This writer remembers as a boy the discussions by the members of “The Forum,” around that famous wood stove at the Davis Drug Store in Gallatin: the merits of the Revolutionary generals were discussed, as were those of Lee, Grant, Jackson and others of the Civil War, but it was agreed by all those generally present that Napoleon was the greatest general.
To immediately get into trouble in the Forum was for some new recruit not familiar with the likes and dislikes of the different members to make some slighting remark about the generalship of Napoleon in the hearing of A.C. Ball (father of Postmaster Ball), who was one of the charter members of the Forum — when Mr. Ball got done telling the new recruit about the virtues of Napoleon, he became converted at once to Mr. Ball’s way of thinking.
But where is that famous wood stove now? Gone to the discard, and the owner of the drug store and the wood stove, D. Harfield Davis, is now in the shadows, and all the members of the original Forum, with two or three exceptions, are now in another world. The drug store is now lighted with electricity and the space that was once heated with the wood stove is now heated with a steam radiator, and there is a sign that says something about splitting on the floor, on account of it being unsanitary.
D. Harfield Davis was by common consent the president of the Forum. If the argument lagged, he knew the peculiarities of each member, and by a remark here and there touching each member at the proper place would start the argument and then he would retire and enjoy the commotion he had raised. Sometimes, if a country member came in and complained of being cold, he was taken in charge by the president and soon the voice of the cold member was louder than any of the rest.
Gallatin certainly has some unique characters. Nothing was too sacred or above being discussed by the Forum — politics, war, religion including the different modes of baptism, and even that latest fad, eugenics, was handled without gloves by the different members. David R. Mitchell, Gallatin’s odd colored character, while not a member, was a silent and interested spectator many times.
In the earlier days of the Forum, the country, in the language of the late Dr. James T. Allen, who was one of the charter members of the Forum, had not been commercialized, as he once told the writer a short time before his death.
Writer anonymous; reprinted from the Gallatin Democrat (date not confirmed)