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Oakhill - 2/09/04

The Last East Texas Country Store

  There was a time in East Texas when you could find a country store every four miles, because that's the distance a horse drawn wagon could go in a day and still get home in time for supper.  Out of all those stores of the past, only one is still in existence.

  Glenn Roger still gets to his "C.E. Rogers and Son Country Store" by eight each morning and leaves at six in the evening.  His speech is a little slurred, and he has to move with the help of a walker these days, because of the ravages of Lou Gehrig disease, but time has not taken his memories; "The filing system on charge accounts is the same one that was used at the opening of the store in 1889."

  The store was established way back in 1889. Glenn's father bought it in 1919. Glenn joined his father in business after his graduation from Baylor University. That's when the "and son" was added to the title.  "The first gas was in 55 gallon drums, cranked it out a gallon at a time." 

  The store began selling gasoline back when there were only two cars in the entire area, but it's the wagon trade that Glenn remembers best. "I can remember the last wagon customer I had. In fact he always tied up on one of those old sycamore trees out here and for years it had a hole in it where the tongue of the wagon punched a hole in my tree."

  Once one of many small country stores dotting the East Texas countryside, C.E. Rogers and Son Country Store is the sole survivor of its kind. The store is a rare blend of old and new. As for nostalgia, there are peanuts in big sacks, or you can have a cold drink from a case dating back sixty years, or hoghead cheese cut by a antique slicer that dates back to 1910.

  It isn't unusual for customers to stop by to pick up gifts for friends and family. The summer sausage is so popular, one Kansas City customer picks up bundles of it to take home when she's in the area, and local workman stop by at noon for sausage and cheese sandwiches. "We try to have almost everything a person needs," says Glenn, "and I think our meat business had kept us in business. we raise and kill all our beef and pork so that brings people from everywhere in."

  The meat is a popular draw at the store, and so are the work clothes. there may not be much demand for the tin tubs that hang from the ceiling or the curing salt, but if you do need such items you'll probably find them here...with only a few exceptions. "We used to keep horse collars and sold out and can't find them anymore."

  You actually can find a little bit of almost everything here at this country store. Glenn jokes that he "gave Mr. Walton the idea for Wal-mart". But, most of all, C.E. Rogers and Son Country Store is a memory-relived for the older generation; and a lesson in friendship and service for the younger one.

Joan Hallmark, reporting.

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