Friday, February 14, 2014

Mrs. P.Y.Waters Grocery

My grandmother had a Mercantile Store and we sold everything in that store. We would trade with the local farmers for meat, milk and eggs for things that they needed around their home. I never saw my grandmother working there but she had four sons that were involved in the running of the store. Uncle (Snooks) Carson C., Uncle (Bob) Robert. Uncle (Dan) Daniel, and my dad (Joe) Joseph.

Their dad P.Y. Waters had died when my dad was 15 years old. He was a Barber as well as having the Mercantile Store in Harmony Grove, GA. After his death Snooks and my dad ran the store and Bob and Dan were building homes when they got older.

We had many learning experiences growing up in the store and working with our aunts and uncles and helping the customers and filling the grocery orders so that the food could be delivered to our customers.

There was a large pot belly cast iron stove in the middle of the back of the store that kept it warm and tosty in the winter and fans overhead that kept it cool in the summer. The old stove would burn our boxes but it also burned coal.

We had a young man who did odd jobs around the store and his name was Pete Crocker. He loved to draw and he would tear of the box tops as the shelves were loaded with new stock and he would draw pictures of cowboy's or superman on them and sell them for a 25 cents. (I still to this day have a copy of one that he drew for me.) He loved to load up the drink box and he would always put his favorite drinks close to the compressor in the box so that his drinks would always have slush in the drink. We would sometimes play a game when we got us a 6 ounce coke,(5 cents and later they went to 6 cents) on the bottom of the bottle was the name of the city where the coke was originally bottled. Whoever got the drink with the bottle that was the farthest away they go their drink free. When they went to 6 cents they added a coin holder on the side where you could add your penny.

I remember the front door screens came from Holsom Bakery in Athens who was the distributor for Hostess Breads. Each Spring they would install new wooden screen doors in different colors with silk screen printing on the screens advertising their products.

We sold hoop cheese and we would cut off what ever amount that the customer wanted. I remember that some of the milk that you had to skim off the fat before you could drink the milk. We sold butter that some of the local farmer's wives had made and one lady in particular would always put a star in the top of her butter.

We had a candy case and it seems to me that the candy bars were a lot larger than the ones that we have now. As the price went up the size of the bars began to shrink. You could get a lot of candy for a dime because many of it was two for a penny, like Mary Janes, B.B. Bats, Kisses, Kits , Chocolate Footballs, Bubble Gum, Soda taffy. I guess that you can see that I loved candy.

We sold hardware, bathroom fixtures, well pumps, wringer washes, cast iron cook ware, cook ware, blue jeans, bib overalls, shoes, boots, cloth, buttons, belts, can goods, furniture, and much more. If the customer wanted it we got it for them. My dad would go to Atlanta every week and get a load of new merchandise and we stock back the store. We carried our own accounts for the customer and every week they would come in and pay on their bill and buy more. My mother would collect for those that lived out in the country areas as well as Nicholson, Center, Brockton, Jefferson, Maysville, Homer, and Gillsville.

We sold seed for planting gardens as well as plants in the spring time. We sold cattle feed and salt blocks and dog food.

Customers would call in their order and my Aunt Willie Mae (Aunt Bill) or Aunt Hattie would take their order and write it down and whoever was working that day they would call out what they needed and we would get it off of the shelf and bring it to them as they checked it off of the list. Aunt Bill loved to check out what everyone was getting and if they got something extra or different she just knew that they had company coming to visit.

W had an ice cream freezer in the front of the store that was watched over by Aunt Bill. Not much ever got by her that she didn't know about. If you got a Nutty Buddy that had an extra cone you would get another ice cream of your choice. She took her customer orders up by the front door and welcomed the customers and Aunt Hattie took call from the phone located by the counter where the groceries were readied for delivery.

We also sold coal, kerosene, and gas. I remember the gas pump if the customer wanted one gallon you would set it for one gallon and the glass dome on the top would fill with one gallon and then you poured it with the hose into their tank.

Some of the people that worked for us that I remember were Till Leach, Hershal Cotrell, Pete Crocker, Bobby Ayers, Ducks Barton, Till Leach, Jewel Gillispie, and a bunch of our cousins.

By: Palmer Waters


  1. I'm posting using my husband's google acct., but I am Palmer's cousin and I too remember the Waters Bros. grocery store tho I am younger..... I remember going into the store and the furniture was in the left room and the groceries and other items in the right room. Uncle Bob would sit in the first aisle and if you went by him and would catch you and pinch your cheek! I remember trying to go down another aisle so he wouldn't get my cheek!
    My dad was in and out of that grocery a lot and he remembers pumping the gas there and getting bananas when they were overipe. He always called the brown spots, sugar spots! Ask him about that store. He can probably tell you some different things too! I do remember him telling about Uncle Snucks, I think it was him, beating the adding machine, cash register maybe, at adding up numbers.

  2. Thanks, for your comment Esther. I remember the story of the cash register and will post it later.