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Picturing the Past 130: Recognize this store?

Posted Thursday, September 15, 2011, at 3:05 PM

Dennis & Son Grocery, as it looked in the 1940s. (Photo contributed)
This photo of Dennis & Son Grocery was brought to the T-G a while back. The contributor said it was made in the 1940s.

Where was it? Those houses in the background look familiar to me for some reason, as if they still exist or have existed fairly recently. The store building itself looks like it may have been built as a house.

And was it operated by the same Dennis family that ran a grocery store on Madison Street for quite a few years?

Picturing the Past is featured regularly in this blog. Reader contributions are welcome.

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David, like you, the structure of the houses look familiar to me, but I have no idea where this store was located. It very well could have been located in the Atkinson Street area, or West Lane, or East Lane, or even Cannon Boulevard, or Lewis Avenue, or North Main, or one of many other areas around town. That style of house was very popular in Shelbyville. There would have been a staying room, a couple of bedrooms, a kitchen, and a little shack out back.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 3:45 PM

Could this be the store that was just off Moody Street and across from East Side School. I remember that my grandmother lived on Moody Street and we would walk to a small store which was west of East Side School. The houses in the picture looked like those that were on the opposite corner.

-- Posted by cookie on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 4:03 PM

It's been so long ago, but it may have been next to Musgraves Pencil factory. If this is it, I worked there in the early 40's. Mr Dennis would not allow us to sit down during our 8am-6pm shift. Sometimes when he left for awhile we would lay down in an aisle or behind the checkout. I was fired one day because I dropped a 5lb can of lard on a lady's foot, while sacking her stuff.

-- Posted by Grits on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 5:36 PM

Grits, I think you may something and you reminded me of the tyrant Mr Dennis was later at United Super Market...I tell bagboys about making 35 cents/hr and being scolded for using the wrong size (Number) paper bag (Turns out it was good training)...Cookie, the photo just doesn't fit my memory of the store which was at the intersection of Walnut/Moody and Elliott Streets on the west side of East Side School in th laie 1940's....

-- Posted by FlaDon on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 6:42 PM


Contact Joe Reed(who used to work at the Gazette) that might be the store later owned by his father, Joe Senior

Not sure but it looks an awful lot like Mr. Reed's Store.

-- Posted by Wolf Clan on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 7:07 PM

FlaDon, I wonder if the store I was thinking about was Gibson's. I don't know why I just thought of that name.

-- Posted by cookie on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 7:20 PM

Cookie, There was another store across Dunaway Street on the east side of East Side School and I seem to remember that Gibson's was one of them...

-- Posted by FlaDon on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 8:10 PM

This looks like the store across from East Side School that had multiple owners over the years. If this is the store in question the last name I recall Was Jobe's Market.

-- Posted by bomelson on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 2:59 PM

Bo, Was the store you are speaking of on the East side of the school? I remember also the one on the east side but I think that there was a few steps in front of the store, and the houses next to it were much smaller. The store on the south west side was paved in front, but it would have been in the mid to late 1940 that I would have remembered.

-- Posted by cookie on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 6:39 PM

I was in the 4th grade at east side elementary in 1940. It is difficult to remember, but it seems that I would walk past a grocery store on Landers street across from the school. We lived on Elliot street. I also believe BoMelson is correct about the grocery store around the bend from where I crossed the street to enter the school yard. I don't remember the name of either store. The school had huge round barrel fire escapes from the 2nd floor. I heard the escapes were no longer there. The escapes were so noticeable and unusual a sight, they are still vivid in my memory. Not sure, but I think classmate Bill Hix lived next to the store?

-- Posted by Grits on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 12:46 PM

The store to the west was Mr Jobe's store.....

-- Posted by Black Swan on Mon, Sep 19, 2011, at 10:36 AM

Louise Swing's family owned a grocery store and it was in a residential area. Maybe?

-- Posted by caligal on Tue, Sep 20, 2011, at 2:23 PM

No, the Swing's store was next door to my house on Whitthorne Street.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Sep 20, 2011, at 4:18 PM

I've enjoyed the fun but I can't understand why Grits didn't nail it ... Are the houses to the left of the Store still standing near Musgraves?? ....Where did you go leiii???

-- Posted by FlaDon on Tue, Sep 20, 2011, at 9:31 PM

FlaDon: I'm sure about my memory of the store next to Musgraves. Maybe Mr. Dennis was in more stores earlier than the big one on Madison(?). 1943 was a long time ago. I don't remember the houses, but I do remember walking along the railroad tracks behind Musgraves and my 3 weeks career at the Dennis store.

-- Posted by Grits on Wed, Sep 21, 2011, at 8:39 AM

As I keep looking at the houses in the picture my mind keeps going back to what is now known as Delray Street bordering the site of the old Holiday Inn.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Sep 21, 2011, at 11:23 AM

user marnold1118 added this comment about PTP 130 on another blog entry:

The only thing we know for sure about the grocery store photo is that it's from the 40's and is the Dennis and Sons grocery.

The only thing I have from the 40's is the 1949 Shelbyville telephone directory. Would you believe that the yellow pages section listing grocery stores has 46 in Shelbyville. There is no Dennis & Sons listed, but it does list the United Super Market at 604 Madison, which we all know was operated by H.F. Dennis and his sons.

If anyone has a phone directory from earlier in the 40's we might be able to pin it down, otherwise it's like hunting for a needle in a haystack!

-- Posted by David Melson on Wed, Sep 21, 2011, at 1:05 PM

Does anyone remember Capley's Grocery that was located on West Lane Street in the 1940 for sure and possibly later?

-- Posted by bomelson on Wed, Sep 21, 2011, at 2:45 PM


Does the quality of the photo of this store allow you to identify the structure seen to the left of the chimney of the house next door? It looks like the courthouse clock tower to me, but I can't be sure from the picture above.

If it is the courthouse I'll venture a guess as to location, if not I haven't got a clue.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Thu, Sep 22, 2011, at 10:45 PM

ilikeoldsongs: I did'nt see that structure before, but I magnified the screen and it does look like it may be the courthouse with the clock.

Thanks for the clue. I don't have my map of the town handy, but if it is the courthouse, should help determine the location.

-- Posted by Grits on Fri, Sep 23, 2011, at 6:55 PM

I still think the store was the one later run by Mr. Joe Reed Senior. The road between the store and the house ran to the road that runs along side the railroad. The road and railroad ran side by side behind Musgrave and continued past the old U.S. Rubber ball park. on to the Mill itself. The area was destroyed by urban renewal. Mr. Reed had the front heavily graveled to take care of the mud during rainy weather. Mr. Reed was a butcher by trade, his wife covered the checkout.

-- Posted by Wolf Clan on Sat, Sep 24, 2011, at 4:30 AM

I just got back from driving over to the former location of the store above to confirm that the courthouse was in the proper location in relation to the picture above, and it was.Of course the other 3 directions from the courthouse that could possibly yield a similar photo had to be considered, but have been eliminated for various reasons, such as the lack of a side street, giant redwood trees blocking the view of the courthouse (these migrated to the west coast sometime after this photo was made and are no longer to be found in this area.)

After giving due consideration to the fact that Grits knows for a certainty that the Dennis grocery was in the Musgrave area, and some unfortunate lady probably had a swollen foot to confirm it, and Wolf Clan, as well as myself, remembers this as being a corner building, I feel fairly comfortable in stating that I believe that this store building was at least partially on the lot now occupied by Ralph Allen's State Farm Insurance business at 217 Lane Parkway.

Pictures of all these buildings have been posted in an earlier post, but I'll have to look it up and post that information later. ( Yeah, I should have looked it up before I started this post, but I only have two brain cells and one of them got lost and the other one is out looking for it.)

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Sat, Sep 24, 2011, at 11:55 AM

As promised, here is the rest of the "evidence" that produced my guess in the above post. And remember, a guess is just a guess, a sigh is just a...no wait, sorry, that's a song, not related to this post.

In Picturing the Past 89, Raising the floodgate, dkd57 posted the following link to pictures of the 1948 flood at Shelbyville : http://tnsos.org/tsla/imagesearch/index. Click page 8 at the top of the page, then scroll down to ID 24558. You can click the picture to enlarge it for close examination, and/or download it to your computer for even more ability to manipulate it.

The store is easily located in this picture by first looking on the left side of the picture for the white house located near the top of the hill on the left side of West Jackson Street. Sits up there all by itself. Almost straight across the street is the connecting street mentioned by Wolf Clan in a post above, and where this street connects to West Lane Street, the store will be on the left and the two houses seen in the above photo will be on the right.

Wolf Clan, you may very well be right about the Joe Reed situation, as I had an aunt that lived in the area we are discussing, and have heard her mention shopping at Joe Reed's store on more than one occasion.

Hope someone finds this to be of some use.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Sat, Sep 24, 2011, at 5:25 PM

I think the house at the end of the street by the store was occupied by the Allison Family.

-- Posted by Wolf Clan on Sat, Sep 24, 2011, at 7:05 PM

I may have mixed up the Reeds and the Dennis family. 1943 was a long time ago. BoMelson mentioned about 49 groceries in the phone book. There were a lot of grocery stores and I quess because so many people did'nt have a car, and walked everywhere they went. The mill village had a grocery in front of the office; then up the street there was a grocery across from the barber shop, and at one time next to the barber. Then one further up the street next door to Jerry Bell's house. One at the intersection where Buck Carroll had his auto shop at one time. Turn right and go down in front of the golf course and there was one at the bend below the old Moose Lodge. And finally the one next to Musgraves.

I filled a prescription at Walmart today and the clerk asked me for my birth date. I gave it to him, but I thought: how am I supposed to remember my birth date? That was 81 years and 5 months ago. And I was a new born baby concentrating on sleeping and eating.

-- Posted by Grits on Sat, Sep 24, 2011, at 7:35 PM

The store near the office at the Mill was run by Mr. Ed Armstrong at one time. The one by Jerry Bells house was run by Jerry's Grandfather(Mr. Pap Bell). The one by Mr. Carrol's Garage was the Triangle Market, run by Mr. Bart Dalton. The one at the curve in Baker Town was Mr. Sam Moore's. Then Mr. Reed's at Musgraves. David Mr. Dennis may have had the store before Mr. Reed. I seem to remember that. Mr. Willard Baker got his start with Mr. Reed. Mr. Baker and Mr. "Shorty" Short were partners in the store across from the old HS. Mr. Short Died the night of the grand opening. Mrs. Sarah Short sold out to Mr. Baker. Mr. Baker later moved further out the highway to the old bowling alley location.

-- Posted by Wolf Clan on Sat, Sep 24, 2011, at 9:24 PM

ilikeoldsongs, Wolf Clan, and Grits I have just now followed your information and I fully believe that you have nailed the location of the before mentioned Dennis and Son grocery store.

-- Posted by leeiii on Sun, Sep 25, 2011, at 10:40 AM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.