Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

January 12, 2010

Jolly’s Store – – Part 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 6:00 am
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In several of my blogs I have made reference to Jolly’s Store.  Knowing that it will probably be mentioned in future blogs, perhaps I need to give you the background.

Jolly’s Store opened for business in 1882 in Clarkston, GA, the same year  the city was chartered. There was really no town, just some homes along the railroad tracks . . . and Jolly’s Store.  My great-grandfather opened this general store to serve the populace.  The store was to stay in the family until 1951.

It was a general store with all lines of merchandise.  Customers would find available  the staple food items, hardware,  work clothes, feed for cows, chickens, and all livestock.  There was even a pharmaceutical area with medicines that did not require a prescription or special mixing.  In front was a well to provide water for anyone desiring water for themselves,  their mules or horses.

To the rear of the store was a barn.  Livestock was kept there, and the meat was slaughtered as needed  in the store.  Later, when automobiles became more common in the area, a gas tank and pump were installed on the side of the store.

The post office was located within the store and any of the employees had the privilege to receive or deliver to people their mail upon request.  It was truly a one-stop, one-shop store!

My grandfather later bought the store from his father and operated it until my father would buy it. Changes were made as times began to change.  Soon a couple of other businesses opened as the town began to grow.  The well was replaced with water from the public system; the gas tank and pump were removed when a service station opened; and the barn was torn down when meat was delivered from wholesalers. A  new post office was built next to the store and employed only postal workers–which happened to be my great-aunt who had worked in Jolly’s Store.

My grandfather adjusted to the change in the community and happily made way for business expansion by others.  He sectioned off the large building to make an area for a drug store and another store front for any new business.

Following World War II my father returned to his former employment, but in a couple of years learned his father was going to retire and sell the family store.  My father responded immediately that it was his intention to buy the business.  This he did, and our family relocated from Stone Mountain to Clarkston, just five miles away.

My father and mother continued the business in the same way as my grandfather.  Few changes were seen.  Although it was primarily a grocery store, some things were still available as before.   There were still feed bins as well as  drums of kerosene.  Items such as chicken feed, flour, sugar, and dry beans, etc. would be sacked from those bins and weighed.  Kerosene was pumped into the containers brought to the store by the customer.

What did change drastically under my father was delivery service.  One only needed to call on the phone and the order was taken.  Within an hour or so, the order was delivered.   If it was a small order, it was delivered by bike.  If a larger order, or several orders, needed to delivered, the car or truck would deliver them.  There was no need for collection for the delivery, as credit was provided for everyone.  Once a week or once a month, the customers would come to pay their bill.

The store was a general meeting place.  It was the social center of Clarkston.  There were chairs and stools where people could sit and visit.  Of course, they always bought something to drink as well as something sweet to go with the soft drink.  You did not need a newspaper in town as all the news was shared around that old pot-belly stove.

The store was always cleaned at night.  Wood shavings with a little kerosene were spread on the concrete floor before sweeping.  That would prevent any dust from being stirred up and settling on the merchandise. The butcher’s block was cleaned daily, sanded by hand.

Meat was kept in a large walk-in cooler. Cheese sat during the day under cheese cloth on the cool marble slabs and was cut only when ordered.  No meat was pre-cut.  A customer could even walk around to the butcher’s block and point to the portion of meat they wanted cut.  Weiners, as with other products, were not packaged and a customer either requested a certain weight or a certain number. 

Vegetables were bought late at night or early morning before opening the store by making a trip to the Atlanta Farmer’s Market.  The vegetables were always fresh.  They were placed in bins at the front windows so everyone could see them.  What  remained at night was either disposed of or given to someone.  A few items could be refrigerated, but my father would estimate rather closely how much to buy so there would be no loss.

(Please read tomorrow’s blog Jolly’s Store – – Part 2 for the rest of the story.  It shares with you my part and love for the store, plus how it changed the direction of my life.)



1 Comment »

  1. Lawson, I found your blog when I Googled Jolly’s of DeKalb County looking for additional family members. I have enjoyed reading your posts, especially your reminiscing about Clarkston and Stone Mountain. If you recall, my Grandmother was Alice Jolly McLendon, my parents were Kitty Kate and Red Riley and I would love to learn more about the Jolly’s, so I look forward to hearing from you.

    Comment by Jack Riley — September 24, 2015 @ 9:54 am | Reply

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