The Flat Rock General Store
Fifty-Five Years (Sept. 1950-Sept. 2005)
Anniversary Celebration & Labor Day Sale
The Flat Rock General Store was all a buzz when I walked in this past Monday morning. Like most recent August mornings the day was off to a pretty normal start for late August, temperatures were already hovering around the mid-eighties and it was only ’bout nine a.m.
The Store had this feeling, a little bit like the first day of school; there appeared to me to be lots of scattered chaos or full floating confusion. All the regulars were present — Ms. Ida, the widow Cora, Bro., Truth, Estelle, Farlow and his wife, Willerdean, S.R., J.R., and Hatch. Slim and his wife, Ms. Essex, were back behind the counter in full discussion. Slim had out this old faded red bandana and, from where I stood, I couldn’t tell if he was wiping tears or early day sweat.
Slim had been both excited and flustered with anticipation/excitement about preparing for the approaching day of September Fifteenth, Two Thousand ought Five, for several weeks now. For it was on this same day, September Fifteenth in Nineteen Hundred Fifty, that Slim first opened The Flat Rock General Store. This was well before Ms. Essex; course lots of the other regulars down here at The Store now hadn’t even been thought of and, as for me myself, it was precisley to the day six months after I was born, that Slim first opened The Store.
As Slim and Ms. Essex moved from behind The Store counter it appeared they had a plan for celebratin’, and my guess was that "the plan" involved all the regulars down at The Store.
After about forty-five minutes of presentin’ by Slim, and Ms. Essex, my theory was confirmed to be true, and it did indeed involve each and every one of The Store regulars, plus several other community and area folk.
Like any other event down at The Store, there would be an eatin’, this would be on the afternoon of the Fifteeneth of September of this comin’ ought five. But, this here whole anniversary celebration would start on September One and end up with the eatin’ on the Fifteenth. There would be lots of flyers/circulars put up around Flat Rock and Ms. Ida was to prepare a short notice for the Moulton Advertiser, the Lawrence County weekly newspaper. ’Course during the two week period, there was plans for The Store to offer various sale items.
Nextly, on both Wednesday evenings of the two week celebration, startin’ about five o’clock in the afternoon, well before church prayer meetin’, there would be a gospel singing group. Plus, some of The Widow Cora’s homemade from-scratch chocolate brownies and several freezers full of Slim’s hand turned homemade full sweet vanilla ice cream for all the community and area folk.
Slim was hoping, too, that with cooler temperatures there might even be a softball game – maybe between Flat Rock folk and either Wolf Springs, Hatton, Mount Hope, or Old Bethel. ’Course that all would depend on participation and the weather.
Slim pulled the old red bandana out again; and this time he did wipe away a few tears as he made a request for all present to help him and Essex carry out this two week celebration of fifty-five years in The Store. Then Slim’s request for help turned to a speech about all the past area stores like The Flat Rock General Store that were once community institutions and were now gone. As he continued to wipe tears, he started to name store names—unlike the Flat Rock General Store, most carried the proprietor’s name or family name: Jim Anderton’s grocery, Reed’s, Halbrook’s, Roberts’, Claude Jackson’s, Ennos Copeland, Woody Reed’s, A.Q. and Y.Z. Harville’s, Gabe Poole’s, Gladney’s, Pride Wood’s, Waldrep’s, Auburn Witt’s, Ted Lowery’s, Quinn’s Grocery, T.W. Masterson’s, Bill Arnold’s, Heaps Store, Bill Bradford’s, Claude Witt’s Store and Gin, Roy Whitman’s, Terry’s, Patterson’s, R.M. Landers Hardware and Gin. He hesitated—then noted one more. As he said Riggs Grocery, he also made mention that as far as he remembered it might be the only one around longer than The Flat Rock General Store that still carried the orginal name. He also noted that he was sure that he had missed some other store names strictly from his lack of recollection. However, more tears seemed to come as he stopped talking and moved to his recliner over behind the counter.
With seemingly most of the celebration plans in place and everyone finishing off hoop cheese and crackers or a bologna sandwich and drink for lunch, all the regulars seemed to quietly disperse rather quickly from The Store.
I decided to head out and find my two grandsons, Kamron and Kole Potter, maybe even make a trip to Spring Park in Tuscumbia; then I remembered that the boys were back in school. So maybe I just might head over to the nursery school and pickup my only grandaughter, Miss Ashlyn Nicole Potter. I know she will have a big old smile for Pap Paw Joe. Families are very important and there is nothing like a loving grandchild.
With all the excitment and traversing about The Store and its fifty-five year anniversary celebration, I nearly forgot the best part of any Labor Day for the past...this will be thirty-five years. Joseph Heath Potter, my oldest son, will be thirty-five on September the third of Labor Day weekend. Happy birthday, Heath. I love you dearly and am very proud of you and your family.
Please have a safe and restful Labor Day 2005. Hopefully, the rains will come, the weather will cool some and we will have a bountiful harvest this year.
THINK GOOD MEMORIES!!!
Joe Potter is a former vocational agriculture teacher, FFA advisor, retired county agent (Colbert County) for Auburn University and is currently regional sales manager for the Wax Company of Amory, MS. His book, Farm Fresh Memories, is available for $15.00 plus shipping; order by phone at 256-332-0676 or email