Logan’s General Store

I fell into a time warp. I can’t remember how it happened. But it did. I was sucked backward 53 years.

I pulled off State Highway 160 in Hayden, Alabama. I wheeled into a sleepy Sunoco gas station. The parking lot was full of mud-caked Fords, and guys in work clothes drinking Gatorades. The front window of the convenience store said, “Ice Cold Coca-Cola Sold Here.”

I pushed the door open and walked inside the old country store. And I fell into the 1960s.

The smell of fried chicken hit me like a groundswell. The gal behind the sneeze-guard was selling 8-piece meals, fried potato wedges, Mexican rice, and some kind of fruit cobbler so good it’s probably illegal in three states.

The menu on the wall was an old lightbox menu. There was a wait.

The men in line for lunch were the prototypical blue-collars I come from. They wore steel-toes and ratty denim. They had black smears on their faces, and dirty hands. They looked like they had just gotten out of the mines, just left the steel mill, or just finished laying beads on column splices.

On my way to the bathroom, I realized this was not just a convenience store. Not in the sense that we know them today.

Today, you walk into a gas-station store littered with futuristic slushy machines and those roller grills turning sausages and eggrolls which predate the Carter administration.

This wasn’t a place like that. This was a sure-enough general store. This place was more akin to the mercantile your mama sent you to, riding on your bicycle, whenever she was out of cornmeal.

This was the kind of place that could cover all your domestic needs in one fell swoop. You could buy a pound of roofing nails, a Stoffeur’s lasagna, a squeegee, and a Baby Ruth, all in the same trip. Throw in some Navy plug for your old man and you were good to go.

I passed fully-stocked grocery aisles, full of random items like Spic and Span, wooden mousetraps, and of course, Dude pickled quail eggs.

I saw an old woman in overalls buying a can of Raid, a Dean’s Italian Cream cake, and a Phillips head screwdriver.

There was a young man buying a Monster Energy drink, a bag of okra, and some frozen field peas.

I stopped at the coffee machine and waited in a three-person line. I was waiting behind men who smelled of hard labor and long hours. Not a single man touched the cream or sugar.

There were a few kids wandering the store. They were covered in little-kid sweat and smatterings of freckles. The boys browsed the shelves of candy, bringing to mind my own feckless youth.

The days when I used to save all my dimes to buy Mister Goodbars, Fun Dip, candy cigarettes, Big League Chew, or the mother of all confectionaries, a Payday.

At the register, I waited behind an elderly man at the front counter. His hair was white, and he was walking on unsteady legs. His voice was weak and he had the shakes. He was prepaying for his gas. Cash.

The young man behind the register took the man’s money and said, “You want help pumping your gas, sir?”

What year was I in? Young men offering to pump gas for their elders?

“Nah,” said the old man in a thick, mountain drawl. “I can do it. But thank you for the offer.”

“You sure?” said the kid. “I don’t mind.”

“I’m sure,” he said.

I paid for my wares. A gal behind the counter was restocking pouches of Red Man. There was an old pocketknife display case beside the register.

I met a man leaning on the counter as I paid. He was dressed in work clothes and a film of grime, wearing boots that were older than I am. He was shooting the breeze with the cashier, smiling, even though there wasn’t anything noticeable to be smiling about.

“How you doing today?” the man asked
me cheerfully.

“Okay,” I said. “How’re you?”

He smiled bigger. “If I was any better, I wouldn’t be able to stand myself.”

I returned his smile.

They bid me goodbye. I pushed the door open and left the 1960s. And I was immediately back in the real world again.

A world of interstates, dinging phones, tight schedules and text messages. A place where motorists see a yellow light and speed up instead of slowing down. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind living in the modern world. Honest, I don’t.

But I can guarantee you, I’ll be going back to Logan’s General Store again.

46 comments

  1. Pat Clinard - July 30, 2022 7:20 am

    I’ve been to Logan’s General Store only it goes by a different name in a different town.

    Reply
  2. Ann Thompson - July 30, 2022 7:48 am

    “I returned his smile”. I Love that sentence. There’s power is a smile.

    Reply
  3. Ronald Blankenship - July 30, 2022 9:08 am

    Boy, that one takes me back to my childhood visiting grandparents in Tennessee, where the only store in town was just like in this story. Thanks for the memories.

    Reply
  4. Ed (Bear) - July 30, 2022 9:51 am

    The 60’s huh! Let me tell you what the 60’s were like for me. I was a teenager for most of it. As an example, I was driving west bound on Interstate 20 in a carpet installation company van. I came upon two young teenage looking girls hitchhiking without tops to cover their upper girly parts. They were completely exposed above the waist to the Georgia summer sun. Well, I slowed way down to get a better look but couldn’t bring myself to stop. Something inside me told me those girls would get me in trouble. There was a guy in a Mustang a bit behind me that screeched on his brakes. I reckon he wasn’t as indecisive as me! The 60’s kinda happened and I sort of just kept going.

    Reply
  5. Barbara Dale - July 30, 2022 10:16 am

    John’s Trading Post on Brawley School Road was like that – right up into the early 1990s. A very fond memory was buying penny candy and finishing every Mary Jane on the walk back home- on a gravel road.
    Thank you for the lovely memories!

    Reply
  6. Elizabeth Gardiner - July 30, 2022 10:45 am

    A trip back to my 1960’s childhood. Thank you for this precious gift this Saturday morning.

    Reply
  7. Caroline - July 30, 2022 11:12 am

    What a special gift to read this story today, as it’s my birthday! So nice to step back in time. Thank you, Sean, for sharing your heart through your beautiful words. I’m a first time poster, but have been a secret admirer of your writings for awhile now. Such a joy to start off my day with your posts.

    Reply
  8. Rhett Talbert - July 30, 2022 11:26 am

    Yessireebob.

    Reply
  9. rootdigger61 - July 30, 2022 11:42 am

    My mom lived in Hayden for about 34 years, so I’ve been in Logan’s many times, usually when mother sent me there for plumbing supplies. It’s nice to read about a place you know exactly where it is and those people are probably kinfolk. – Kim Hughes

    Reply
  10. Cheryl Newsome - July 30, 2022 11:43 am

    I have a feeling that after reading this, Logan’s is going to get very busy fast! They have a Facebook page, if anyone wants to swoon over the menu–wow.

    Reply
  11. Paul McCutchen - July 30, 2022 11:43 am

    It had to have a freezer with ice cream. Big buckets of it that they put on a cone but usually in a cup.

    Reply
  12. Matt Ovaska - July 30, 2022 11:47 am

    I worked at an auto parts manufacturing plant in Church Hill, Tenn. The break room featured 25-30 soda machines. Two machines had a typical selection and the rest were fully stocked with Mountain Due only.

    In 1961, my dad and I were traveling through S Carolina, on 301 in a 55 Chevy. We stopped for gas. No self service back then. We waited until the two attendants finished the last few moves on a checker board; followed by a few cheering bystanders. 11cents a gallon. Fond memories.

    Reply
  13. david grant - July 30, 2022 12:01 pm

    Cooper General Store Greelyville South Carolina. Look them up on facebook. Write on Sean. u da man ! 🙏

    Reply
  14. Kathy White - July 30, 2022 12:16 pm

    Memories

    Reply
  15. Bonnie Specchio - July 30, 2022 12:25 pm

    My husband and I live on a farm in central Illinois, but we have two homes in Alabama. I say we are Illi-bamians. One is our place in Gulf Shores where our son and family live. The other is our hunting camp in Pleasant Hill. When we bring friends from IL down to camp in our little plane, upon landing, I always say “Welcome to Alabama – please turn your watch back 60 years.” This article sums it up perfectly – we don’t have these old-time general stores in IL – we have Casey’s. I love going to the “meat and three” lunch counters – unheard of in the Midwest. I look forward to your writings every day – God bless you and Jamie!

    Reply
  16. Howard Humphreys - July 30, 2022 12:51 pm

    Sounds like one of those old Ashland Kentucky country stores from the 1950’s!

    Reply
  17. Melanie - July 30, 2022 1:18 pm

    This is the only time I have ever wished there were pictures with your words, Sean. It sounds so wonderful I want to soak it in with all my senses. Maybe you can put this place in your next book. Sounds like you have some of the characters already 😉. Thank you for sharing this special place. I hope it stays just like it is forever.

    Reply
  18. Kathy Smith - July 30, 2022 1:41 pm

    Another comforting story. Thank you. It reminded me of growing up in Warm Springs, Georgia. I’d like to say, unrelated to the story, your art work is wonderful. Kind of like everything else you do.

    Reply
  19. David - July 30, 2022 2:01 pm

    You missed (or forgot) “snuff for Granny” but, otherwise, spot on.

    Reply
    • James - July 31, 2022 1:28 pm

      Nailed it. And it has to be Brutons in a glass jar.

      Reply
  20. Pingback: Sean of the South: Logan’s General Store | The Trussville Tribune

  21. David Britnell - July 30, 2022 2:17 pm

    I agree with another commenter Kathy Smith, this is a very comforting story! I do enjoy the conveniences of modern day but I sure like the stories of friendly people and good old fashioned southern cooking!

    Reply
  22. JonDragonfly - July 30, 2022 2:35 pm

    Ship ‘N’ Shore, Dauphin Island, Alabama.
    If they don’t have it, you don’t need it.

    Reply
  23. Kelley Hinsley - July 30, 2022 2:45 pm

    Nice trip. I enjoyed going back. I think is was Mr. Skaggs Store at the highway crossing of Shelby Drive and Highway 70. I believe it was 1956. A wooden bench under the front cover always had about the old fellows whittling a red cedar stick with there very sharp and little Case knife. Piles of curly cedar shavins on the ground. I wanted to be able to do that. It seemed simple, effortless and as he stroked down the cedar and the curled hair thin red cedar separated and fell away. It is neither simple nor effortless and will absolutly cause a 7 year old to cut the hell out of himself.

    Reply
  24. Dutton Morehouse - July 30, 2022 2:47 pm

    Have you been to the Original Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, NC? It is pretty much like Logan’s. A great store.

    Reply
  25. Paul Alge - July 30, 2022 2:48 pm

    I love those places Sean. The last ones are mostly closed. Like the one in Burnt Corn Alabama. Lowery’s. Where you could get a slice of cheese off the wheel. Or by nails out of those wooden bins. But if you ever drive on highway 7 between Columbia Tn.and Bon Aqua Tn. There’s a spot called Fly Tn. It had a small sawmill and a old wooden general store run by an old guy named Wilson Fly. His dad ran it and his dad before that. He sleeps in the back. It’s a trip way back in time. It is special. Get you a moon pie. A Pepsi is still 50 cents. Out front in a circle of chairs will be a bunch of old guys talking spitting and whittling. Time travel? Close as you gonna get.

    Reply
  26. Billy Moore - July 30, 2022 2:59 pm

    Me oh my, Sean! You bring back 60’s memories of Perry’s Store in the Perry’s Store Community, Sasser’s Store in Opp, Flow’s Store in DeFuniak Springs…

    Reply
  27. Debbie Sanders - July 30, 2022 3:44 pm

    Don’t we all wish to have a regular visit BACK to the simple way it used to be!

    Reply
  28. sjhl7 - July 30, 2022 3:53 pm

    So familiar yet so far away. My Grandfather and Grandmother had just this kind of store when I was growing up back in the 50’s ad 60’s. Brings back great memories. They cut their own meat on a big chopping block made from a huge tree trunk. Those were the days my friend!

    Reply
  29. Patricia Gibson - July 30, 2022 3:57 pm

    I often wish I could go back to living in that time!

    Reply
  30. Kathy - July 30, 2022 4:05 pm

    It’s immediately brought me back to when I would visit my dad‘s parents and Evington Virginia. The road was Sunburst Road and my siblings and I would walk probably a good quarter mile or more to the country store. There you would find barrels of different goods sold by the pound and a huge array of candy you cannot even find now. When I remember is candy lipstick. We each had $.25 and would leave with a brown paper bag of candy and walk back to our grandparents. We would go out into the woods where we had set up a fort/play area and have a candy picnic. Oh we also got a cold bottle of pop/Coca-Cola. Thanks for the story and taking me back to my 1960s. Oh how I wish the world was that simple nowadays for children.
    From a faithful follower from Niceville Florida.

    Reply
  31. Ed Teague - July 30, 2022 5:07 pm

    Got that right neighbor, the lifestyle I long for again but it’s probably just a dream

    Reply
  32. Patricia Simmons Taylor - July 30, 2022 6:02 pm

    The Good Old Days for sure…

    Reply
  33. Dolores S Fort - July 30, 2022 6:43 pm

    This is my home! My daughter expressed so much better than I could what this family and store mean to our community that I am sharing what she said. Today just happens to be her birthday, so this post was definitely appropriate. Thank you, Sean, for a wonderful look into our community!

    “Today was a good day to come across this. Bill and Lela Logan were our neighbors growing up. Mrs. Logan still lives next door to my mom and still keeps her yard pristine. Almost every trip, short or long, included the phrase “we’ll stop at Logan’s.” My singular season of softball included practices on the makeshift field behind the store. Shortly before my 16th birthday, when I was home alone, I grabbed the keys to my first car, a Plymouth Colt stick with a killer Alpine cassette stereo and dual shifter, and drove to Logan’s for Double Bubble and a soda. Thrilling, until I got home and closed the door on my thumb, which I couldn’t tell anyone about because it would mean telling them about my unlicensed joyride. Karma is real, y’all. Junior and Senior years, Michelle, her brother, and I stopped here every day after school to “put it on my mom’s tab.” In college, I stopped every morning on my way to UAB to pick up a V8 for breakfast. When I was invited back to the middle school to speak at career day, I stopped there to check the oil in the car I borrowed from a friend because we weren’t sure if my car would make it from Southside to Hayden and back. When I searched for the dipstick in my best purple business skirt and cream blouse, a nice man handled the task for me so I wouldn’t get dirty. Even this past July 4th (6th actually), my mom and I stopped there for gas… and put it on her 47-year-and-running tab. Logan’s is an institution and an integral part of thousands of childhoods in West Blount.”

    Reply
  34. dbdicks430 - July 30, 2022 7:06 pm

    Payday candy bars are my favorites…come to Fred’s General Merchantile on Beech Mt. if you want a treat in the NC Blue Ridge Mountains.
    Thanks for the wonderful post.

    Reply
  35. Judy - July 30, 2022 7:11 pm

    Each morning that I receive your column …and enjoy the gift of your words…I have renewed hope in HUMANITY !!
    THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR GIFT!!

    Reply
  36. suzi - July 30, 2022 7:18 pm

    Don’t let too many know about the “Logan’s General Stores” of this world!

    Reply
  37. Ingrid B Whigham - July 30, 2022 8:40 pm

    Thanks for the nostalgia. I loved your word “pictures.” It’s wonderful to stumble upon something that reminds us of the old days.

    Reply
  38. Karen Shapnick - July 30, 2022 9:45 pm

    I would go back to the old times in a NY second

    Reply
  39. Libby Grizzle - July 30, 2022 11:44 pm

    What a wonderful story. I sure wish there were more stores like this now a days.

    Reply
  40. Linda Moon - July 31, 2022 2:56 am

    You took me back there with you after my long and wonderful day, and I’ve been to Hayden many times too. Next time I’m there, I’ll go to Logan’s!

    Reply
  41. Slimpicker - July 31, 2022 3:02 am

    I went to high school with the son of Robert Cade, who invented Gatorade, but back then most everybody drank RC Cola in one hand and a moon pie in the other. Life did seem a lot simpler then.

    Reply
  42. Nancy Carnahan - July 31, 2022 3:42 pm

    I used to walk to Mr. Jim Anderton’s general store in Hatton Alabama with my grandpa. He would stand in front of the mirror and wrap his hair over his head before putting on his hat. That was almost 70 years ago and I still remember it. Memories are odd. That was penny-candy days. He was the sweetest man ever and Mr. Jim was a good one too. It’s not there anymore, but neither am I.

    Reply
  43. Larry Wall - July 31, 2022 5:40 pm

    Thank you Sean for the visit to my childhood days in the early and mid-50s when I could find those community stores all around our north Georgia area. Everything was as you found at Logan’s, including someone always leaning on an inside counter looking for someone to gab a bit with. Plumbing supplies to fishing bait and tackle to dry goods. They were the heart and soul of southern rural America.You painted the picture so well with your words. God bless you and Jamie.

    Reply
  44. Helen De Prima - July 31, 2022 6:47 pm

    a Southern tradition!

    Reply
  45. Joe - August 1, 2022 1:41 am

    Would love to meet you there

    Reply

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