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Newton,s Grocery ...... Gone, but not Forgotten
Located in Manton, Washington County, Kentucky. One of my favorite places to stop for lunch or a cold drink closed last week after a eighty-five year run. The time of country stores dotting the crossroads of rural America has come and gone. The purpose of any business is to make a profit, and if it can,t it has to go. With this being said I,m still going to miss this place. Jessie Osbourn, a staff writer for the local paper has been able to catch the essence of what a country store means to the community much better than I could. Below in the comment section are photos of the interior of the store that I took a few years ago. I have stopped several times in the past year to catch a better shot of the store and always have came up with an extremely dark look to the area under the porch. Won,t have to worry about trying anymore, besides all the old signs that adorned the building have been taken off and sold to the highest bidder.
Jesse summed it up the best with his close in the article ............. " It’s the loafers that will suffer the most as they wander across the land like lost souls, looking for a new place to loaf. "
Piece by piece, history was uncovered, auctioned off and packed out of Manton General Store on Saturday.
That history, 61 years of it, is now spread out across the land like ashes of the dead. And like a death of a loved one, the loss of the store is heavy for those who knew it.
This funeral wasn’t all about mourning, though. There were plenty of smiles amongst the people jammed into the store on Saturday, too.
Spectators commented and giggled when first a 1982 Montgomery Ward catalog sold for a few dollars, then a 1993 Sears catalog.
One man, encouraged by the going rates, wondered aloud if he should auction off his jacket.
The old catalogs were no match, however, for the old toaster and the cup full of ink pens.
“All it needs is a little WD-40 and it’ll work,” auctioneer Kenny Corbett said about the toaster.
Though a comedian on Saturday, Corbett was vocal about what the store meant to him a few days earlier.
“I love to do auctions,” Corbett said. “But I didn’t want to do this one.”
Corbett is one of the self-described loafers that spends time at the store with retirees and passersby.
“My loafing spot is gone,” Corbett said.
He said the closing of the store would be a sad time for people all over -Manton, Washington County, Marion County, even as far as Louisville.
The store, operated by Vannie Newton for 57 years, has spent the last four years under the direction of John and Bobby Newton.
Vannie and his father opened the store in 1950. After the auction on Saturday, the doors were locked.
Vannie is the older brother to John and Bobby. Vannie passed away four years ago.
The Newton brothers said their eldest used to have a fully stocked store, with items such as boots on sale.
Until Saturday, the store still offered soft drinks, sandwiches, “odd and end groceries,” and cigarettes.
The brothers, already retired, say they just got tired of running the store.
Having a Wal-Mart eight miles down the road has hurt them as well, along with a bad economy, they said.
The pot belly stove, that strictly burns wood according to the brothers, kept 15 to 20 people warm in the afternoon and evenings while the store was open.
A parking spot was sometimes hard to come by, as some folks had to wait for a tractor to vacate a spot so they could park.
For a time there were two gasoline pumps outside the store, but they were removed in the 1990’s.
After the auction, the building, which the Newton brothers think was built around 1925, will be vacant until the owner, Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Manton, finds another use for it.
The brothers didn’t know what intentions the church had for the building, if any, but they said they didn’t believe it would be another grocery store.
The brothers said the building was owned by the church, but not any of the business that the store produced.
John and Bobby said they didn’t have immediate plans for the new free time they acquired, but they would like to look for something with shorter hours.
The store had been operating from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days a week, and then from 1-6 p.m. on Sundays.
All of that is over now, as pieces of the store found new homes over the weekend. At least the old toasters and wooden boxes and cups full of ink pens have a home.
It’s the loafers that will suffer the most as they wander across the land like lost souls, looking for a new place to loaf.
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