Peggy Drewry Smith told her story with a sense of wonder.
“I think this is interesting,” she said.
She placed an old, worn, black eyeglass case on the cool marble counter. The edges of the case were rubbed almost to the underlying metal in some places and threadbare in others.
She proceeded to give the details with the flourish and buildup of a natural storyteller.
Smith may be familiar to her fellow Corinthians as the wife of the late Harold Smith. He owned the cafe “Hamburger Harolds,” which was a Fillmore Street fixture for many years until his health declined. He died in 2011.
In the summer of 1989, she and her husband had a friend named Hack Hamilton, who lived near Crow’s Neck. (She mentioned she and Harold liked to camp at Crow’s Neck for many years.) The three of them would go out early on weekends in search of carport sales.
It was on one Saturday morning where she found herself digging through carport sale items and found the eyeglass case at the bottom of the pile.
“I held it up to the lady having the sale and I asked, ‘How do much you want for this?’ and the lady said, ‘fifty cents.’ I said, ‘I’ll take it,’” recalled Smith.
Smith said she later tossed the case into a drawer and it lay there forgotten until 2017, when she decided to some cleaning.
She rediscovered the case in the process of clearing out the drawer and opened it.
Inside was a pair of round, black-rimmed glasses. She put them on and blinked owlishly behind the lenses. “Can you believe I can actually read with these?” she asked.
The glasses, by modern standards, would remind one of a certain wizard named Harry Potter.
The glasses shared the case with a small appointment card. It was tucked beneath the eyewear. The card was colored with age and dotted, possibly from the worn metal inside the case.
The patient’s name on the card was Mrs. W., (there was a second letter which looked almost like another “W”), Hooten, of Tishomingo. Mrs. Hooten’s next appointment was scheduled for Sept. 2, 1939.
Her appointment appeared to be with a Dr. Klein’s Optical Department at Bry’s in Memphis, Tenn. There is a phone number, but with an old exchange.
Smith, like anyone who loves a good story, wanted to know more about this person whose appointment for a simple eye exam was frozen in time 78 years ago. Her curiosity has been stirred. She hopes someone may find her and tell her about this woman with whom she is connected by a simple eyeglass case.
She could not locate any more information on Mrs. Hooten or Bry’s. She said she searched for a Bry’s in Memphis, but only found a clothing store that went out of business in 1929.
It is a mystery she wants to solve.
Until then, it is just an appointment lost in time.