If you grew up in the rural South, you probably have at least one of these country stores tucked away in your memory.
For me it was Hughes Grocery near my grandparents house in Clay County, Mississippi. I remember the red Coca Cola chest cooler, the driveway paved with nearly as many bottle caps as gravel.
For many in Harrison County, Texas, that store is T.C. Lindsey & Co. General Store in Jonesville, a curve in a country road just two miles from busy Interstate 20. The store has been around for 170 years, making it the oldest continuously-operating general store in Texas.
After bicycling the hilly roads of East Texas the other day, I stopped in to see if it looked the same as it did when I first visited 32 years ago.
I didn’t need any overalls, Lodge cast iron skillets or Raggedy Ann dolls (three major categories at the store), but I couldn’t pass up the No. 1 seller—hoop Wisconsin cheddar cheese sliced with a 100-year-old cutter.
T.C. Lindsey & Co. General Store is still jam packed with inventory, although the family is keeping it open for the memories rather than for profit.
I also came away with a couple of micro-brewed root beers . There is an extensive selection of vintage soft drinks and as many varieties of Spam as I have seen. Penny (well, nickel) candy. Honey and sorghum molasses from nearby farms. Bulk Spanish peanuts farmed 70 miles up the road in Naples, Texas.
You can get sun bonnets, kerosene lamp supplies and shoes from the 1970s, but many of the items are not for sale such as the rare 1896 wringer washing machine and the last cotton bale ginned in the area in 1973. The store just started taking credit cards a year ago.
It is such an iconic place that movies and TV shows have filmed there, most notably the 1985 TV movie remake of The Long Hot Summer bringing Don Johnson, Cybill Shepherd and Ava Gardner to Jonesville. One day, a limousine rolled up with Lady Bird Johnson, who came in to buy Cracker Jacks of all things. Her father ran a similar store in nearby Karnack.
A favorite tale is when an employee showed up for work drunk one day. At that time, coffins were sold upstairs. There was also a sofa upstairs, where the employee passed out. He was placed inside one of the coffins as a prank.
He never arrived at work drunk again..
Learn more about the store by watching this Texas Bucket List segment.
T.C. Lindsey & Co will be celebrating 170 years of operation with a birthday cake and bluegrass band on Nov. 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Can’t make that?.Another good time to stop by is Dec. 9 for its annual Christmas Open House from 11 a.m. to 2 pm.
T.C. Lindsey & Co. is located at 2293 FM Road 134, about 26 miles west of Shreveport. Take exit 633 off of Interstate 20.