She just happened to be here at the same time as the storm, and those who braved the elements to see and hear her were aptly rewarded.
She brought me a treasure of a gift, a real memento of the tie that binds us. It’s a pocket that holds the circulation card of a library book from the old system when we actually “signed out” a book.
The library kept the card and put a date due card in its place. Mary had slipped another, taller, card in the pocket with the words “I still believe in 398.2” in bold letters. Ah, what memories.
Those Dewey Decimal numbers meant stories … legends, fairy tales, folklore … the backbone of our cultures, past and present. I thought how timely this was, what with the 107th anniversary of the opening of Dean’s Store coming up.
The store is a monument, a legend in its time, to the story of Woodstock. I happen in to the store occasionally while the Retirees Club is in session, and the tales on library shelves can’t hold a light to some of the rhetoric that bounces off these walls today.
The place is not as quiet and peaceful as it once was, with visitor statistics reflecting the activity that goes on when the guys are not around.
But the storytelling atmosphere never changes. The stories take on new life sometimes. The fish get bigger, the episodes take on more mystery, relationships expand. Call it enhancement or embellishment … or just fun.
During this week, annually, there is some cleaning activity as the store prepares for its birthday celebration.
This year’s event will be on Saturday, coincidentally the exact date in 1906 of the first dated entry in the store’s charge account ledger.
The tradition of a party to celebrate that transaction began in 2006, the store’s centennial year. Store proprietor Linton Dean’s grandson, Jim Drinkard, brought some of his bluegrass friends to provide entertainment, and has continued to do that every year since.
Old-fashioned small Cokes in glass bottles are standard refreshment for the affair. Occasionally we run across some item in the store that we never noticed before, and the latest “find” bears note.
It is a tag, resembling a baggage tag, not so unusual here since the store once served as a bus stop. This one is slightly smaller than an index card, faded red in color, with a string attached through a punched hole on one end.
It apparently was a marketing tool. On one side was a simple ad, “Ambulance Service, Jones Mercantile Company. Funeral Parlor. Phone, Day 14 or 90, Night 141.”
On the reverse side, a brilliant piece of advice from the local newspaper: “The man who has something to sell, And whispers it down a well, Is not so apt to grab the dollars As the one who gets out and hollers. TELL THE PUBLIC THROUGH THE COLUMNS OF THE NORTH GEORGIA TRIBUNE. A Real Newspaper for North Georgia. A good advertising medium.”
Since there is no date on the tag, we can only guess at its origins. It’s safe to say that Jones Mercantile no longer operates a funeral parlor, but today’s Cherokee Tribune, descended from the North Georgia Tribune, is still a good advertising medium, and a real newspaper for North Georgia.
Another item of interest is a metal clamp-type holder for towels or notes, an advertising article produced by W. D. Power, who offered insurance services.
Mr. Power operated a drug store near the intersection of Elm and Main Streets from 1915 until the mid-1920s. He was a rural mail carrier after that, and during some of those years had an insurance agency.
He and his wife, Nellie Dobbs Power, had three children, Marian, Jeanne, and Dean. Marian Power Ross, the oldest, just celebrated her 100th birthday in Massachusetts where she has lived for quite some time. In the family files at Dean’s Store is a copy of a letter from Marian to Christine and Phil Blight congratulating them on their purchase of the Bozeman House a few years ago.
Marian and Sarah, one of four Bozeman daughters, were born the same year. Marian says, in the letter, “Part of my heart will always remain in Georgia.”
Four walls, two doors, just a building. But the treasures and memories here could fill rows and rows of 398.2 stories. See you Saturday.
Juanita Hughes is Woodstock’s official historian and former director of the Woodstock Public Library.