Thursday, April 2, 2009

Carters Grocery Store

In the 70's and 80's my sons and I deer hunted in the Cedar Vale and Hewins area. Deer hunting always seemed to make us hungry so a trip to Carters grocery was always a part of the hunt. We tried to make it to the store around lunch time at least a couple of times during deer season. Carters was the only store in Hewins. You could buy groceries, work gloves, 22 rifle and shotgun shells and a few other general store items.

The store was owned and operated by Earl and Aldine Carter. It was also the local post office. Earl ran the store and Aldine was the postmistress. The store was heated with a wood stove with chairs and benches around it where the locals or passerby could sit and visit and get caught up on the local news. There were also many tales told around the stove, some true and some that may have stretched the truth a might.

Earl was known to be a bit conservative with the amount of wood he would put in the stove and I heard one of the locals say that one cold winter day he put his hand on the stove and it was not hot enough to burn him. Earl just grinned and continued with his work. Earl and my dad, Vic, grew up together in Hewins during the depression and being conservative was how they survived.

When we went to the store we would buy a box of crackers and have Earl slice us up longhorn cheese and bologna, both which came in rolls and was hand sliced by Earl with a butcher knife and wrapped in white butcher paper. We would then get a soda pop and set around the stove and devour the items we had purchased, while visiting with all present. I know that Earl's cheese and bologna was the best I have ever eaten. The Carters finally closed the store and a special piece of my deer hunting was lost, but not forgotten.


DFCox said...

What a warm feeling (memories that is, not the stove). Earl and Aldine had a very special place there in that rambling, ramshackle building with the front awning that came clear to the street and the old horse tethering rails. It was also the post office for the Hewins folks for many years. In the late 50s and early 60s when I was making Vet calls in the area, I would stop there every time I could. I'd have a coke and maybe a candy bar, but mainly I wanted to sit by the stove and visit with the "good ol' boys". The "state of the art" croquet court with lights for evening play was still active then. They would have competition with the Wauneta Croquet players occasionaly. Thanks for this memory jolt Rick.

Phil Foust said...

Thanks for a wonderful memory, Rick. Though not often in the store you describe it perfectly and with feeling. Also, Don ... Hewins must have had the best (and most active) croquet court in a very large area.

The stores 'out of the past' seem to be almost vanished as Bryant's Hardware of Ark City is now another memory. The Buchele family is no doubt rather sad at the closing of this early day hardware store.

Gary Metcalf said...

Rick - You mentioned that Earl was a "bit" conversative which might be a "bit" understated. Earl was wife Nancy's uncle. She has mentioned that Earl when going down a hill would turn the car engine off and coast down the hill to save gas.

DFCox said...

For any of you intrepid bloggers who have an interest in Hewins and vicinity, there is a definitive source available. The book "FROM WHENCE WE CAME" (A Little History of Hewins, Kansas) by Joseph F. Leonard. I found it a fascinating read and I didn't know I WAS that interested in Hewins history. It will take you from early Osage Indian days to the 1980s with emphasis on the settlers and thier decendants.

I think Ernestine Leonard still has some copies, or it can likely be found at or Ebay. Ernestine is at 1001 Cedar St. Cedar Vale, Ks. 67024.

Pat Pate Molder said...

My memories go back a little farther than Rick's when Hewins had Popes Grocery, Starks Grocery, Akin Drug Store and a service station. Popes Grocery became Carter's Store. The Popes and the Carters had living quarters in the store. Before Aldine Carter was Post Mistress, my Uncle, Roger Akin, was the Post Master.Hank Leonard (Joe Leonard's Dad) was a rural mail carrier out of Hewins. I barely remember going to town on a Saturday evening with my Grandmama Akin when she did her grocery shopping at Stark's store...the store, and the town, full of people. My Uncle Lewis Akin owned the drug store. I spent many a summer's evening sitting on the bench in front of the drug store listening to Granddad Akin and Uncle Lewis telling stories about their hunting and fishing days, including their encounters with Indians. Granddad wrote a series of articles about the Akin family's move from Illinois to Kansas and the early days in Chautauqua County.They were all printed in the Cedar Vale Messenger and are now archived in Topeka. At one time Granddad was a partner in a lumber yard in Hewins. Hard to believe, isn't it? Don Cox mentioned "From Whence We Came". It is worth having in your library. My Granddad's articles are reprinted in that publication. Joe Leonard did a wonderful service when he put it together. He gave me an autographed copy.

Gary White said...

Here I am in Northern Spain checking in on the CV Blog. My memories of Carter's Grocery are from the later 1940s and early 1950s, but Rick's description fits my memory to a "T". I'm sure that little changed with the passing years.

As a youngster my Dad and I would always stop in for a bottle of pop when he was delivering gasoline in the Hewins area. I remember the old gas pumps out in front, the little post office at the back and the long counter where Earl dispensed the groceries along with many stories, with suitable embellishment I'm sure.

Thanks, Rick, for the memories and keep on blogging!

Anonymous said...

Miss Akin gave us outdated comic books with half the covers cut off, for which we were and still are very grateful. She was generous, and we learned a lot from her.
------ Jim Robinson

Pat Pate Molder said...

My cousin, Lora Akin, ran the drug store and I can see her giving away comic books. I remember going in the store with a nickel tied in one end of my handkerchief and picking out a nickel's worth of candy from the many glass jars on the counter. Lora was an artist. Her paintings lined the walls of the back room. My Uncle Lewis had a huge collection of arrow heads that were in cases displayed in the store. I hope you remember those, too, Jim.

Anonymous said...

Prior to Roger Akins, another postmaster at Hewins was Mr."Oat" Marshall. His wife's name was Mamie. One of their daughers,Mary Irene, married Pat Patterson. Since Mr. Marshall had difficulty walking, I believe it was Earl Carter's brother, Glenn, who pushed Mr. Marshall in a wheelbarrow all the way to the world's fair in Chicago.

Gary White said...

I remember my parents talking about the pair from Hewins who walked and rode all the way to Chicago with their wheelbarrow. I'm glad to be able to put a name to those brave souls.

Memories keep flooding back on the ole' CV blog. Thanks for everyone who contributes.

DFCox said...

The wheelbarrow to the Worlds Fair is one of many anecdotes in Joe Leonards book. Here's another paragraph:

Boys have played Mumblepeg for centuries and it was a good way to kill any idle time in Hewins. Naturallly all real boys had their oown jackknife, as they came in handy for many occasions.
The two blades were opened up, the long blade out full; the shorter blade half way, making it an "L" shaped knife. There had to be rather soft dirt around for the knife to dig into when tossed. One spun it vertically rather fast, and the position it fell to the ground told ones score. When the long blade was straight up and down, plunged into the dirt, that was 100 points. Wnen it ended up with the short blade straight down, leaving the long blade facing forward--that was 50 points. When both blades were sticking in the ground with the handle up, that was 75 points. With the short blade in the ground and the butt of the handle resting on the ground--that was 25 points. If the knife landed on its back, one got to begin again. On its side--no points: next turn.

Anonymous said...

Could some of you old timers explain why Hewins went from a thriving little metropolis to what it is now??

Gary White said...

Well, I'll take a stab at it. I would say that when US Highway 166 went through, all the little towns that were off the road were doomed. They simply weren't 'on the way' to someplace. Later they shifted the highways away from even the towns they used to go through and they began to dry up.

Then there is the fact that there is not the economic basis for a large population in that area of Kansas, so the automobile and a small population were all factors. Do others have ideas??

Anonymous said...

One observer's theory..
Gary's theory, just more words.

Hewins probably saw it's better days before the Depression of 1929 and 30 which forced some of the residents to seek employment elsewhere, this in turn affected the school system (which used to include 2 years of high school). The school dwindled down through the years to become a one room school which survived for several years until it was consolidated and the large brick school building, which included a gynasium, was destroyed.
The fact that Hewins was not located on or next to Hwy. 166, rather 5 miles south on an unpaved road, probably was not such a large factor until the railroad was discontinued. When the railroad ceased, it seemed to be the beginning of the end. Many ranchers depended on the railroad for shipping cattle to and from the area, during the buying and selling seasons.
Most of those who remained were landowners making their living via farming and ranching and were able to adjust to some of the changes. However, when their children became adults, many were forced to look elsewhere for careers. Others decided that farming and ranching was not their calling, therefore, many smaller farms and ranches were sold, often to their neighbors. This meant fewer people, larger farms and ranches. Each generation melted away, leaving only a handful of replacements. The cycle continued until there were no longer enough people to support three churchs, one gas station, or Carter's store.
Not only Hewins, but many once thriving communities across the USA, have all but disappeared. However, for those who have memories of friends, neighbors or loved ones connected to these places, the appreciation for their determination, labor, endurance and sacrifice will continue for years.

Gary White said...

Thanks for the beautiful amplification on my brief stab at an explanation. Yes, the demise of the railroads must have been central to the loss of economic base in Hewins. The use of trucks to ship cattle and the paved highways to support them spelled the death of the railways.

Here in Spain, the railways are still central to transportation, both for goods and for people. I love this system. We get on a train and read or look at the countryside and get off at our stop rested and refreshed. The US can learn a lot from these countries.

Don Shaffer said...

Anybody remember Bernard Lemert?
He could give us more information about Hewins than any one of us could know! He's a "native!"

DFCox said...

Bernard is still on the home place near Hewins. There is one who CAN tell us more that Bernard and that is his sister Earline. She has a house in CV now, is about 12 years older than Bernard and has an excellent memory. She eats at the Senior Center most days so I see her often.

Anonymous said...

My family moved to the Hewins area in the early 1800's. Does anybody remember the Barnett Family? Harvey Isaac (Ike) or his son Hillard Harvey (barny) are my g-grandfather and grandfather respectively. That line of the family goes all the way back to Joel Barnett who came from Washington, Co IN. In any case I would love to hear from anyone who might remember this family.

Erik Barnett