In a company store they had about anything that you needed.
Mining lamps, safety shoes, bubblegum and candy and pop.
I sold quite a few rifles and shotguns and a few pistols.
Sometimes they had dresses hung up.
We packed latches for them and sold them more clothing.
I remember Bob Collins slicing bologna. That was usually everybody's favorite.
We had first class merchandise; we did have no seconds of nothing.
I started out a tool shed and kept adding to it.
There were windows across the front. There were bars across the windows on the outside. OK, there was a bench there. You know there was a post office. Then you go to your right. And then the counter was a horseshoe-type thing.
So I had a porch built for them to come up on so if it was raining they could stand there and draw scrip.
They had a runway built made from the little store out to the track. It made a good place to sit, tell jokes, and see what was going on.
When Bill Pryor was there, I can remember the little boxes they had. They put your mail in and you could also see if you had any mail or not. Our box number was forty one. Remember that. Forty one.
I like Bill Pryor pretty good. Yea, he's our store manager there.
I had to be the time keeper too. I had hundred, un a hundred seventy-five, on my payroll. I issued them scrip and all that kind of stuff. And I hired me another store man, Theodore Childers, and made a store manager out of him.
I don't think he would of took a dime off of you unless it would have been a mistake, honest. That's the way I always felt about Thee-door.
I run that store just like it belonged to me. I done the buying. I extended the credit. I done the collection. I done the whole work.
He knew all the kids. And he knew everybody. He knew if a kid took something they weren't supposed to take all he had to do was tell their parents. Because their parents worked there in the mines.
You did'nt have many people you had to collect from. You know ninety percent of the people of McCreary County are honest.
Kind of like Ms. Baker was. She was a fine woman and very particular. She wouldn't have nothing but white eggs. At that time they weren't putting them up in dozen cartons like they do now. They just come thirty dozen to a case. So when she just come in the store I just handed her a bag and let her help herself to the eggs. But one day she sat the bag right back down there by one of those Davis girls with one egg in it.
So I just went and put it in my stock. I thought there was something wrong with it. Next morning, Nora came in. I said, "Nora, what's the matter with that egg." She said, "Oh there was nothing wrong with it Bill. You know I counted them eggs myself and when I got to the house I had thirteen (laughter). I said, "Good God Nora, why did'nt you just keep the egg. You didn't have to send it back." "No, she had to send it back."
I would go into the store and make purchases. You didn't stay around that store. It wasn't too lady-like, you know for the women and girls to do that.
Oh my, I was lucky one time. I found a five-dollar scrip piece and I didn't tell anybody. I went straight to the store and spent it. And then I found out once you got out of Stearns the money wasn't any good. And I thought man they've really got you sewed in. You either spend it here or you don't spend it.
It's awful easy to spend everything you can make because it's so handy. Why you just about owe it all to them.
Tennessee Ernie, you owe yourself to the company store. That's just about the way it was.