By: Paige Cline
Last week I reminisced about the business places that no longer exist except in my memory.
Some people have since talked with me about the places in their hometowns that were such a large part of their Christmases, but are no longer there.
Mullens was always a busy place, but during the holiday season it fairly teemed with people on the streets and in the stores doing their shopping–buying gifts and visiting. always visiting.
The kids of today love their hometowns, but I wonder what the youngsters in Mullens would do if they were suddenly transported back in time to the town of their parents and grandparents. I would bet the farm that their mouths would fly open from surprise and joy.
Shoppers from Mullens and the nearby coal towns eagerly picked their way up and down the sidewalks crowded with folks doing their Christmas shopping in all the wonderful and varied shops and stores. It was like the mall…only better.
What a treat it was to check out the sales at places like G.C.Murphy’s and rest at their lunch counter while you took stock of of your purchases and made plans to finish.
Gone are most of the stores of that era. Stores that were fixtures and well-known even outside Mullens. For clothes for gentlemen and their sons, there was Trent’s and Eli’s Mens Shop. These people served the clothing needs of area men for decades. Their businesses were built on honesty and service.
There was Steele Drug and the barber shops, Stump Drug and the fine hotels which were almost always full or near full. Pryor’s had a fine home and auto store. Kroger’s and A&P, along with several family- owned grocery stores filled that need.
There were many, many more places, but these are the ones that come to mind. If you recall a favorite place, tell me about it. I love to hear people’s memories. And I know the readers do too.
Some places in Oceana that were favorites at Christmas time were Beane’s Store, Morgan’s Fountain and the old Koppers Store in the middle of town. It was unusual for a company store to be located anywhere other than the coal camp of the parent company. Koppers Store, later Island Creek store, was able to compete for the business of customers other than employees.
Anyway, most of the business places that some of the older folks knew and loved are no longer there. Inevitable, I guess, but nonetheless sad.
Those old places are gone. Our first thoughts are of the buildings, the counters, the old manual cash registers, the merchandise, the decorations at Christmas. And we are sad at their passing. Then, as we ponder a little longer, we realize that these physical entities are only reminders of what we really miss. it is the fine people who owned and worked in these marvelous places.
As the old year passes into history and he new year replaces it I think my message is to the younger folks. Each day you are making memories to help brighten your later years. So keep a better record. take more pictures. That way you wont have to tax your brain to recall details of the wonderful days of your youth. Believe me, the chances are good that you will remember them as the best time of your life.