John Parris

Blind Pig and the Acorn: Have You Ever Been To Suit?


A Place Named Suit written by John Parris

You can't buy a suit in Suit. Nobody sells them and nobody makes them. "Maybe in the old days," said O.C. Payne. "But not any more. If a man wants a suit he has to go up to Murphy."

The 71-year-old former postmaster of Suit shook his head. "And you can save yourself a trip across the ridge," he added. "You won't find any vests in Vests." He paused. A grin spread across his weathered, whiskered face. A twinkle came into his eyes and he chuckled. 

"I remember once," he said, "they sent a new postal inspector into these parts. He rode in here from Vests and the first thing he asked me was: "Where's Pants? I've found Suit and Vests." He laughed fit to be tied. 

"And the drummers that came around were always making jokes about Suit and Vests. Nothing to take offense about. Just good natured joking.

We used to have a lot of post offices with unusual names in this section of Cherokee County. Ones like Guy and Bear Paw and Ogreeta and Letitia and Hothouse. But for names to set a man's curiosity on edge you can't beat Suit and Vests.

It beats all how many folks come in here wanting to know why Suit is Suit and Vests is Vests. They expect some colorful or outlandish tale of how they got their names. I reckon that's why you're here. Well, I'll tell you. But don't expect anything to do with a suit or a vest.

Suit was named after Johnston Suits. He got the post office established here. He was the first postmaster of Suit. That was in 1886. 

A family by name of Vests got a post office established across the ridge from here and the government gave it their name.

That's all there is to it. Sort of disappointing, isn't it? I reckon if the folks around here were given to making up tales, Suit and Vests would really be on the map. They are, of course, but I mean like they were famous for something unusual. 

Funny thing, since the Suit post office was established it's had 21 postmasters. I took it over in 1928. Served until I retired in 1955. That's 27 years.

Before that I was postmaster over at Birch. That's on Beech Creek where I was born. Started out over there in 1915. All together I put in 39 years in the postal service. 

At Birch and here I had a store and had the post office in the store. In those days the postmaster wasn't paid a salary. He was paid only on the number of cancellations.

Between the store and the post office I managed to make out. Raised a family of eight children. And now me and the wife are retired. Got out of the store business last November."

He paused a moment and looked down across the road to the little store where the usual loafers were sitting on the porch talking. 

"Henry Truett runs the store and the post office," he said. "He's a might fine boy. I still spend a lot of time down there. That is when I'm not seeing to my fox hounds. I go fox hunting about twice a week. Winter and summer. It's got to come and awful snow to keep me home. Been fox hunting since I was 10 years old. It's the greatest sport in the world. And I've got five of the finest fox hounds you ever listened to. They're Walkers. The music they make is really something."

As he talked the sun spun golden mists over the land. 

"You know, I've never been in but five states. Never have traveled far from home. I don't regret it either. I'm happy in these old hills."

He paused, looked over at his wife and smiled. "Suit," he said, "suits me just fine."


Granny hails from down in the Suit area of Cherokee County. I can remember folks calling the area Suit was I was young, and maybe some folks still do, but I don't hear it anymore myself. 

I know the moniker of Suit was still in common use in 1977 because it was listed on an old phone book I found. You can see it here

Henry Truett mentioned in the article as being a mighty fine boy was Granny's uncle. Funny to read of him being a boy when for my entire life he was an old man. Although I didn't get to see him often I always loved him. I never seen Uncle Henry that he didn't have a smile on his face and a song on his lips.