Mom (Ma) Upchurch's Boarding House
I talked mom into letting other musicians live there, because I knew if anybody could cheer her up it would be a bunch of dang hillibilly pickers. I told her it would be an income she needed. When she agreed, everybody started moving in there.
Her cooking, and especially her rates, attracted all the pickers. We only paid $7 a week for board and she charged 85 cents for dinner and 75 cents for breakfast. There were three bedrooms downstairs and two upstairs. There was one shared bath and, wonder of all wonders, there wasn't much arguing over its use. Think of a dozen hillbillies all getting ready to play the Opry at the same time on a Saturday night! We had the run of the house, using the living room as our own. She had one phone, only one line and no call-waiting. Mail was neatly stacked in the downstairs hall.
The hopefuls were coming into town with no money, no jobs, and no friends, each of them with the same dream of getting on the Opry. They needed a home and somebody to look after them until they got started. Mom was just the person to do that for them.
One thing that mom didn't allow in her house was any form of alcohol. She was an avid church-goer and a Democrat. You could find her every Sunday at Eastview Church of Christ on Shelby Street. Howard White (Morgan called him Sylvester), steel player, was one of Mom's longest residents at 10 years. Once he made a tour in Canada and came home with a recipe for Peach Brandy. He managed to make it in Mom's basement without her knowledge. It had to ferment for 30 days and before the time was up, Mom found it. She made him pour it out. 'Honey,' she said, those Revenuers might come in and close this place down.'
Then another time, someone gave Howard a gallon of moonshine. He brought it home to Mom's and hit it in the closet. As he was leaving to go on tour with Cowboy Copas, he let Ray Edenton, a guitar player also living at Mom's, have a taste. While Howard was gone, Edenton took that 'shine over to some girl's house across the street and had a party. Ten days later, when Howard came back, he looked for his moonshine and found the jug almost empty. Edenton said, 'There was a lot of hell raised.' But as Howard said, 'not enough to attract Mom's attention.'