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Capturing Memories Down At The Corner Store
photo by Judy LeMayKnott's Store in Panton.
photo by Judy LeMayBodette's Corner Store in Addison.
Tuesday January 10, 2017
By Cookie Steponaitis
Communities both large and small have gathering points and community business and events that are linked to generations of life in that area. While people today know where to find most people in Addison County if the words Addison County Farm & Field Days, Addison Country Benefit Tractor Pulls or Creemees at Goodie’s are spoken, there was a time in the not too distant past where the corner market or store was the center of town life on a daily basis where not only could the staples of life be found there so could generations shopping, swapping stories or sharing a cup of coffee and a joke.
Knott’s Store was located at Panton Four Corners at the intersection of Panton Road, Adams Ferry Road and Jersey Street. It was originally owned by Charles Knott and his wife whose home was also located in the store. Posting some memories and photos on Growing Up in Addison County, Judy LeMay shared memories of the store being open six days a week and always closed on Sunday. The Knott’s took out their big car that day and drove to Burlington for Sunday dinner. The store was like many community establishments and LeMay remembers the extending of credit to customers until the next pay day or when the next milk check came in. “This was a level of trust that really doesn’t exist today a lot,” explained LeMay. “They never let their neighbors go without and the Knott’s supported the community in other ways. When someone experienced sickness or suffered an accident, there would be a ‘Sunshine Basket’ in the store where cards and small gifts would be placed by the community and delivered.” LeMay also spoke of a story her mother told about the day Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941. She heard the news of the bombing at the store and then went across the road to her friend’s house to listen to more news on the radio. The Knott’s were known as being quiet people who kept to themselves and Le May never learned where the family came from. While the store was run successfully in the years following the Knott family selling it in the 1950’s, currently Knott’s Store’s building sits empty despite efforts by several members of the community who wanted to fix it and open the store back up.
The family memories of the Bodette Brother’s Store that was located at the Addison Four Corners next to the current Addison Four Corners Store are also personal to LeMay. The owners and operators were Felix and Gene Bodette who were great uncles to LeMay. Open seven days a week, they were the only local store at the time open with access to gasoline. Sunday travel in the Route 22A corridor was for years largely due to small stores being open to provide gasoline and merchandise for community members and travelers. While the Bodette Brother’s Store sold some food items, there was a full grocery store located right next door. One of the places to get news, people came to talk, listen and even to see one of the first televisions in the area. Going to see the Bodette Brothers or to stop at any community store was more than a trip to the store; it was a family outing and community function.
LeMay’s memory is full of different experiences at the corner store and each relate back to the feeling of family, community and the role of the store in the local community. “I have many happy memories from there,” explained LeMay. “I remember Uncle Gene giving me a box of Cracker Jacks, Uncle Felix sitting quietly by the window waiting for the next car to pull up for gas, my grandmother cooking in the back kitchen making donuts and even the store mascot, a big fluffy cat. My great uncles even had a special little tunnel for that cat so she could go from the store to the back kitchen without going through the storage room. Every now and then I was allowed to go to the second floor which was mysterious and full of treasures and I watched the Lone Ranger on the store television. However, the best memory is the family getting together at the store for one of Gram Tatro’s Chicken and Biscuits Sunday dinners with turnip, mashed potato and homemade pies.”
Today’s Addison County community stores are still at the heart and center point of community life. Whether you need WD40, a home baked apple pie, locally raised meat, burgers for that upcoming barbeque or just a cold beverage or hot chocolate to satisfy your thirst, local stores are places where generations gather, stories are exchanged and life in Addison County is a moment in suspended time. Traditions of the past blend with products of the present and are mixed and shared by generations who remember not only back in the day, but also getting items from the store just down the road. Country stores are not unique to Vermont, but they serve a special Also personal to LeMay are role in providing service for communities and at the same time being a guardian of traditions, heritage and places where generations come to make memories.
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