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The J. Carnahan Smith Store

John Geiselman
From his book "Reflections"

It was early springtime and the Lombard poplars stood tall along the hitching rails at the Barlow General Store. There was a slight breeze blowing and the leaves were fluttering as J. Carnahan Smith unlocked the front door to his general store. He walked slowly onto the porch and paused for a whiff of fresh spring air then ambled down the front steps and unlocked the gas pump that stood very near the road. As he returned to the porch he unlocked the three oil drums that held the various grades of oil then entered the door to his store. Now the store was opened for business for another day. Daddy Smith had done this for nearly twenty-four years, and with the help of his wife Emma, they served the Barlow community well from19 15 to 1939.

Their home was always open to the young people of the community. Many a time Daddy and Mother Smith would give candy to the little boys and girls that came in the store with their fathers and mothers. It was their way of expressing their love towards these little ones and for their families patronage.

The store was always closed on Sundays but if anyone ran out of gas while traveling along the road Daddy Smith always had a can he could fill for them. time they ran out of gas

quite a long distance from his store. He would fill his can and take them in his car to their vehicle. I remember one time a man ran out of gas on Allison's Hill, south of the Mt. Joy Church, near Rock Creek. When they came for gas, Daddy Smith asked my father to take the man, and a can of gas, to where he ran out. I went along that summer afternoon. It would have been quite a long walk to get back to his car.

The plot of ground the Barlow General store and other buildings set on was comprised of about three acres. I will describe the store and house and the purpose for which it was used.

The front steps went up to a porch that ran nearly three-fourths of the way around the house. On the ground beside the porch was the gas pump which held Texaco gas. In later years Daddy Smith sold Atlantic gas and oil. At the corner of the porch was a big coal-oil lamp on top of a tall pole which was lit after dark. Above the steps was a large sign which read - J. Carna Smith, General Merchandise, Barlow, PA. On the porch were oil drums with handles on them to pump out any amount of oil needed. Next to the drums were one-half pint and quart measures. At the top of the steps was the door that entered the store itself. When opening the door a bell would ring letting the Smiths' know someone had entered the store. They needed this type of bell, for they would sometimes be back in the living quarters of the building.

On the right, going in, was a counter that reached almost three-quarters of the way back through the store. On this counter was a long tall square glass case which held rickrack, bows for hats, and many small items used by a milliner. In later years fresh loaves of bread were kept here. Farther on, was a low glass showcase, which kept different kinds of yarn, women's under-wear, petty coats, and various sizes of stockings. On top of this glass case were high stacks of men's shirts and overalls of various sizes. There was a wire running part way back towards the ceiling with different styles of gloves hanging on it. On the shelves in back of this counter were boxes of gloves.

Atop the counter were two small showcases. One held various sizes and colors of ribbon which women used to decorate their dresses and hats. It had a glass pull-out tray. This I have in my store museum with some of the original ribbon in it. On top of the counter, farther back, were knee boots, shoes, and four-buckle arctics. These were just a sample of what he had on the shelves. Under the shelves in back of the counter were kept the spool cabinets filled with the various sizes of colored thread. Also there was a large cigar box full of many kinds of lamp wicks. At the end of this counter a door entered the living room, which was part of the house. This room had a total of eight doors, counting the door from the store. Two went outside, one to the out-kitchen, one to the steps that go upstairs, one to a closet under the steps, one to the parlor, and one to the hall coming back into the store room. Along the back wall, on the shelves, were kept the various kinds of patent medicines. Also, on a lower shelf which had a tilt to it, were kept small boxes of fig bars and dates. These didn't usually sell very well. Many a time, after Christmas, Mother would bring some home that didn't sell. We thought they were good!

At the end of this shelf was a door going back to what they called a wareroom. Here is where they kept various things such as the vinegar barrel, spices, lamps, lantern globes, shovels, mattocks, picks, corn choppers, hoes, rakes, corn brooms, extra horse collars, and reins. Also, there was an ice chest that belonged to Newman's Ice Company of York, with whom they dealt. Daddy Smith put ice in it to keep soda pop cold. In later years he sold ice cream and had a cabinet that held three cans with the standard flavors of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.

This ice cream cabinet was owned by Ice and Storage of Gettysburg. Emmert Leatherman delivered ice cream on certain days of the week, in long round wooden tubs or caskets, packed with crushed ice. It mostly held three, gallon, galvanized cans full of ice cream. Extra ice covered with heavy newspaper was kept on hand to replace the melted ice. Mr. Leatherman also delivered ice cream in Greenmount, TwoTaverns, and many other places in the county throughout the week. He was a man I always enjoyed talking to.

The back door that went out of the wareroom went to the back porch. This porch had three levels. Each one dropped a few inches, the last level being the loading dock. Here I helped unload much of the boxed produce and groceries for the general store.

From the back door to the storeroom, all the way to the front of the store, between the two counters, there was a walk way. On the first counter was a big roll of wrapping paper and beside that stood the large coffee mill which was patented in 1889. Josephus Mills acquired the coffee mill a short time after he remodeled the store in 1897. New cases in which to put things and counters were installed at that time. Many of the store items I have in the museum are of that vintage.

On that same counter was the scales to weigh the items that came loose, such as sugar, flour, spices, and crackers. The paper toot or bag holder was on the corner of the counter. This was fairly tall with wire on each side for various sizes of paper toots. Around the corner was a small glass oval showcase holding various things like pocket watches, thimbles, slates, pencils, buttons of various sizes, button cards, pocket knives, needles, safety pins, wooden pen holders, wooden pencils, pen points, boxes of rickrack and the like. On the top set a coal-oil lamp. I have this case in the store museum with the original lamp setting on the top of the case just where it was when I first saw it in the winter of 1923.

A little farther down on the same counter was the "goody" showcase. Here is where they kept the penny candy items: Bolsters, Vienna fingers, Tootsie Rolls, and Chocolate Soldiers. A penny was put in the back of one Chocolate Soldier out of twenty-four that came to a box. The penny was wrapped in wax paper so as not to hurt the candy soldier. Many I opened had a Indian-head penny in it. I still have them in my collection. There were five cent candy bars as well: Guernsey Girl, which had a picture of a Guernsey cow on the box. They were very good! They also had what they called a five-cent Bolster which were very big! Also in the 1930's they came out with a new 5-cent candy bar called "Milky Way". This is still my favorite candy bar.

Many a time as a young boy, I had access to that candy case when I would visit Grandfather and Grandmother Smith. I never took advantage of it by taking more than I was told to take. Sometimes it was penny candy and other times five-cent bars.

Farther back on the same counter was another shelf built on top with iron braces. Underneath the shelf were boxes of various sizes of bolts, cotter keys, hog rings, washers of various sizes, tin discs to tack down tar paper, and also some wire in bins under the counter. On top of the counter were stacks of straw hats in season, hunting caps, fishing line in boxes, glass nest eggs, rivets, and rivet machine. There was also boxes of bone rings, used on horse hames, for the lead line or check lines to go through. At the back on the wall were twenty five pigeon holes in which the mail was placed for the families who received mail at the Barlow Post Office.

On the shelves that went along back of the counter there were as follows: On the top shelf, carbide lights for buggies, also cans of carbide, various sizes of lamps and lantern globes, and round discs for open pipe holes. On the floor were various sizes of stove pipes and a box of scouring brick from England which I still have in the museum. On the top of the back counter near the back window was the tobacco cutter. Above the cutter were boxes of plug tobacco which could be cut the length desired. The tobacco cutter is also in the museum. In later years the tobacco came already cut to size. A few of these brands were Picnic Twist, Spark Plug, and Uncle Sam's Plug Tobacco.

There was also a cheese box that held a stick of longhorn cheese and beside it, a knife for cutting. In those days you got a nice chunk of cheese for a dime. Under this long counter were nails of various sizes in bins with an oval front. They could reach in the back to take them out to weigh. On shelves in the back of the store were cans of corn, tomatoes, salmon, string beans, pineapple, pears, baked beans, and sardines. There were not many canned goods in those days. Some of the soup beans came loose and had to be weighed out on the scales.

At the window was a bracket lamp which was used to see in back of the counter. On the floor were wooden barrels of white sugar, brown sugar and flour. All this had to be weighed out. It was interesting to note, that when it was weighed out, you never came up with what you originally put in the barrel. Underneath the counter where the coffee mill stood was the change drawer. It had a slot for the paper money and hollowed out wooden holes to put the various denominations of change.

The porch that ran on the south side of the house had a porch swing. Two Norway maple trees stood in the front yard with a picket fence around them. On the side of the porch was the well and grape arbor. Also there was a big cedar tree and a sweet cherry tree. A step and cement walk went to the side door to the living room. Along side of the walk was the cistern with a pitcher pump. The cistern water was drawn from the kitchen roof and was used for washing. Across from the cistern was the ice house. This had a little shop on the end of it and a door to open on the south side of the ice house to gain access to fill it. Across the road was the buggy shed and barn. The buggy shed had a corn crib on the north side and back of it was the outside privy. Down from that was the hog pen with a corn crib.

Many were the times in the thirties when Father, Mother, and her brother Clarence and I helped Daddy Smith to butcher. Daddy Smith raised some very fine hogs. The butcher kettle would be set up on the lot above the house near the big cedar tree. Sometimes they would set the butcher bench up there or in the buggy shed when it was bad weather. Daddy Smith always made good sausage. He would put some beef in it to keep it dry and not so fatty. The last time he shot a hog he laid his 32 cal. revolver on the board fence. When he went for it he couldn't find it. Someone found it many years later all rusted to pieces.

The barn was a very long one with a hay loft. It had room for two horses and had a chicken house in the back. There was also a machine shed and a granary with two bins. Back of the barn were three catalpa trees. They were covered with beautiful blossoms in the spring and later had long beans that grew on them. Nearby was a never failing spring.

In the summer of 1930 the Taneytown Road was built and it changed the location of the road. It went through Daddy Smith's lot along side of his barn and left a corner piece of his ground across the road. They also cut down a beautiful slippery elm.

The little field in back of the house had some apple and other fruit trees on it. Daddy Smith put that lot out in corn many times. Back of the house was a row of bee hives for he was also a beekeeper. There also was an old box shed. This shed was used for a stable when John Black taught school. The end of the barn had two big doors that opened out towards the road. This is where Daddy Smith kept his two-horse covered wagon in the earlier years. The huckster wagon I remember very vividly. It had a tongue to hitch two horses to it and a beautiful canvas top with lettering on each side which read - J. Carna Smith, General Merchandise, Barlow, Pa. Inside this covered wagon was a long chest in which he could keep butter and other products to exchange for farm products he needed. The chest was lined with cork and metal. In hot weather he put ice in it to keep the butter from getting soft. In the back of the wagon there was enough space to haul many cases of eggs and some live calves.

I went along on a number of these trips. I will tell about one trip Mother brought me down to Barlow in the old stick wagon to go along with Daddy Smith. It was a hot summer morning in 1928. I was 11 years old. After I arrived Daddy Smith went out to gear up the horses. I watched as he hitched them to the covered wagon. He got in the wagon and sat on the chest and I sat beside him. He took the check lines in his hands, pulled on them, and said, "Giddy-Up!". Off we went. The first place we stopped was the Will Durborow place on the ridge, next Gus Sentz's, the Bob Witherow farm, on to the John Eylers. then up the ridge to another farm or so. We got a calf at one of them. We proceeded down the Taneytown Road, turned left, and went back through a woods to the Clapsaddle place. Daddy Smith bought another calf, some eggs, and butter here. When he weighed the calf he hung his steel-yard to a log beam in the barn. A steelyard is a long piece of iron with notches in the top. On one side was a little pea or weight, on the other side were big notches and a big pea or weight. They are very accurate in weighing. It had a flat board with two ropes to hook it fast. He then put this board under the calf and the two ropes up to the steelyard.

On this particular trip the calf being weighed started to bellow and it scared me. I thought it would die right there, but Daddy Smith assured me it wouldn't. The other calf didn't make a noise like that. I learned a lot when I traveled with Daddy Smith in the huckster wagon. I enjoy reflecting on the time we spent together.

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