by Tom Givens
Have you ever heard of the Half Way Store? Well, if not you are missing a treat, for thereís nothing like a country store where conversation is more important than sugar and flour.
For many years, more than I can probably imagine, the Half Way Store has been located between Ruleville and Cleveland on Mississippi Highway 8. It sits approximately halfway between those two cities. Hence, the name.
The first owner opened the place as a country grocery, selling staples needed by local farmers and field hands. I should add that it was rumored (of course, I wouldnít know) he also did some bootlegging in addition to the beer he sold legally.
Talk about Southern Americana, the Half Way Store is it.
A dear friend (a co-judge of mine in the Knoxville office) was detailed to Greenville, Mississippi, a few years back to hold hearings. I took him up to the Half Way Store. Now Judge John Henson is from just above the boot heel in Missouri, Poplar Bluff, and has been around. He fell in with the local crowd at the Half Way Store, and even got into a harmonica contest with one of of the locals. I think John might have won . . . but he keeps talking about the Half Way House, which may be the correct name.
I got into going to the Half Way Store years ago. B.B. Jones ran it for a while, then his brother Cecil, and then Bobby Morgan. Bobby did well with it; he had barbecues, fish fries, and amateur bands appearing. Fun place. Had the pool table and poker games. The poker games are gone now.
When the store was going well, my Daddy hung out there. There was an old recliner behind the counter, and when Daddy wasn't playing dominoes he was in the recliner giving advice, wanted or unwanted. He was called the "Chairman of the Board." He was loved at the Half Way Store.
When Daddy died, Bobby took that recliner out and threw it away . . .
Judge Thomas Givens is a native of the Mississippi Delta and grew up in Linn, a tiny hamlet he still reveres. Tom is a faithful reader and writer at USADS, composing a series of memoirs that include:
Front Porches, Dirt Roads, and Wild Dogs
Whiskey, Chickens, and Cherry Bombs
Memphis and the Delta
. . . and many more. Please check the Articles File for more of Tomís stories.
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