This article, written by Melba Eyler, was published in the Seattle Times Sunday Magazine in September of 1955. Sadly the store has been swept away by “progress,” but reading about it may bring memories to many.
Old General Store Stocked in Memories
How many old general stores can yet be found that stock everything from antlers to zories?
A short drive on the old Des Moines Road brings you to Peabody’s General Store. Just a stone’s throw from a major air strip, a little removed from a busy freeway, yet, like a blade of grass in a crack in the concrete, it survives.
What is it you wish when you enter the store? Take your choice of lanterns and fish nets, swaying from the ceiling. They share space with granite pots an kettles.
A showcase of gift items is almost lost among a maze of toys, nuts-and-bolts and household tools. Greeting cards and canned goods mingle with camping and fishermen’s needs.
“There have been more fish caught and more deer hunted in this store than in any stream or woods,” boasted Peabody. On a top shelf a mounted deer head almost nods in agreement. A stuffed owl wisely watches as you decide what you want.
Is it a key you want made? How about kerosene for your lamp, or some white gas? There are today’s newspapers and yesterday’s night crawlers.
The apothecary candy jars reach back into yesterday’s memories. One is filled with jaw-breakers. Pop one into your cheek. Other jars house horehound drops and licorice whips. Another brings you back to the present. It offers bubble-gum.
There are tables serving you with breads, fruit and of course, refrigerated milk products. “When we bought this business,” Peabody reminisced, “we invited all the local folk in and got acquainted. Told them we’d handle anything they wanted,”
When Peabody bought the store, it was no strange place to him. His attachment spanned the length of memory over 30 years’ time. When he was a boy of 12, in 1920, he and his buddies would hitch a ride from West Seattle by wagon. “We’d sit on the back of the rig and let our feet dangle,” he remembered. “That brick road was the main road to Tacoma, so we would come right by this store. It was our stopping-off place on the way to our swimmin’ hole at Angle Lake.”
“I never forgot the place. In 1950, after my wife and I had our share of travelin’, I came back here, and bought it. I guess I thought this was the life to retire to, and I was right.”
His General Store blends well in its small unchanged part of a rural area. Nearby, a dilapidated and picturesque old barn sags on a deserted pasture. Across the road lies a peaceful pastoral setting, complete with weathered old barns and grazing horses trying to ignore plane and auto traffic.
For one small stretch of the old Des Moines Road, one may travel back in time, even though huge jets may be gliding in, or blasting off, at the nearby airport.
A penny candy case, barefoot boys in blue tattered jeans, destination the old swimming hole — its all there at Peabody’s General Store. All you have to do is to remember.
For more information contact: Melba Eyler, 242-3527