Time Runneth Against The Rolling Store

Today’s guest post was written by Eva Nell Mull, Ph.D.

William Bass Duvall


Time Runneth Against the Rolling Store by Eva Nell Mull, Ph.D.

When considering how times have changed, my mind goes back to the ‘early days’ when the ROLLING STORE would come a rolling through the Matheson Cove on a weekly basis. The summer time was the best time to meet the truck, hopefully with a few pennies in our hands and try to decide just what we were going to buy. Of course if we were serious about shopping, we would have brought a live hen to the ROLLING STORE to trade for whatever mama had told us to get. But just to step up on that big truck and see all those things for sale was plumb exciting!

Quiet honestly I do not recall exactly whose ROLLING STORE was so faithfully driven through the Cove on those summer days. One fellow that I am sure of, who had a store down on Brasstown and drove his ROLLING STORE on Thursdays, was Mr. William Bass Duvall. The photo I have included in this reminiscing story shows clearly Mr. Duvall and his grandson, Charles Henson. The date of this photo was about 1944, and it was made in front of the Duvall General Store.

According to Charles, who now lives over in Canton, NC, his grandpa’s truck was a 1938 1-1/2 Ton Chevrolet with duel wheels. On the running board he had a ‘secured’ chicken coop. That may seem odd to folks today. But like I said earlier, back then if you did not have money, you could bring a healthy hen and place her in the coop. This was kind of like swiping a Credit Card – well at least a little bit! Mr. Duvall would allow you to climb up in the ROLLING STORE and make your purchase based on the worth of the hen you traded.

Things we generally purchased included coffee, sugar (if it was available), flour and especially vanilla flavoring! We never had to buy shorten as we rendered the lard at hog killing time and allers had plenty to last. But now days it seems we don’t have time to look back and remember those good days. No sir! One could say, “Time runneth against the ROLLING STORE! It ain’t no more!”


Hope you enjoyed Eva Nell’s memories about the Rolling Store-do you have any of your own?




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  • Reply
    February 2, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    I don’t remember a rolling store. I do remember the ragman who came by with his horse and wagon who picked up any rags the ladies had to give him. Don’t know what he did with them. And I remember the bleach guy who came by to fill up mom’s bleach bottles, and the Watkin’s man whose vanilla was the only vanilla the women favored back then.
    When we moved to the country, we had the bread man, the gas (propane) man, the coal man and of course, our dad was a milkman from age 14 until he retired in his early 60s.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    February 1, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Tipper—Although I knew about rolling stores I never patronized one. We lived on the edge of town so there were grocery stores, along with the Farmer’s Federation, within walking distance.
    However, there was plenty of peddler activity—from adults as well as kids. I did my fair share peddling poke sallet and blackberries, and on a couple of occasions when virtually everyone’s tomato crop besides Daddy’s failed, he let me sell them.
    Lots of boys sold Cloverine Salve or The Grit newspaper (or both). While this isn’t the place to get into politics, one of the most ambitious of those youthful peddlers was Joe Benny Shuler (he’s the father of the fellow who currently represents you and a lot of your readers in Congress). Traveling salesmen sold all sorts of gewgaws—the Fuller brushes someone mentioned, cutlery, and the like, while locals peddled surplus garden truck and maybe meat from time to time.
    It was a different era, and one, to my way of thinking was in many ways a better one. But maybe that’s just the passage of years talking.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    January 31, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    I didn’t know anything about a Rolling Store growing up, but Mitchell has many fond memories of Grady Honeycutt’s old, converted school bus that regularly traveled to the White Oak section of Haywood County. Being a young’un from way out in the country, the rolling store was Mitchell’s first(& only, ’til he started school) connection with the outside world. He remembers walking a mile down the mountain with his Mama and a large collection of brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and chickens to meet Mr. Honeycutt & the amazement he felt when he saw all the merchandise(& chickens) that could be crammed on a school bus! Nobody when home empty handed & all the kids got hard candy to make the load they carried back up the mountain a little easier to bear-

  • Reply
    January 31, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Great story! Closest we had to this was the Meadow Gold dairy truck delivering milk, ice cream,etc.

  • Reply
    Sherry Whitaker
    January 31, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Oh my goodness gracious! Have not thought about “the Rollin’ Store” in years! When I was a child in Oak Ridge, Tn. in the late ’40’s and ’50’s, we had a Rollin’ Store. Scraped pennies together to get an ice cream or penny candy and Mother would buy bread and other needed items. We loved that store! What a treat! Later we had the Jewel Tea Man and then I see Schwann’s trucks now…but nothing was so special as The Rollin’ Store. Thanks for the memory…

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    January 31, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    i can’t remember it but my best friend does. They called it the grocery truck & my uncle drove it. I do remember the Watkins Man spreading out his stuff on the front porch.

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    January 31, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    What a joy to read Eva Nell’s essay about he Rolling Store. She did a wonderful job writing this. It brings back many memories about the rolling store coming to our house when I was a child. Mr. Alvin Eller drove the rolling store that traveled Swaims Road and Barnard Road. It was such a joy to board the rolling store when it came through the countryside. Great job, Eva Nell!

  • Reply
    January 31, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Thanks Tipper and Eva Nell for the
    trip rolling down memory lane. It
    was a little before my time, but my grandma Ola Duvall had a twin
    brother and another brother. One of them was called Bass Duvall. I
    don’t know whether he was this guy
    or not, but I remember my parents
    talking about “the rolling store”
    coming through the Nantahala
    Community from Bryson or Franklin.

  • Reply
    January 31, 2012 at 11:51 am

    The only thing that I recall as a “rolling store” was the ice cream truck. Kids from a long ways about the neighborhood would listen for him coming with his certain horn or bell he used to let us know he was in the neighborhood. I’m just not old enough to experience them “good old days” yet.

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    January 31, 2012 at 11:10 am

    There was a rolling store that came up into Pine Log in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Wonder if it was Duvall? I remember, especially, the Cracker Jacks!

  • Reply
    Karen Twiss
    January 31, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Tipper–My dad owned a country store and he had a rolling store…Kephart’s Rolling Store. Many people depended on the rolling store each week and when they retired the rolling store, a lot of the older folks were so upset. I remember helping restock the rolling store each day when it came back from it’s route. It is wonderful memory.

  • Reply
    Charles Fletcher
    January 31, 2012 at 9:10 am

    In the 1930s I had an uncle, McKinley Presley that lived in the Stamey cove section of Canton NC that had a “T” model ford he used to peddled beef and fish in. He bought the
    Beef and fish at the Armour slaughter house in Asheville. He would go from house to house blowing the uga horn on the truck to let people know he was there. The truck had curtains on it and when someone came he would raise them so they could see what he had. The customer would point and ask how much would it cost. Money was scarce in the 30s so it would usually be 25 cents or less. He didn’t weigh the meat and would cut off what he thought was a fair price for it. He had to be sure not to have too much on hand because the only refrigeration he had was a big chunk of ice that come with the purchase of the meet from the slaughter house in Asheville. Us kids would always come when we heard him coming. He would chit off a small peace of ice and give it to us.
    That was my uncle that was “The peddler “.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    January 31, 2012 at 9:00 am

    I never knew the term ‘rolling store.’ We had the fuller brush man.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    January 31, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I don’t remember anything like a rolling store from my childhood.
    But we did have individual vendors that went door to door

  • Reply
    January 31, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Wonderful story! We didn’t have a rolling store in the community I grew up in but once a month we made a trip to a small general store. That was a huge treat. We grew most of everything we ate and only purchased a few staples. The store keeper would sometimes give me a brown bag full of penny candy.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 31, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Great remembrance, thanks Eva. My Grandmother had the Jewel Tea Man and the Fuller Brush man. I don’t remember all that she bought from them beyond vanilla and other spices. They had lard from the pigs and had there own corn ground for cornbread. My grandmother had a bunch of those Jewel Tea dishes. All sizes and kinds.
    That was seriously a different era. Today we think nothing of going to the grocery store every day if we need something. Times are sure different but I’m not sure how much better they are.

  • Reply
    Billy J Foster
    January 31, 2012 at 8:43 am

    My dad operated a rolling store in the early 40s in Obion County, TN. I have been searching for a picture of his peddling truck.

  • Reply
    January 31, 2012 at 8:17 am

    This has brought back an almost forgotten memory. I remember the Rollin’ Store well. It probably carried many items, but I remember we children gathering to buy soda pop and candy. In the Coal Camp where we lived there was two Company Stores, but we still were eager to buy from that weekly Rollin’ Store. A lot of folks just raised chickens and even hogs in the alleys behind the coal camp houses. Gardens were planted on the hillsides behind the rows. Coal mines booming, but it seemed that everyone still tried to use all means to feed their families. I shudder to think about how many laws and rules would be broken now if families did this in a community.

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    January 31, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Thank you both for the great memories.. I remember when it came through by my house.. We tried to catch it for the essentials like Eva said.. I remember walking out to catch it with my grandma and we’d trade a pretty good size chicken for some coffee and flour. Sometimes we’d get a bag of sugar.. like she said in her post, didn’t need any Lard..rindered it from the hog meat..Awww, brings back so many memories..Thank you..Susie

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    January 31, 2012 at 7:42 am

    “The Rolling Store!” Yes, only we called them “The Peddlers”, too,as B. Ruth writes. I remember our bartering chickens, too, fryers–the young chickens we’d grown off from the spring hens’ a-settin’ and a-hatchin’ a brood of chickens. And some of the peddlers also took eggs in trade, for they had egg crates secured on the inside of that fascinating store. I often wondered how many of the eggs were broken when the peddler got back to his warehouse (or home) a-travelin’ over those rough, rutted roads. But I reckon he came out all right on the barterin’ deal, because he’d be back around the next month. The first yo-yo I ever had, I saved up my money to buy from a peddler, our Rolling Store! I was absolutely fascinated by my new toy, and practiced and practiced until I could “yo-yo” right well. Thanks for the memories, Eva Nell and Tipper!

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    January 31, 2012 at 7:40 am

    I love these memories. Although I never saw one of these rolling stores, when I was a kid and visiting my granny in Scranton PA, in the early mornings a woman with a basket on her head would walk through the alley out behind Granny’s house and shout, “Huckleberries! Huckleberries!” Granny would send us out to buy some for a pie. I don’t remember how much she paid, but it couldn’t have been more than a quarter.
    In later years, of course it was the Good Humor truck that would get us kids begging for money so we could run outside and buy a treat.

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    January 31, 2012 at 7:25 am

    What a lovely story, Tipper and Eva!
    I had never heard of a ‘rolling store’ before.
    I wish it would make a comeback, in our little rural community. I might even find a chicken or two to trade for things I need.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    January 31, 2012 at 6:30 am

    and Eva ….thanks for a wonderful reminder of the rolling store…
    When in Madison county as a child my Granny would give me the job of watching out for the “peddler” (rollin’ store)..She never called it a rollin’ store as I recall. Always referring to the truck and man as the “peddler”..How he got that old rickity truck up that narrow curved road I’ll never understand…Yep, she always took a couple of hens she wanted rid of to the truck….I’ll never forget how neat I thought that was when he opened the doors and all that stuff was stacked, packed and hanging in there..Like todays trip to the store, Grannies haul back to the house was a pence compared to the big old hens she carried in trade…LOL
    Thanks Tipper and Eve for a trip thru the “peddlers rollin store”!
    Could our UPS and Fedex be called an off shoot of the rollin’ store?

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 31, 2012 at 5:56 am

    We didn’t have a Rollin’ Store on Wiggins Creek but there was peddlers who came through with peaches in the early summer. Later in the summer came watermelons then in the fall apples. We hardly ever bought apples cause we mostly grew our own.
    The nearest store was Ralph Breedlove’s tiny place at the intersection of Needmore road and Painter Branch. That was 3 or 4 miles from our house. Well we had no means of locomotion except the bipedal protuberances provided by the Almighty. So we hoofed it.
    Sometimes Ralph or Dess would be in the store. Most times not. But they lived nearby so we had to knock on their door or get them out the garden to open the store.
    All we ever bought were the staples (when they had them),coffee, salt, sugar, flour, matches and maybe a piece of bubble gum. Now comes the fun part. Did you ever walk four miles with a 25 pound sack of flour? It ain’t heavy for the first couple of miles then it becomes a burden. First one shoulder then the other then one hip and the other then hug it in front for a while. Then repeat the process. Like carrying a 25 pound baby only it don’t wiggle as much.
    Shut up Ed!! You ain’t writing a book here!

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