In last week's column I was recalling two of my favorite early businesses, one in Bentonville and one in Pea Ridge. My Pea Ridge favorite, although I really had several favorites, was the Luther Martin Store, which was located at the southwest corner of the main downtown intersection. Today, the whole stretch of buildings, beginning at the intersection and extending to the alley on the west, is occupied by the T.H. Rodgers Hardware. In the 1940s and 1950s, the years I am recalling, there were about four stores or businesses operating separately in that stretch of buildings. The Luther Martin Store, the easternmost store, built in 1928, was the one that I was in most. We usually bought groceries there or at the Kelly Armstrong Grocery and Feed Store on the other side of the street and farther west. Both the Martins and the Armstrongs went to church where we did, and at the time it seemed very natural to buy groceries at their stores.
Back in earlier days, stores like the Luther Martin Store were not so much serve-yourself stores as most of our stores are now. For many items, you went to the counter, told the proprietor what you needed, and he went to his shelves and brought it up for you. Supermarkets, where you walked the isles and gathered your own stuff, would come later. Luther Martin always had several canisters of candy, large canisters, candy in bulk. If we kids got to buy some candy, like jelly beans, Luther would get his small scoop and scoop a few cents worth of candy into a brown paper bag for us. We didn't have things wrapped in plastic back in those days. If candy was wrapped, it was in paper. The old wrappers were much easier to open than the candy in plastic wrap which we buy today. I wish we could go back to wax paper wrappers, rather than today's plastics, and back then we didn't have to fill the landfills with stuff that will be there for the next 500 years.
I guess Luther Martin's was my favorite store mainly because I liked the Martins, the whole family. Luther's sister, Winnie Martin, was the pianist at our church. Luther and Gertie's daughter, Martha Lee, was my first Sunday School teacher. Their other daughter, Mildred, married Max Walker, our rural mail carrier. Later in life, after my grandmother Ellen passed away, my grandpa Scott Nichols married Winnie Martin. So the Martin's were like family to us.
Moving west from the Luther Martin Store, next door was our barbershop, with longtime barber, Mike Edwards. Jim Lasater had also been a longtime barber, I think in the same location. Next to the barbershop was the Post Office, with Postmaster Finis Wood. Finis was also the first mayor of Pea Ridge, beginning in 1936.
I have never found out what kind of city government the town had before 1936, but they got public decisions and governance done some way during those hundred or so village years 1830 to 1936. Just west of the post office was Eva Patterson's Dry Goods Store. You could buy shoes for $5. Eva's building was added in 1946, as World War II was ending.
Just west of Eva's, was an old, old frame building from the 1800s. Luther Martin sold cattle feed and poultry feed out of that building in the earliest days I can remember. In the next block west was the Kelly and Dona Armstrong property, house and small farm. That would later be owned by Willie Jordan.
North across the street from the Armstrong house was their Grocery and Feed Store. The building, one of the oldest still standing in Pea Ridge, later served as Richardson's Market for many years. The old building was remodeled in 2016-17, but is currently unoccupied. Next to it was another of the oldest buildings in town, now remodeled and serving as a business office. Then, to the east across the alley was the Harve Ricketts Blacksmith Shop, and then the corner Esso Station, operated by Floyd Hall.
After World War II, C.H. Mount built his Grocery and Feed Store where the blacksmith shop had been. The Mount building is now the Pea Ridge Upholstery Shop.
The little field rock filling station on the corner had been built in 1930 by the famous baseball player, Clyde "Pea Ridge" Day.
To be continued.
Editor's note: Jerry Nichols, a native of Pea Ridge, is a retired Methodist minister and on the board of the Pea Ridge Historical Society. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 621-1621.Editorial on 09/05/2018
Print Headline: Recalling earlier local businesses