Back of Oak Ridge
CHAPTER I I
The General Store
The Local Merchandise Stores meant much to the residents here as they were in walking distance of most of the homes and other means of transportation was at a minimum, some rode horses or drove wagons.
These stores provided most of our necessities such as: groceries, feed for livestock, hardward, yard goods (cloth), sewing notions such as thread, needles, scissors, thimbles, buttons and trimmings for dresses. Also school supplies were available there and before the days of free text books these too were sold at the General Store.
One such store even sold ladies millinery and all the young ladies were pleased to go there for a new hat as hats were more popular then.
They were also places where a group of men would gather to exchange views on politics and “spin yarns” of their experiences on hunts and fishing trips. Always a jolly bunch laughing and joking with each other, especially on rainy days when the farm work would come to a halt.
I would now like to make honorable mention of some of the merchants who owned these stores.
The first store I remember as a child was located in Robertsville and was owned by John W. Key, a man whom to know was to love and respect.
He was a deacon in the Baptist church and a Sunday School teacher for his entire active life.
The children loved him dearly, for never a child came to his store and went away empty handed. He always gave them candy in some form or a piece of fruit and he gave them many words of praise and encouragement.
This store was also used as a voting precinct for Robertsville voters and at one time housed a post office.
Another one of the old stores was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Clark Crozier, whose ancestors were among the first settlers here who came by land grants.
They also sold the necessary items for the residents and did well for themselves as well as for others.
To mention more of the merchants of Robertsville we recall; John McWane, Curt Dover, Luke Hendrix, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Lockett (Bill and Lizzie), and Mr. and Mrs. Nash Copeland (Nash and Juanita) as they were called by all who knew them.
In the vicinity of Eliza was a store owned by Mr. and Mrs. E.P. Hill who, after they left Eliza, moved to Clinton, Tennessee, and operated a store there until his later years. He is still living and resides in Clinton at this time.
After Mr. Hill came Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Copeland (Glen and Frances as they were known).
In the area of Scarboro were stores owned by Mr. Aleck Lockett, Mr. and Mrs. Hobert Brimer (Hobe and Bess) and Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Ford, and Mr. Jim Freels.
The Bethel area contained the stores of Tom Freels, Jim Diggs, Charles Brennen, and Henry Copeland.
So you see the residents of this area, “Back of Oak Ridge”, had no lack of general merchandise stores and the owners were loved and respected by all.
Also, at this time, there would be men who came around in wagons and hacks and bought eggs, live chickens and butter from the farmers paying them in cash or taking orders for merchandise to be delivered on the next trip. These men were called “Peddlers”. The kids could be heard saying, “Mom’s gone to meet the peddler”.
Later on as progress was made from horse drawn vehicles to gas propelled ones, there came what we called the “Rolling Stores”. These were closed-in trucks built by the owners and equipped with shelves on each side to hold and display the items for sale. These also made the rounds once a week saving the people many steps to the general stores.
They were a real treat for the children who never got to go to the other stores very often. They could pick and choose with their few pennies allowance , candy and chewing gum to their hearts’ content. They just couldn’t wait “To meet the Rolling Store”.