Daughter pays tribute to her father's childhood
By By Teresa Aycock/special to The Star
Feb. 27, 2002
This is a story of a third generation family business the Snodwen Store. Teresa Aycock pays tribute to her father, Ken Kinard, today on his 60th birthday, with this story about the memories of his childhood at the store.
On a narrow rural highway it still stands like a fading beacon of days gone by. Once an oasis in the dusty country heat, now ravaged by decades of progress, it succumbed to the demands for modernization. But progress cannot replace the fondness for this place in the memory of a boy of the era.
The Snowden store was a family business, begun three generations ago by Enoch Ransom Snowden, as a general store, a combination of today's convenience stores, groceries and "super"center shopping marts. Mr. Ransom provided the Shucktown residents with everything from feed and bridles to fruit and flour. The post office was located in the store for many years. And the store even served as a community center of sorts, with locals gathering there around the pot-bellied stove in back or on the front porch, depending on the season, to catch up on the goings on of the rural neighborhood.
The store was open most every day of the year, including Christmas Eve, when wagons would pull up until late at night to pick up surprises of fruit and occasionally candy for parents to give to their children. The Snowden family long had a tradition of holding their Christmas Eve festivities at the store so that Mr. Snowden could participate while still tending the shopping needs of his neighbors.
After the death of Ransom Snowden, his son, Ford, took over as the proprietor of the business. Later, following a series of similar ventures in Meridian, Ford's brother, Jim, became the store owner/manager. Jim ran the store in basically the same manner as his father, stocking farm necessities, such as bridles, block salt, and domestic items such as fabric and thread. The Snowden Store met the everyday needs of the people of Shucktown.
Mr. Jim's first grandson, Kendall, was born in 1942. They fast became the best of friends. He soon nicknamed the boy "Buddy" and he became "Daddy Jim." The store was a terrific playground for the boy, who had the run of it, and of his grandfather, as is typically the case with grandchildren. Daddy Jim and Buddy talked often about the management of the store, and Buddy became convinced that being a businessman was his destiny. Daddy Jim even promised to build Buddy his own store, right across the road so they could still be close.
The store was Buddy's favorite place, providing him with an endless supply of candy from the big jars on the counter and as well as many items to fuel the imagination of a small child. Daddy Jim had great patience with Buddy's childhood games and pranks.
The boy's mother fondly recalls when the lad, just 4-years-old, shot off firecrackers in the community mailboxes, then located across the road from the store. When Buddy had tired of play, he could rest on the porch. He enjoyed watching the cars go by, if there were any, and listening to the stories told by the farmers and hands who gathered on the porch to escape the midday sun.
In 1947, Daddy Jim passed away after a brief illness with lung cancer. His widow, Agnes, became the shopkeeper, making many changes, as women typically do. Progress in the community also greatly changed the store. It was wired for electricity, increasing the inventory possibilities almost endlessly. Gasoline tanks were installed (Ethyl was 15 cents a gallon) and refrigerated boxes allowed Miss Agnes to stock bologna, Brookshire's ice cream, and cold Coca Colas. The farm hands of the area now had access to such affordable lunch delicacies as 10 cents-worth of bologna and 5 cents-worth of hoop cheese. Eventually, the store stocked Hardin's Bread, making fewer the demands for the 24-pound sacks of flour that had been stocked there for many years.
With the management of Miss Agnes came stricter controls on the boy's run of the store, as is characteristic of grandmothers. The nickname of "Buddy" died with Daddy Jim and the boy became called by his given name of Kendall or "Ken." His playground became the outdoors.
After the loss of Daddy Jim, the boy found new playmates and adventures. One almost daily companion was Sonny, the son of farm hand Jack Snowden, no relation but in fact a black man who lived in the area. Sonny and Kendall played in the area fields and woods, getting into mischief that to this day is probably not fully known. On the days that Sonny couldn't come play, Kendall resorted to playing with his pets, a deaf, albino cat and "Wormy" the parakeet; that is until Wormy met his fateful demise at the hands of the cat. In his anger and grief, Kendall banished the cat, which was taken in by Sonny. But after a few weeks the cat returned home and all was forgiven.
Progress brought with it the paving of the highway and the new adventures for the growing boy. Kendall quickly made friends with the highway workers was soon allowed to stand on the back of the road grader and ride from the store to the Kemper County line and back. Because of the highway, the store had to be downsized. It was cut in half and the front part moved away. The porch was replaced and the store continued to operate, only with half the space.
Along about 1962, with the news of crimes committed on similar enterprises in other parts of the state, Miss Agnes became fearful of operating the store by herself, and the business was sold to the Carpenters. By this time the boy was grown and had moved to the neighboring community of Pine Springs, where he and his wife raised two daughters.
Closed, but not forgotten
The store has been closed now for many years, having given way to more modern venues. The highway is now well traveled, making trips into Meridian easier and more common for the citizens than when the store was a community essential.
Miss Agnes passed away in 1997 at the age of 97. Kendall never became the businessman that at the age of 4, he was certain he would be. But he provided well for his family, working 35 years for the phone company. He is now himself a grandfather of six and passes on to his grandchildren stories of the store and of that era, with a touch of regret that they never experienced the magic of such a place and time.