Remembering Kellys Store At Mt. Zion

(02/25/2008)

Dear Editor,

The death of Pauline Hays Kelly brings back memories of when I was a young boy growing up on Mt Zion Ridge. That was 65 years ago and I was a boy of ten years old. We lived near where the Drive In Movie Theater is located.

My mother and father did their grocery shopping at the Kelly Grocery Store. The store was owned and operated by Garrett and Ernest Kelly. Pauline often helped in the story. Kelly's story was first located in "down town" Mt Zion. Later on they opened a store just south of the Mt Zion Methodist Church.

There was a popular radio show at the time called "Lum and Abner." Most of the people referred to the Garrett and Ernest as Lum and Abner. They were a "jott'm down store." I remember them selling cheese. It came in wooden boxes about 18" x 4" x 4". Since they didn't have an electric slicer they would slice the cheese with a butcher knife.

One would go in the store with a list of groceries. Either Garrett or Ernest would come up to the counter to wait on the customers. There was no self service. The customer would call out what they needed and the store keeper would go and get it and bring it back to the counter. Then the customer would order the next item. As a little boy I was fascinated with the tongs that they got items from the top shelves.

The Kelly's would write the items and their prices down on a bill and place it in a large metal holder. Mom, Dad and us kids would go to the store at the end of the month and pay the bill. If the monthly bill was more than $35.00, there was a big discussion about the high price of groceries.

Every time Dad paid the bill one of the Kellys would give us children a gift. My favorite was a pocket knife. Sometimes it was candy. The Kellys were nice people. Dealing with them was always a pleasant experience.

There are many times when my mind and heart goes back to living on Mt. Zion Ridge. It was a kinder and simpler time.

James C. Haught