he Crossing is a ‘self-named’ community located to the west and south of the small West Tennessee town of Humboldt. The name denotes the area where the north/south Gulf, Mobile & Ohio (GM&O) and the east/west Louisville and Nashville (L&N) railroads cross. The ‘Crossing’ has transfer tracks, where north/south or east/west traffic can be turned around or rerouted in other directions. This makes the area perfect for produce and product transfer. Empty boxcars from the north arrive, are loaded with fresh produce and then turned around and routed back to their original destination. Also, loaded boxcars with fresh produce arrive from the south/west and are then rerouted to eastern or northern destinations.
During the harvest season, the Crossing is where local farmers bring their crops to be graded, packed and shipped on railroad cars to various processing plants in other parts of the country. While some locally grown strawberries are routed this way, the majority of activity is centered on cabbage, corn, melons and tomatoes. Time is critical when dealing with perishable produce, so farmers with their trucks line up for miles waiting to unload produce at the various packing sheds. It must be rapidly graded, packed and shipped to its final destination. These sheds operate seven days a week and around the clock, with some employees working 80 to 100 hours per week. Farmers need to be unloaded quickly and then get back to their farms to gather more products. The produce buyers must make sure their purchased fruits and vegetables are rapidly processed and on their way to market as soon as possible.
With the exception of a few winter months, the ‘Crossing’ is a very busy community and a valuable source of economic income for the surrounding areas.
The ‘Crossing’ is also an area known as being ‘on the other side of the tracks’. Its residents are mostly colored, as well as the churches, schools, and yet white merchants owned the majority of the businesses. However, the economy of the ‘Crossing’ is good, and several Humboldt merchants operate successful satellite or second storefronts in the ‘Crossing’ community. Even though segregated and separate, the ‘Crossing’ plays an important part in the West Tennessee economy.
ammy Blurton’s job at ‘Skeeter’s’ in Jackson was really just an excuse to get out of the house and away from her husband, Sonny. The former, Tammy Whitmore and Sonny Blurton married while they were both seniors at Humboldt High School. It was a marriage built upon never ending love – a love that ended soon after their graduation. Dreams of happy times faded to dreams of reality, as the work, bills and responsibilities took the place of parties and football games. Most of their classmates went off to college; Tammy and Sonny went to work.
Sonny went to work for Chester Hagler at H&R Plumbing and Electric. He was learning how to be a plumber. Tammy went to work at Alton Box and was doing well enough to advance through several positions with hopes of becoming a supervisor – then she got pregnant.
Tammy continued to work through her 30th week of pregnancy; then she spent the next 6 weeks in bed. It was an extremely difficult delivery, and the baby, a boy, lived for only two days. According to the doctor, the baby was born with a serious heart defect, which could not have been prevented. He assured Tammy that her work, activities and personal care had nothing to do with the death of the baby – she didn’t believe him. In fact, neither did Sonny.
They named the child, Sonny Jr. and buried him in Rose Hill next to Sonny’s mother. It was a short, sad funeral service held on a rainy day in Humboldt. Other than the funeral home personnel and the First Methodist Church preacher, only Tammy’s parents and Sonny’s father attended the graveside services.
That was the end for Tammy and Sonny. They never forgave themselves and they never forgave each other.
Tammy’s job at Alton Box was gone and now she needed something to keep herself busy and away from Sonny. Her brother, Richie, told her that ‘Skeeter’s’ in Jackson was looking for some inside and outside waitresses, and Tammy couldn’t get there fast enough to complete an application. ‘Skeeter’s’ is a restaurant similar to Chiefs, except they don’t offer rooms or cabins for rent. They do offer inside dining, a bar and outside curb service – just like Chiefs. What they offered Tammy was a way to get away from Sonny, Humboldt and the bad memories. What it also offered was an opportunity to meet other people, lots of people. For Tammy, it was also a chance to meet other men, and she did a lot of that.