By Sarah West
The front doors creak. The clattering of footsteps upon century old floor boards echo the tap, tap, tapping, the coming and going of people from past we wish we could have known. White wash walls, exterior buttercream, red tin roof, and a painted sign pronounces the establishment’s namesake. Red and white simplicity.
I imagine a bygone era. The steam engine barreling down the tracks, as the incoming mail bag is dropped and the outgoing suspended from its hook is snatched. Letters well on their way to new destinations. Later mid-century Detroit motors cruise down the old highway. Windows rolled down, a local radio show plays. In the Alabama summer sun, the tarred railroad ties sizzle. The sounds of crickets, cicada, heat as it scorches the landscape all synthesize with humid breeze that sweeps the corn and crackling fields of knee high grasses. Red clay parts forming fault lines. The sandy soil and red clay powder covers children as they play, then run seeking shade with afternoon lemonade beneath the pecan trees. The sweet balmy aroma of hay drifts through the air, as bales are rolled. Like the old store, the Hay for Sale sign seems to have always been there. Red and white were the signs that linger in memory from my early childhood, the old store, the bricked mailbox, the small airfield and the word Jones. Across the track was another old home. I imagine that bygone era, the people who inhabited the weather-worn aging wooden places. Along this old stretch of road, the past thoroughfare, I’ve written, presided over cultural programs, painted and shared conversations with many passing strangers. Familiar figures, once less so, have become friends. To me, I consider them beloved locals, a reflection of the landscape, the summer sun, these Alabama back roads and the threads that bind the patchwork tapestry of calico prints that define our lives.
I press against the creaking door, and step inside. Remnants of past, heritage and stories shared through present lives form confluence in the old store. Mr. and Mrs. Jones, iconic figures, events and archives interpret tales passed down through artifacts from historic to modern time.
On a long awaited, upcoming summer Saturday, July 13th, the Historic Jones Store Museum will open to the public. With much anticipation, the Smiths Station Historic Commission, the Mayor’s Office, City of Smiths Station and the Honorable Mayor F.L. “Bubba” Copeland will proudly host Opening Day | Celebrating the Historic Jones Store Complex featuring the restored Jones Store History Museum with commemorative exhibits honoring local community figures, legendary icons and interactive exhibits illustrating rural pastime, and events relative to Alabama citizens. This premiere Opening Day Celebration is an ALABAMA 200 bicentennial endorsed event. Opening Day of the Jones Store History Museum is free, family friendly, open to the public 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. ET. Complimentary tours will be led by Smiths Station Historic Commission throughout the day. The Historic Jones Store Complex is located at 1361 Lee Rd. 298 in Smiths Station. To learn more about this event and other ALABAMA 200 events during the final year of statewide bicentennial celebrations visit www.alabama200.org