Country stores are a reminder of bygone eraPublished 7:16am Tuesday, March 5, 2013
By JEAN OUZTS rare
Somewhere I have heard an old saying — “Today is yesterday’s memories and tomorrow will never come.” Looking back through many yesterdays, I find some fond memories, some of the old country stores.
Because Climax is located where it is, there weren’t many country stores nearby, with the exception of Jones’ Country Store on U.S. Highway 84. However, if you traveled down State Route 262, toward the Florida line, you could find many country stores in the area known as the “Bell Dixon Community.”
The Bell Dixon community was, and still is, a unique little place, holding many memories for me as this is where I began my school years and watched my older siblings and parents attend many functions. Many school events held our attention, as this was the hub of the community.
Walking from Bell Dixon School on Fewell Road, towards State Route 262, is the beginning of our county stores. As a child, we made many class trips down this little road, and sometimes ended up at our first country store. The store belonging to Collins/Harrison/Fewell was the first store on 262 and began as Mr. Bartow Collins’ store.
This little wood frame store wasn’t very big and Mr. Collins ran it until his death. After his first wife death Mr. Collins married Mrs. Anna Phillips Collins (Billy Phillips’ mother), and she ran the store for a while until she became disabled. Then, Mr. Avin Harrison (Larry Harrison’s father) ran it for many years. When Mr. Avin decided to operate a store in downtown Whigham, the little brown wood country store was operated by Mr. Roy Fewell until it closed in the early 1960s. This little store is where I sampled my first cold drink, and my first bubble gum. All that remains now is a vacant lot.
Further down 262, just past Betty’s Beauty Shop, is our next country store, Mr. Sam Weaver’s store. The remains of Mr. Sam’s store and house can be seen in the woods, slowly fading away. These little stores come closer together in this area. Mr. Sam ran this store with his sister, Miss Beatrice, until his death.
Just down the road is another store, the one belonging to Moore/Harrison. According to some, Mr. Leland Moore built the first little store, with his wife Faydell Byrd Moore running it for many years. According to some, other operators were Faydell’s daughter Reba Harrison, and then another operator Jerome Wilder, and then Faydell’s grandchildren. The most recent owner was Danny Harrison, who is Reba’s son and Faydell’s grandson. However, this store has also closed, due to several break-ins and robberies.
Just off Highway 262, on the Lake Douglas Extension, was another store — Mr. Oscar Cutchins’ store. This is also vacant now. Just a short distance from Highway 262 south is another store that was owned by Mrs. Ila Moore. Mrs. Moore’s store still stands now as a storage building. Mrs. Ila, as she was known, operated the store until her health became unstable. Then, her grandson Floyd Rabon ran the store, and Dale Weaver (Avin Harrison’s granddaughter) was the last operator.
Around the curve and further down 262 is Mr. John Bryant’s store. It is a block store, having been built in the last years of the old stores. It is also now used for storage.
A short distance from Bryant’s store is a larger store that was known as Gene Cutchins’ store. Gene was Oscar Cutchins were brothers. This store was one of the bigger country stores and carried several larger items. My sister Becky remembers buying chicken feed there. Mr. Grover Collins also operated a corn grist mill behind the store at one time. Gene Cutchins’ store is still standing today, and is used as an apartment or small house.
Further down past Antioch Church was another store on Kemp Road, also known as Kemp’s store. It also is a vacant lot today.
The days of the old country stores are slowly coming to an end. They are few and far between. Danny’s country store was the only one left on Highway 262 South, until it closed after the robberies.
In their time the small stores provide a way for country folks to get items without much travel. With gas going for around 25 cents a gallon who could afford such in the 1940s after the war? What would our ancestors think of the price of gas today at $3.72 a gallon? We might be glad to return to the days of the old country stores — one of yesterday’s memories, a slower time in life and a carefree time of innocent childhood.
Editor’s note: A special thanks to Louise Williamson, for her assistance with this article.