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85 years ago: Grocery stores galore!

by JIM

As the summer solstice came and went and June began the segue into July 1937, much of the talk around Adair County no doubt centered around the just-opened Dr. Pepper bottling and distribution center in Columbia, bringing direly needed employment and a ray of economic sunshine to the area.

Mr. O.E. Huddle had just been elected as superintendent of the Columbia city schools; Dr. Mercer announced the schedule for typhoid fever inoculations; and Ben Green, manager of Lerman's, and Tom Brown, owner & pharmacist of Brown's Drug Store, headed up a drive to get a Chamber of Commerce "or some similar body" established in Columbia.

Meanwhile, on and near the square, no fewer than six Columbia grocery stores advertised in the June 30 edition of the Adair County News, to-wit:

S.C. Bybee, formerly a restaurateur, proudly introduced "The opening of a new Grocery and Meat Market, in the George Redmon Store building on Campbellsville Street near the Light Plant." His offerings included a two-pound can of cocoa for 14 cents; five pounds of sugar for 29 cents; and twenty-four pounds of Sunny King flour for 59 cents.

Kroger's, established in Columbia in 1936 about midway between the exit corner of Campbellsville Street and the east corner of the square, had ten pounds of new cobbler potatoes at 21 cents; a pound of Embassy brand peanut butter for a quarter; and a gallon can of pie cherries, 69 cents.

George Hancock's Corner Grocery store, recently moved from the Creel building to the store room previously occupied by the J.C. Rowntree Grocery in the west corner of the Public Square (next door to H.R. Moore and Company), advertised three boxes of corn flakes for a quarter (and with that purchase, customers got a free cereal bowl!); three rolls of t.p. for a dime; and a forty-six ounce can of Heinz brand tomato juice for 28 cents.

E. Campbell's stock of goods in his Jamestown Street store went far beyond groceries. His offering for the week included pickling vinegar, 19 cents on the gallon; Flit (brand) Fly-Tox, 39 cents (regular price half a buck); and 100 pounds of chicken starter & grower, mash, $2.95. And for customers who didn't feel well, his ad proclaimed, "We Have a Complete Line of Indian Herb Medicine!"

(1937 was too early for DDT; any thoughts on what the active ingredient in Fly-Tox might have been? On a different note: in a moment of speculation, the "complete line of Indian herb medicine" may have been supplied by George Rabbitfoot, birth name George Stofel. Rabbitfoot, self-described as an "Indian medicine man," first showed up in Adair County in 1936. He soon settled in Pulaski County but his traveling medicine show made appearances in Adair as late as 1939.)

Meanwhile, Baldwin's Cash Market (Tom Baldwin, owner/manager), located near the west corner of the square, had a quarter-page ad filled with a multitude of bargains, such as 100 pounds of salt for 95 cents; tall cans of fancy salmon, 11 cents each; and a pound of hamburger or two cans of Campbell's brand tomato soup for 15 cents.

The J.F. Neat, Jr. Grocery (formerly known as J.F. Neat & Son Grocery, the elder Mr. Neat having passed some months earlier) boasted two locations, one on Campbellsville Street, the other on Burkesville Street. The latter, recently opened "in the building formerly occupied by J.E. Burton," was under the management of Geo. E. Wilson. At either store, customers could buy four pounds of cooking apples or a dozen bananas for 19 cents; two pounds of Pilgrim brand coffee for a quarter; and 50 pounds of Swift's brand pure lard for $6.85.

(Mr. Neat's northside store was on the east side of Campbellsville Street in the section known as White City, bounded on the north and east by the Columbia Milling Co. property and on the south by land owned by Sam Stevenson.)

This story was posted on 2022-06-26 12:32:40
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