Through That Door

My Saturday travels took me through the tiny town of my childhood.

As I passed by the building that was once my grandmother’s home and country store, I was saddened to see that the front door was open; the chain that held it closed no longer there. The house has been vacant since my grandmother’s death in 1969, and has just been allowed to deteriorate.

grandmas store 6-13-2015 2-21-28 PM

Grandma lived in the back area of the building, but so many of my childhood memories took place through that front door into the store:

Just inside the front door, hanging on a nail, was an old dark brown hat, crocheted  by my grandma. At one time, she sold (and pumped) gas at the store, and in cold weather, she’d plop that hat on her head as she started out the door. Had I been older than sixteen when she died, perhaps I would have asked if I could have that hat.

On the right side, a long counter ran the length of the room.  The cash register was at one end, and the candy counter at the other. I remember holding my (7-years-younger-than-me) nephew up so that he could see inside the case. He could never make up his mind what candy bar he wanted, but seemed to always choose a Hershey Bar. Had I been older, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so impatient.

Behind that counter, shelves held canned goods and other staples.

Along the back of the room, there was another counter where Grandma sold hoop/June cheese and bologna by the pound, wrapped them in butcher paper and tied them with twine. Had I been older than eleven when she closed the store, perhaps I would have asked if I could have those paper and twine holders.

From left: my sister, Rose, my Aunt Doris, her husband, Uncle Bennie, holding my cousin, Lona.   Sadly, all now deceased. To the far left, you can see the butcher paper holder circa 1954

From left: my sister, Rose, my Aunt Doris, her husband, Uncle Bennie, holding my cousin, Lona.
Sadly, all now deceased.
To the far left, you can see the paper holder
circa 1954

On the left side of the room, there was a wooden table and two high-back benches (settles), made by my Dad before I was born. Ten of Grandma’s twelve children lived nearby, so there was rarely a time that she didn’t have someone visiting.  Oh, the stories and love that was shared around that table. Had I been older than sixteen when Grandma died, perhaps I would have asked if I could have the table and benches. But, more importantly, jotted down notes about the stories they told.

In the center of the room was a stove, most likely an oil burner.  One of Grandma’s regular customers was a man who drove a truck that hauled pulp wood. He had, at the most, two teeth and could drink an entire bottle of Coke without taking it down from his mouth. As a little girl, for some odd reason (probably his Coke-drinking ability), he was my hero.  Mom informed me that I didn’t need to try to drink an entire bottle of Coke at one time.

My cousin, Lona, (the infant in the above photo) and I decided one day that we would clean up Grandma’s store. Grandma and our parents were in the back in her living area, and we didn’t mention our plan to them. Let’s just say that Grandma was less than pleased with our efforts.  It seems that our idea of cleaning up was just to rearrange everything in the store.  I recall Grandma scolding us that she couldn’t find anything.  Had we been older, we would have known to ask permission first.

Sad that, at the time, I didn’t realize all the memories being made through that door.

~These Days Of Mine~

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20 responses to “Through That Door

  1. That is simply a wonderful post – how dear –

  2. Oh. How good to have memories. Also, typical of writers and dreamers wishes for more time. I relate to wishing forore history and personal stories of my Mom’s mother. She worked at New York City Waldorf-Astoria and mom remembers hearing some
    of the famous people she served meals to. I loved this post!

  3. That’s the great thing about memories – they’re ALWAYS “close by” so we can revisit them any time. I wish I had a penny for each time in my life I’ve said “I wish I could have……” ! Sweet post.

    Pam

  4. Like Pam said, memories are right there for us to grab onto. From your writing I could “see” the inside of your Grandmother’s store — Ooh I wish I could peek into the penny candy jar, too!!

    We had a teeny store like that in my town called a “Confectionery” (where they sold confections/candy) – and it had a long counter as you described and lots and lots of little boxes of treats at our child’s view — with a quarter (two bits) you could get a whole bag of stuff – licorice pipes, red hots, tiny chocolate bars, bubble gum, etc.

    It’s sad to see the building is slipping away but your descriptions brought it right back to life for all of us.

    -MJ

  5. Dianna, I remember many of those memories from going to the two country stores near us – Tommy Delk’s and Sam White’s – the cheese and bologna with butcher paper and twine:) The candy bars, and they had cookies in containers. What special memories for you that the store was your grandmothers! My dad’s father had a country store even closer to us that we would have gone to instead; but he died in the 40’s and it was already closed. Even though the building was still there next to my uncle’s house; always wished I had been able to have gone into it and more importantly to have met him!

  6. Bittersweet memories!! So many of our beloved relatives have passed on to their heavenly home. So very many things I wish I’d asked them. But I hold dear the memory of the tales they told of growing up and living in the “Castle House”….ghost stories, that Castle “light”, stealing cousin, Walker Pegram’s watermelons, and all the mischief 12 children could get into! How I’d love to hear those stores again and I think of so many questions I would ask. Thanks for bringing those memories to life. I think that’s me in those black suede shoes. Sadly, the only one in that picture still alive!!

  7. Such a touching story. We have the paper holder and coffee grinder from Bill’s granddaddy’s country store in our kitchen. Such a treasure.

  8. You still have all those things – the hat, the butcher paper, the table. They are right here – in this story forever.

  9. As children it’s hard to think about aging and what is important. My grandparents and Aunts and Uncles didn’t tell many stories about their childhood. I wish I would have asked! As and “older” person now, I want to be sure to tell my children and the grandchildren to come all the stories of my life so they can pass them down to their kids.

  10. Thanks for sharing such wonderful memories!
    I was just thinking the other day what I would have asked certain people if I had known they wouldn’t be a part of my life forever!

  11. What a wonderful remembrance today. All of those memories still live – in you – they helped make you the caring, sensitive lady that you are. Thanks for prompting us to remember our ‘stories’. So sweet to see the picture of Lona with her Mom and Dad too. I remember ‘helping’ Grandma clean out her purple/pink oxalis border. I pulled them all up on one side of the house before she checked on me to see how I was doing. Thankfully, oxalis is a hard plant to kill and the roots put back out quickly. Great Memory Lane Day!

  12. Interesting to think that those open doors prompted this post…
    All of these memories saw their chance and came rolling out through that opening… : )

  13. You have a wonderful writing voice. Your photos and memories are beautiful and bittersweet. 🙂

  14. Beautifully written, Dianna! I found myself right there alongside you as you walked memory lane! I, too, have cherished memories of my grandparent’s store in Dendron…many years ago!

  15. Shirley Matthews Dunn

    A beautiful written blog that put your memories on the page for all of us to visit to. Lovely.

  16. What lovely memories. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  17. Sweet memories. There was a little store on our street where I grew up, the family lived upstairs. Many of the things you mentioned reminded me of the candy counter–my favorite part of the store–and so many choices!

  18. Great post! We love the memories!

  19. Those memories of yours are so very sweet. I could just imagine being in your Grandma’s store right along with you.

  20. I loved this post! It reminded me of my youth and my many trips to the ‘corner-store’ to redeem pop bottles for penny candies. Thank you for sharing it. 🙂
    Where have all the little stores gone? There are still a few here in N. Alabama, but sadly, they are disappearing fast.

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