uring the Great Depression in the 1930s very few people in my corner of White County owned a car or truck. They could not afford to buy the gasoline to run it, even if it cost only a few cents per gallon.
I was born at Holly Springs, between Steprock and Roosevelt. We “went to town” after the strawberry crop was harvested, and in the fall after the cotton crop was harvested. “Town” was Searcy, about 20 miles away, although we did occasionally buy a few things such as kerosene and tobacco products from a local “mom and pop” store owned by Ira and Effie Hicks. We loved going to their store. They had a stock of candy and gum. I remember my father going to town for our winter’s supply of groceries. That consisted of a barrel of flour (four 48-pound sacks), a stand of lard (five gallons), a 100-pound sack of sugar, baking powder, soda, salt, coffee and sometimes dry beans. We grew corn and took it to a gristmill for cornmeal.Paul Siler, who was reared in my community, owned a grocery store in Bradford and rolled out a grocery store on wheels once a week. It was a truck with a large bed holding compartments along the side and doors on them like cabinet doors. They opened so the customer could decide what he or she could buy. I can remember peanut butter, sliced bread and salad dressing. Those made a lot of sandwiches when there was no meat to be had. Mr. Siler stopped at every house and the customers ran to the truck to purchase whatever they needed and could afford. We looked forward to his weekly visits. He was my father’s cousin, and his wife was my mother’s cousin. I really do not know how long the store on wheels was in operation. If you didn’t have the money he would let you buy on credit.
I have been told by my sister that when the community got electricity Mr. Siler came through the community and sold electric washing machines and electric stoves.
Two other peddlers that traveled our roads were the Raleigh and Watkins peddlers. They had a chicken coop on top of their cars. They would take chickens for pay. My mother always bought pie filling mix and vanilla flavoring from them. Also the “stinky” cure-all liniment that got Watkins started back in 1868. She also bought cocoa and other spices from them. We were reared mostly on food from our land. The entire summer was spent canning everything we could. We always dried some fruit, usually apples and peaches. We had a popcorn and peanut patch, also a cane patch for molasses. The sorghum mill owner kept a toll for his wages.
I am proud of my White County heritage. I have lived in Lodi for 60 years. My children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are natives of California. When I tell them about all our hard work, they look as if I have made up a story.
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