Saturday, January 24, 2009

Baynes Store

(click on photograph for larger image)

The Country Store

I began the morning talking with Mr. J. E. (Coot) Grubbs, proprietor of the Baynes Store. A feeling of nostalgia was evident when I first viewed the interior of the old store. It was truly a perfect picture of the average American’s idea of the old country store. There were tins of dried beans and corn along the floor, with shelves filled with pairs of coveralls and boxes of shoes. The old-timey cash register probably remembers the day when bacon was rung up at 30 cents a pound. The pot belly stove, setting in the middle of the store, still warms and welcomes its customers in 1972 just as it did 60 years ago.

The present store building, constructed in 1907, was named Baynes Store. A joint partnership later occurred and the store was renamed Baynes and Harrelson. Under the ownership of the late J. M. Baynes, it was then permanently named Baynes, as it stands today. For Mr. Grubbs, after 37 years with the store, it has become a way of life for him. He enjoys his work, but admits that ”things get boring and lonesome at times when no customers are around.” He added that usually during these times he busied himself putting up new stock and merchandise.

The store has seemingly not changed much over the years and Mr. Grubbs has had to do little adapting for the modern day. This is not a handicap, for people welcome the slow and carefree life of the country store as a retreat from the fast-paced world. Mr. Grubbs told that back in olden times, coffins were sold and bodies prepared in the upper level of the store. A few of the coffins still remain today in the Baynes Store attic. I assured Mr. Grubbs that I doubted not this fact and no need for a tour would be necessary. Too spooky for me!

There seems to be a family tie to the store also. Mr. and Mrs. Grubbs’ 13-year-old son, Joe, works constantly helping his dad. Daughter Joyce, a college student, spends a good deal of her time at the store also.

Yes, Baynes is the store loved by its community in yesterday’s world, today, and hopefully in our society’s future. A store of its kind is unique. It should be cared for and preserved for hundreds of years, so that my generation’s grandchildren can know the pleasures of the old country life.

Source: The Caswell Messenger (27 July 1972)

Mr. Baynes Still Active

Retirement Marks End of Era for Community

Retirement has brought no decrease in the activity of a man whose family gave its name to this community and whose life has been a part of the community for 66 years. J. M. Baynes, son of the late James Rainey and Ella Harrelson Baines, retired early this year, selling his business to his former clerk, J. E. (Cooter) Gribbs. The retirement marked the end of an era for this southern Caswell County crossroads.

Mr. Baynes had operated the store which bore his name since 1931. Before him, it had been operated by his father and uncle.

Born in 1896, Mr. Baynes attended a private school in Caswell County, completing his education in 1914. He joined his father in 1919 as a clerk in Baynes’ Store, which was then operating in a new building, constructed in 1909. The building still stands.

In the same year, he married Lucille Warren of nearby Corbett Community. “We grew up together,” he said. “In those days, there were frequent parties and dances around the countryside. We met at these, and we married.”

He has one brother, Bascom Baynes of Durham, who is also retired, and one sister, Mrs. Mattie Bet Stanfield of near Stuart, Virginia, wife of a Baptist minister.

The family was an established one. Mr. Baynes said he knows that his grandfather lived his entire life here, but does not know whether his great – grandfather was a native of the area.

At the time he entered business life, Mr. Baynes said the store which he operated for more than 30 years was known as Baynes and Harrelson. His uncle, Frank Harrelson of Atlanta, Ga., went into partnership with his father when the new building was constructed.

His uncle was the second man in Caswell County to purchase an automobile. Mr. Baynes remembers the car, and how much his uncle prized it. “If it looked like rain, “ Mr. Baynes remembers, “he wouldn’t . . . .

Source: Times-News (Burlington, North Carolina), 1962
For more on the old stores of Caswell County see: Community Stores