By JULIA M. FALLON
The story goes that Miss Julia Lilly Montgomery came to teach in Winston-Salem for an incredibly special reason. Her faculty advisor at the North Carolina College for Women in Greensboro told her that Winston-Salem paid its teachers a higher salary than any other place in North Carolina! She got a job and a room in a house where women rented rooms and boarded for meals. One day a handsome gentleman came in to eat and spotted her in a line of lovely young women waiting to go in the dining room.
He said to himself, “That’s my girl!” But she didn’t know that until later! Back in the hall that evening, she got a call on the hall telephone, and one of the young women called out, “Julia Lilly, it’s some doctor calling for you.”
Dr. Claudius Augustus Street was the Forsyth County Physician, and he invited Miss Montgomery to ride in his Model T Ford around the county, seeing patients and courting at the same time. At the end of one week, they were engaged to be married. He was hoping for a summer wedding, but Miss Montgomery had promised the Children’s Home Society in Greensboro that she would work for them as a sort of social worker all summer, checking out homes and making sure the environments were safe and happy for the children. She was a woman of her word, and happily completed the work she had promised to do.
After the summer, a simple wedding in First Baptist Church in Raleigh happened in the fall of 1924. Dr. Street was a Harvard Medical School graduate. He had grown up in the Linville Falls area of North Carolina, so he took Mrs. Street up to meet his family after the wedding. She was quite surprised at the deeply rustic nature of the roads and the mountains of Avery County, being a Raleigh girl. She grew to adore and later write about the mountain folks in her children’s books: Fiddlers Fancy and Moccasin Tracks.
The newlyweds purchased a home in Ardmore, and Carol Montgomery Street was born on January 1, 1926. The newspaper stated, “First Baby of the Year Daughter of the County Physician.” Dr. Street became sure that he wanted to learn about the fascinating new study of pediatric medicine, which was just emerging, so he took Julia Lilly, baby Carol, and they moved to St. Louis Missouri for him to get a residency and learn pediatric medicine at Children’s Hospital of Washington University Medical School. His Harvard Medical School training had served him well. And all from a country boy from Linville Falls! Dr. Street never lost his love of “old-timee” music and treasured watching the Grand Ole Opry on television.
They returned from St. Louis, and Dr. Street started his practice in the Spring Street area, where he practiced pediatric medicine until his death in 1968. He was known as a very caring doctor and drove countless miles in his Comet visiting patients. Being his granddaughter, I can remember him opening his glove compartment and getting a sugar cube out, which he kept for his blood-sugar emergencies. He always shared with his grandchildren. It was a special treat!
Another special thing about my Grandaddy was his bowties. Once I asked my mama why he didn’t wear a necktie like daddy. She said, ask him! “He said in his kind voice: “The babies grab a necktie, it’s harder for them to reach a bowtie!” Makes good sense!
The family had selected Centenary United Methodist Church as their choice, and Mrs. Street continued there until she passed. They were very proud of this fine growing church and the great minister, Dr. Mark Depp, who christened their grandchildren.
Their pets were generally Siamese cats. In the 1980s Mrs. Street adopted a white kitty named Sister, who was great company to her in later years.
Dr. Street was always on the phone, talking to anxious parents, and never retired, practicing pediatric medicine until the time of his passing. He spent much time driving around to homes and, having grown up poor himself, always helped people, regardless of their ability to pay. He was also an excellent diagnostician, and was known as a holistic doctor before it became fashionable. He always treated the whole patient and cared about promoting the health of the children of Forsyth County and surrounding areas.
Julia Lilly and Claude added a son Gus in 1928, and they moved into a new home at 545 Oaklawn Avenue. Carol and Gus enjoyed all the pleasures of living in Winston-Salem, with great friends: The Shores, the Stocktons, the Prongays, and others. Carol became friends with Jane Pollard who lived on Stratford Road, a block away. Jane and Carol remained friends their entire lives. Both attended Women’s College in Greensboro and later moved to Raleigh, and settled and had families of their own. Carol Street’s wedding to Archie McMillan of Raleigh was due to be a large affair at the family’s beloved Centenary Methodist, with a wedding reception at Forsyth Country Club. The event was drastically changed due to one of the biggest snowstorms in Winston Salem history on January 22, 1954. The wedding was held at the church, but the reception was held on Oaklawn Avenue, with neighbors supplying the food and cake!
Gus and Mary Jane Street moved to a farm in Davey County, where they raised dairy cattle and later created an airport called Strawberry Hill. Carol and Archie had five children, and Gus and Mary Jane had four children. Carol supported Archie in his legal and legislative careers.
Mrs. Street made fast friends and became a member of a women’s birthday club that included her friend, Ruth Prongay. The club continued from 1930 until about 1990!
She also became a writer of radio shows, children’s books, and poetry. In her later years, she published a book review column in a local weekly newspaper called The Suburbanite. She taught writing at the Winston-Salem YWCA-sponsored writing classes, which produced many published authors.
Grandchildren visited the home on Oaklawn Avenue, and after Dr. Street passed away in 1968, Mrs. Street continued to live in the house she loved until 1991. Grandchildren brought their children to visit their beloved “WuWu.”
In later years she thoroughly enjoyed her Oaklawn Avenue neighbors such as Drs. Carolyn and Ben Huntley and Iris and Harry Reed. She also loved the Winston- Salem and Forsyth County community, as well as the local and state writer’s communities. A book signing was held in her honor in Old Salem of a revised edition of her Moravian children’s book, Candle Love Feast. She was 93 at the time! She moved to Davey County then to live with her son and daughter-in-law. Julia Lilly lived to the fine old age of 95 and received the North Carolina Society of Historians: Historian of the Year (West) award posthumously.
So, Dr. And Mrs. Street lived a quiet and quite wonderful Winston-Salem life! Helping others and raising a family was what they were all about. 545 Oaklawn Avenue was a very special place indeed.