I found something new to Crow about. A sight that many of us grew up looking at, visiting and maybe, just maybe, never imagined a day having to live without. A welcomed sight tucked neatly away in nearly every nook and cranny of countless unknown, tiny towns. A Ma and Pa store where every local came to need, love and know. Where every Passer-by made a much needed pit stop for directions or a cold one. If nothing else, more than likely, both Local and Visitor, dropped in just to, as we say in the South, shoot the sh*t.
Now, I know we hear the term Mom and Pop on the news all the time usually when Politicians are battling it out. But they never quite look like the one up above, do they? No, the
Mom and Pop, Ma and Pa, stores that I’m talking about are , now a days, places that are now few and far between.
“Progress”. “Big Business”. These are the guilty culprits that have run most of our little Ma & Pas’ under. Without straining much, they have pushed the little, locally owned gemstones out of their big, corporate way. Most Ma and Pas’ are now empty shells, sitting along the wayside, rotting with an endless amount of history no one no longer seems to appreciate. Or perhaps they just simply don’t have the means or ability to preserve these historical treasure troves or grasp what all lies within.
Big city folks may look at these buildings and cringe with fear. Its not as visually alluring as a 7-11 or as tempting as a Sheetz.
I often wonder if that’s really the case, though, since now days “rustic” is the new “black” and when a new business goes up in these parts, it often does it’s damnedest to mimic what was forced into an early extinction. Problem is, the items filling the insides of those new “businesses” have no real history to them. They weren’t handmade unless you count the person living in the third world country suffering a sweat shop. The items have no depth. They have no truth. They simply mimic what the world slammed a lid on.
My children have seen a few of these local meeting places, here and there. They haven’t seen them in the numbers that I have, though. One actually still lives in the town where my husband grew up, which is humorously called, “The Deerfield Mall”. My kids love going in there grabbing a snack or ice cream and while its sadly up for sale and I would love to save it from extinction, this article isn’t about what we well know ourselves. Its about the one in the picture above – a place that has had it’s doors open for nearly 200 years.
I caught wind of it by way of, Toby Carpenter, who posted the picture in a group on Facebook called, Appalachian Americans. Toby had plenty of reason to be proud.
TWO. HUNDRED. YEARS.
Can you imagine? Can you imagine the footprints washed off those floors? The local gossip, hardships, opinions and world-views spoken within that those walls have absorbed?
Toby proudly said that inside his Pa’s old store, the Wanted Poster of Jesse James still hangs on a wall. Not an imitation or computer print off, folks. One of the actual Wanted Posters circulating during the time of Outlaw Jesse James.
TWO. HUNDRED. YEARS.
THINK ABOUT THAT.
Imagine this store is a living person. Imagine that the windows are it’s eyes witnessing the world and how that world is changing all around it. Imagine it’s walls collect what it hears and sees. Memory. Imagine what all it has heard and seen!
That means, the store opened, roughly, in the early to mid 1800’s. It was born. That means, it’s eyes saw the beginning of a community and all of it’s growth. If history doesn’t jolt you awake, then think about fashion. It saw a massive change in Women’s long skirts to short ones, pants to shorts. Remember when a woman’s clothing could weight up to over a 100 pounds? Hello, this store witnessed that. Remember when walking out of the house without a man’s hat and long pants on was considered improper? All the way to now, when men run around in shorts and tank tops.
Moonshiners is a hit show on TV now – this store actually saw Prohibition—how many original Moonshiners came in and out of there? How many men snuck into the back for a tiny swig of what his wife must never know? How far was the local Honkey Tonk?
It saw a woman’s fight for the right to Vote and shoot, even the timeframe for when they all began to metaphorically burn their bras. Did women living on that mountain care about voting? Did they mentally burn their own bras when the rest of the world did? How many ran to get the Pill when suddenly there was one? Or were they too caught up in their own communities and homes? Trying to live through the beginning and end of the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War I and II, the Korean War, and … and … and get my drift?
What you see above was probably people’s only connection to something other than their own troubles and hardships. Aside from Church, Toby Anderson’s family store was probably the most popular place on that mountain. It was the gateway to what was happening in the rest of the world even though at one time, more than likely, Current Events moved at a snail’s pace. Except for gossip, lol, we all know how fast that can travel.
These days, as I said before, places like this are beginning to disappear. In a town near me, Craigsville, I can ride through on the back streets and see the aging emptiness of what were once places of business just like the one above. Unlike Toby Anderson’s family store, the places I have laid eyes on didn’t quite make it. Weathering wood housing a history that will soon be lost and forgotten. How many abandoned homes do we see on our way to where ever? Sitting helplessly alone in an overgrown field like some forgotten toy abandoned by someone we will never even know. Sitting that way, until Progress plows it over. A new store, a new town or a subdivision mounted in it’s place. It makes me feel like I just lost my best friend or security blanket. Does it affect you? Do you know of any little stores or monuments where you live?
Send me a picture. Send me a bit of history. Let’s Crow about it.
Until then, if you happen to be driving down the road and pass a place like the above, make it a point to stop in. Support your local Business Owners. Don’t take it for granted because there may come a day it’s no longer there.