The 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 washed 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, leaving melodic sounds upon the airwaves of billowing dust in the rear-view. In the Alabama summer sun, the tarred railroad ties sizzle. The sounds of crickets, cicada and 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 clay powder covers children as they play, the 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 tracks was another home. I imagine that bygone era, the people who inhabited the weather-worn, aging wooded places. Along this 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, the Smiths Station Historical Commission will open the Historic Jones Store Museum to the public. With much anticipation, the Smiths Station Historical Commission, the Mayor’s Office, the City of Smiths Station, and the Honorable Mayor F.L. Bubba Copeland will proudly welcome all to Opening Day, Saturday July 13th, 2019. Opening Day Celebrations will be held at 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 Historic Jones Store Museum is free, family friendly and open to the public 10 o’clock a.m to 4 o’clock pm est. Complimentary tours will be led by the Smiths Station Historical Commission throughout the day. The Historic Jones Store Complex is located at 1361 Lee Rd 298, Smiths Station, AL 36877. To learn more about this event and other ALABAMA 200 events during the finale year of statewide bicentennial celebrations visit www.alabama200.org
*this publication is also available in print via the 4th of July editions of the Opelika Observer and the Citizen of East Alabama