Country Store Memories, Part I: The Train Depot

My memories of the depot are fuzzy.  A large wooden counter separated the open room from the merchandise. There may have been benches for people waiting on the train — I do not remember. The depot was also where everyone got their mail. A bank of individual bronze-faced rectangular boxes lined the back wall. Box numbers were assigned (ours was P.O. Box 23) snd mail was accessed by turning the small gold pointer back and forth entering the appropriate combination.

The main room was quite big and open with a long wooden counter behind which Ruth Esther worked.  She was a local resident, married to a farmer and raising three sons who looked like their father and a daughter who favored her. I thought she was beautiful with her bright red lipstick and bright red fingernails. We never saw people wear lipstick or paint their nails much in those days. She was filled with kindness with such a gentle manner. If I close my eyes, I can still see the little scrunch in her eyes when she smiled. Ruth Esther sold penny candy to the kids. That was my big takeaway. I honestly do not know what else they sold because I was only interested in the candy.

Uploaded by TeVe, Railway turnout – Oulu Finland, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

Being a depot, there was a railway switch that could guide the trains to another track. For our community, the switch was used to route the trains off the track while stopped or as a holding place when the cars were not used. We loved it when that happened! That was a prime playground for us.

The resting railroad cars were never locked and there were never more than one or two cars parked at any given time. I have written before about the hours we spent playing there.

When the trains stopped carrying passengers, the depot closed. This would leave two stores in our little Valley and would inspire Ruth Esther to open her own. Join me tomorrow when I introduce you to Arthur who owned the store closest to my grandparent’s house.