Thursday, February 21, 2008

Long, long, ago ...

Long ago, before I was born, my grandfather ran a country store.

Benson Filling Station

In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, my Grandfather, George Aaron Benson ran a country store at the intersection of HWY 102 and Norris Store Road. It was located just a few miles west of Ayden, N.C. The store is no longer there. Mr. Mac Whitehurst’s home is now in this location.

On one of my last visits to see my Aunt Jessie (Benson) Williams (d. 4/11/2002) she was telling about a big snow of 1927. She said she was never one who wanted to miss school. That morning it was snowing. She decided to ride to the store with her father, George Benson. She would get on the “school truck” there.

Before they got to the end of the road, the truck her father was driving slid into the ditch. He carried Jessie in his arms the rest of the way to the store.
It snowed all day. There was no school. There was so much snow they could not get back home. Jessie was sent to Mr. Mark Smith’s home next to the store to spend the night and the next day.

I enjoyed her story and I was excited to check it out. I had been given the ledger that my grandfather kept for the year 1927. There it was—written down—the store had no recorded transactions for March 2nd. or 3rd. And the words “Snow” and “Closed” were written on those lines.

In the picture that accompanies this article, there is a large sign over the door that says CASH ONLY. In the ledger there are pages that tell us that friends and neighbors charged their purchases. Many of the people named, I remember from my childhood. They have all passed on.

Yet, they are still here—in George Benson’s handwriting. Will Griffin, Joe Norris, Albert Mozingo, D. J. McLawhorn, M. E. Carman, C. C. Sumrell, L.J. Manning, M.L. Smith, Thad Brown, Lewis Brown, Clifton McLawhorn, Henry Barrow, Leona Cannon, E.G. Harget, Levi Pierce, and others.

Cigars were 5 cents. Gas was 20 cents a gallon. Chewing tobacco was 10 cents. Cigarettes were 15 cents. Pork and Beans were 10 cents. Coca Cola was 5 cents. The customers bought flour, sugar, candy, tobacco products, gas and oil for their families. Everyone’s page looks about the same.

Other people operated the store in later years. Two that I remember were Mr. Will Tripp and Mr. Mark Moore. The last time I saw the old store it had been moved and Mac Whitehurst was using it for a storage barn.


mreddie said...

It is great to have family history like that - especially in written form. My Dad's younger brother ran a country store that he started back in the late 30s (I think) and ran it until he passed away in the late 80s. ec

The Babysitters Love said...

I'd love topay 20 cents a gallon for gas again! Haha.

Renie Burghardt said...

Nice to know one's family history. I love the picture of the old store. The big snow in March of 1927 must have been something! And the prices back then were something, too!

I enjoyed reading about your family history. Have a great weekend, Ann!


BarnGoddess said...

great story! I enjoyed reading.

I like the photo as well.

.20 cents a gal???? I cannot imagine..

Sandy said...
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Sandy said...

I didn't know the store was at Mac's...very interesting.

Fox said...
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Kim said...

I so enjoy hearing those old family stories. People just don't sit and pass history on these days like they used to. I imagine as nice as those prices sound to us now they were quite steep back then.

Mary said...


I loved reading about your family history. It's so nice to hear about our ancestors and what they went through.

My great-grandfather, James, was a veterinarian. I remember my grandparents telling stories of him braving the elements to delivery animals and babies alike. He was the only doctor in that rural neighborhood. I find this man very interesting and wish I had known him or had more information on him. I would have loved to have seen one of his ledgers. I'm sure he got paid in chickens, ducks, geese and garden produce.

A very inspiring post that brought back memories.


Lisa said...

I enjoyed reading your family history. I loved the old pictures. I wished times were as simply as back then. Take care. Lisa

Gypsy at heart said...

What a wonderful memoir. I will be back to read other memories you might share.....

Dragonstar said...

Fascinating history! How lovely to have the records to back up your aunt's memory - of a century ago. Wonderful.

Dawn said...

What a great story. I love reading stories like that and how ordinary people lived and their names are read long after they are gone. It is such an awakening to how things were, and people were pretty much the same even though they didn't have what we have. With computers and blogging, it will carry on, less ledger book style, and more storybook style.

Karen H. said...

Good Morning Ann,
I am trying to catch up with everyone after not visiting over the weekend. I enjoyed your Photo Hunt for Saturday. It does look like a piece of some tree with a ribbon tied around it. Very neat picture for wood indeed. "THANK YOU" for sharing it with us. I so enjoyed the picture of the old Family Store. I bet that was a big Snow back in 1927. Wow, and prices on things way back then are cheap compared to things today. But back then, those things were just as expensive for those like they are now. "THANK YOU" for sharing some Family History with us. Take care my friend and have a great day. May God Bless You and Yours.

Love & Hugs,
Karen H.

meggie said...

20c a gallon for gas!!
It is wonderful to go over old accounts of things, & read of how life used to be, back in the day!
One of my Cousins, is writing about what it was like to grow up in New Zealand in the '50s & it is such an interesting read.

deborah wilson said...

What a great pic and so is the story that goes with it. I wish that things were still that price! The lowest prices that I can remember is bread at 50 cents, coke at 35 cents and cigarettes at 47 cents.

Gas prices will never be low again. For 20 cents a gallon (even at 1.50 a gallon!) I could really go places.