Historic Home @ The Corner of Bruce and Ash Street in Conway AR
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Historic Home at the corner of Bruce & Ash Streets in Conway, AR. In past years Sohn's Grocery Store was located on the corner where you now see a parking lot and step. The home was originally on the corner and when the store was built the home was moved over to the shown location. Note the cantilevered balcony.
L. Sohn's Grocery,(cash & carry market), corner of Bruce & Ash streets, was one of the first family owned/operated suburban corner grocery stores in the early 1900's Conway, AR
The poem below written by Harold Eidson (my childhood friend.) "The Corner Store" poem relates to past memories of "Mom & Dad's Corner Grocery Store." SORRY THAT THE TEXT RUNS TOGETHER SINCE FORMATTED TEXT DOES NOT RETAIN ITS FORMAT WHEN ENTERED HERE.
Hilger’s Store sat where Ash and Bruce Streets met In the bustling times of postwar Conway – A cherished symbol of my childhood And a glimpse of the American way.
The little corner grocery anchored Our neighborhood quaint with its oak-lined streets, Just two blocks away—a hub for weekly Shopping and occasional summer treats.
Sometimes we’d be sent for some missing Ingredient to make the evening meal. But mostly we’d tag along with Mother Hoping she’d grant our sweet tooth’s appeal.
The proprietors, Minor and Rudie, Were Mr. and Mrs. Hilger to me, When you opened the door you were greeted With smells and smiles of familiarity.
Those wonderful aromas that blended Together as you walked along the aisles – Fragrant smells of rich coffee, bread and cheese, Brought simultaneous pleasure and smiles.
Each purchase was carefully recorded In a receipt book (inscribed with your name) By hand, with a blunt #2 pencil, That hadn’t been sharpened since last you came.
I watched the baloney slices be shaved Off the loaf that he took from the cooler Each round sliver would curl off in a stack, Weighed out and wrapped up in butcher paper.
He’d use an identical procedure In cutting strips from a slab of bacon Slicer adjusted to thickness desired The order was filled and ev’ry care taken.
Each small white bundle was folded and taped, The purchase amount marked boldly in red With a pencil fetched from his apron bib – Nothing shrink-wrapped, nor plastic pre-packaged.
The storeroom in back had a big freight scale That we’d climb on for Daddy to weigh us I’d watch fascinated as he’d slide weights Along the scale arm ‘til it balanced us.
The Hilgers each had distinctive voices Time’s dimmed the exact quality and strain – His, like Paul Lynde, hers, a soft nasal twang. It’s funny what things get stored in your brain.
Once our dog was lost for a week or so. We got a call from our grocer neighbor. A dog they thought looked a lot like Sandy Was seen out by their incinerator
We rushed down to see, most markings were right— Others discounted ‘cause our wishful tears Convinced us to make him one lucky dog! So we kept and loved him for thirteen years.
On occasions when we needed cash fast, Like money to take for a band trip meal, Mother would send Susan to Hilger’s and, ATM-like, get cash charged to the bill.
One story now part of our fam’ly lore, Carolyn, maybe three, started crying While shopping, asking for “biscuit dough candy” Mother had no clue what she’d been eyeing.
Sometime later in calmer surroundings, When she was well past her sniffling and woes, We learned what would have appeased her cravings Was a small bag of puffy marshmallows.
When the season was right, local farmers Brought their fresh produce for sale. Butterbeans, Roasting ears, purple hulls, and Kentucky Wonders meant shucking, shelling, and snappings.
We’d gather on our porch with colanders In hand – remove each vegetable “wrapper” To expose the tasty inner delight. For a wonderful fresh garden supper.
Cold drinks were in a top-lidded cooler – Bottles stood up neck high in chilled water. Sodas, now vintage, like R.C. Colas, And the 10, 2 & 4 Dr. Pepper.
There were Nehi Oranges and Seven-Ups, Grapettes – their caps seen just above water. Non-carbonated Tru-Aides, and Hot Springs Valley Water –– hydration to augur?
You’d reach in your hand and pull one right out Dripping wet, pop off the lid, and guzzle Or sip on it to savor the flavor While you searched for your Cracker Jacks’ puzzle.
Frozen confections were in a freezer Kept next to the cash reg’ster counter Its inside walls crystal’d thick with white frost That kept sticks cold and stiffened each wrapper.
Anxious, you’d lift the lid – an Arctic blast Hit your face, choices tantalized your eyes – Frozen Dreamsicles, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Fudgesicles, Popsicles, Eskimo pies.
Pick your favorite, peel back the wrapper Admiring it for a moment, so sweet, Anticipating the pleasure in store When slurping the flavorful frosty treat.
The candy case had glass panes on all sides, A sliding panel that opened in back. Inside, the bars, in bright colored wrappers, Patiently absorbed our eyes attack.
Chocolate bars displayed in their boxes – Baby Ruth, Snickers, Heath Bar, Hershey – Names recognized, then and now, by all, e’en Classics like Neccos and Bits o’Honey.
On top were clear jars of treats and goodies, Licorice, peppermint, and Bubblegum, Lift off the round lid – pick one for yourself, Then dream what you’ll choose the next time you come.
Sewing supplies – needles and thread – were there On the counter. A small chest with drawers Just right – size wise – to hold spools in neat rows, All ordered by shade, size and numbers.
Mother often needed a spool of thread To mend a new rip or sew a new dress. A rainbow of colors burst in view when The drawer was pulled out by our “seamstress.”
In back a kerosene barrel and pump Stood – an oily odor and greasy mess. Guess some folks still needed the fuel to Kindle their coal-oil lamp’s luminescence
Each month brought the reckoning of the bill. All itemized charges were paid in full The lesson observed subliminally Taught us kids never a fast one to pull
Keep good your promises, hold fast t’your word, Don’t overspend, were values learned daily. Be friends to have friends, courteous always , And in all things represent the fam’ly.
When Mother dropped by on weekdays she’d see Neighbors from diverse Conway cross-sections – Folks from all walks of life, the faithful from St. Joe’s and Protestant congregations.
A place to catch up on all local news, Talk of community happenings, too – Latest gossip, good or bad, discreetly Was shared, so their consciences would not rue.
The store’s name had not always been Hilger’s It was first called Sohn’s Grocery, and when Rudie was widowed she married Minor – A new business sign went up in front then.
Name changes were awkward and new for me At first I would say “Mrs. Sohn”, and withdraw – Ashamed, and very embarrassed But she Kindly overlooked my careless faux pas.
Her teenage son, James, ace radio ham, Electronics design whiz K-I-D. Broadcast a clear signal from his garage With call sign W-5-T-I-D .
James configured mysterious gadgets In the little white garage out behind. I never got past the big “KEEP OUT” sign. Was it like the one in Beautiful Mind?
A little corner market just serving A large circle of friends, middle class folks Eking out livings, raising their fam’lies. Our heartfelt thanks – for mem’ries time evokes!
Now, alas, this special place, like others, Is missing from that great ol' neighborhood. Its slab is still there – as a parking lot – The Bruce and Ash street sign marks where it stood.
A half century now has come and gone, Those friendly faces still quite understood – Landscapes altered, our surroundings have changed, Yet we hold precious – times of our childhood.
God bless the memories of Mom ‘n Pops – Their contribution serving our nation – We honor our roots and lessons learned at The feet of The Greatest Generation.
Harold Eidson September 23, 2011
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- Uploaded on March 25, 2011
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- Camera: Canon PowerShot SX210 IS
- Taken on 2011/03/15 17:13:01
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