This story was originally written by Robert Cross and is in the book, “Elkinsville: The Town That Was.” It has been shortened for this article. The Story general store could just as easily be about a country store anywhere, and these fond memories apply to many of us.
Story was not a large town, and by most concepts was just a bump in the road which one passed on the way to somewhere else.
The history of the area was rich with what it had been back in the early 1900s: Buggies were bought and sold, along with harness equipment, farm supplies, sawmill and gristmill products, and a complete line of sundry and grocery items. People gathered to trade, purchase supplies and to reassure themselves of their well-being by their association with friendly neighbors.
During the 1950s the store was owned by Ralph and Brunell Hedrick. Ralph and his dad originally bought the store in 1924 and sold it in 1969 to Harry and Gwendolyn Hatton.
The store itself reflected the technology and allied itself to fulfilling the needs of rural America in the most basic way.
You could purchase linens, clothing, shoes and sewing materials of all kinds. Even some of the basic liniments and health compositions were available. Groceries of all types were available, and folks in some circumstances had developed a bartering system where, often, live animals could be traded for groceries.
As the store evolved into the 1950s, some of the farm and horse supplies were no longer available and it became primarily a grocery and general store.
Of interest then — and very much collector items today — were the two Standard Oil gravity flow gas pumps which work very simply. It was just a matter of the operator hand-pumping the gas into a see-through reservoir up to the number of gallons desired by the customer. Once the gas was at the desired level, the hose was inserted into the gas tank and the gas was released to flow into the auto. The tanks were quite colorful and the tops of each were adorned by crowns which, at the time, were trademarks of the Standard Oil Company.
Also adorning the property was an old-fashioned well pump which was very inviting on a hot summer day. Attached to the pump was a pitcher with which a weary traveler could quench a thirst and continue on their journey.
More than a store, Story represented a niche in time: A way of life, a feeling of community.
As one entered the store, you immediately transformed into a mind frame of expectancy, a tantalization of the senses as you approached the candy counter. Mints, chocolates and a large variety of candies could be purchased by the ounce or pound. The candies were in a glass case, and on top of it was a scale used to get the right amount. A nickel’s worth was a very satisfying amount.
The store was heated by a very large wood stove in the rear of the building. Most days, especially during the winter, you could find an assortment of friends, neighbors and passers-by sitting around the stove. Occasionally a yarn or an “off the wall” tale would be told.
The small country stores have virtually been swallowed up by bustling supermarkets of today and the atmosphere of buying groceries has forever changed. We are the lucky ones, because we have the memories which cannot be bought by anyone nor taken away from our lives.
— Submitted by Pauline Hoover and Rhonda Dunn, Brown County Archives