needs of her clients.

“I had 21 standing customers,” Miss Addie explained, “and back then a shampoo and set was $7 and a permanent was $14. Her shop was a gathering place for ladies in the Sullivan Gardens community; they shared news of their families and their hopes and dreams for those they loved.

Miss Addie has been a member of Sullivan Baptist Church and has been singing in the choir for well over 60 years.

“My church has been the cornerstone of my life,” Miss Addie began. “Before we got a second car, Sam would keep the boys and I would walk to choir practice every week. I helped in the nursery for over 30 years, and I always worked in Vacation Bible School. I arranged the appointments of my clients so that I could always be there for the children.” This published poet has made and delivered over 700 gift baskets around the community as offerings of her love to her neighbors.

Miss Addie was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 and was told she might have five years to live.

“My relationship and believing and trusting in the Lord has kept me going and given me strength,” she shared with a smile. “Reading the Bible every day and being thankful for my church family has given me great enthusiasm for life.”

“My advice to today’s young people is to get up, don’t be lazy, stay busy, and to look for the good in people instead of bad things. You must be faithful to your church, read your Bible, and make God the center of your marriage.”

Great advice advice from a dear lady who still looks for the positive in every situation in her life.

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