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So Much More Than... Gas! Groceries! Feed! Fertilizer!

Updated on September 14, 2016

A Once Thriving Community Store


Home long abandoned!


Old credit card machine


Community Corner

Most of the time, when I tell folks I grew up in a general store, I think they form images of a barn-like structure, something like on Little House on the Prairie or possibly “Sam Drucker’s” store.

Then again, perhaps, they grew up in a place like I did – a block building located on a little stretch of highway nuzzled in the Appalachian Mountains. My block building was called “Community Corner,” and you could purchase GAS! GROCERIES! FEED! FERTILIZER!

“Community Corner” was more than a block building since it was not just the family business, it was the family home. We lived in the basement which was as wide and long as the store itself. When friends spent the night with me, they had to spend several nights before getting accustomed to the ding of the cars driving over the bell hose that signaled someone had driven by the gas pumps located in front of the store because people stopped even after hours in order to buy a drink from one of the drink machines located on either side of the front door or maybe to use the payphone that stood in a booth on the edge of the parking lot.

I learned all about groceries growing up in our general store. We were all on call on grocery delivery day. A big truck would deliver boxes upon boxes of can and paper goods. If you were not upstairs in the store when the truck pulled in, then the intercom buzzer would start beeping and that meant you better get it in gear. My brother and I would race to see who could use the price gun the fastest; but, we knew we better stack, display and put the newest items in the back or we were looking at doing it all over again. To this day, I always choose the candy bar farthest from the front. And we sold lots of candy. During Christmas, Mama and Daddy always made sure we had the bagged kind of candy. The kind that you get in a clear baggy: chocolate drops, stick candy and orange slices.

Bagged candy can go only so far because eventually “town” grew more “townified.” Bigger stores were newer and could buy in much bigger bulk forcing general stores on little stretches of highway to transform into gas stations with smaller and smaller inventories. In retrospect, I marvel at the stamina and perseverance my parents must have had in order to hold onto our community store for as long as they did.

Feed and fertilizer were the first to go, and I can remember being kind of glad not understanding the greater significance. I was glad because I was a kid and the old-timers who bought the stuff seemed to glean too much satisfaction out of making me feel like an idiot because of my lack of knowledge regarding feed and fertilizer. I regret that I did not learn more so I could have been more informed.

Do not get me wrong. There were lots of good years before “townification” won out. Oh! The people I met and grew up knowing. Just the other day, I ran into a young lady who I first met when she was just a baby, who grew up coming to our store with her grandpa. She asked me if I could remember carrying her around and playing with her. And I do remember.

I remember meeting and gettingto know so many folks from every walk of life - People who literally had nothing to people who owned third and fourth homes-People who could not read nor write yet trusted me to sign their names for them-People who ran big companies and owned their own airplanes.

I met one of my favorite authors when she stopped by the store: Lee Smith. If you have never read Oral History, or my favorite, Fair and Tender Ladies, you have missed out on a realistic presentation of Appalachian culture. She bought a coke ( the small glass bottle kind) and a pack of peanuts. So many people walked into our store and by proxy, our home.

I remember how one summer I thought my arm would surely fall off from dipping out ice cream. There’s something about freshly-dipped ice cream in the summer-time that drives people a little crazy. During this time, a family from New Jersey stopped by on their way somewhere. They might as well as have been from New Guinea for I could not understand them and they could not understand me. Our dialects were so strong. But, I finally got everyone in their clan a cone of freshly-dipped ice cream with each taking a turn pointing to the kind he or she wanted. Daddy completed the transaction for he was running the cash register.

I learned how to run a cash register, the old kind of credit card machines, pump gas, and the truth about so many things such as fellows are much bigger gossipers than ladies. Sorry guys if you disagree, just reporting my experience. It was mainly men who “hung out” at the store and they talked. They knew everything about everybody. I think they must have thought that since I was just a girl, I was not listening…

But I knew that when Lambert (names changed-you know-to protect…) came in on Saturday evenings wearing a clean shirt doused in “Old Spice” that he would be meeting up with Kathy later on in the evening which would not be a big deal, except Kathy was not his wife.

I knew to make myself scare when Odell came in to buy his weekly prophylactic that Daddy kept hidden under the counter, and that meant he and his wife would be getting it on later that night.

I knew that when Becky came by she needed to "hang out" for a long while because Butch was on one of his binges, and I had seen the marks left on Becky after one of Butch’s binges.

So, you see, our corner in the community was about so much more than gas, groceries, feed and fertilizer.

And, even after the last block is hauled away, (a four-lane is replacing the two-lane where our store, our home and the homes of many others along that stretch of highway), it will not matter because I know that little stretch of highway nuzzled in the Appalachian Mountains quite well.

And I will still hear the bell-hose every time I pass, but most of all, I will remember the people who were the community and who I grew up with on my little community corner.

Little Stretch of Highway

Stretching the highway!
Stretching the highway! | Source


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    • ocfireflies profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from North Carolina


      Thank you so much for reminiscing along with me.

      Many Blessings Always,


    • bodylevive profile image


      2 years ago from Alabama, USA

      This reminds me of a place I once lived, I'll never forget it and you just took me on a virtual trip down memory lane. Thank you. Be blessed.

    • ocfireflies profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from North Carolina

      Dianna and Ricky,

      Please forgive my late response. I got to get away and just got back. So, I am trying to catch up. Thank you for reading my reflective piece and for relating to it.

      Blessings Always,


    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 

      2 years ago from West Virginia

      It's good to see you still writing Kim. Always enjoy it. I'm from a small town, the mines made where I live, coal mines that is. Now, it's just a mess. Everyone is leaving, as if it wasn't already dead enough.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      I grew up in a community where the people connected at the corner gas station. You made me reflect upon those good old days with your creative sharing. Men gossip more than women? I won't tell.

    • ocfireflies profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you Audrey!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      2 years ago from California

      I grew up in a small community and this brought back some memories! Thank you!

    • ocfireflies profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from North Carolina


      I am happy you could relate to the piece, and I so appreciate your kind comments. Thank you for being you.

      Blessings Always,



      Thanks for making me smile.

      : )Kim

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 

      2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      I remember our small town drugstore well. I'd fall in there on a Friday afternoon, order a coke float, and flirt with the girls behind the counter. They loved it of course.... :P

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      2 years ago from Taos, NM

      Oh Kim this was delightful to read. What a wonderful childhood and such a great way to learn and love your community. It brought back memories for me. I grew up working in my uncle's drug store. I can relate to your experiences. Wonderful read!

    • ocfireflies profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from North Carolina

      Dear Faith,

      I have thought of you often. Thank you so much for reading and leaving lovely comments. That time in my life was so long ago that it does indeed feel like another world.

      Blessings Always,



      I love how you describe the piece "stretch of highway memories."

      Thank you for reading and for your kind response.



    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 

      2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Hay Kim, I believe all of us who share small town life have their own stretch of highway memories. Your memories brought to mind so many fond thoughts of mine. I thoroughly enjoyed this!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      2 years ago from southern USA

      Kim! I love this piece!

      It is wonderful to read about your life growing up at Community Corner. I've been to some of these general stores growing up. I think my family was allowed to have an account at one. There was probably not a dull moment there with seeing new and familiar people every day. Seems like another world.

      So happy to see you publishing.

      Blessings, sweet friend

    • ocfireflies profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from North Carolina


      Thank you for reading and relating. I know that the only constant is change, but I am glad for the experiences of growing up in a unique way.

      Many Blessings,


    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      2 years ago from Fresno CA

      What a charming story and a charmed life. I spent my first few years in a tiny town in Indiana and I remember we had to wait for the school bus in front of a corner general store. The owner lived there and I always thought he was like an uncle or something the way he treated us like family. I miss that place. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.



    • ocfireflies profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from North Carolina


      Thank you for your prose and beautiful poem. Thank you for going with me down my little stretch of road.

      So Many Blessings Dear One,



      Hugs to you, and I would have loved it if you would have been there back when. So hard to see the place now even though we left years ago.

      Blessings My Friend and Thank You For encouraging this particular one!


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love that you chose this topic to write about. Just between you and me, I would have loved to grow up in that old store. What a great story you have to keep you warm at night, and thank you so much for sharing it with us.

      hugs from Olympia


    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      2 years ago from Texas

      Oh Kim, on Memory Road

      You have taken me on this journey

      As I read your words

      You and I were not in any hurry

      And introduced me to those

      You knew so well

      And each one reminded me

      Of someone I knew

      So long ago

      I could have been in your General Store

      When my family traveled

      From shore to shore

      Your life does not sound

      So different from my own

      I did not live in a General Store

      But, I remember Jim Anerton's

      Where there were kegs of pickles

      And, candies galore

      You reminded me of the Soda Pop

      With peanuts poured down the top

      Thank you Kim for all these memories



      Blessings and Hugs dear friend

    • ocfireflies profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from North Carolina


      Thank you for reading and for your lovely comments. It was really hard pushing the publish button.


    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      What a delightful read this was, Kim. It was so good to read a new hub from you and it certainly didn't disappoint. Thank you for sharing your life growing up on Community Corner.

      ~ Jodah ~


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