Fredrick Carl (Fred) Lancaster was born at home on the northeast corner of the square at Mountain View on November 10, 1931.
He was the youngest of four children born to Fredrick Clarence and Cora Armstrong Lancaster. He had a 16-year-old brother, Ivan, and two sisters. His sister Georgia Ann, who was 13 when Fred was born, was named for their maternal grandmother, George Ann King Lancaster. Ella Mae, the sibling closest to his age, was 3.
Fred spent his early childhood days on the square at Mountain View during years of the Great Depression.
“I had a lot of fun living right in town,” Fred commented. “Every day I would get on my tricycle and pedal down to Aunt Vi’s place for cookies and milk. She’d spend about 15 minutes with me at her kitchen table, and then she’d say, ‘Better go on home now, Fred. I have to get back to work.’”
Aunt Vi was Viola Webb, and she was a busy woman. She and her husband, John, owned the Dew Drop Inn, which is now the Inn at Mountain View, located about a block northwest of the square. Traveling salesmen and others passing through would spend the night. Viola prepared three meals a day for her paying guests, and did so without the benefit of electricity or indoor plumbing.
The Dew Drop Inn of the 1930’s looked the same as today’s inn, with one exception. “It was white, not pink,” Fred said.
Fred’s grandfather, G.D. (Green Dink) Lancaster, had built Lancaster’s General Merchandise back in 1898, on the west side of the courthouse square. As a little boy, Fred would walk by the courthouse to his grandfather’s store. Even then, there would be a group of men sitting around at the front of the store, talking.
“They’d come in, sit for a while, catching up on the news and telling tales,” Fred recalled. “Some would leave and others would come in for a few minutes. It was an ever-changing group, but there were always a few men gathered at Lancaster’s store.”
The “Liar’s Bench” remained in regular use until the store closed in 2020.
Read the full story in the Feb. 23 issue.
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