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Country store memories

Posted: October 9, 2017 4:36 p.m.
Updated: October 10, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Each time the big rock hears a rooster crow, it spins completely around.

The smell. The combined smells of an old country store will bring back fond memories. The various aromas will take you back  to a simpler time.

In the pre-automobile days of mules and wagons, the country store was the heart and economic backbone of the South and in tough times, such as the Great Depression, many a store owner gave credit and allowed many families the ability to feed themselves. If you travel the rural roads you will often see the skeleton  of these country stores which for over two hundred years  was the center of small communities.

The Pecan Store in Lugoff, the Boykin Country Store and Campbell’s Grocery in Elgin were the beehive center of their communities. In the early ’50s there were six country stores in Dusty Bend. In Liberty Hill, the name of the store was “The Store” and throughout history for this old community “The Store” was the center of the universe.

The Liberty Hill Store was built shortly after the turn of the last century. All were welcome, with the only distinct color being green.

When you entered “The Store,” you walked under a portrait of George Washington. There were two separate counters and behind them shelves stacked with dry goods, canned goods, farm equipment and some farm apparel. A caged post office was located inside and further down on the right hand counter set four large clear cookie containers. Outside the store, you could buy Texaco gas or pull onto the timber rack to have your car, tractor or truck serviced.

When electricity came to the community in the 1930s, there was a cooling unit installed to help keep meat fresher. On top of this unit sat the hoop cheese. In the center of the store sat a wood stove and in the winter if you wanted a warm spot you needed to be there by 6 a.m.

In the ’50s, candy cost a nickel except for Mounds and Almond Joy, which were a dime. You had to slide your soft drink choice down a rack. Pepsi came in a decorative bottle, which had no curves, and the Pepsi was where you put your peanuts because there were only small cokes. If you put your peanuts in a coke, then you are a newcomer. Nehi orange and grape and RC were your other choices until those green bottles with the yellow liquid showed up in the late ’50s.

The front of the store had a western exposure and on most afternoons, for more than 100 years, the hatted old timers would sit outside on the benches and would discuss what Billy Sherman’s boys burned; how the rats ate on the Civil War dead who had been placed in the local library; who had gone off to war to fight the Spanish in Cuba, the Germans in WWI France, or the Nazis, or the Japanese in WW II. In later years, there was also be the discussion of who would be fighting on the Gillette Friday night boxing matches on that new invention known as television.

They would also tell the young whippersnappers about how the 4-foot rock located at the front of the store would react to a roster’s crow. If this group did not like you, then one could only get a couple of grunts from them.

In later years, like most rural stores, it became unprofitable and was purchased by the Liberty Hill Church and became the home of Johnny Eley, the church sexton. Like most rural stores, it is in need of some funds for preservation and you can contribute to the building fund through the church. Lisa Towell, Sylvia Hudson and John Thompson are heading the committee to maintain what is the symbol of rural southern life since the colonial period.

Thank you for your attention.

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