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.