Tuesday, August 16, 2011
This is installment no - 19 - August 16th 2011
This is installment no – 19 -
The store (the commissary)
The commissary is the only store that exists in the town of Hillwood. The commissary is a very important focal point of the town. This is a place that people would congregates and hang out, this was a place that you would meet people that were coming to meet with you. It was the place where the school children would meet and wait for the school bus comes pick them up and take them to Weogufka schoolhouse. This is the place where the peddler’s would come on brass days where they would park around the building where the customers could observe there wares and produce. This is the place where you would learn any town news or town gossip.
Many peddlers came from the Mt. Moriah community on brass days but many others came a father distance away. Over the years there were two rolling store that would come thru the town selling there wares. One was P.N. Davis was from Rockford, AL. and the other was Virgil Williams from Weogufka, AL. There was a period of time that we had an ice truck and milk truck that peddled their commodities to us. They kept their milk in glass gars and kept it cold in tubs of ice. The cost of a quart of sweet milk was 10 cents; a quart of buttermilk was .05 cents. The cost of ice was .40 cents per 100 pound.
There were many people that worked in the store over the years I will not remember all but I will name a few that I can still remember. I have already mentioned that Johnnie Anderson was our first store manger. To the best of my recollection Walter Lee was our next store manger and Walter served many years, he was still manger when I left Hillwood and went in to the Army. When I came back home to Hillwood Curtis Wood was store manger. Curt Wood was married to the sister of Mr. Rich Anderson.
In the earlier years Rena Pearsey the wife of Jim Pearcey served with Walter Lee and along with Blocker Kilgore, Lowell Dunlap, and Lester Bullard. This group worked and served for a long period together. I will try to name several others that I remember and I will miss some, so forgive me if I leave someone’s name off. Albert Howell, Windell Smith, Abby Thornton, Allie Phillips, Mary McGrady, Frank Dennis, Buddy Dennis, Author Dennis, and myself John Davidson. I worked in the store back in the year of 1941 and worked there until I went in to the service in October 1942. After being discharged from the Army in January 1946, Mr. Curt Wood, store manger ask me to come work in the store and be his assistant in the store, and I accepted and was working there when the Sterling Lumber purchased the Ralph Lumber Company. After Sterling Company purchased Ralph Company Mr. Wood resigned as manger and moved to Mississippi. The Sterling Company hired Mr. Elgin Williams to be store manger and they transferred me to be purchasing agent for all mill supplies. I remember they hired Lucille Knox and I cannot remember what other clerks they hired; I know that Mr. Windel Smith was still working there.
Since there was no other store in the town we carried a long line of goods in the commissary. We had a small shoe department, dry goods, a small over the counter, of medicine, gas and oil, cold drinks, meat dept. candy and good line of can goods and other groceries, a few truck and automobile parts, truck tires for the company trucks and a few automobile tires for the public. You could almost buy all the necessities that you needed. I used to tell people that you could buy anything from a spool of thread or to an automobile at the commissary. Actually you could because Mr. Rich owned a ford dealership in Laurel Mississippi and he would sell us an automobile and fiancée it without any interest and we could pay it with payroll deduction, and several of us did. My oldest brother and I purchased a practically new 1940 ford and paid it thru payroll deduction. Many of the boys did the same thing. The biggest problem was my brother joined the army in 1941 and left me to finish paying for it.
I want to describe some of the inside appearance of the store, it had several large glass show cases, and wooden counters. The wooden counters had shelves underneath to store various goods to be sold. The wooden counters were an ideal place for us boys to sit on and pass away the time eventhou the manger would chase us out sometimes. We had a glass candy case that we kept our candy into. WE kept a fair variety of candy on hand to pick from.
There were shelves built from floor to the sealing behind the counters to store goods on to. We had a large warehouse attached to the side of the commissary building to store extra stock commodity material. We had a large home made walk in refrigerator where we kept cold drinks, fresh produce, meats, and some blocks of ice. This refrigerator was powered with a gasoline engine. This refrigerator was about three steps lower from the commissary floor and that was very tiring to run up and down the steps going in to get items for the customers.
I am going to quote some prices that I still remember of the years of 1941 and 1942. You want believe some of these prices. A big baby Ruth candy bar was .05 cents; a small baby Ruth was a penny, Mr. Good-bar was a nickel, suckers on stick a penny an all day sucker was a nickel banana kisses was a penny, a snicker bar a nickel, several other nickel and pennies candy pieces, Juice fruit or spearmint or teaberry chewing gum .05 cents for a five block or we brake a block and sell one piece for a penny, a large piece of blow gum for a penny.
A gallon of gasoline .18 cents, a quart of Quaker State motor oil .20 cents, a five quart can of Quake State motor oil .75 cents, a lesser expensive quart of oil for.15 cents, If we were short of can motor oil we always had bulk oil in a large container with a hand pump in it and you could pump you own for .15 cents per quart, Kerosene was a important commodity because everyone used kerosene for their lamps and kerosene sold for .20 cents per gallon. Late every evening there were many sales of kerosene and most of the sales were .10 cents a 1/2-gal, and since I was the junkie boy it was my job to pump the kerosene and the old pump would spew if all over you and make me smell like kerosene.
This is the end of installment no – 19 -