Country stores met needs in past days

Published 5:18 pm Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The last couple of weeks our columns have been about local businesses and individuals. This week we take a look at some outlying businesses and individuals from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

No trip to Pensacola would have been complete without a stop at Bryan’s or Vaughan’s Groceries — service stations in Walnut Hill. Their gasoline pumps were easily accessible and you could pull right in, fill up and be on your way. These two stores also carried a full line of groceries and folks often journeyed down to pick up some weekend bargains.

I remember reading Vaughan’s radio ads on WATM in the early- and mid-50s. One of their ads was an eye catcher. About once a month they would advertise cube steaks at 10 cents each with a $5 grocery order. My wife always kept an eye pealed for this special. In McCullough, Mack’s Grocery and Kirby Grocery were popular shopping locations for resident this fine community.

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J.W. Terry’s Store, located right where the casino is now, was a favorite stopover for those heading north on Highway 21.

And The Seven Oaks Service station provided customers all the needed fishing supplies and snacks on the way to the river. It was located about a mile west of town under those huge oak trees. Harold Byrd, located just a “block” east of there, offered fishermen those same needed items. Harold’s game room also drew avid domino players who spent many hours engaged in this luring table game. Harold was known for his great friendship to many.

Further on down the road, Steve Hubbard offered Nokomis residents grocery and snack bargains at his small grocery. A couple of miles even further Mr. Green Jeans catered to “west Nokomis” residents with groceries, feeds and snacks.

Howell Jackson’s Service Station was the “gateway” to Perdido. Soon after I-65 opened, travelers stopped here for gasoline on their way to Mobile and points west. Down in Perdido, right before the railroad tracks, three general stores catered to the Perdido, Lottie, Rabun, Splinter Hill and Halls Fork communities.

The first store in line was owned by Foncie (McGill) and Ernest Weekly. Next was Mr. Huffs’s store, which later was owned by his son in law G.T.B. McGill. The third store was owned by Harold McGill. These owners were brothers and sisters. In the 1940s and 1950s, residents from all these communities made these stores popular weekend shopping destinations.

Right across the street from Harold’s store, Jimmy Havard owned a “beer joint,” as it was called by residents of those communities. In the 1930s, just across the railroad tracks, Les McCoy operated a drug store. Freddie Centini’s dad, John Adams and Jake Hadley owned popular barbershops across from Weekly Grocery in those days.

Right up the road in Lottie, all the fine folks there shopped at Taylors Store.

Also back then, Canoe offered several family owned stores and businesses. Nell Hill was the post mistress.
Up in Uriah, Mixon’s and Garrett’s were popular businesses. These two firms offered an array of household appliances and other household needs.

I will go back into town now and expound on a few other businesses that I overlooked in my previous columns. Cecil Ellis Sr. operated a successful “Mom and Pop” family grocery on Ridgeley Street and Barnett’s Grocery was a favorite family grocery location just off Church Street.

Martin Auto Parts was a fully stocked parts store next door to Ben Lindsey’s service station on East Nashville and Presley Street.

A few doors back toward town, Sams Place was the ideal location for automobile repairs and parts. It was operated by Ed Mayson, Paul and Betty Ann Mayson and Sam Byrne.

Further down Presley at the corner of McRae, Rudolph Peaden offered customers a large line of groceries.
Curries Checkerboard Purina Store on Trammell Street and Meriwether Feed and Seed were popular agricultural stops for gardeners and farmers. Nearby Atmore Truckers catered to these same customers.

Atmore Recap on Ridgeley and Brantley’s Tires on North Main kept their businesses abuzz with new tire and recaps. I can recall many times I pulled in for new recaps. They were more economical and saved me a lot of money back then when I made those weekend trips with my riders to and from Tuscaloosa and Hattiesburg. I am told recaps are not available today.

The Decorating Center just off West Nashville proved popular for popular for those redecorating their homes with carpets, rugs, flooring, paint and wallpapering. And, Mrs. Allen kept a full stock of paint and related supplies in her Mary Carter Paint store on East Nashville Avenue.

Atmore took on a residential building growth in the early and mid 1950s, mainly due to Chemstrand’s making an appearance on the scene. Folks moved here from nearby communities, built their homes here and commuted daily to this popular working establishment.
You could hear the buzz of saws and hammers clanging all around as these new homes were built all over town. Unpaved Eighth Avenue in rear of the Craig Street WATM tower was one of the most developing residential sections of town. Of course, later the hospital was built.

That’s it for this week. More next week.

“Yes, it always whispers to me … those days of long ago …”

You can email Lowell McGill at