‘Mama, The Rolling Store’s A-Comin!’

Published 7:30 pm Friday, June 14, 2024

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With the coming of the rolling store to the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, Joyce Ingram Rice, formerly of Brundidge, shared her memories of her dad, Travis Ingram, with Barbara Tatom, director of the Pioneer Museum of Alabama.

The connection there to Father’s Day 2024 is that on, the Fourth of July 2024, the Pioneer of Museum Alabama will host the Grand Opening of the museum’s exhibit of Locklar’s Rolling Store, 1947, Union Springs. The connection there is Rice’s memory of her dad has strong ties to the rolling store. Those memories came back crystal clear to Rice in the wake of the dedication of Locklar’s Rolling Store.

Rice’s story goes back to Main Street Brundidge and Murry McDowell’s mercantile store with two storefronts. On one side, McDowell stocked ladies and men’s apparel. During the week, on the other side, three rolling store drivers backed their “stores” up to the rear of the store’s loading dock at 4 a.m. and stocked their rolling store with everything from canned beans to sliced bologna and fresh bread.

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Travis Ingram ran one of those rolling stores. He said that was the best job he ever had.

And, mainly, because the rolling store stopped at house after house  after house along the, mainly, dirt road route.

Rice said her dad stopped many times at a house where there was only one vehicle and it was in the field.

“So, there was no going to the store for those people,” she said. “Some rolling store stops were made at the homes of widows, who had little more money than a nickel or dime tied in a handkerchief. Some people were so poor they could only barter for their needs with chicken and/or eggs or ask for credit until they could do a little better. Sometimes people didn’t even have a dime to spare. “Could trust me for it?”

“Daddy said he might be the only person many of the people on his route would see in a week,” Rice said. He would take time for a few words with them. He was,  perhaps, the only voice they would hear until the rolling store came again.

Travis Ingram share stories of chickens on the foot that he accepted for a bag of flour or a can of kerosene on a cold, frosty night or many things for many other needs.

In time, the rolling store carried fabric and notions from the mercantile sore with Coats & Clark thread.

“My favorite memory was of the bologna stick that hung behind the driver’s head from the ceiling,” Rice said. “Nearby, scales allowed Daddy to cut off chunks of the red-skinned meat and wrap it in a bag.”

Times were changing, slowly, but in due time, most rolling stores were parked under trees or in the barn.

In 1993, Travis Ingram was admitted to the nursing home in the late stages of Alzheimer’s. “It was comforting to know that many of the residents and families remembered ‘Mr. Travis’ from his rolling store days,” Rice said.

It is often said that children don’t remember their parents as people, only as parents.

In the sharing of Rice’s memory story, it is possible that others among us will look back and remember stories told about our own dads or shared by them. Those memories of our dads will keep them with us when they are absent from us.