By Sarah West
The front doors creak. The clattering of footsteps upon century old floor boards echo the tap, tap, tapping, the coming and going of people from past we wish we could have known. White wash walls, exterior buttercream, red tin roof and a painted sign pronounces the establishment’s namesake. Red and white simplicity.
I imagine a bygone era. The steam engine barreling down the tracks, as the incoming mail bag is dropped and the outgoing suspended from its hook is snatched. Letters well on their way to new destinations. Later mid-century Detroit motors cruise down the old highway. Windows rolled down, a local radio show plays. In the Alabama summer sun, the tarred railroad ties sizzle. The sounds of crickets, cicada, heat as it scorches the landscape all synthesize with humid breeze that sweeps the corn and crackling fields of knee high grasses. Red clay parts forming fault lines. The sandy soil and red clay powder covers children as they play, then run seeking shade with afternoon lemonade beneath the pecan trees. The sweet balmy aroma of hay drifts through the air, as bales are rolled. Like the old store, the “Hay for Sale” sign seems to have always been there. Red and white were the signs that linger in memory from my early childhood, the old store, the bricked mailbox, the small airfield and the word “Jones”. Across the track was another old home. I imagine that bygone era, the people who inhabited the weather-worn aging wooden places. Along this old stretch of road, the past thoroughfare, I’ve written, presided over cultural programs, painted and shared conversations with many passing strangers. Familiar figures, once less so, have become friends. To me, I consider them beloved locals, a reflection of the landscape, the summer sun, these Alabama backroads and the threads that bind the patchwork tapestry of calico prints that define our lives.
I press against the creaking door, and step inside. Remnants of past, heritage and stories shared through present lives form confluence in the old store. Mr. and Mrs. Jones, iconic figures, events and archives interpret tales passed down through artifacts from historic to modern times.
On a long awaited, upcoming summer day of July 13, the Historic Jones Store Museum will open to the public. With much anticipation, the Smiths Station Historic Commission, the Mayor’s Office, City of Smiths Station and the Honorable Mayor F.L. “Bubba” Copeland will proudly host Opening Day.
Celebrating the Historic Jones Store Complex featuring the restored Jones Store History Museum with commemorative exhibits honoring local community figures, legendary icons and interactive exhibits illustrating rural pastime, and events relative to Alabama citizens. This premiere Opening Day Celebration is an Alabama 200 bicentennial endorsed event. Opening Day of the Jones Store History
The museum is free, family friendly and open to the public 10 a.m.to 4 p.m. E.S.T. Complementary tours will be led by Smiths Station Historic Commission members throughout the day. The Historic Jones Store Complex is located at 1361 Lee Road 298 in Smiths Station. To learn more about this event and other Alabama 200 events during the finale year of statewide bicentennial celebrations visit www.alabama200.org
Sarah West serves the Opelika Observer as a contributing columnist, with written works of Cultural Arts relevance and prose. She is a preservation, and conservation advocate, activist, and visual artist of American Illustration with a focus on Regional Narrative Painting. She is founder of the Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art, A Center for Cultural Arts, Smiths Station, Alabama’s premier fine arts destination. She is the appointed Official Artist to the City of Smiths Station, a Lee County syndicated columnist, the director of her art center’s Cultural Arts Outreach Initiative which partners with local schools to make the arts accessible to all. She also serves a chief curator to the City of Smiths Station, City Hall Art Galleries. She is a founding member of the Smith Station Historic Commission. She is a member of the Women’s Philanthropy Board- Cary Center, Auburn University College of Human Science. She is an elected member of the Society of Illustrators- NYC. She mentors art students of every age through weekly classes at her studio located in the heart of Smiths Station, Alabama. To learn more about her work and activism visit, www.thesarahwestgalleryoffineart.com.