Restoring the old county store

Saturday, July 8, 2006

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Have any expired medicine? If it's expired by, say, 80 years, don't throw it out just yet. And think twice before tossing away grandpa's moldy tobacco tins.

The Boone County Historical Society is looking for old goods to help restock the shelves of the former Easley Store to make it resemble the store during the 1920s and 1930s.

"We're trying to furnish it as it would have been before electric reached the county, which would be around 1930," said Deborah Thompson, executive director of the historical society.

The old Easley Store, which was removed last year from its site along the Missouri River in the town of Easley, is awaiting reconstruction in Nifong Park.

The historical society is working through plans with its contractor and is getting permits to rebuild the store. Reconstruction should begin in August, said David Sapp, former president of the historical society.

The society wants to have the store open for tours by Memorial Day next year.

To make visiting the store a more authentic step back in time, Sapp and Thompson are asking for donations of old-time goods to display on the reconstructed stores shelves.

Sapp and Thompson's long wish list of items includes calendars, farm tools, advertising, shoes, marbles, string holders and many other things.

"They were no Wal-Marts," Thompson said of old community stores. "But they tried to carry things you'd need fairly regularly."

The historical society already has received donated items for the store. They include an old canning machine and a boat motor, which are on display at the society's museum in Nifong Park.

Francis Pike, former reporter and circulation manager for the Tribune, recently donated a mint condition Dutch oven from 1939. Pike said the oven was left over from a newspaper promotion where readers got an oven if they signed up for a one-year subscription.

A pair of baby shoes donated by Vernon Barr also will be part of the stores collection. The shoes, from 1921, were purchased for Barr's brother, Loren Barr. The cardboard box the shoes came in is extremely well preserved and shows colorful pictures of children playing. The shoes spent years in a dresser drawer in Barrs house.

"They were just tucked away, I suppose, and weren't bothered," he said.

The historical society has money to purchase some hard-to-find items for the store, such as a coffee grinder.

"I watch eBay constantly for stuff like that," Sapp said.

However, donations are obviously preferred.

Paper items, such as old calendars, could be lent to the society to make reproductions for the store and then returned to the owner, Sapp said.

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