We've all done at one time or another, go to the grocery store. There's practically one around every corner. But decades ago, before automobiles and most of the population lived miles away from the nearest town, there was a store that made "house calls". A Rolling Store. Believe it or not for the last 55 years, a Rolling Store has operated in parts of Bullock and Macon counties, but just this week, it too went the way of the horse and buggy
.Just a couple of days ago, Debbie Williams rode along on one of the Rolling S\tore's last runs, somewhere out along County Road 12.
"It's what I'd call entertaining. It's not monotonous or boring at all. You don' t sit in a store and wait for them to come to you. You go to them." History rides these roads, Cecil and Faye Locklar holding tight to a piece of Americana. "It's a complete inventory of staple groceries and frozen meats on wheels that travels from home to home." It's never been easy. "We used to be 16 to 17 hours a day in it and that's the reason the Rolling Store played out because nobody was willing to pay that price." Now the price is too high, even for them. "Going to retire" Says Faye. "Mary I've been out here 55 years," Cecil speaks to a customer, "that's long enough ain't it/"
When it all began, it was a little different. "50 pound sacks of flower, 25 pound bags of meal, 50 pound cans of lard and saltmeat." Over the years, they've changed too."We used to be a convenience. The last 20, 25 years we've been service oriented. I have went in and installed refrigerator light bulbs, primed well pumps when well pumps first come out nobody knew how to prime one, read gas meters, checked pilot lights." They've gone from businessman, to friend. Like the time Willie Babers had no money for Christmas. "They gave me a ride to their house from out in the country to their home so we were able to get the toys we needed for my sisters and brothers and all the fruit that we needed and I never will forget that." And then there was Rubennie Johnson, away from home the day the Rolling Store came by and her house was on fire. "I was fortunate enough to come along and put her house out." Cecil says.
"He jumped off there and kicked my door in, put my house out." says Ms. Johnson
"Her house would have burned down. If I had been ten minutes later."
"I wouldn't have had a thing. I wouldn't have had nothing."
For almost 60 years the Rolling Store has wound it's way through miles of backroads and into the hearts and home of hundreds. What they've gotten in return, is immeasurable. "Gratitude. A most precious gift to say thank you."
So they make one last run. One last sale. One last hello and a final goodbye, or is it.