Edgar B. Wham

Submitted by Charles Hoyt, December, 2002


Edgar B. Wham was the storekeeper in Cartter, Illinois. His store was a one room building with high ceilings. Inside, you could get just about anything a family could need. As you would walk from the front , about halfway down on the left was a room, about 10' X 10' made of chicken wire and  2X4 studs. This was the Post Office. Edgar B. was the Postmaster. On the wall towards the aisle , backed up to the chicken wire, were cubbyholes, one for each occupant of the area. You could look in the back through the wire and see if you had any mail. If you had mail, you'd ask Edgar and he'd get it for you. I believe this worked better than our  system today.


The Mail Train came by once a day. Edgar or Eddie Holt, who worked for him, would take the canvas mailbag up to the railroad station in a kids wagon. There were concrete sidewalks on the North side of the road, past Edgar B's house. Just South of the station was a post with two arms extending out from it. We would hang the outgoing mailbag from these two arms. There was an arm reaching out from the mail car which would snatch the mailbag without even slowing down. At the same time, the mail car door was open and someone would kick the incoming mailbag out the door. Needless to say, we'd sometimes have to hunt for our incoming mail. We'd take the mail back down to the store where Edgar B would sort it and put it in the cubbyholes.


He had shoes, clothing, food, feed. just about anything you would need. Across the front of the store was a wide concrete porch with steps on each end. Just outside of this porch were two gas pumps. Perhaps one of these was for kerosene, because I know we could get kerosene for our old John Deere tractor there and a lot of people used it for lighting and cooking. Along both sides and part of the back were hitching rails. At the back of the store building was a sort of a small barn, I don't remember what he used it for. To the West of his store, just past the driveway, was a large barn. Between the barn and the driveway was a grassy area about the size of a small house. This area had posts about 8-10 feet high set in the ground around the perimeter. Inside were posts set into the ground with about 16 inches sticking up with planks nailed flat on top. At the front were two poles about 8 feet apart and rising about 10-12 feet out of the ground. This was the Cartter movie theatre. About once a month in the summer someone would come around with a projector and a couple of speakers, I don't think they had anything to do with Edgar B., but I presume it was his property. These people would fasten what looked like bed sheets on the poles around the perimeter and one sheet between the two tall poles at the end, this was the screen. We paid 12 cents to see the nightly offering. These were very up-to-the-minute shows we saw, too. I remember seeing Lon Chaney in The Wolfman and a lot of the shows had Fuzzy and his singing cowboy sidekicks.


Edgar B. was a very distinguished looking gentleman. He had snow white hair, wavy, and always combed and I remember he had a rather round face. He was always dressed very neat and proper so he looked more like a banker than a storekeeper. He must have had a sense of humor, putting up with my two brothers and I, but you couldn't tell by looking at him. He had a man who worked for him in and around the store named Eddie Holt. We called him Egghead. He probably was 20-30 years old, but he was old by us boys way of thinking. He must of had some kind of a problem, as every one else of that age was off in WWII, but he harassed us boys unmercifully and we reciprocated.


Times were hard then and we boys wore a lot of hand-me-downs. My brother Bob, who was about 8-9 years old, had a silly looking pair of pants that were a light colored plaid and they had a very wide waistband. Eddie called him ' Roberty Bob-Bob With The Big Belly Band'. They had a very large free-standing floor fan in tne store which you didn't dare touch, because it would shock the heck out of you. Eddie would take Bob by the ear and lead him over to the fan. Then Eddie would grab hold of the fan, all the while holding onto Bob's ear and watch him dance. Great fun. Around the end of WWII Edgar B. sold the store and I often wondered what had happened to him.


Around 1977, I had gone down to show my wife and three kids my Grandmothers house. It was August and  awful hot, and we didn't have Air in our 1975 Mercury Monarch. There was a sort of block there, with Edgar B.'s house facing the street and directly behind that was Lulu Nattier's house. Just north of that was Grandma  Maude Wham Moores house. It had been built by her dad, Steuben DeKalb Wham. I was looking at Lulu's house and sitting in the driveway was this 1951 blue Plymouth. I told my wife, Bev, that this was Lulu's old car, but she couldn't still be alive. Just then I saw the curtain being pulled aside. Someone was looking at us. Curiosity got the better of me and I went over to see if it could possibly be her. I knocked on the door and it opened and there stood Lulu. She had been scrubbing the kitchen floor and it just shined. She had to be around 95 years old and hadn't seen me in 30 years, since I was a kid, but she knew me. She wanted to know if I had ever been out to Wham Hill and I said no, so she insisted she take us out  there. I remember we were scared to death that this 95 year old woman would die of heat stroke, but I think she took the heat better than we did. It was very enlightening as I had heard of the place but never had seen it.


Bev and I have gone back in recent years and found her grave there. I knew that Lulu was related, but I didn't know how. Thanks to www.wham.org, I now know she was the daughter of my Grandpa Steuben DeKalb's sister. Anyhow, at this time, in the late 1970's I       believe that the store was gone, otherwise I would've taken my family in.  Edgar B.  looked like his brother Fred's picture, only he had a rounder face and he had a full head of snow white hair.