Saturday, November 20, 2010



Eighty-two year old Ida Green greeted me with a wide smile as I stepped into her country grocery store. She stood at her small checkout counter facing the front entrance door to her 24’x34’ store. I introduced myself and told her that I heard about her store through a local man who has lived most of his life in the area. We did a bit of small talk and then I proposed that I write a little story about her life of fifty plus years of being an owner of the only store for miles in a rural part of Madison County. She agreed to do so but corrected me and told me that the fifty-two years included early years when her mother was the original owner. She became the owner after her mother relinquished ownership. However, family is family – Miss Ida was still involved in the operation of the store for the fifty-two years plus.  


The cement block grocery store remains physically the same as when her mother first bought it. 


The following is part of her story of how times were different fifty-two years ago from present times:

When I first started with the store, folks around here all had large gardens, horses, a milk cow, chickens, hogs and other animals. Most could feed themselves with what they had except for a few staples and that is where we played a part. During those early years most of our sales were in bulk. Coffee, sugar, corn meal, and flour were our big sellers. We sold other things like fresh meat that we would cut and wrap with paper and string  for our customers. I still have the paper cutter in the store but don’t use it. Can’t sell fresh meat anymore as we don’t have running water and the health department tells us we have to have it to sell fresh meat. I still have the old meat case that kept the meat cold but now I only put pre-prepared food that needs refrigeration in the case. 


In this area, times have changed considerably from fifty years ago. It used to be that people lived more independently on their small farms, were trustworthy, and really no crimes were committed. The doctor in the area made house calls – he even set up a clinic once in awhile in our store to give vaccinations. Horses were still used, in some cases, for transportation. Today one has to deal with drugs, break-ins, and dependence on large grocery stores for your everyday food. Raising your own food is becoming rarer as time passes. 


Many of the old time farmers grew tobacco for their way of earning money. They would run a charge at the store until their crop would be sold and then they would pay us. This could be up to a year that we would carry over their charges on our books. No such thing as charge cards – we just wrote it down as they put things on charge. They always paid their debt.

At one time we had a gas pump where we sold Ashland gas, mostly to farmers for their tractors. 


I am a native of Kentucky -- married and divorced with four children. I have lived in the same house for sixty years right near here. Recently, the post office named the street after me as I had lived the longest on the street of any of my neighbors. It is now called Ida Green Lane. She smiled as she said it.


Miss Ida has a spot located in the back of the store where she has two very comfortable upholstered chairs and a large screen television. She laughed as she told me that this is where she sits and watches soap operas when she is not busy with the store.


The place where the store is located has had many names over the years – Bear Wallow, Dreyfus, and Waco. It was called Bear Wallow during the  early settlement days as bears were frequently seen at the local salt lick. Bear Wallow is still commonly used to designate the location


Overall, the store contains a variety of goods and vintage pieces. It is neat as can be and a charming place to stop to pick up a few essentials

Miss Ida is a realist, she knows that times change and she is making adjustments to the supplies she carries to keep pace with present needs. Ida Green’s Grocery does serve the locals well. 


  1. Ms. Ida sounds like a fine lady. I can remember going to the country store with my grandpa when I was little. We would buy bologna, pickle dog, candy, etc... The men folk would sit and gossip while drinking Ski out of a cold bottle. Such a neat community place.

  2. Farmchick -- Pickle dog and Ski? I am not familiar with either of these names -- ? Perhaps they are southern only. Us Northerners need to be educated.
    thanks for stopping by -- barbara

  3. Thanks for introducing us to Miss Ida (I suppose Farmchick, above, is politically correct calling her Ms. but I suspect people around there still say Miss even if she is a divorced lady). I wonder if she sells only packaged items now, or are there things like apples and bananas, maybe potatoes and tomatoes. She speaks of crime so I wonder if she's ever had a hold-up or a break in at night. And I wonder if she has a relative who will take over the store when she is ready to retire -- should she ever be.

  4. P.S., Barbara, I'm looking as I type this at your photo of the jar of sorghum molasses, which I used to love when I was a kid, especially on biscuits at breakfast, so I wonder if Miss Ida sell sorghum molasses -- I'd happily take a trip there to get some. [Although I do know a place in southern Indiana to get some]

  5. I found it sad that Ida used to sell staples such as coffee and flour and now that times have changed, her customers desire high fructose corn syrup filled pop and salty canned soup. This is a good example of how the quality of our food has declined over the years. Wouldn't it be great if Ida could offer up fresh local eggs, cheeses or veggies to her customers rather than the unhealthy industrialized food sold in grocery stores across America? Being located in a rural area, she is the perfect person to start a food revolution and help take back our food supply from the mega food companies who put profit over community and health.

  6. I love Miss Ida's story, thank you for sharing it with us, Barbara :)

  7. Ms. Ida sounds like a fascinating lady with a lot on the ball. Thanks for sharing her story.

  8. June -- In Central Kentucky the term Miss before the first name of the woman is used commonly especially toward older women. It is a term left over from the past and used for respect.Marital status has nothing to do with the term. I know that Ms is politically correct in most circles of the country. However, I have been called Miss Barbara frequently since moving here and feel it is a charming but fading tradition. I am glad that you brought this subject up as I imagine the term use is unfamiliar to many.

    I can't really say if there are family members that will take over her store at some point. And, it doesn't appear to be a store that carries fresh produce. However, being that it was November when I stopped into her store -- fresh local produce would not be a selling option. Commercial deliveries are almost a thing of the past to her little store. Her son has to go to the closest large city to pick up many of the supples to be sold at her store. It appears that commercial deliveries to country stores are disappearing.

    Fresh sorghum molasses can be easily found in this area. To tell the truth I have never tasted it. Now you have given me inspiration to try it. It represents another piece of the local customs of the area.

    Miss Ida did not mention any crimes committed to her place but seemed familiar with break-ins and drug use in the community. I did not include a photo of her entrance door -- it had a double lock and metal affixed to the outside part of the door which would prevent a break-in. She also had metal re-bars across the windows. This told me that she was taking all precautions against the possibility of a break-in.

    Thanks for all the questions and comments June -- barbara

  9. Jayne, Miss Ida is a beautiful lady and very tuned into her community. Fabulous memories of the changes over time. Thanks Jayne, for the comment -- barbara

  10. daphnepurpus -- I appreciate that you stopped by and enjoyed the post. Hope you stop by again in the future -- barbara

  11. Darcy -- Perhaps Miss Ida sells the processed type food to the community because that is what they want? It is tough to change the eating habits of folks. Your insight on food is insightful. Perhaps the next generations will be the forebearers of the "eating right" food movement. There seems to be problems with stocking small stores in the country by commercial deliveries so maybe encouraging small farm production in the rural areas and selling it through local small stores would be a terrific way to form a wonderful local food economy in the country. Thanks for your excellent input-- barbara

  12. Very enjoyable text. Love that cow bell shot.

  13. Wonderful post about Miss Ida. Life way back does not sound too different from life when I was a child in rural New Zealand..the local store and buying the basics of flour etc. but very different too. I have been fascinated reading your wonderful blog. Thank you.

  14. Birdman -- Thanks for the comment on Miss Ida. She was a lovely lady to talk with -- her memory of the area was encyclopedic. -- barbara

  15. Joan -- I have never been to New Zealand but I have heard it is quite lovely. I read some of your posts and they are very expressive of your area. Thanks for the comment on Miss Ida -- would be interesting for you to write on country stores when you were young in rural New Zealand. -- barbara

  16. Good story about a disappearing institution. Where I live, 3 stores in adjoining communities have closed for different reasons, and our communities are poorer for each loss.

  17. Chris -- I believe that marketing systems along with a depressed economy are causing many stores to close. Small stores are being especially hard hit in our area. Yes, I agree with you, communities suffer when small stores close. Thanks for the comment -- barbara

  18. Enjoyed the story about Miss Ida. There are not many small stores like hers left. There used to be a little store down the road from us, but it has been closed for a few years. When my kids were little they used to like going there with me so they could pick out candy to buy at the check out. They had a small cooler in the back and they sold freshly made sandwiches and they made the best home made slaw for hot dogs. The lady who worked there made it and stored it in a Tupperware bowl. They used to sell big bags of chocolate balls,chocolate covered peanuts, etc at Christmas time.

  19. Barbara,

    How endearing Ida Green is! She brings to mind my going with my grandmother to a little store called the Keyport Merchantile. Grandma had her (recyclable and well-used) shopping bag. It was dark navy and seemed to be made of something we used to call "oil cloth." We WALKED to the store from Grandma's house; if I had been a good girl, Grandma would buy me a Popsicle now and again...not too predictably as she didn't want me to expect this treat! Groceries accumulated, we would hike back home. Ida kind of reminds me of my Grandma. As usual, a lovely post, Barbara!

  20. Janet -- I thought about Miss Ida and her many years of operating the store -- even though she is now 82, she is still going strong. Her dedication to the store is a tribute to older folks that so many times in our culture are considered unemployable. The woman that worked at your little store was probably dedicated as she took the time to make the slaw and sell the bags of chocolates at Christmas. Those caring owners are missed when a small neighborhood store closes.

  21. Elora -- Love the name -- Keyport Merchantile. At one time, walking was the primary mode of transportation during the week. Families only had one car usually used by the father for driving to work. Just think how healthy our population was then. What a great memory you have of your Grandma. Thanks for the warm comments. -- barbara

  22. By your story is great of Miss Ida.

    It so reminds me of my sister's farm and the trips I took with her and my Mom to A store like Miss Ida.
    Now I am telling my age,ha,ha
    My sister passed away couple of years ago and my Parents many years ago.

    My sisters son has the farm now. love your notes.

    1. sparkle -- Miss Ida was a charming person to meet. We sat in a couple comfortable chairs in the back of her store where she made me feel right at home. thanks -- barbara