Written by Myrt Hales, Jr. – Hales Grocery was a stop on the way if you were going west to Archibald on State Highway 425, or north to Rayvilie, or east to Franklin Parish, or south to Big Creek with a cane fishing pole. Myrt Hales Grocery was a stop on the way to your favorite places whether it be grandmother’s house, to check your crops, to feed your cows, going to your hunting spot, waiting on the school bus or the book mobile or the Church of Christ or the Rushing Cotton Gin (back in the day).
Myrt Hales Grocery, for many of us, was the destination itself: a place for kids to hang out and ride bicycles, a place for farmers to gather and exaggerate a fishing story or complain about the weather, a place to gather “by the fire” on a cold day and maybe play a game of checkers, a place to get a gourmet lunch of baloney and w hite bread or my favorite sardines and crackers.
Myrt Hales Grocery was a stop on the way through time. The “old store” opened in the 1940’s. Myrt Hales Grocery was the nearest place for many small fanners and sharecroppers to buy animal feed, barbed wire, staples, nails, as well as kerosine for the lamp, gasoline for the tractor, and meal for the cornbread, and wheat for the biscuits, all of which could be “jotted down on credit” until time to “sell the cotton crop.”
Myrt Hales Grocery was a place where friends and neighbois could talk and gather and visit before the day s of television and telephones and electricity and even indoor plumbing. Myrt Hales Grocery was an outpost for barbers, insurance salesmen, criminal investigations and political races, all before rides to town became an everyday event.
The store watched five decades come and go, while selling cokes, went from a “nickel business” to a “dollar transaction.” Myrt Hales Grocery was a stop on the road of life. A place where many childhood memories are filed beside the coke box or drooling down into the Purity Ice Cream box or reaching into a candy box or summer dreaming at the toy rack followed by a softball game in the cow pasture. The store was the first step toward the road of freedom for many – the place we first walked to without our mother, the place we first rode our bikes to, the place we first drove the car all by ourselves. And how about the place where many kids as well as adults got their first “line of credit ?”
The store was where often the community first learned of marriages, death and the latest news in the world. Myrt Hales Grocery was a stop on the way of life for the Jottemdown Community.
In February of 2009, what remained of the store was cleared away, but as we speed ahead down the road of life we can thank the store for a “tank full” of experiences and a “stomach full” of sweet memories.