The General Store
The Village Store

I used to shop at the general store,
In the country village I once knew,
A warm and welcome place to greet a neighbor,
Where friends were dear and worldly goods were few.

The coffee grinder sent its sweet aroma
To blend with spices in the open bin;
The ceiling hooks held rows of lamps and lanterns,
Kettles made of copper and pails of shining tin.
The counter held glass jars of colored candies,
Dill pickles bubbled in a barrel of brine...
A huge round cheese and kegs of pickled herring,
And wooden pails with sweets of every kind.

The burdened shelves were stacked with bolts of cotton,
Calico and skeins of homespun yarn...
High-buttoned shoes, mittens, caps and mufflers,
And kerosene to light the house and barn.
A box of pigeonholes behind the counter
Was labeled "Post Office, U.S.A."...
A telephone was shared with all the neighbors,
A clock back in the corner kept the time of day.

In payment for their weekly store of groceries
The farmers brought their produce to exchange...
Fresh-laid eggs, home-smoked hams and bacon,
Jars of butter, sacks of golden grain.
On winter days the store was warm and fragrant
From burning balsam in the round oak stove,
A checker game progressed with lively banter...
No one lacked for comradeship and love.

Now, when I shop the gleaming modern market,
Well-stocked with foods from home and foreign shore,
I sometimes pause mid all this bounteous splendor
And long a bit for the old-time general store.

-- Marion Olson
The stores now'a'days are all terrific,
In fact, I think they're mighty, mighty  fine,
With all their new-fangled shiny fixtures
And many clerks stretched out in one long line.

But, there's something missing from the shops today,
The old-time hospitality is gone, I'm sad to say;
Different from the days when owners used to greet you
With a hearty hand-clasp, "Bill, how-do-you-do?"

The clerks don't know you or your family,
Or even if they've checked you out before;
It's not the same as all the folks who knew me
As a the old-time general store.

-- William Hunt
The general store of yesterday served many office, telephone company, town
meeting hall and, sometimes, the general store even
served as a doctor's office; here the local doctor
takes a patient's blood pressure in a general store in
North Carolina, ca 1940.