Appalachia Pap

The Rolling Store Took Squirrels Too

Pap and cousins


These days most of us don’t even have to leave our houses to shop. All the needs and wants we have lie under our finger tips-as long as we have an internet connection and an electronic way of paying.

If you decide to leave the comfort of your couch or computer desk there’s likely a wally world or something similar a short driving distance away.

Pap has always said money is one of the biggest differences between his childhood days and today’s modern world. When Pap was a boy cash wasn’t King-trade was. Its not that folks turned up their nose at hard cash-it’s just that they didn’t need it or see it as much as we do today.

Pap said in his early years only about 40 dollars a year went through his Daddy’s hands. Take a minute and think about that. How fast does 40 bucks go through our hands today? One trip out to eat with the family, half a monthly cell phone bill, or a tank of gas and its gone.

There were certainly trips to town for folks living in the out lying areas when Pap was a boy, but they were far and few between.

In a recent guest post, Eva Nell pointed out the solution to those in-between trips to town: the rolling store.

Pap said Bennett’s Rolling Store came through Brasstown about twice a week when he was a boy. The side roads, like the one we live on were way too rough and rocky for the store truck to make it up, but most folks knew about what time they could expect the truck to be down on the main road and they would meet it there.

The store took money and as Eva Nell mentioned you could use chickens for trade. According to Pap other items such as squirrels, hides, possums, ducks, rabbits, milk, butter and I’m sure the list goes on were traded on a regular basis as well. The store man might take your butter for trade and then sell it or trade it to someone on down the road.

Most families like Pap’s only needed to barter for things they couldn’t provide for themselves like sugar, flour, salt, or coffee. But the store did have ‘tins’ of meat and other food items for folks who needed them.

The rolling stores also offered special orders. In other words if you needed something he didn’t have on the truck, you could generally place an order and in a few weeks he’d bring the item around to you.

Pap and a group of his buddies once had an especially productive squirrel hunting trip. One of them came up with the idea of trading the squirrels to the rolling store for candy.

Candy wasn’t something any of the boys were used to having, and after they consumed as much as they did that day candy wasn’t something any of them wanted to have for a good long time. Pap said he believed every boy but one, was foolish enough to eat their bounty of candy in one sitting and no he wasn’t the smart one. Pap got as sick as all the others.


p.s. Pap is the boy kneeling in front in the photo.


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  • Reply
    Jessica Puckett
    February 15, 2012 at 5:10 am

    We didn’t have a rolling store, but we did have a rolling library at school. Many of the elementary schools in North East Tennessee were too poor to have a library back then. So, someone took an old school bus and converted it into a rolling library. It came around once a month, or maybe it was twice a month. It served several of the rural mountain schools, and us kids always looked forward to it.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    February 10, 2012 at 8:54 am

    I don’t think we ever had rolling stores, but a little store in the middle of the holler that had been there since my grandparents days. I think people used to do a little bartering back in the old days.

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    February 10, 2012 at 2:10 am

    We had Fuller Brush, Charles Chips and one other – name escapes me – but those are the only rolling stores. We also had frozen foods delivered once every couple of months – completely different. None did any bartering. My husband, who has a window cleaning business, has bartered for many times with his chiropractor and a few other customers.
    Great photo.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    February 9, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    As my mama would say, “it’s a little amusing” (& kinda amazing!) to read all the comments about the simple life of the good ol’ days. Different, yes, but I’m not sure how “simple”. Mitchell was a typical Haywood County farm boy. He was up long before daylight to milk the cows,feed the horses, gather the eggs, replenish the ever dwindling supply of stovewood, & then he climbed aboard the school bus & drove it for 3 hours(1 way) & then he put in a full day of school, climbed back on the bus, dropped everybody off, went home, harnessed the horses, plowed or split wood, ate supper, went to bed, got up the next morning & did it all over again. WHEW! Wears a girl out just thinkin’ about all that went into mere survival back in those simple times!

  • Reply
    February 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Wow! I would love to have only $40 pass through my hands in a year!What a much simpler time that was back then. Our busy lives today surely make me pine for how it used to be then. Oh well, guess we can dream.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    February 9, 2012 at 10:13 am

    That’s a real good story. I don’t remember rolling stores, but have cooked up my share of squirrels. Never thougth about trading them though. Tipper we share your use of the words “wally world”. Wonder what would happen if one were to show up at the local store with a bag of squirrels and offer to barter with ’em. I can imagine the responses. Come to think of it we do have a place over here in Franklin where you can conduct business that way. I haven’t checked into though.

  • Reply
    February 9, 2012 at 10:08 am

    squirrels for candy, I like it!!!

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    February 9, 2012 at 9:51 am

    my Dad and a friend once went out “riding” one Saturday – just them and a coon dog. The coon dog didn’t come back — but a case of quart Mason “fruit jars” did — filled with moonshine.

  • Reply
    February 9, 2012 at 9:40 am

    When I was growing up, my brother
    and I took squirrels and traded
    them for 22 shells and sometimes
    a few Johnny Crackers. There was
    this man and woman who had a store
    about a mile from our house. They
    were a resourceful bunch, he made
    liquor on the side and the best
    homeade sausage you ever eat. She
    cut hair for $.50 and even went to
    church where we attended. They
    took me fishing with them lots of
    times, but I knew not to ride with
    them if he was a drinking…Ken

  • Reply
    February 9, 2012 at 9:33 am

    What a good looking bunch of boys in the picture! Makes me long for the days when times were simpler and boys were over dosing on candy instead of drugs. I think that we all are too concerned these days about obtaining and keeping money. I think things might be better if we traded the things that we have an abundance of for things that our neighbors have no use for. It would be nice to get my eggs from my next door neighbor instead of having to go to “Wally World.”

  • Reply
    Thurmon Allen
    February 9, 2012 at 9:10 am

    I don’t remember Rolling Stores growing up but my grandmother lived in town and the small grocery store would deliver her call in order in an old panel Chevrolet truck. I guess this was something that was in between the Rolling Stores and actually going to the store to shop. My grandmother never had a drivers license and didn’t like leaving the house to shop.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    February 9, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Bartering is a very old form of value exchange. I think it might have been very interesting to see what the rolling wagon had for its wares.

  • Reply
    Special Ed
    February 9, 2012 at 8:13 am

    One time this man I knowed had a mule I wanted. I didn’t have any money but he let me give him two heffers and gave me back a billy goat and 3 squirrels in change.

  • Reply
    February 9, 2012 at 7:35 am

    I remember my grandma telling me about how the butcher, greengrocer, baker, ice man, etc. would come to the house in their wagons. Imagine not having to go through the rigamarole of a trip to the grocery store!
    Barter never has entirely died out around here, and the way the economy is going it’ll probably get a lot more common.
    That photo is a treasure!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    February 9, 2012 at 7:34 am

    I have a photo of my dad and his brothers grouped just like this. Memories

  • Reply
    February 9, 2012 at 7:09 am

    Life was so much simpler then.
    Can you imagine Walmartz as a rolling store? I think it would be more like a convoy of 18 wheelers. LOL

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 9, 2012 at 5:44 am

    I’d title this picture Critical Mass. There’s enough energy in seven boys that age to destroy half of Clay County. Usually two is enough to start a chain reaction. Apparently the photographer was unaware of the destructive potential of such an assemblage.

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