Country Store Lost to Memory


Country Store 03-21-1969

One of the more challenging (and rewarding) things about working at The Athens (OH) Messenger was the canvas publisher Kenner Bush gave us photographers: he opened up a 9×17 news hole five days a week for photo essays.

We drove all over Southeast Ohio photographing people and places that would be overlooked most of the time. I called it “photographing ordinary people doing ordinary things.”

Some stories didn’t pan out

Country Store 03-21-1969

I did a number of stories about country stores over the years, but these photos were never published. I don’t know if the subject didn’t have an interesting tale to tell or if I had to rush off before I discovered it.

I don’t even recall where the store was located, nor the woman’s name. Both are probably scribbled in a notebook buried in a box somewhere.

It’s fascinating to see the wide variety of goods carried.

A gallery of a few moments

So, here’s a brief portrait of a country store in the days before convenience stores and Dollar Generals. I probably should have made a Picture Page out of the images.

Click on any photo, then use the arrow keys to move around.

10 Replies to “Country Store Lost to Memory”

  1. I don’t know where that is either. Not that I expected to. But her face seems familiar. You must have come up with something better. She looks unhappy. Maybe that was the reason you canned it.

  2. Ken, did you ever shoot any photos at
    Macke’s store in Gordonville?
    I have memories of tinned oysters, cane fishing poles, and (?) Big Chief writing tablets…

    1. When I was staying with my grandparents in Cape during one summer in the early ’70s, the thing I wanted the most at the time was a genuine cowboy hat. Grandpa took me all around Cape, but there were no real cowboy hats to be had in my size in any of the stores downtown or at the Plaza. There were plenty of molded plastic toy cowboy hats, but no real, honest-to-goodness cowboy hats and I just had to have one.

      Finally, Grandpa, who had grown up in the country between Gordonville and Whitewater before moving to Cape, took me on a ride out that way. We stopped at Macke’s Store. Lo and behold, they had real cowboy hats that fit me just right.

      My recollection of the store has dimmed over the 50 years, perhaps because I was so excited at finding my hat that I probably took little notice of the rest of the merchandise. I do seem to recall a stock of general merchandise, grocery items, and farm supplies.

  3. When I saw the title of this story, I was expecting and hoping it was about The County Store that operated in Cape on West End Boulevard just north of Sunny Hill Dairy, Restaurant, and Motor Inn.

    The Country Store was a favorite hangout for me back in the ’70s when I was staying with my grandparents during the summer since they lived just a block south of there. It was an odd, narrow building that stretched back along the train tracks and had been added on to over the years. I think the small old original front part had been the office for a coal yard back in the day people still had coal furnaces.

    The stock of goods they carried was just as odd as the building. As near as I recall it was a surplice or distressed merchandise outlet, something like a smaller version of a Big Lots store. They didn’t really have a complete line of anything, but there was some of about everything including some odd treasures.

    1. I remember that place as well. Every visit was a treasure hunt. I also assumed a lot of the stock was salvage/surplus merchandise. Some of it reminded me of the kitschy , inexpensive stuff you’d find at a roadside tourist gift shop. I’m sure I spent many hours there looking for things I didn’t even know I wanted. Thanks for bringing that memory back.

  4. Correction to my previous comment: I intended it to say “surplus,” meaning extra or overabundant, as opposed to “surplice,” meaning a church vestment…darn those sometimes less than helpful spelling suggestions.

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