If you look up the definition for a holler it will say something to the effect of it being a hollow or a valley in the mountains. A holler is much more than that. It is a community within or an offshoot of a larger community. Where I grew up, a holler was somewhat isolated, but populated with a close community. A holler has one way in and you must traverse the same road out.
Our holler was a little more open that some around where we lived, but it was definitely away from the central part of the Valley. At one time (before I remember) there was a small foot bridge that crossed the creek providing a shorter journey into the Valley itself. I believe it was washed out during a bad storm and never rebuilt. The walk into the Valley could be a 30 to 40 minute walk even by walking the railroad tracks which provdes a shorter path.
When the depot closed, Arthur’s store was still not such a long walk, but once he closed his store, that meant everyone in the holler would need to walk all the way to Clarence’s which was in the upper end of the Valley. I have no way of knowing if this is why Ruth Esther opened her store, but it was definitely closer than walking into the Valley.
Ruth Esther and Vernon (her husband) lived in a large white house at the crest of the last large hill before the road dipped down heading into the holler. (When we finally got bikes, climbing this gravel covered road might have been the place you would choose to get off and walk your bike to the top.) I believe Vernon built the bluish block building in front of their house which became the store.
I always loved Ruth Esther. If you read my earlier story about the train depot, you may remember she worked at the train depot when I was a child. I thought she was beautiful with her vivid red lipstick and her vivid red nails. She looked like a movie star to me. She was always well dressed and as I said, such a kind woman.
Writing these stories now makes me wonder what must have required to maintain these little stores and also manage a house and a farm. It could not have been easy, although I am not sure what, if any, regulations they may have been required to follow. Back then, however, this store made a nice halfway stopping point to get a cold drink or a snack heading to or from the holler.
The inventory was slim as I think the intent was to provide basic necessities. Unfortunately, the lack of necessary staples still forced people to go to Clarence’s store to get the supplies they needed. I cannot tell you how long the store was open, but it was short-lived in comparison to the other stores. The building still stands, echoing memories from the past.
The last I knew, Ruth Esther was still alive, living in the same house on top of that last hill heading into the holler.