Eaton's Grocery:
Memories of Childhood

By Gordon Cornell, Broadalbin Historian.


Eaton's Grocery, 1968
Photograph courtesy of the late Lewis Cornell, past Broadalbin Historian.


This article was published October 2004 in The Lamplighter,
the Broadalbin-Kennyetto Historical Society newsletter.  It is posted here
with Mr. Cornell's kind permission.

This business establishment has been mentioned in an earlier article but it is my wish to share some of my recollections of the neighborhood store that served the area where I grew up.

Elmer Eaton had lost an arm in an industrial accident at the Broadalbin Knitting Mill and he and his father opened the market under the name of John Eaton and Son in 1923.  Elmer's wife, Julia Seeley Eaton, was also active in the operation of this business.  John Eaton died in 1941 leaving Elmer the sole owner.

Eaton's store, as it was so often referred to, was at the top of the hill on Saratoga Avenue.  The location meant that there was no need to cross any streets or highways to get to the store from my parents' home.  The location was a factor in gaining permission to venture to the store without adult supervision at a younger age than might have otherwise happened.

It is hard to explain the thrill that a young boy had in the 1930s when he made his way up the hill to the store clutching a penny or two to spend on some candy.  And, if you were lucky enough to obtain a nickel, you could buy a cold bottle of soda or some ice cream.  The soda case was filled with different flavors of soda, standing in cold water, with chunks of ice floating around.  They were all in glass bottles which we drank from, without a straw and, I suppose, it was due to parental training, but we never littered with the empties, returning them to the store.

In addition to food stuffs and other items normally found in a grocery store, Elmer sold Texaco gasoline from the single pump out in front of the store.  He also had a barn adjacent to the store where he stored and sold seed, feed, fertilizer, etc.  It was probably due to Elmer having one arm that he had an older man named John Deming who hung around there and loaded such items into customers' trucks, wagons or cars. 

John appeared, to a young fellow like myself, to be the type of person you tried to keep some distance from, until one day while on my way to the store he intercepted me inquiring how much money I had.  In a rather frightened way I told him, to which he responded, "here are a few more pennies to add to what you have."  John didn't appear like that same strange person to me thereafter!

Eaton's store had a selection of items not always available today such as those small boxes of Cracker Jacks with a toy inside that seemed like a treasure, little wax bottles containing colored and flavored water, candy cigarettes, Beech-Nut Beechies, Blackjack gum and so on.

All trips to the store were not for pleasure, however.  I recall Father sending me up the hill with my red wagon to pick up a bag of fertilizer for the garden.  The trip down the hill required attention to duty as the wagon wanted to go faster than I did.  The trip was none the less without incident!

Another matter of note when visiting Eaton's Store was the large black three-legged chow dog.  The appearance of this animal would tend to cause a youngster to maintain distance.  I do not recall that the dog was mean, but it certainly did look different.

With the gasoline and other products for sale, you might look at Eaton's Grocery as an early version of the convenience stores we see so plentifully today.


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Copyright , 2004 Gordon Cornell
Copyright , 2005 Jeanette Shiel
All Rights Reserved.

Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:12:29 PDT