JULY 22, 1987

 

 

 

People Congregated at Uncle John's Store

 

By ELEANOR S. MARTIN

 

The store was located not too far away from the main stream, but far enough away to know most of his customers that he tried so hard to please. The owner of this store is none other but the little boy who went to his sister's wedding reception and wouldn't eat until they brought him a pitcher of sorghum molasses.

When you enter this little town of three counties your attention, of course, would be drawn to the natural bridge, where a stream of water flows. Surprise, surprise you have already guessed it - Big Spring, Ky.

The store looked like many I have seen - a long building with a front porch that extended almost to the road on Main St. and Baptist Church Road.

Saturday was a day for a little rest from farm labor and people would congregate on the porch to tell tall tales, much I know was exaggerated, some would take up a checker game from the week before using bottle caps for men, others would pitch horseshoes.

It was said if you couldn't find what you were looking for in Uncle John's store you could probably live without it.

Just today I find myself trying to thread a needle at the point. Shouldn't that tell me something? I think I would have found a needle threader there, bridles and saddles, too. You made the trip, and you really wanted to know what this store had to sell. Of course you did. Let's go inside only there will you understand why itís so interesting to browse through and find some unexpected things. Today we call them treasures.

As you entered the store there was a counter with shelves on the wall with rows and rows of big glass jars filled with penny and stick candy. Always a jar of jelly beans on the counter with a little scoop selling for a nickel.

School children would come by the store, their noses pressed against the windows. Anything new? There was peppermint, lemon, and chocolate candy. Oh boy! I can see licorice.

Other shelves were piled high with blankets, overalls, hats, and shoes. Weather Bird Shoes. A picture of a big bird walking around in the rain with his shoes on. Iím not doing a commercial.

On the floor there was a barrel of bacon. You could buy five pounds, one pound or two strips to season beans.

A big block of cheese, to slice as needed, with a cracker barrel near by. A cuckoo clock on a shelf from the Black Forest of Germany. How often was he asked, does it work?

The spring was flowing at the back of the store and a wire with a bucket attached which was used to draw water up from a deep pool to have a cool drink.

A balcony like porch was built on the back of the store where they kept live chickens. How happy they should have been, not to be housed in a coop, but maybe they were, as dawn was just breaking you could hear the rooster crowing. He got into the chicken and egg business to accommodate customers who were short of money to supply their needs.

In the grocery department, there were rows and rows of one pound Arbucle Coffee, the only brand we knew. Right then I think the coupon clipping started. Each pound had a coupon outside of the package. You clipped and saved for prizes. It seemed to take a handful but it kept you buying coffee. Sometimes you would be short one or two coupons. You would borrow from a neighbor, paying her back next time.

At Christmas time, my father would give me a quarter to buy my mother a present. I would go to the store and carefully select a glass bowl. She loved it. I never had so much fun spending a quarter.

Wouldnít it be great if we could find another store today like the one I have written about? Maybe we could if we traveled in Amish country.

Itís not so much the houses in which we lived, the cars we drove, the woods, the fields, the flowers, the dogs or the cats to be remembered but the dear people who lived there.

 

 

 

 Mary Eleanor crocheting by her fireplace.

 Jean Wallace with Mary Eleanor