by Chuck Neese
In 1912, just after the NC&StL Railway built a train station in Pegram, area residents could catch the Waverly Accommodation commuter train and ride the 20 miles to Nashville for a nickel. Upon arriving at the Station, commuters were greeted by a large black and white sign that spelled out P-E-G-R-A-M. For years the old signboard hung high up on the Thompson Rd. side of the station, unnoticed by passersby until it was recently spotted by Pegram Community Club members repairing hail damage to the west end of the 103 year old depot. Club members carefully removed the old signboard, which had been covered with layers and layers of cracking exterior paint. The PCC volunteers scraped and sanded the old signboard, revealing the original white background framed with black routed edges. The word PEGRAM had long ago worn off but club members found old photos, which displayed the original style of the letters.
Retired Kingston Springs Elementary teacher Bill Garrison was called in to re-letter the old signboard. Anyone who attended Kingston Spgs Elementary between 1983 and 1994 will remember “Mr. Bill” but few know that Garrison was a Coca Cola sign painter while a student at Carson-Newman College. A native of East St Louis Ill, “Mr. Bill” was in the service during the Korean Conflict and, upon discharge, attended college on the G.I. Bill. The scholarship only paid the cost of college so Garrison learned the secrets of sign painting to earn money for food and clothing.
After graduating Magna Cum Laude, “Mr. Bill” began teaching in the Kingsport, TN school system then moved to Nashville where he taught & consulted at the state run Cumberland House School before transferring to the Ashland City Schools and finally to Kingston Springs Elementary.
Garrison and wife Pat met in Hawaii; she was working as a nurse and he was on active duty with the Navy. The couple just celebrated their 59th anniversary and during those years reared 4 children who’ve given them 17 grandkids. Bill & Pat make annual trips back to Hawaii to visit a daughter and four of their grandchildren.
“Mr. Bill” has completed the re-lettering of the old signboard and the Pegram Community Club plans to give Pegram Station its name back during the club’s 58th Annual 4th of July Barbecue.