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93-year-old looks back at Farragut business

Ninety-three-year-old Kathlyn Boring Davis remembers Farragut quite differently than the way it looks now.

And Davis, or as many of her relatives and friends call her, Nan-Nan, now is looking back more than 60 years, to when she opened one of Farragut’s longest standing businesses — Farragut Cleaners.

“That is so long, for a 93-year-old to remember,” Davis said.

Davis opened Farragut Cleaners around 1946 in the location it’s at now near West End Avenue, building onto a building that shared Frank Russell’s grocery store and Farragut Pharmacy.

“That was Russell’s store. Frank Russell. And we all called him Doodle; everyone knew Doodle. That was the old grocery store.

“So he let us start and we built onto the side of the store, the west side,” Davis said.

The store was divided into three rooms, and the back of the room was where the clothing actually was laundered.

“In the back, there were big old washer things, then we had a little bathroom and then on the side, toward the highway, was where we had one washing machine and two vats where we’d rinse the clothes.

“You call it a dry cleaners, but there’s just as much laundry as anything,” Davis joked.

The last room was for drying and ironing the clothes.

“And we had a man that would press for us ... and then another girl,” Davis said.

Davis couldn’t remember why she opened Farragut Cleaners, although she knew there weren’t any other cleaners close to Farragut, which then was mostly farmland.

“I probably just dreamed that idea up. I don’t know, honey,” she said.

Davis said she and Russell would sit outside their respective businesses and chat on the edge of Kingston Pike, which was then a two-lane road, only recently paved.

“Doodle and I would sit out there — there was a ledge under the window — and why, we would sit out there on this ledge and he would tell me stories about when the [Civil War] armies were meeting and coming together here.

“At night, they’d camp out in different sections. And at night, the soldiers would come into the houses and steal hams and food. I always liked to remember the stories he told me,” Davis said.

“He was my buddy; I always loved Doodle. ... I don’t have much money, but I have a lot of friends. I’d rather have them,” she added.

Davis eventually sold the Cleaners to another dry cleaning business.

Davis, who was born and raised in Concord, said she’d seen the area grow astronomically since she opened the Cleaners — even becoming the incorporated Town we know as Farragut.

“It grew a lot bigger than the Cleaners. We helped it get big,” Davis said.


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